2014 | 2 | 5-7
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Editorial. Philosophal Problems of the Living World. Dialogue. Wisdom

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The focus of the main part of the Dialogue and Universalism issue 2/2014 entitled Philosophical Problems of the Living World is on life, first of all on its nature and origin. The problems considered in this part, at first sight approachable from a biological perspective alone, are viewed here chiefly philosophically. It is philosophy which for centuries has been sought explanations of life and conceptual frameworks from which life can be attained. Philosophy is seen here as an autonomous, not rigorously naturalized, but at the same time open enterprise which assimilates and transforms information from beyond, inter alia from various disciplines of science. The here-presented collection of papers contributes to this this long-lasting, possibly eternal search. The united task of the papers can be characterized by Ernst Mayr’s claim: “New directions for research frequently come into view when one steps back from one’s own field and sees it as part of a larger endeavor to explain the living world, in all its wonderful diversity.”1 In the papers life (as-we-know-it) is contrasted with lifeless of animate objects, with life embraced “in principle”, but also with death or near death phenomena, with non-biological artificial life, and with extraterrestrial life (that might exist elsewhere in the universe). Thus, the old categorical difference between the inanimate world and the living organisms is here expanded, in along the lines of recent investigations which propose various alternative or complementing approaches of contrasting life with non-life. A leading metaphilosophical idea of the presented collection maintains that life cannot be discussed and explained in biology alone. Instead a philosophical attitude, with strong elements of interdisciplinarity is favored: in exploring life knowledge from different, not only adjacent scientific fields beyond biology (which remains, however, the main source of grounding) is applied. Besides, it is demonstrated that philosophical beliefs and programmes, worldviews, and ideological or religious threads load the proposed or discussed images of life. In consequence, the very question of life and understandings of it become not a purely descriptive but also normative problem. Moreover, the collection Philosophical Problems of the Living World comprises studies approaching ethical problems of biological life, among others, the evolutionary origin of morality, naturalizing ethics, an ethical problem of death, environmental ethics, the ethical relation between men and animals. It also contains methodological proposals valid in exploring life. The second part of the D&U issue 2/2014 entitled Dialogue is devoted to dialogue which is an especially distinguished subject of the journal. Four papers now published are a continuation of the investigations on dialogue presented lastly in the D&U monothematic issue 3/2013 Universal Dialogue, and, in numerous earlier issues of the journal. The third part entitled Wisdom. A Discussion about Andrew Targowski’s Book: Harnessing the Power of Wisdom: from Data to Wisdom. 2013. New York: Nova Publishers is in its basic dimension a discussion about Andrew Targowski’s publication. However, it should be emphasized that the included papers are not only reviews. Some of them are rather short essays which start from ideas proclaimed by Targowski, and then develop their own reflections, argumentations and views concerning the various contexts, among others political, social, cultural, civilizational, in which wisdom plays or should play a crucial role. Thus, the authors of the essays increase Targowski’s intellectual insight in extent and depth, and enrich still too scanty knowledge on wisdom and on its importance in the universal scale, namely, in the task of struggle against misfortunes in the human world. The presented essays and the book Harnessing the Power of Wisdom: from Data to Wisdom clearly although implicitly show that wisdom appears to be at least slightly different in each context—cultural, social, political, etc. From the presented essays and from Targowski’s book itself a radical consequence can be derived: wisdom—so long forgotten, postponed (at least in the Western modern civilization), and still being distant from a full understanding— is a virtue, lying in the sphere of human abilities, necessary for surviving humankind. A yet another consequence of the presented discussion may be added: the standard concepts of wisdom, primarily of the ancient origins (wisdom as epistemic humility, as epistemic accuracy, as knowledge, as living well)2 are too narrow to treat them as basic categories able to cope with fundamental problems of the today human world. In particular, the Aristotelian concept identifying wisdom by the rules: “to live life at its best” or, from Nicomachean Ethics: “it is evident that it is impossible to be practically wise without being good”3 is not adequate to consider universal problems of humankind, since it refer to individual human life, and not to the social dimension. Approaching wisdom is possibly a non-ended process of constructing senses and human values in accordance with whole adopted visions of the human world, in particular, with conceptions of man. The commonly shared conviction telling that wisdom is a virtue and a way of living, and that it requires more than smart ideas and knowledge, says, in fact, about an essential field of ignorance concerning wisdom. This ignorance should be diminished. The published essays contribute to this end.
  • Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences
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