THE HUMANITIES AND THE HUMANISM OF THE FUTURE: Need of Sense, New Anthropology and New Ethics

por Gabriella Bianco (CECIES)

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” (Albert Einstein)

Refusing to Recognize the Two Cultures Paradigm means in the final analysis, end up considering the Sciences as Humanities. (Professor Tom McLeish, Department of Physics of the University of Durham, UK)

The Two Cultures Paradigm: “Modern science is itself radically incoherent, not when it seeks to understand subhuman organisms and the cosmos, but when it seeks to understand man". (Walter Isaacson & Walker Percy)

“The only real antidote to the temptation to barbarianism has a name: humanism”. The time has come to change civilization and to re-model our “Terre-Patrie” (Land/Fatherland). (Edgar Morin, 1993)

Just like the literary manifestos of Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Naturalism, Symbolism, Futurism and Surrealism proclaim new literary movements and cultural epochs, and trigger these movements by the very act of their proclamation, in this Manifesto, based on my own personal vision, I propose - just like the trans-humanities do with culture, encompassing all humanistic technologies and all practical applications of cultural theories - education as trans-education, based on the constructive and transformative potential of educational theories .

In education, there is much that binds the humanist disciplines together. Each provides its students with means for making the implicit explicit. Each seeks to preserve the languages and stories that reveal the collective memory of cultures. Each involves, in one way or another, the creation and study of texts. Each instills in its practitioners and students, methods for critical evaluation of theories and ideas. Each requires disciplined practices in the art of articulation and dialogue.

Through the preservation of the humanities we extend the long tradition of addressing and containing any contents of human and social complexity, and of seeking better ways to fulfill this complexity. The humanities establish the foundation for lives of reflection, empathy, critical thinking and meaningful conversation. It has been true since ancient times, and it remains true in our time. In a time when the value is often associated solely with the ability to generate economic profit, the humanities are in danger of being undervalued. Yet the skills, values, and insights the humanities impart, are essential for a disciplined and inquisitive mind, as well as for a civil society based on mutual respect and human rights.

At the same time, transformative thinkers and humanistic inventors support the idea that the people who will thrive in the future, will be those who, as Steve Jobs put it, “get excited by both the humanities and technology”. In other words, people who can connect the arts to the sciences and have a rebellious sense of wonder, are open to the beauty of both, as all disciplines impart to students, essential knowledge, concepts, and methods, that serve as tools and strategies for understanding and evaluating the human condition. As important as the pursuit of technical and scientific expertise undoubtedly is, such a pursuit must go hand in hand with the aims of the Humanities. Individuals cannot do without the tools and strategies of the humanities, nor can democratic societies, because rational contestation and interpretation present difficulties for us both as individuals and as a society.

Is there any activity in the humanities that may correspond to the transformative status of technology and politics? We know that technology serves as the practical application of the natural sciences, and politics as the extension of the social sciences; both technology and politics are designed to transform what their respective disciplines study objectively: nature and society. Against the idea according to which science and technique constitute the central base for moral and social progress – science and technique can be used to liberate man or to annihilate him – the new anthropology and the new ethics we propose in this Manifesto, indicate the unavoidability of the dialogue between science and humanities/philosophy, which, re-launching the values of life, may correspond to the individual and collective need of sense.

A valid argument for the enduring value of the humanities is connected to the possibility, in the digital era, to analyze information critically and marshal key points to make persuasive arguments. Yet this is not enough: the study of the humanities empowers us to question any assumption, to communicate and understand our history and culture, as well as the values and differences of others, evaluating what is and imagining what could be. The humanities are not only relevant, but crucial for individual and societal progress and well-being. Therefore, humanities matter. (Meric Gertler, U of T Magazine, Summer 2015)

For the humanities to survive and to enhance their intellectual impact on society, their transformative branches need to be recognized and institutionalized in contemporary education, by establishing programs in creative thinking and humanistic inventions. Humanistic inventor-ship share the future. (Mikhail Epstein)

There are urgent lessons to learn for education, the political process of decision-making on science and technology, our relationship with the global environment, and the way that both religious and secular communities celebrate and govern their lives, within an ethos – as fundamental values of a people and a nation – which orientates the conscience and life of a human community, opposed to inequality, exclusion, racism and fundamentalism, toward a higher model of civilization.

The Humanities and the Humanism of the Future:

Need of Sense, New Anthropology and New Ethics.

“I have come to regard a commitment to the humanities as nothing less than an act of intellectual defiance, of cultural dissidence.” (the New Republic, literary editor Leon Wieseltier, 2013)

Refusing to Recognize the Two Cultures Paradigm means in the final analysis, end up considering the Sciences as Humanities. (Professor Tom McLeish, Department of Physics of the University of Durham, UK)

“The only real antidote to the temptation to barbarianism has a name: humanism”. The time has come to change civilization and to re-model our “Terre-Patrie” (Land/Fatherland). (Edgar Morin, 1993)


After the “linguistic turn” of the 50s and 60s and the differentiation between “continental philosophy” and “analytical philosophy”, in the last twenty years a new ethical turn has taken place, where humanistic culture and scientific culture attempt a new composition. The study of philosophy, religion, literature, languages, history, drama and art engages us in a discussion about what it means to be human, enabling us to think broadly about our problems and the values that guide us in forging solutions. The humanities foster cross-cultural understanding and engagement.

They investigate the meaning of practices, texts and artifacts and thus encourage a critical rethinking of individual happiness and cultural vitality. (Meric Gertler, UfT, Summer 2015) At the same time, the primacy of techno-scientific reason represents a structural anomaly within the dominating paradigm of modern rationality and shows – in the crisis of the modern philosophical logos – the necessity of a re-composition of different thoughts and approaches. The problems posed by scientific discoveries require philosophical answers, not only in the ethical-practical sense, but also through philosophical anthropology, recuperating the subject as human self-conscience, as the protagonist of his/her world and the subject of history, toward a full correspondence between the self and the objective reality.

