Philosophy not just property of West: UCA professor

News ID: 4108088 -
TEHRAN, Oct. 09 (MNA) – Clayton Crockett, a professor and director of religious studies at department of philosophy and religion at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) says “the humanities are a luxury for civilized societies, but they are also a necessity for creating and sustaining what we call civilization.”

“Philosophy can be a radical political thinking and practice of freedom for anyone, anywhere who engages in it. It is not just the property of Greece, Europe, or what is called the West,” Crockett told Mehr News correpondednt.

Following is the full text of the interview:

What are the key factors to create a Civilization?

A civilization emerges given a certain material level of existence, including agriculture, domestication of animals and fire, control of water, and a concentration of population that involves social stratification and develops writing to account for goods and services. This society then allows at least a minority of people to engage in art, culture, literature, and the exploration of ideas that have no explicitly direct technical relevance. Civilizations emerge at distinct times and places around the world, including Sumeria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India, Peru, and Mesoamerica.

What is the status of humanities in creating a Civilization?

The humanities are a luxury for civilized societies, but they are also a necessity for creating and sustaining what we call civilization. These ideas and practices are incredible technologies, and they are utilized for political ideologies, but they are the lifeblood of what we can call humane-ness. Humaneness is not just being human, but being good in a virtuous and ethical way, and it is one way to translate the Confucian term ren. If human life has any ethical or spiritual value beyond simply biological survival, then it depends upon and requires humanities based forms of cultural practice. Ideally these ideas and practices are not completely divorced from more immediate social practices and more scientific technical activities, but there needs to be some separation or space to create the possibility and opportunity for humans to flourish in ethically humane ways. We should also recognize that the humanities do not require an anthropocentric humanism that situates the human being at the center of everything, either ontologically, spiritually, or ethically. But we desperately need the imagination that humanities discourses and practices offer.

What is the status of philosophy in making a Civilization?

Philosophy is an even more reflective and reflexive humanities discourse. Humaneness involves analysis, skepticism, and critical thinking to a large extent, and philosophy is a practice that intensively develops these forms of thinking. Philosophy from its inception in ancient Greece, where it means the search for and love of wisdom, has always claimed the autonomy to think anything at all. This is a form of freedom. Philosophy challenges dogma, received doctrines, and traditions, although it does not have to cast them aside. Philosophy can be a radical political thinking and practice of freedom for anyone, anywhere who engages in it. It is not just the property of Greece, Europe, or what is called the West. Every civilization worth its salt generates its own philosophy, even if it does not express this philosophy in conventional forms.

Interview by Javad Heirannia

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