The Future of Philosophical Discourse: Meaning and the Concept of the Human Person
Dr Byron Kaldis.
This paper raises the issue of whether philosophy itself can any longer be expected to exercise its foundational critical function with respect to the question of meaningful life that human beings could envisage for themselves in future. In this sense this issue is at the same time a questioning of the traditional role of philosophy as a critical inquiry aiming at (a) the widest possible application and allowing (b) nothing more ultimate than itself to be reducible to.
Thus the role of philosophy as the supposed centre of humanities is being questioned. Why this state of affairs? Why this loss of faith in this kind of discourse?
The question of ‘What is the meaning of philosophy?’, seen from the perspective advanced in this paper, is thus linked to the question of ‘How are we to understand the concept of human person?’. This, in turn, raises once again the issue of whether the primacy should be attached to Theoria/Contemplation or to moral action. Is the future of being human and having a meaningful life any longer equivalent to philosophy having meaning?
The discussion centres around a cluster of themes where a number of problems crucial for the future of humanity are all the more visible: techno-science, information technology, environmental dangers, and biotechnology in relation to religion. This cluster of controversial issues is examined as a kind of application template against which the more general question of the meaning of philosophy and its role is being tested. What we see in contemporary controversies around these themes is a displacement of traditional philosophical discourse from its erstwhile critical centre-place. Nevertheless, such a change or rather re-arrangement within the humanistic core and its hierarchical disciplinary structure is itself in need of philosophical elucidation. It appears then that philosophical discourse is-despite this questioning-paradoxically present or rather bifurcated between a censorious presence and a critical absence.
Dr Byron Kaldis (Greece)
Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy
The Greek Open University
(Virtual Presentation, English)