While the ontological and philosophical roots of science are becoming apparent, the present cultural debate expresses efficaciously the need of the re-composition of the humanistic and scientific cultures, imposed by the crisis of democracy within the Western tradition, which forces us to re-think the “impossible” conjunction between democracy and capitalism, the necessity of establishing a global dialogue for peace against war, globalizing democracy, social justice, human rights and freedom, re-articulating the original political dimension between zoe and bios, nature and culture.

In his famous classification of the sciences, Francis Bacon not only catalogued those branches of knowledge that already existed in his time, but also anticipated the new disciplines he believed would emerge in the future: the "desirable sciences." We know that technology serves as the practical application of natural sciences, and politics as the extension of social sciences: both technology and politics are designed to transform what their respective disciplines study, namely, nature and society.

But, is there any activity in the humanities that corresponds to the transformative status of technology and politics? In Epstein's theory, the future-oriented humanities seek to create their own ways of changing what they study and transforming the human world, as trans-humanities, namely, transformative humanities. (Mikhail Epstein, 2013) The trans-humanities are defined in Mikhail Epstein’s words as “the co-creativity of those who understand culture”, as the constructive and transformative potential of cultural theories.

In accepting Epstein’s provocative assertion, my proposal regarding “comparative education”, entails trans-education, which, just like the trans-humanities, contemplates the transformation of education, just like trans-humanities do with culture, focusing on the constructive and transformative potential of educational theories, turning them into transformative education. Human creativity involves values, aesthetic judgments, social emotions, personal consciousness, and a moral sense.

These are what the arts and humanities teach us – and why those realms are as valuable to our education as science, technology, engineering, and math. If we humans are to uphold our end of the man-machine symbiosis, if we are to retain our role as partners with our machines, we must continue to nurture the humanities, the wellsprings of our creativity. Only if we go beyond the dichotomy ratio and pathos, we can overcome the division between natural sciences and human sciences, between analytical philosophy and continental philosophy, between humanistic culture and scientific culture.

At the same time, the ethical problems posed by the humanities and education – as well as those posed by scientific discoveries – require philosophical answers, not only in the ethical-practical sense, but also deepening the ontological and philosophical roots of science. The humanities are not only subjects, but express a spirit, the spirit of realization of man through the different products of culture. In the final analysis, all subjects have the same value. For that reason, the real development can be reached with any study subject, if it is used in an adequate way, namely, in a comprehensive “spirit”. No subject has the exclusive monopole of the cultural formation; all the subjects have a cultural value, to the extent to which they contribute to enrich the meaning of the experience of the individual.

Literary, scientific and technical subjects are only different keys to the human realm, that Edgar Morin defines as “complex”. In his theory of complexity, economy, environment, fanaticism, immigration, globalization, democracy; all these aspects go under the principle of “complexity”: complexity crosses consciences, defeats fears, confronts ideas, uses imagination and finally, “opens us to hope”, cultivating fraternity and solidarity, as well as exalting the need of sense. In a word, we teach for life, whether we teach humanities, scientific or economic subjects.

As the humanities are tools “for life”, my proposal not only involves "comparative education", but it involves it as trans-education; in contemplating the transformation of education into trans-education, based on the constructive and transformative potential of educational theories, we can provoke the change we need for a better world, just like the transformative humanities do with culture, encompassing all humanistic technologies and all practical applications of cultural theories.

I’ll try to deepen some of these questions through my manifesto. As we know, manifestos are neither factual, nor fictional – they are performative. The proper place of manifestos is precisely in the yet unmarked domain of theoretical inventions, as inventor-ship is as indispensable a companion to creativity in the humanities as technological inventor-ship is to science.

The transformative humanities – as well as the transformative education we are embracing – entail both modes of cognitive advancement recognized by the sciences, the discovery of some existing principles and facts, and the invention of those tools and ideas that can transform a given area of study or a way of thinking Is there any activity in the humanities that would correspond to the transformative status of technology and politics? Do we need a practical branch of the humanities which functions similarly to technology and politics, but is specific to the cultural domain? In view of the future, can we speak about revisiting ancient forms of thought? If so, can ethics – in times of globalization – give testimony of universally accepted norms? Do we need the Humanities to save ourselves from nihilism and from the laws of the strongest?

Facing the human, scientific, philosophical and cultural challenges of the XXI century, this document is at the same time, an invitation to reflect upon the past in function of the present and the future and a compromise:

In this manifesto

we invite philosophers, scientists, historians, artists, writers, to face the great ontological, epistemological, anthropological, historical, political, ethical, aesthetical questions posed by our times, to open/deepen the debate around our values and principles, enriching education, humanizing society and, in the final analysis, change the world.

We express the hope that the future of the Third Millennium opens to a new humanism, to an ethics of liberation and to the hegemony of values in favor of life, anchored to historicism and hermeneutics, together withbiology and the defense of the environment, adopting a universal ethos which may lead to a renewed democracy applied to political systems, to education, to human relations, in the respect of human rights and a correct communication in the present conditions of global inter-dependency.

One notable thing we learn by attending to the difficulties is that all human beings need to be seen in ethics in the light of a conception of what is humanly important. Bearing this in mind, we can say that in ethics all individuals are seen, not only as beings to whom life matters, but as beings who merit concern and solicitude, as being human is morally significant.

To the extent that this accounts of the importance of being human, it challenges us in bringing human beings into focus in ethics, it gives us insight into different ways in which we can fail to see each other clearly. We may find that we are operating with inadequate conceptions of what is important in human life and that we need to reshape our sense of what matters, namely of what is humanly important. In our efforts to get human beings empirically into focus in ethics, we have a standing obligation not only to revisit and, if necessary, rework our conception of human importance, but also to ensure that our best conception is indeed the lens through which we look at our fellow human beings.

It is only on the ground of the answers to the original need of sense and identity, that a democratic confrontation can take place between different systems and Weltanschauungen. As Norberto Bobbio puts it, it is the problem of the ethos in democracy, which is the key-problem we need to solve. It is the topic of ethics – which cannot be solved with a simple civic spirit – and of the whole political philosophy of modernity, which challenges our thought for a better world. The humanities can then be the critical consciousness of a new democratic culture, in which science and technique stop producing the instruments for war, but act to liberate man and accompany him/her on the path of his/her own liberation.

a. The Strength of Humanism

The strength of humanism, which can also be its weakness, lies in the sensible and historical forms which constitute a privileged path for the access to the truth of man and of the world. Humanism cannot only be interpreted through the anthropological value of cultural productions, but rather humanitas – together with the human identity – is inevitably connected to the expressive function of the technical and practical opening to reality. The truth attracts the existential action of the individual, which, forging the world, forges himself – together with the historical-cultural world, which reflects innumerable images of him.

