I | Вестн. Том. гос. ун-та. Философия. Социология. Политология. 2012. № 3 (19).

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n.pdf Let us consider carefully the basic thesis contained in the thought of JohnGray.The way of thinking of the contemporary West more and more reflects, in itsessence, the Enlightenment project. The Enlightenment project underpins a conceptionof morality and society based on universal principles: principles purely rational,independent of the specific tradition and culture of peoples. In particular, allcontemporary schools of political thought in the West should be re-described asversions of the Enlightenment project. The liberal thought or liberalism is perhapsthe greatest of these schools. Liberalism, especially when it expresses the ideologicalproject of the Enlightenment, should be abandoned because it is bound to resultin nihilism and destructive exploitation of the natural world. For example, the callto a universal civilization, which is typical of certain forms of Enlightenment orideological liberalism, can support, or fail to adequately counter the current anddehumanizing process of global diffusion of the practice of economic laissez-faire.These serious limitations of the Enlightenment-inspired ideological liberalism canat least be mitigated if we assume the perspective of classical political theorists(such as Smith, Hume and John Stuart Mill) or theoretical exponents of traditionalconservatism (as Edmund Burke, Oakeshott and Montaigne). For each of thesetheorists, in fact, one cannot justify any economic or political practice if it is conceivedas independent from its specific historical context, or as independent of agiven community. This involves, among the other things, a rejection of abstract andperfectionist conceptions of human nature, and a rejection of the idea of comparingthe different values and life plans of individuals and peoples. In this framework,the main effort of philosophy, especially of political philosophy, is the reconstructionof a phenomenology of the various forms of moral and political life on theplanet, starting from a position of absolute skepticism or post-Pyrrhonism.Since 1997, John Gray is professor of 'European Thought' at LSE (i.e. LondonSchool of Economics and Political Science). It is also a Fellow of Jesus College atOxford University, where he taught until 1997 as professor and mentor. He hascollaborated, as it does currently, with many newspapers and magazines, writingspecifically on political theory and philosophy. He has published many essays andmonographs [e.g.: in 1989 (with Routledge), Liberalisms: Essays in Political Philosophy,in 1993 (with Routledge), Beyond the New Right: Markets, Governmentand the Common Environment, in 1995 (with Routledge), Enlightenment's Wake:1 Marco Negri is a Ph.D. student in political philosophy at the University of Pisa. He graduated from theUniversity of Pavia with a thesis entitled 'The Problem of Motivations in Ethics'.Politics and Culture at the Close of the Modern Age, in 1996 (with Princeton UniversityPress), Isaiah Berlin, in 1997 (Polity Press), Endgames: Questions in LateModern Political Thought, the most recent, in 1998 (with Granta), *False Down:The Delusions of Global Capitalism].Consider now the interview with Professor Gray.Q1. In your latest essay*, you have argued that a free world market, that is, aworldwide system of laissez faire, would be a global tragedy. You have come tothe conclusion that the market should always be driven by some form of centralizedpower, capable of guarantying the safety and welfare of people. But what kindof government would be able to exercise such power?R1. A world government does not exist and will not exist in any future that wecan reasonably imagine. We could only develop and implement a few necessaryconstraints to the world markets through the cooperation of the major governmentsand with the assistance of supranational institutions. I have doubts that the currentsupranational institutions are adequate to the enormity of the task, but they are allwhat we have.Q2. You have been studying the liberal thought for a long time. You seemed toargue, sometimes, that although many versions of philosophical and political liberalismare not dead, they are nevertheless quite ill. Now, do you believe there is stilla form of liberalism that can, in practice, legitimize a government committed to thesafety and welfare of people?R2. Liberalism has been corrupted by arrogant universalistic pretensions. Liberalismshould not be thought of as a prescription of an ideal regime that all peopleshould strive to adopt. It should instead be conceived as a project for a modusvivendi which is part of a set of social arrangements that will always remain different.Q3. The gulf that separates, on the international arena, rich countries from poorones is historically difficult to fill. But strong economic inequalities also affectmany societies of that portion of the so-called rich world (for example, strong economicinequities that affect many western societies). Do you think that the problemconcerning the