International Conference

"Unity" between East and West: Organic Totality from Muhammad Abduh to Post-Structuralism

Philosophers at all times and in all geographical regions expressed an organic concept of “unity” or “totality.” In the Timaeus, Plato outlines a “supreme originating principle of Becoming and the Cosmos” (Timaeus 29e) and concludes that the Cosmos “resembles most closely that Living Creature of which all other living creatures, severally and generically, are portions” (30c). The idea of an organic unity appears in Plotinus (divine simplicity) and in Spinoza. The Romantic quest for an immanent spirituality, which saw nature as the mirror of a human-centered cosmos evokes still another idea of unity. Philosophical descriptions of unity are also very much present in non-Western philosophies. The Arab notion of tawhid or the Oneness of God has been a main topic from Avicenna to Muhammad Abduh. In Japan, Nishida Kitaro’s basho (place) is an organic phenomenon holding together the manifold. Some of the most straightforward elaborations of this thought come from Russian philosophers living circa 1900 who established complex philosophies around the idea of “All-Unity” (vseyedinstvo) or also that of sobornost (spiritual community). Further, one can mention Bergson’s durée pure,  hermeneutic ways of dealing with the individual and the general, or Derrida’s concept of play.

The conference is of strictly philosophical and not theological nature. Parallels between traditions and the relevance of older philosophies for the contemporary world should be emphasized. Every presentation should be understandable for philosophers from other fields because the purpose is to establish communications between different traditions.

The organizers will select the most relevant contributions and pursue a book publication. This book is supposed to be coherent, and selected authors might be asked to transform their papers in view of the book's general context.

Possible Sections

  • Structures and rhizomes: unity and fragmentation in (post-)structuralism
  • Unity in ancient Greek philosophy
  • Plato an organicist?
  • Unity in the social sciences
  • Unity across philosophical cultures (comparative perspectives: East Asian, Arab, Russian…)
  • Emergentism. Analytical alternatives to mechnanism
  • Organic alternatives in aesthetics
  • Unity versus totality. The danger of totalitarianism
  • The Philosophy of Whitehead
  • Gadamer and “organic hermeneutics”
  • Organicism and “deep ecology” 
  • The idea of unity in bioethics and health science
  • Organic theories of state
  • Unity and Tawhid in Islamic Philosophy
  • Unity as 'living texts' in early Greek sources on Islamic History.
  • Space, Euclidean Geometry and Unity in Early Modern Europe

At GUST (Kuwait), February 7-9, 2019.

Email: [email protected] (use this address also for inquiries)

Abstracts (300 words) due on Oct. 15 (extended to Oct. 30), 2018

Notification of acceptance: Dec. 1, 2018