Humanism constitutes the starting point of modernity and it is at the same time, an ideal of reason, (the Republican ideal of Kant), which never realizes itself in history. Humanism, as it establishes itself in human rights, faces historicism – like Leo Strauss maintains – namely the dissolution of the natural right in history. Differently from Hegel, who submits reason to the tribunal of history, Kant submits history to the tribunal of reason and in so doing, overcomes historicism. Kant’ s assumption of ideal humanism is not the patrimony of a class, of a people or a race, but of the whole humanity. Human rights are neither the patrimony of humanist thinkers nor of revolutionaries: they do not derive from the ancients, but from the liberty of the moderns.

With specific reference to human rights and citizenship in Hannah Arendt, when she debated the presence of thousands of refugees crossing Europe during the inter-war period, she reflected upon the citizens’ rights and concluded that, as they were tied to the Nation–State, it was not only impossible to distinguish the rights of man from the citizens’ rights, but also that the disappearance of the latter involved the disappearance of the former. What happened was that human existence, reduced to “bare life”, deprived of any juridical protection, was exposed to every offence, turning the human being as such, superfluous.

The problem was – and is, in the present crisis of epochal migrations - how to safeguard the existence and the life of these people, destined, in the very frame of the Nation–State crisis, to become the “vanguard of their peoples”. Deprived of the human rights guaranteed by their citizenship, they find themselves deprived of all rights. This is the thesis expressed in “The Origin of Totalitarianism”, which can be associated to the situation of many “illegal” migrants in present time. In the introduction of The origin of Totalitarianism, Sunset of the National States, Hannah Arendt concludes wondering what measure should we taken, in an unhuman world, if we do not want to reduce humanity to an empty word. In other words, what do we owe to the world, when we have been expelled from it? The answer is that, when thousands of people are fugitive, the reality of the world is fully expressed in and by that flight. So, if the “limited political meaning” of migrants resides in the difference between “strength” and “power”, emphasizing “power” means the capacity of actively reacting in acting together. (H. Arendt, L’umanità in tempi bui).

Philosophy is then a sign of such a provocation.

The defense of humanitas is inseparable from the understanding of the original situation of man, who is invited to freely encounter the truth, a truth which we must recuperate, if we want to be free people, as our human identity is inseparable from its essence as crossroad of paths: one’s own path, the path of each of us, the path of mankind, the path of the being. So, man defines himself through freedom, and therefore, he is nothing if he cannot make use of his freedom. Yet, this humanistic project, based on the individual freedom, needs to be completed with a political project which defends democracy and human rights, namely collective rights, which are universal rights.

b. The Emancipatory Role of Literature within the Humanities Toward the Need of Sense.

In this last decade, the multiplication of texts in defense of literature and the teaching of literature, has shaped a real “common front” against the shortage of funds, the political attacks or simply the loss of the aura of the humanistic subjects.

From Tzvetan Todorov, to Antoine Compagnon, from Vincent Jouve to Jean-Marie Schaeffer in France, as well as to David McCallam and Martha Nussbaum in the United States, many have felt the need to re-launch the humanities, re-defining their peculiarities and potentials.

Approaching an author like Yves Citton, gives us the possibility of inserting him among those who not only defend literary studies, but who, as a political philosopher and a literary theoretician, shows a very strong critical coherence. Both in approaching Spinoza’s thought, the 18th century as well as in his studies of contemporary politics, Citton tries to create a new hermeneutic ontology, capable of mirroring and guiding the interpretative processes of our time.

Humanistic disciplines represent a useful territory to consider the ways to relate with the text, and, therefore, the ways of functioning of the categories of the thought and human representation. His essayLire, interpréter, actualiser. Pourquoi les études littéraires(2007), which precedes of some year, Future Humanities, represents an enlightening example. In 58 theses, within a dialogue between French post-structuralism and the American School of the reader response– such as Stanley Fish –, Citton focuses on the text and on the reader as extremely mobile, articulate, in constant motion between inter-relation and reciprocal construction.

In the 58 theses, the literary text emerges as an interpretative event, which renews itself again and again. In reading, what takes places is a collective construction of sense and the relation text-reader is always impregnated with an ethical dimension. Interpreting is not only “making sense”, but becomes the expression of human subjectivity, within a sense of “hospitality” toward our own alterity. For Citton, reading always entails “the capacity of reconfiguring a problem related to the historical situation of the reader-interpreter, without any correspondence with the historical situation of the reader, but rather using – where possible – the epochal differences, to cast a new light on the present”. (Y. Citton, Lire, interpréter, actualiser) reconfiguring the morphology of the present, in a permanent process of construction and re-construction.

In his studies of the 18th century, Citton tries to contextualize the text, as the problem is not so much the author and to some extent, not even the text, but rather the interpretative event, as an element which, from an epoch to another, from a cultural system to another, goes through the differences and the resistances which separate them. It is then the interpretative contemporaneity which is relevant for a text, differently from the text in Benjamin, which is saved by the interpreter. As the original essence of a text is always lost, it is only by intervening on the present of a text that it is possible to save it, not in a metaphysical-scatological dimension, but rather in its political concreteness. (Walter Benjamin, Il compito del traduttore). As the truth of a text is never given – and never closed – a shared interpretation constitutes the symbolic bone of each social organism.

In Citton’s studies of Spinoza, such as Spinoza et les sciences sociales. De la puissance de la multitude à l’économie des affects(with Frédéric Lordon - 2008), as well as Mythocratie. Storytelling et imaginaire de gauche(2010), politics seems to configure itself as an interchange of emotional fluxes – like post-truth seems to suggest - much more than as rational communicative inter-relations. As, in Foucault, the power is not a repressive structure from above, but is a direct emanation of citizens, the storytelling seems to be the most convincing semiotic and psychological instrument of collective persuasion. How? Through the narrative machine, which, in its symbolic efficaciousness, becomes the real link between body, affections and social organism.

