I argue that British Idealist Bernard Bosanquet’s discussion of cultural phenomena reflects principles present in his logic—principles articulated long before his explicitly absolutist views and from a period in which all agree he clearly held humanist values. This, I conclude, obliges us also to reevaluate some of the standard assessments of Bosanquet’s philosophy and, particularly, those that see his ‘absolutism’ as inconsistent with his humanism.
William Sweet offers a rejoinder to Hendrik Hart’s response. He begins with terminological considerations, and argues that, despite Hart’s further clarifications regarding his use of such terms as ‘faith,’ ‘belief,’ and ‘rational,’ the concerns raised in his first critical essay (“Anti-foundationalism, Hendrik Hart, and the Nature and Function of Religious Belief,” Philosophy & Theology 8:2) still stand. He raises two substantive issues which, he argues, Hart has yet to explain fully and convincingly: the nature of faith, and how what religious (...) believers say about their faith can be understood as meaningful or true. He concludes by suggesting that the future conversation focus on two central questions: the nature of faith, and whether Hart is arguing for an ‘alternative’ vision of meaning and truth, or simply a ‘broader’ one. (shrink)
In this paper I outline some ways in which philosophy can contribute to the study of culture and pluralism, and how such a study may lead to a better understanding of philosophical enquiry. Building on earlier work (Sweet, 2002), I focus on four areas in which these contributions might be made. The first concerns the methodological, ideological, and historical presuppositions of culture and multiculturalism. The second area considers how philosophical discourse affects a culture's "self-understanding". The third area focuses on how (...) (and how far) philosophy may enable a culture to allow diversity and pluralism within the larger community. The fourth area deals with philosophy's dialectical relation with culture -how far philosophy is a product of culture, and whether that affects philosophy's participation in culture. An exploration of these areas will show both what role philosophy has to play in the analysis of culture, and why it is important for philosophers -especially in the English-speaking world- to engage in the "philosophy of culture". (shrink)
It is generally acknowledged that the British Idealism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had a significant influence in the philosophy, politics, and culture of that country. In this study, I argue that it also had a considerable impact throughout much of the English-speaking world, and beyond -- in Canada, Australia, the United States, South Africa, India, and even East Asia. This idealism engaged 'local' philosophical traditions and culture, contributed to them, and sometimes led to 'new' philosophies or (...) traditions, and so may be described as a 'migrating tradition.' While the character and extent of this influence varied according to where and how it migrated, British Idealism can, nevertheless and in amodestway, be said to have had an 'empire'. This study, then, addresses both a historical issue and the broader philosophical question of why British Idealism was successful in this diaspora, and it identifies a number of features of this Idealism which may explain this. (shrink)
In 2012, China officially declared, as a national strategy of governance, the development of ecological consciousness, the promotion of what has been called “eco-civilization,” and the development of “ecological citizens.” In this paper, we argue that the concept of green burial reflects a number of the values underlying “eco-civilization” and ecological citizenship: respect for nature, respect for humanity, and the ecologically-sensitive rational awareness of the “harmony between nature and humanity, as in the saying “天人合一” Tian Ren He Yi = “Nature (...) and human beings combine into an integral whole”). The practice of green burial can play a valuable role in promoting the construction of an eco-civilization, although many people in China—and elsewhere—may be reluctant to accept it. One reason for this may be that the concept and practice of green burial are so new that it does not yet have a place in the ecological awareness of China’s citizens, who are the main subjects of the construction of eco-civilization. In our view, it is necessary to increase citizen awareness of green burials and their value, and to encourage people to participate in the practice. This is a reflection of the values that underlie ecological citizenship, but also serves to promote these values. While our proposal in this paper is to argue for green burial as an element in realizing this model of “eco-civilization” in China, its relevance clearly extends beyond the Chinese context. (shrink)
ln a number of recent essays, Hendrik Hart has elaborated an account of the nature and function of religious belief that, he believes, is post-modern in inspiration and anti-foundationalist in character. ln this paper, I reconstruct what I take to be Hart’s central claims. While Hart does remind us of some important aspects of the nature of religious belief---aspects often overlooked by many critics---l suggest that there are several problems in the account he provides, that there are tensions between his (...) view of religious belief and his claims about how it can function, and that it is not clear that he ultimately avoids adopting a variant of the foundationalism he explicitly rejects. (shrink)
In this paper, I discuss some challenges to the discourse of universal human rights made by those who insist that the existence of pluralism and cultural diversity count against it. I focus on arguments made in a recent article by Vinay Lal but also address several other criticisms of universal human rights-arguments hinted at, but not elaborated, by Lal. I maintain that these challenges frequently fail to distinguish the discourse of human rights from its adoption by certain states to advance (...) foreign policy objectives, and suggest that, even when these criticisms appear plausible, closer inspection reveals that they are either inconsistent or simply do not succeed. I conclude that the notion of universal human rights still has an important place in a culturally diverse and pluralist world. (shrink)
The place of British idealism in the history of political thought has been the subject of much debate. Some have maintained that it represented "a complete change" from the liberal tradition of Mill and Bentham. We re-examine here some features of Bosanquet's political philosophy, arguing that evidence for its alleged "conservative" or "illiberal" character is far from conclusive. Still, while there are a number of key liberal values to be found in Bosanquet's thought, in several important respects he breaks with (...) the earlier liberal tradition in Britain. This will allow us to draw some conclusions about the place of idealism in the history of 19th century British liberalism. (shrink)
Earlier versions of this paper were read to the Departments of Philosophy at the University of New Brunswick and at Saint Francis Xavier University and to the Canadian Societh for the Study of Religion at Queen’s University, Kingston. The authors wish to thank the participants for their comments.