We live in an open world. We are defined by terms like economical exchange, cultural exchange and, even, student exchange; the mobility of people has never been greater. And as people are moving from one culture to another, from one context to another, they inevitably stumble upon comparisons between the own and the new, between the known and that which has yet to be learned.
Our latest 10th issue of the online journal Philosophia is focusing on contexts and comparisons. The ability to impose our own values into a discussion of the different and the unknown is a hallmark of philosophy.
The article of Valentin Velchev (Bulgaria), A Debate with Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design, puts religion in a dialogue with science. This is the first in a series of articles that are going to be published in the Philosophia journal. The author discusses the long undisputed methods of science, and builds his argument from a logical perspective, proposing that the so-called ‘belief’ in a Creator of the universe might actually be the more reasonable solution to the puzzle about the world’s beginning.
Another bold comparison is undertaken by Babajide Dasaolu and Demilade Oyelakun (Nigeria), The Concept of Evil in Yoruba and Igbo Thoughts: Some Comparisons. As the title suggests, the authors juxtapose the Western notion of evil – in its classical Christian meaning – with the understanding of evil in two different African theoretical frameworks. The authors assert that, despite some substantial internal differences between the African views on evil, they nevertheless share a common essential unlikeliness to the Western one: the Western Christian concept of evil remains a theoretical problem while the African view on evil is oriented practically. This view roots evil within human actions and, as such, its eradication requires a human deed.
Another comparison stretching through cultures is the one offered by Svetlana Kamdzijas (Macedonia), who discusses the notion of human perfection in a dialogue between the contemporary Western ethics and the Indian Vedanta view. In the tradition of Socrates and Plato, and then again of Bauman and Liotar, the author questions the expansive way of knowing thyself proposed throughout the history of Western philosophy, while confronting it with the Vedanta way of an inner-bound and centered way of self-exploration and self-perfection.
A similar approach is adopted by Dragan Jakovlevic (Montenegro) in his contribution Ways and Challenges Towards Revitalizing Religion. The study questions the rise of radical Islam in a globalizing world, with the Western, and more anthropological, approach to religion. After all, concludes the author, religion in general, as well as the Enlightenment, are projects that are still open.
The article of Risto Soluncev (Macedonia) is set entirely in the ‘Western’ context, but once again builds on the line of confronting the Christian orthodox view on human personality with a post-modern secular ethics. The author claims that the Orthodox concept of the person as engaged in a continuous relation to the divine could contribute to and enrich the post-modern view of the person as a being bound to freedom.
We close the issue of the journal on an Orthodox note with the article of Dimitar Petrov (Bulgaria/USA) Evagrius Pinticus: The Contemplation – “a unity with the Unity”. This is a rigorous study of the Byzantine author of IVth c. Evagrius Ponticus and his teaching of the union with the divine through purification of the soul and a mindful contemplation of the divine. Being, in a way, a ‘practical mystics’, this teaching can harken back to the contribution of Kamdzijas and its Eastern spirituality, or to the one of Dasaolu and Oyelakun in their practically oriented view on the human soul.
The comparisons and the confrontations of various approaches do not only celebrate diversity: They are a quest in the search for the Self, a quest that today more than ever goes through foreign lands and ideas.
Dr. Evelina Miteva
Thomas-Institute, University of Cologne
Philosophia 10/2015, pp. 3-4.