Yet, if in the Humanities, the narration is also a technique of struggle and survival, thehumanitiesbecome the central point of an ethical re-orientation of this interpretative mechanism, capable of shaking the order of our priorities and our goals. In accessing our individual and autonomous interpretative power, the interpretative activity becomes the strongest means to promote new emancipatory beliefs, reconfiguring its own narrations toward a new society. May this capacity find newer and newer spaces and conditions to become the vital strength for change!

2. The Dialogical Potential of Culture

a. Regaining Bakhtin’s Dialogism

Dialogic relationships . . . are an almost universal phenomenon, permeating all human speech and all relationships and manifestations of human life—in general, everything that has meaning and significance.

Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, 1984

Mikhail Bakhtin's dialogism serves as a regulative principle in the ennoblement of human relationships. Dialogic relationships are constitutive of human personality itself. Bakhtin shows that dialogism, and all linguistic phenomena related to it, is a constitutive characteristic of all languages. As such, dialogism is not some abstract concept, but lies at the very foundation of culture and its creative potential.

Dialogism in its normative role (like Kantian “regulative ideas”) can serve as the standard for evaluating and criticizing the existing relations within a socially and culturally diverse world. Dialogism should become the norm broadly recognized by both the scholarly community and the “public” on all levels—inter-subjective, social, and cultural.

The dilemmas facing contemporary societies can be understood in terms of the Bakhtinian contrast between the one-dimensional monologist world of stereotypes and authoritarian diktats and the pluralistic dialogic world of creative thinking, recognition of the others as equals, personal moral responsibility and shared co-existence, opened to the cultural-historical creativity of individuals.

One classic and relevant source of innovation is Bakhtin’s dialogist philosophy. Bakhtin’s ground-breaking work had a revolutionizing impact on the development of the humanities in the twentieth century. Dialogist philosophy, developed by Bakhtin and other philosophers, grounds a view of human beings and society based on the principles of dialogue and communication on all levels. Bakhtin’s philosophy advocates for a democratic universal participation as the necessary basis for society, highlighting the personalist and dialogist dimensions of the human sciences.

In his Toward a Philosophy of the Act, written in the early1920s, Bakhtin (1993) critically analysed the “philosophy of life” as he strove to find a firm basis for the human sciences and their ethical aspects. Understanding can never be achieved only from the point of view of the self: it requires the outside perspective of the other. He held that understanding is dialogist and, ideally, dialogue should respect differences and interaction with others should be conducted in an ethical manner. Thus, the ideas of dialogism and of responsible, ethical forms of humanistic reasoning, should be central to theoretical discussions and praxis in the human sciences.

In Bakhtin’s philosophy, dialogism is intimately related to the concept of the “other” and to “I-other” relationships. He grounded a personalist understanding of the Being as the co-being of I-other interrelations. Dialogist relationships between I and the other (and ultimately between I and the Absolute Other) constitute the structure of the Being understood as an “event.”

Bakhtin sees the “I” and “the other” in opposition within the unity of the event of the Being, yet each retains its uniqueness and equal value. He describes the I-other relationship as simultaneous, “mutual out-sidedness” and connectedness in one co-being: as independent-interdependent or “non-fused yet undivided” (1993, 41).

Unlike the natural sciences (“thought about the world”), the human sciences—sciences of the spirit—study human beings and their spiritual world, the world of culture to which the cognizing subjects themselves (“thought in the world”) belong (Bakhtin 1986c, 162). In the natural sciences, knowledge is explanation, while in the human sciences, knowledge refers to understanding. The natural sciences constitute a monologist form of knowledge, wherein the cognizing subject contemplates only “a voiceless thing.” But the study of the humanities is the “expressive and speaking Being,” the being of the human soul. In the human sciences, the subject as such cannot be studied as a thing, as, as a subject, it cannot “become voiceless, and consequently, cognition of it can only be dialogist”. (1986d, 161)

Bakhtin’s methodology challenges monologist thinking. For him, the principal epistemological categories are the various types of dialogist relationships among persons, which constitute the goal of knowledge in humanities. For example, in linguistics, the crucial categories are forms and types of speech communication.

Although human practical activity can be explained in part on an objective level, the crucial aspect is understanding human consciousness, motives, goals, and other subjective factors underlying it. Bakhtin holds that true understanding requires the involvement of two or more consciousness-es and that process is dialogist. As research implies questioning and answering, it is also a kind of dialogue. In the human sciences, which study the creativity of the human spirit, understanding is the basic method of knowing.

Bakhtin’s methodology goes beyond texts and postmodern deconstruction towards individuals and communication with humans as spiritual beings. Understanding means to grasp the living meaning of emotional experience and expression. Creative understanding involves “the dialogic movement” of correlation of a given text with other texts and reinterpretation, in new contexts, as “a dialogue of personalities”. (1986d, 161–162)

This opens the space for creativity. As creative understanding complements the text and it is “the co-creativity of those who understand”. (1986b, 142) Bakhtin stresses the “living word,” the dialogist relationship between individuals. Like individuals, each culture also needs another culture to provide it with an outside perspective to overcome its one-sidedness and for better understanding itself.

One of the key concepts in the theory of dialogism is “out-sidedness,” which means the ability to see things from an outside perspective and to think beyond schemata. I and the other occupy positions of out-sidedness to each other, thus making possible a greater understanding and growth of both the self and the other, within true dialogue.

Bakhtin as a trans-cultural thinker and his concept of out-sidedness has inspired a theory of “trans-culture.” Trans-culture is a step in the ongoing human quest for freedom: it liberates individuals from self-imposed cultural identities and invites them to cultural self-consciousness and creativity. Its concept of critical universality suggests an internal diversity of individuals, their dialogic openness to others and self-identification primarily as members of humanity (Epstein, 2009). Bakhtin’s ideas regarding a philosophical anthropology offer a new view of the phenomenon of humanity, including human self-awareness and one’s capacity to be other to oneself. The human being does not always remain the same, but he repeats and reproduces the human becoming. The human being always carries in himself history.

b. Language is intrinsically dialogist.

