Friday, September 5, 2014

535: Clash of Cultures

When -in my first years, ( in the Netherlands the university study took six years ) as a diligent student of philosophy I kept notebooks, in which I wrote down my personal philosophical thoughts and ideas.

Of course, I hoped to develop and use them later for pioneering publications on, for instance, epistemology, the theory of Knowledge.

Unfortunately, when I later specialized in Analytical Philosophy, I had to discover, that all those “unique” ideas of mine already existed, some even dating back from the time BEFORE I was born.

Now you might think, oh dear…….what a disappointment that must have been. Actually, it was not for two reasons; one, it was quite easy for me to accept that there had been smarter people than I am,

and second, I came to the conclusion that I had to be a true child of my time, that I was in tune with modern philosophy. 

I had to think of this experience of more than 40 years ago, as I read my morning newspaper.

In my previous introduction lecture of the new project, I told you that I take a stand with my title “Why Science is Right”. 

Oh boy, what a daring statement! And to make it more daring I referred to non Western philosophy and how Western philosophy differs from it.

Well, forget it. This morning there were several articles in my newspaper, which dealt with the very same subject. Not only with respect to clashing cultures but also concerning the position of science in our own society.

I didn’t come to my choice of the present theme, because of newspaper articles, but because of my own delving into non western philosophy. So, in that sense it is still an original conclusion and choice, which rationalization saves my Ego a little :-)

But on the other hand this debate is already going on since in his 1989 article “The End of History?” Francis Fukuyama (1952), an American political scientist, political economist, and author.proclaims: 

“What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War … but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological development and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government”.

According to Fukuyama, liberalism's great ideological rivals failed in the long term for two reasons. 

First of all, communism has the wrong theory of economic management, and could not provide long-term economic prosperity. Thus Marx's claim that capitalism was materially unstable proved true of communism instead. 

Second, following Hegel, Fukuyama asserts that only liberalism can satisfy the human desire for recognition in a stable fashion.

But is Fukuyama right? Samuel Huntington, (1927 – 2008), an influential conservative political scientist from the United States of America, says NO.

In a 1993 Foreign Affairs article titled "The Clash of Civilizations?", exhorted Huntington to cultural and political  modesty. 

In addition to the Western civilization he distinguished some other great civilizations which cherish their own values, which are not necessarily identical with those from the West. 

It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. 

The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, 

but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. 

The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.

The euphoria over the fall of the Wall and on the basis thereof loudly sang ideological victory of capitalism over communism at the time, were so great, that the Huntington warnings that other types, partly cultural conflicts, were now possible, barely  were heard.

Politicians and  progressive opinion leaders dismissed him as a conservative warmonger,  who  in particular wanted to discredit  Islam.

Huntington's article in Foreign Affairs drew more comments than almost any other essay ever in that magazine. 

His thesis has received much criticism and his implications, methodology and even  basic concepts were seriously questioned. 

In his article, Huntington relies mainly on anecdotal evidence. Against his expectations, serious, empirical studies have shown no serious increase in the frequency of cross-cultural conflicts in the post-Cold War era. 

Some argue that the civilizations he identifies, are fragmented and have low internal unity. Thus, the Islamic world is seriously divided, 

including ethnic groups, as Kurds, Arabs, Persians, Turks, Pakistanis and Indonesians ,which all have very different worldviews.

And while I looked at our present theme from a much smaller perspective, you see, that we are right in the middle of a much wider debate, which is going on today.

Thank you ^_^.....