redistribution of the resources (both within a rich society and betweenrich and poor societies) could in principle be solved?R3. It is not impossible to ensure, within a single society, a distribution of resourcesable to meet widely accepted standards of fairness. But the redistributionbetween states is much more difficult. I think it is better to focus on the causes ofextreme poverty (including the current system of laissez-faire), rather than aimingat an unattainable situation of global equality.Q4. Which are, in your opinion, the most polite or humane societies that haveexisted throughout history?R4. I prefer not to specify any particular society as kind or humane. There aremany types of kindness or humanity and many ways not to be kind or humane.Q5. You often uses the expression 'human flourishing', usually referring to oneof your purest ideals. What exactly happens when a person 'flourishes'?R5. Human flourishing means three things: developing the potential of a person,which is precisely a human potential. Realization of the chances that are opento that person, and which are uniquely her own, and full participation in a particularway of life, or set of ways of life. Often these three dimensions of human flourishingare in conflict with each other.Q6. You refer sometimes to the need of a community for the human beings.What is more precisely this need? (You also said, for example, that in Western societies,individualism is a kind of historical destiny. But what then is the need for acommunity for people who have individualism as their historical destiny?)R6. There are individualistic communities just as solidaristic communities.There is no one single model of good community. Moreover, many people, in thelate modern societies, belong to many communities, often of different types. Thecentral question for political philosophy is not to determine what are the best communitiesbut to conceive the conditions for a peaceful coexistence between differentcommunities.Q7. Do you think that in political philosophy one should elect history as one'sown guide. If so, is this a way of suggesting that human nature should not be regardedas something that changes significantly over time?R7. Human nature does change over time, but not in its politically and morallyimportant aspects. The postmodern ideal that human nature is nothing more than acultural construct is only an illusion of the late modernity.Q8. You argue that cultures are important and note that there are many differentcultures on Earth. Is this a way of suggesting that human nature must be regardedas something that changes significantly with respect to space?R8. Human nature is shaped differently with respect to different cultures, butthere are human needs that are universal. Unfortunately, these common humanneeds are often conflicting. Different cultures come to light in part by differentlyresolving conflicts about the universal human needs.Q9. You then believe that anthropology should be a source of inspiration forpolitical theory?R9. Anthropology is an important source for political theory. The study of prehistory,then, is as important as the study of history.Q10. You are quite suspicious about the role of rationality in practical matters(for example, you are quite wary about something like an Enlightenment project).Do you also have some personal reasons for taking this position? If you have anypersonal reasons, do you believe that they are important?R10. I derive my skepticism about rationalism from the exercise of reason. Themost important use of human reason coincides with the discovery of its limits.Q11. There is nothing that the people of Europe should and could learn fromEastern societies and cultures?R11. There is much that Western societies can learn from Eastern cultures. Thephilosophical and religious traditions of Western societies are only a small segmentof human thought. It is time that philosophy (including political philosophy) becomestruly multicultural.Q12. Wittgenstein thought that the sense of wonder was one of the things aboutwhich humanity should care more. Do you think that the sense of wonder couldand should be taught?R12. I doubt that the sense of wonder can be taught. But at least you should notteach people not to do it.Q13. You have sometimes criticized what you call the 'academic nomenklatura'(mainly in the U.S.). What does not work very well with the academic nomenklatura?R13. The academic nomenklatura are universal. Their main weakness is to putthe internal discourse of the academy before the thought that seeks to understandthe world. Perhaps this is an inevitable professional deformation, although I hopenot.Q14. Is there something you want for philosophy in the future?R14. Philosophy cannot govern the practice, but can return us to practice withfewer illusions. This is my hope for philosophy.

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 I | Вестн. Том. гос. ун-та. Философия. Социология. Политология. 2012. № 3 (19).

I | Вестн. Том. гос. ун-та. Философия. Социология. Политология. 2012. № 3 (19).

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