Dialogue is crucial to Bakhtin’s view of philosophy. He saw the turn from the monologist paradigm of the idealistic classical philosophy to the dialogist paradigm as the main event in the twentieth century philosophy. He put forward the idea of the universal character of dialogue, and showed “the dialogic nature of consciousness, the dialogic nature of human life itself”. (1984, 293)

Language is intrinsically dialogist and deals with the inter-action between people engaged in communication. Dialogist relationships constitute the very foundation of all human activities—self-consciousness, inter-subjective relationships, cognition, communication, and cultural creativity—from the personal level to the most general level of dialogue among cultures.

The dialogist worldview entails openness to the other and co-operative relationships. It implies also a view of culture as “an open unity” (1986c, 6) and a nondeterministic concept of an open history, which is result of human actions, within an ethics of co-responsibility. In contrast to the short-sighted perspective of “small time,” he argued for the understanding and evaluation of the future “on the level of great time,” which is not predetermined, open to “unexpectedness, as it were, ‘surprise,’ absolute innovation, miracle, and so forth”. (1986d, 167)

Bakhtin blames the dehumanization of culture and politics: in his critique of formalism and structuralism, he foresees the emerging paradigms of postmodern thinking and illustrated ways to an effective communication among human beings. His ideas of dialogism serve as a guide to restore an effective communication of beings and nature.

In a conflicting world, enhancing dialogical relationships to fully realize the dialogical potential of culture and its creative possibilities for mankind, facing social and global problems, the realization of the dialogical potential of culture is a condition and a possibility for the progressive development and even survival of humanity.

c. The “Dialogue of Cultures”.

The idea of the “dialogue of cultures”, developed within the concepts of inter-culturalism and inter-cultural philosophy, entails the inter-cultural transformation of philosophy introducing a new perspective in our understanding of what philosophy is, of its history and methods, and forms of articulation (Fornet-Betancourt, 2001, 27–43).

A dialogic conception of culture looks at the whole human culture as a united creative universe, in which all its past and present participants are represented by their works, and the past and present thinkers, as well as all local cultures, are engaged in a virtual or actual dialogue between them. The implementation of these principles aims to transform the traditional world into a “dialogist civilization”. (Horujy 2012, 2)

Dialogism is manifested in the practices of the self (pratiques de soi) and spiritual practices of an individual in dialogue with a spiritual tradition, and in dialogue among spiritual traditions. These practices are studied by “synergic anthropology,” which is a new paradigm that opens to the human personality’s creativity and full self-realization. (Horujy 2013)

Ethics has been defined as a set of moral principles and values governing the "correct or right" choice of conduct. It is also used to refer to rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a community/profession. In Fair Culture? Ethical dimension of cultural policy and cultural rights (2007), Koivunen and Marsio state, "Ethics in cultural policy means a system of moral values...basing decision-making and choices in cultural policy on stated procedural codes and normative principles.''.

Rights, in turn, are defined as the legal or moral entitlement to do or to refrain from doing something to obtain or to refrain from obtaining an action, thing or recognition in civil society.

In international discourse, cultural rights are part of civil rights relating mainly to:

• freedom of expression;

• right to and responsibility for cultural heritage;

• right to free practice of art and culture and to creative work;

• right to protect the intellectual and material benefits accruing from scientific, literary and artistic production;

• right to participate in cultural life and right to equally accessible and available cultural, library and information and leisure services;

• right to choose one's own culture;

• right to the development and protection of culture;

• respect for culture and its autonomy and for cultural identity.

The humanities and right can play an important role in the enhancement of a dialogist consciousness and relationships, which are crucial for the advancement toward a dialogist civilization. The Bakhtin’s philosophical worldview is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the innovation of the aiming for a more humane and peaceful world. The full realization of the human dialogist potential ultimately depends on us.

3. Some History: Humanism as the starting point of Modernity.

If there is such a thing as a "manifesto" of the Italian Renaissance, Pico della Mirandola's "Oration on the Dignity of Man" is it; no other work more forcefully, eloquently, or thoroughly remaps the human landscape to center all attention on human capacity and the human perspective”. (Pico Della Mirandola: Oration On the Dignity Of Man (15th C.)

Humanism is the starting point of Modernity, and at the same time, is an ideal of reason (the Republican ideal of Kant) that will never be perfectly achieved in history. In Leo Strauss’ opinion, human rights deal with historicism, with the dissolution of “natural rights” in the stream of history. Alain Renaut and Luc Ferry argue that it is not possible to defend human rights by returning to the Greek, as Strauss and Villey maintain. Human rights cannot be based on Greek nature but on the concept of modern freedom.

In modern thought, it is common to relate humanism to the Declaration of Human Rights. Modern democratic societies express great thinkers such as Locke, Rousseau, Kant all the way to Rawls, who do not conceive a just society without the respect of freedom and of the fundamental human rights.

Nevertheless, the concept of Humanism arises in a completely different historical context in Renaissance: in fact, humanism develops itself exceptionally in the Florence Academy, with Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, among others. Pico della Mirandola defines man as a universal and singular being; as a universal being, man can be in any place in the universe; he is also singular, because he is the only being in creation capable of choosing which place he wants to occupy in nature.

The formula expresses best the universality and singularity of man, which consists in stating that man is the only being in creation which can become what he wants. This is the concept of freedom that Pico della Mirandola ties to the modern thought: through his freedom, man can become anything he wants. At the same time, man can build himself and freedom and creation, which constitute the basis of his dignity, as Pico della Mirandola states. The unity man-artist produces itself through the idea of man as universal and singular, in front of God and his creation.

The concept of humanism in Renaissance expresses the strict relation between humanism and literary studies. If we substitute the word “literature’ with the word “education”, the Renaissance concept of humanism recuperates its full meaning and Studia humanitatis correspond to the Humanities, more than the Declaration of the Human Rights, based on individual rights: “Although present humanism has little to do with Renaissance Humanism, nevertheless modernity arises from it, and prepares philosophically the dawn of subjectivity”. (A.Renaut, La era del individuo, Contribución a una historia de la subjetividad).