The Discussion

[13:23] ZANICIA Chau: Thank you Prof
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:23] Nymf Hathaway: Thank you Herman
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:23] herman Bergson: The floor is yours...:-))
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: indeed today there is really cultural chaos, what worries me is IS that toture murders al that don’t think as they do and have a fatwa that basically says that lets eradicate all life on the planet with bio weapons, then everyone get to met the RIGHT god!
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: they are really scary
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: makes me a bit worried
[13:25] ZANICIA Chau: Amazing to think that down through the generations, there always seem to have been far-seeing thinkers born. I agree with Huntington
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: in contrast to science that is the way to see how the world really works and in a peaceful way
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes Bejiita...the Huntington hypothesis is still interesting
[13:26] herman Bergson: The medieval decapitation of people challenges our culture seriously....
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: it is
[13:26] ZANICIA Chau: There is so much fanaticism, that's what is scary
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:27] herman Bergson: I wonder if it is fanaticism.....
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: what do you think it is?
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: yes, i didn’t thought it could really become so horrible, its even worse then in the worst horror movie and its for real!
[13:27] herman Bergson: The way we value a human life is different from how other cultures do....
[13:28] herman Bergson: The decapitation of humans is in an other culture not as shocking as in our for seems....
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: that humans can transform into beasts worse then the scariest monsters u can imagine
[13:28] herman Bergson: but it is a perfect way to provoke for instance the US
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: I don’t get it
[13:28] ZANICIA Chau: The belief that humans are expendable if they don't conform to your thinking is TOTAL fanaticism
[13:29] Beertje Beaumont: they don't see people as individuals but as a group
[13:29] ZANICIA Chau: yes
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: and other groups don’t have right to exist, they are like wasps or ants that should be exterminated
[13:29] herman Bergson: Well Zan..look at Wordwar I for instance....
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: right
[13:29] Beertje Beaumont: yes Bejiita
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: they would kill me immediately if they could get to me
[13:30] ZANICIA Chau: as did Hitler
[13:30] herman Bergson: a loss of 15.000 human lives in an attack which didn’t make sense was not a problem
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: yes its like hitler if not worse
[13:30] herman Bergson: Look at the Russians in WWII.....they through in their infantry without mercy...
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: but worse then Hitler is hard to imagine
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: its at least equal
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: equally bad
[13:31] Beertje Beaumont: how about Pol Pot?
[13:31] herman Bergson: We have "learnt " to abhor things like that now....
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: history proves that these occurences are not new
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: way back
[13:31] herman Bergson: Yes Beertje...history has many examples!
[13:31] ZANICIA Chau: so far have we developed?
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: slowly
[13:32] herman Bergson: I want so say something about that Zan.....
[13:32] Lizzy Pleides: we have many examples in the period of colonialism
[13:32] herman Bergson: Science is our subject in this project....
[13:32] herman Bergson: and yes...we can say that out knowledge has increased....about reality...
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: we have the Higgs boson,
[13:33] herman Bergson: but on the other hand...if Ethics would be our subject....????
[13:33] Beertje Beaumont: Science feels to me a bit cold...with no feelings
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: however we have not seen much of it at all, its more to come
[13:33] herman Bergson: How much progress did we make there?
[13:33] Nymf Hathaway: Its objective Beertje, yes
[13:33] ZANICIA Chau: nil to zero?
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: indeed but science dont kill people, for gods
[13:34] herman Bergson: We are still the same animal indeed, Zan :-))
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: but tries to find the true answer
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: by observation, much better
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: but people do Bejiita - when they have no ethic
[13:34] herman Bergson: But the remark of Beertje touches another serious issue....
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: I say, make science not war!
[13:34] Beertje Beaumont: empathy
[13:34] herman Bergson: the relation between science and society....
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: Hitler used science
[13:34] ZANICIA Chau: yes..human feeling in all this
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: CERN was for ex formed as a peacemaking project after world was 2 to avoid a 3 rd one
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: to make nations come together to share knowledge
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: and make new
[13:36] Beertje Beaumont: it's the question , what do the DO with that knowledge?
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: in turn it have given us in addition to knowledge about particles the www and cancer therapy research
[13:36] herman Bergson: And there Bejiita only Western scientist were involved, I guess
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: not sure about that
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: i guess so
[13:36] herman Bergson: Where there Chinese, people from India?
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: but i don’t know
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: there are all sort of nations involved in it i think
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: shall look that up
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: I think there were
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: there is a particle physics project developing in middle east as well called SESAM
[13:37] herman Bergson: I guess so too Gemma, but did it show?
[13:37] ZANICIA Chau: open sesame...(sorry)
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: and Japan have the KEK facility, and CERN is involved with them as well
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: hehee
[13:38] herman Bergson: So, the hypothesis of Huntington, tho heavily criticized...has a point, I think
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes its a really good name for a such project
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: open sesame! particles show yourself!
[13:38] herman Bergson: On the other hand.....the ideas of Fukuyama make sense too
[13:38] ZANICIA Chau: hehe
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: I think Fukuyama changed his thinking over time
[13:39] herman Bergson: Is the Western way of science and economics the best route to take?
[13:40] herman Bergson: Could be indeed Gemma..I didn’t study him in I might miss a few points
[13:40] ZANICIA Chau: who wins the jackpot on THAT answer?
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: i thnk so, as long economic consumer frenzy don’t get too big along with greed and such
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: well he problem is that the way is the only way so far
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: the only route
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: its much better then blowing each other up for religion for sure
[13:40] herman Bergson: Well Zan...for the time being I stick to my theme and postulate that science is right^_^
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: hahaha
[13:41] Nymf Hathaway: Likes to thank Herman and all others Jumps in to bed :) Till next week :)
[13:41] ZANICIA Chau: touche
[13:41] ZANICIA Chau: Bye Chantal
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: I hope everyone read the article I did re the class
[13:41] herman Bergson: But as you see...
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: bye Chantal
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: in the sl newser
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: sure gemma - great!
[13:42] herman Bergson: this theme can be put in a much wider perspective....
[13:42] Beertje Beaumont: yes
[13:42] Beertje Beaumont: lot's of lectures to come
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: this will be un
[13:42] herman Bergson: Yes Beertje....:-)
[[13:43] herman Bergson: and in the meantime....
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: fun
[13:43] herman Bergson: read Gemma's article at
[13:43] Beertje Beaumont: thank you Herman, i will leave with a lot of questions a usual:)
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: always
[[13:43] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: makes us read a bit tho
[13:43] herman Bergson: too Beertje :-)
[13:43] Beertje Beaumont: smiles
[13:44] herman Bergson: So…thank you all again for your great participation!
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: til next tuesday
[13:44] herman Bergson: Class dismissed :-))

[13:45] Lizzy Pleides: yes, Thank you Herman, great lecture again!

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