Humanistic historicism: Gian Battista Vico “RevaluatingVico(...) meansconsidering him asthe initiator ofcreative thought...” (E. Grassi)

“We investigate the nature of things, but do not investigate man’s nature” – Gianbattista Vico wrote in De Ratione in the XVII century,suggesting that we should consider the cultural reality forged by man, underlyingthe supremacy of the historical-cultural aspects of reality.Vico's original speculative thought starts from the word – the word which unveils human historicity – the ingenious, fantastic, poetic word.

In Vico’s humanistic approach, at the base of the historical world, there are neither philosophical, nor theoretical or metaphysicalconsiderations, but common sense, guided by ingenium, whose function is neither deductive nor rational, but inventive,where the function of in-venire is that of establishing relations between separate things.

The creative function of ingenium is to realize itself through inventiveness/inventor-ship, which confers meaning to sensible perceptions and emotionality, through images, namely through those universali fantastici as the original imaginative forms based on shared values and common sense, as the source of the historical becoming.

The universali fantastici not only address emotions, but connote emotionally the relation with the other. So, the original discourse arises from the integration of rationality and emotionality, ratio and pathos. Vico – looking for a non-rationalistic anthropology, which supports the universali fantastici and common sense – starts from the “science” of the fantastic word, namely from philology, as the primary form of expression of the human nature, from which the need of sense originates.

Vicoindividuates the need of sense and the need of values in the historical development and the realization of institutions and cultural constructions, in the realization of a “human system” of relations, which arises in the emotional dynamics. Grassi observes that joy and pain are the primary sources of the other passions: fear, which emerges from the expectation of pain, hope, which derives from the expectation of joy; human values – expressed in the rhetorical and poetical discourse – have their roots in joy and pain, in that abysmal and original reality, constituted by the evolutionary-bio-anthropological dimension, to which senses must adapt.

If philosophy deals with the way of being of man and his relation with the world,humanism looks for the essence of the historically determined man in his historical becoming. But what forms the historical-human reality?How can this reality be prefigured? Vico states that as the civil world has been made by men, we can find its principles in the human mind”, as an act of imagination and inventiveness. For Vico then the human world originates as an act of ingenious and fantastic self-realization, to satisfy human needs.

In his lyricism, Vico appeals to the human condition as the most powerful antidote against both the rationalistic and the transcendental doctrines of the Western philosophy. Humanistic historicism, which originates with Vico, anchored bio-anthropologically - which includes the res extensa and the res cogitans, the soul and the body, human subjectivism and the emotional dimension which takes place in the process of relation with the other -, opens to a new anthropology,grounded on the integration between rationality and emotionality and the need of sense. Mental aspects speak of us, not so much of man as nature, butof man as a person. Neurosciences deal with man as nature, made of body and matter, while man as a person participates ina system, which manifests itself as existence, subjectivity, culture. “The human subject - Moravia observes, recalling Levinas – tries essentially to justify himself/herself, to find a strong, ethical, valid and worthy reason for his/her existence”.

Vico conjugates culture and nature, through the bio-anthropological dimension of the need of sense,opposed to the feeling of anguish in front of the totalizing dimension of death. “If this is the burden (death), of which life is burdened from the very beginning, what is its prize?” – Hans Jonas wonders. “The original condition to make emotion worthwhile – he answers -is emotion itself “. So,emotion is the value prior to all values.

b. Philosophy as “animi medicina”.

Together with the bio-anthropological theme of the need of sense and of a new anthropology – inscribedin a philosophy of life and in a non-relativist ethics –, in the present philosophical paradigm, the theme of values imposes itself, intended not only as the general orientation of thought and action,but also as universal human values, as they develop themselves within historically determined cultures.

From this point of view, philosophy acts as “animi medicina”, stressing the values in favor of lifeor against it, which derive from emotionality and from their intellective elaboration, in which the rational element intervenes. For Gadamer, “Philosophy helps to recognize the limitedness of the “rational element”, as the thought does not arise from a need of reason, but has its root essentially in unhappiness”; therefore, in Cicero’s definition, philosophy acts as animi medicina, the medicine of the soul.

Humanistic Culture versus Scientific Culture Refusing to Recognize the Two Cultures Paradigm means in the final analysis, end up considering Sciences as Humanities. (Professor Tom McLeish, Department of Physics – Un. of Durham, UK)

Although the interaction between the philosophical/metaphysical sphere and the technical science may appear arbitrary -the new ethics can only arise from a direct confrontation between them. From the 30s and Weber’s interpretation of therationalization process of contemporary world, through the “instrumental reason” of Horkheimer and Adorno, which, becoming the destiny of the enlightened reason, had its final fatal end in Auschwitz, Heidegger’s rationality turns to the inexorable domain ofGestell, the realm of science-technique, from which “only one God can save us”, "Nur noch ein Gott kann uns helfen" (1976).

Yet, in "Questions about technique", the very same Heidegger tries to demonstrate how Technik does not correspond to the "inevitability of an unchangeable process", to a blind and inevitable destiny, but it can help us - as humanists and educators -, to reflect upon strategies of reaction, leaving the future open to the free development of the human praxis. (M. Heidegger, Nur noch ein Gott kann uns helfen, 1987)

So far one interpretation of science. On the other hand, someday we may even reach the “singularity,” a term that John von Neumann (John von Neumann, The Computer and the Brain (Yale, 1958) coined and the science fiction writer Vernor Vinge popularized, which is sometimes used to describe the moment when computers are not only smarter than humans but can also design themselves to be even super smarter, and will thus no longer need us “mere” mortals. Vinge says this will occur by 2030. (Vernor Vinge, Winter 1993). We can leave that debate to the futurists.

There is, however, another possibility: that the partnership between humans and technology can turn out to be more powerful than purely artificial intelligence. Call it the “Ada Lovelace approach”. Machines would not replace humans, she felt, but instead become their collaborators. What humans –and humanists – would bring to this relationship, she said, is originality and creativity. The past fifty years have shown that this strategy of combining computer and human capabilities has been far more fruitful than the pursuit of machines that could think on their own. (Ada, Countess of Lovelace, October, 1842).

At this stage, we can leave that debate to the philosophers and theologians. Yet, the philosopher Gianni Vattimo indicates in dialogue between philosophy and science, one of the major challenges of contemporary thought: “Indeed, existential and historicist philosophy try to come closer to the discourse of sciences…I believe – he states - that the dialogue between the two orientations must take place, because of the striking bio-ethical problems we face. As to ethics, a renewed dialogue between philosophy and religion would reduce the distance between laic thought andreligious thought, within an ethos based on tolerance and brotherhood, against racism and integralism.

Tom McLeish takes a scientist's reading of the Old Testament to make the case for science as a deeply human and ancient activity, embedded in some of the oldest stories told about the human desire to understand the natural world. His "Faith and Wisdom in Science" challenges much of the current 'science and religion' debate as operating with the wrong assumptions and in the wrong space. It develops a natural critique of the cultural separation of sciences and humanities, suggesting an approach to science, or in its more ancient form natural philosophy - as the 'love of wisdom of natural things' - that can draw on theological and cultural roots. It develops a "theology of science", which recognizes that both scientific and theological worldviews must be of each other, not holding separate domains, whereby science becomes a deeply religious activity. Science finds its place within an old story of participative reconciliation with a nature, of which we are ignorant and fearful, but learn to perceive and work with in wisdom.

While Willard Van Orman Quine’sphilosophy of science, does not conceive of philosophy as an activity separate from empirical science, Michael Friedman, as a philosophical naturalist, argues that Quine’s holistic picture of human knowledge cannot account for the historical development and interaction of the mathematical and natural sciences. Friedman’s alternative conception of the relations between philosophy, mathematics and empirical science suggests a more complicated interaction than seen with Quine’s naturalism, one that arguably is needed if we are to fully understand the historical development of the sciences and philosophy’s contribution to that process.

Philosophy deals with the interaction between different fields of thought, intertwined in a way that project them in a horizon of sense. Deciphering the ethical-cultural aspects between culture and nature allows us to link the humanistic culture to the scientific culture and, in the final analysis, - to give a decisive example – in front of the climate change, save the planet!

Conclusion: Creating and Humanizing the Future

In recuperating, human dignity, it is urgent to adopt an ethics which makes us become conscious not only of our rights, but also of our responsibilities,opposed to the individualistic degradation and to the split between civil society and political society, between economics and politics, between ethics and politics, between public and private spheres, in a humanistic and ethno-anthropological approach to society, which adopts an alternative vision of our human condition. (Arendt)

Economy and technology are rational practices, which supply the means adequate to reach determined goals. Yet no scientific product by itself represents a value, if it is not used following rules and laws of moral and symbolic nature, responding to the goal of dignifying human nature.

The Humanities are tools in the human, political and social emancipation of man and society, towards that ethics of liberation, which inscribes itself in the commandment of love, human solidarity and trust, underlying our historical-cultural-social responsibility, as individuals and as peoples. As to the ways of implementing the intellectual impact of the trans-humanities on education and society, Alfred North Whitehead states that the adoption of a rational thought and new modes of appreciation in education, directly involved in the creation of the future, affects the issue. For the humanities to enhance their intellectual impact on society, their transformative branches need to be recognized and institutionalized in contemporary educational systems, by establishing programs in creative thinking and humanistic inventions, as societies need creative minds in all fields, no less than they need them in education.

Against the idea according to which science and technique constitute the central base for moral and social progress – science and technique can be used to annihilate man or liberate him – the new anthropology and the new ethics I propose in this Manifesto, indicate the unavoidability of the dialogue between science and philosophy, between science and the humanities, which, re-launching the values of life and education, may respond to the individual and collective need of sense.

Modernity- as the passage from the subjective dimension to the inter-subjective and in front of growing racism and fundamentalism - presupposes the choice of life, whose positive foundation is natural law and a universal non-relativist ethics, towards a human pacified living together, where different cultural and political aspects can express themselves in a pluralistic way, toward a new way of thinking modernity and globalization.

There are urgent lessons to learn for education, the political process of decision-making in science and technology, our relationship with the global environment, and the way that both religious and secular communities celebrate and govern their lives, which should take place within an ethos, which, orientating the conscience and life and the human community, is opposed to inequality, exclusion, racism and fundamentalism, toward a higher model of civilization. The urgency of taking distance of the images which dominate the century, is an urgent ethical necessity. The attitude we need to take in relation to our epoch, depends on us and obliges us to imagine and start re-creating the present and “humanizing the future”.


- Ada, Countess of Lovelace, “Notes on Sketch of The Analytical Engine,” October, 1842

- Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York, London, 1978; H.Arendt The Human Condition, Chicago, 1958; H. Arendt, Che cosa è la politica, Comunità, Milano, 1995; H.Arendt, L’umanità in tempi bui, Riflessioni su Lessing, Raffaello Cortina Editore, Milano, 2006

-Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics. Translated and edited by Caryl Emerson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1984. M. Bakhtin., Toward a Philosophy of the Act. Edited by Michael Holquist and Vadim Liapunov. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993; Mikhail Bakhtin, Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Translated by Vern W. McGee. Edited by Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin: University of Texas Press. 1986a. Mikhail Bakhtin, “K filosofskim osnovam gumanitarnykh nauk” [Toward the Philosophical Foundations of the Human Sciences]. In Sobranie sochinenii [Collected Works]. Edited by Sergey G. Bocharov and Liudmila A. Gogotishvili, 5: 7–10. Moscow: Russian Dictionaries, 1996

———. “From Notes Made in 1970–71.” In Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, 132–158. 1986b.

———. “Response for a Question from Novy Mir Editorial Staff.” In Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, 1–9. 1986c.

———. “Toward a Methodology of the Human Sciences.” In Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, 159–172. 1986d.

- Walter Benjamin, "The Task of the Translator" (introduction to a Baudelaire translation, 1923, text translated by Harry Zohn, 1968), taken from the anthology, The Translation Studies Reader, ed. Lawrence Venuti (London: Routledge, 2000)

- Norberto Bobbio, Gramsci e concezione della società civile, Feltrinelli, Milano, 1976; N. Bobbio, Liberalismo ydemocracia, FCE, México, 1986

- Leo W. Buss, The Evolution of Individuality, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1987

-Yves Citton,Lire, interpréter, actualiser. Pourquoi les études littéraires?,Editions Amsterdam , Paris 2007.; Y. Citton,Lire, interpréter, actualiser. Pourquoi les études littéraires?, cit. p. 344; Yves Citton,F.Lordon(a cura di),Spinoza et les sciences sociales. De la puissance de la multitude à l’économie des affects, Editions Amsterdam, Paris 2008.Spinoza and the Sciences (Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science)1986, 6th Edition, 1986

Y. Citton, Mythocratie. Storytelling et imaginaire de gauche, Éditions Amsterdam (Distribution: Les Belles Lettres), Paris, 2010; Yves Citton, L'avenir des Humanités, Économie de la connaissance ou cultures de l’interprétation? La découverte, Paris, 2010- Spinoza and the Sciences (Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science)1986, 6th Edition, 1986

-Antoine Compagnon,La littérature pour quoi faire, leçon inaugurale au Collège de France, Fayard, Paris 2008;

-Pico Della Mirandola: Oration On the Dignity Of Man (15th C.), in, Reading About the World, volume 1, Washington State University, Harcour Brace Custom Books, 1998

- Albert Einstein to Sybille Blinoff, May 21, 1954. This draws from my Einstein: His Life and Universe (Simon and Schuster, 2007).

- Mikhail Epstein. The Transformative Humanities: A Manifesto. London, New York, Bloomsbury Academic, 2012; Epstein, Mikhail, “Transculture: A Broad Way between Globalism and Multiculturalism.” In Between Global Violence and the Ethics of Peace: Philosophical Perspective, edited by Edward Demenchonok, 327–352. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009

- Luc Ferry, A Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide to Living (Learning to Live)Paperback– December 27, 2011

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- Michael Friedman, Philosophical Naturalism. Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, 1997

- Hans-Georg Gadamer Concepts of reading, understanding and interpretation, philosophical hermeneutics, by Paul Regan, University of Central Lancashire, RESEARCH IN HERMENEUTICS, PHENOMENOLOGY, AND PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY VOL. IV, NO. 2, DECEMBER 2011

-Eugenio Garin, L’umanesimo italiano, Laterza, Bari, 1990

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-Antonio Gramsci, Quaderni dal carcere, Einaudi, Torino, 1975

-Ernesto Grassi, Vico e l’umanesimo italiano, Guerrini e associati, Milano, 1992

- Martin Heidegger, Letter on Humanism,Lettera dell’umanismo, Adelphi, Milano,1995 M. Heidegger, Zollikoner Seminare, Frankfurt, 1987

- Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment,1st edition, Continuum, 1969

-Sergey Horujy, “Contribution of the Eastern-Orthodox Tradition to the Formation of the Dialogical Civilization.” 2012

-Sergey Horujy, “The Project of Synergic Anthropology: Spiritual Practice as the Basis for a New Conception of Man.” Paper presented in Krakow. content/uploads/2013/05/horuzhy_talk_krakov_1_2013.pdf. 2013.

-Walter Isaacson & Walker Percy Walter Isaacson Lecture: "The Intersection of the Humanities and the Sciences", Jefferson Lecturer 2014

- Hans Jonas, Il principio responsabilità, Einaudi, Torino,1990; H. Jonas, Il concetto di Dio dopo Auschwitz, Il Melagolo, Genova, 1991

-Vincent Jouve,Pourquoi étudier lalittérature ?Armand Colin, Paris 2010

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- Hans Kung, Progetto di un’etica mondiale, Rizzoli,Milano, 1991

-D. McCallam, « A Manifesto for the Arts and Humanities: The Example of Candide», Atelier de théorie littéraire on «Fabula», - Manifesto for the Arts and the Humanities (mars 2011)

-A. Marini, Ormai solo un Dio ci puo' salvare, Guanda, Parma, 1987, su M. Heidegger, Nur noch ein Gott kann uns helfen, 1976

-Jacques Maritain, Christianisme et démocratie, New York,1943

-Sergio Moravia, L’enigma della mente, Laterza, Bari, 1986; S. Moravia, L’enigmadell’ esistenza,Feltrinelli, Milano, 1996

-Edgar Morin, Le paradigme perdu: la nature humaine, Éditions du Seuil,Paris, 1973

-SalvatoreNatoli, L’esperienza del dolore, Feltrinelli, Milano, 1986

-Martha C. Nussbaum, “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism.” Boston ReviewHYPERLINK "" 19(5), 1994 ; see also: Garret Wallace Brown and David Held, The Cosmopolitan Reader, Polity Press, Cambridge University Press, 2010; M. C. Nussbaum,Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, Princeton University Press, Princeton 2010 (Non per profitto,Perché le democrazie hanno bisogno della cultura umanistica, il Mulino, Bologna 2010);

-J.C. Orejudo, “Defensa del humanismo y de los derechos humanos: la figura del sujeto y su historia”. Eikasia. Revista de Filosofía, II 7 (noviembre 2006).

-Alain Renaut, La era del individuo, Contribución a una historia de la subjetividad, Destino, 1993

- J. M. Schaeffer,Petite écologie des études littéraires, Thierry Marchaisse, Vincennes 2011; .

-Tvetan Todorov,La littérature en péril, Éditions Flammarion, Paris 2007

- Willard Van Orman Quine,The Ways of Paradox and other Essays, Random House, New York, 1976

- Gianni Vattimo, Speciale 2000, L’Espresso, 7.1.1999; G.Vattimo, La fine della modernita’, Garzanti, Milano, 1985

- John von Neumann, The Computer and the Brain (Yale, 1958), 80

- Gianbattista Vico, Scienza nuova, Opere, a cura di F.Nicolini, Ricciardi, Milano, 1953

- George Sylvester Viereck, Glimpses of the Great (New York: McCauley, 1930), 377. First published as “What Life Means to Einstein,” Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929.

- Vernor Vinge, “The Coming Technological Singularity,” Whole Earth Review, Winter 1993

- Leon Wielsetier, "Perhaps Culture is Now the Counterculture: A Defense of the Humanities,” The New Republic, May 28, 2013

- Alfred North Whiteheadat
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