Let philosophy reshape the global order

It has the capacity to invite people around the world to grow more curious about their neighbours' aspirations in the spirit of charity


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By Pravin Periasamy

The increasing tensions between nation-states hampers the progress of communal peace.

According to the Global Peace Index 2023, the world has regressed immensely – with the average level of country peacefulness dropping by 0.42% over the previous year.

Some conflict-ridden nations saw improvements, but there was still a lot of violence causing chaos across the world.

The escalating chaos has spilt over into societal divisions, worsening polarisation and divisiveness. This has broken down entire communities and worsened civil tensions.

The erosion of social cohesion with societal polarisation is seen as one of the highest existential risks to global civilisation.

These challenges underscore the urgent need for reform to heal the moral chasm or void that sits at the heart of a weakening 21st Century world order.

The question of what will colour the ideals, values and norms of the global nucleus is central. We need to examine how the world understands its identity amid increased interconnectedness and globalisation. This will define and shape our beliefs and the future direction of civilisation.

What we need is a conversation over the philosophies that should undergird our motivations, beliefs and understandings. This we need to do this in a way that equips us with the cognitive tools necessary to understand the many global challenges. We need to effectively resolve these challenges and promote a stronger grasp of morals.

The European Renaissance emerged from a civilisation that had experienced tremendous turmoil. In its majesty and grandeur, the Renaissance produced renowned works of art, literature, architecture and scholarship.

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This movement would spill over to other nations, inspiring revolutionary ideals and paving the way for the refashioning of global civilisation.

The Renaissance, however, did not occur in a strict vacuum, as it was the culmination of differing civilisational dialogues. The revival of Greek scholarship by prominent Islamic philosophers, coupled with their exploration of the notable teachings from Islam, complemented a resurgent interest in the Western world in philosophical traditions.

This allowed the Renaissance to arise in spectacular fashion when the two worlds encountered each other. The patronage of philosophy and scholarship allowed the world to enter an era of technological, spiritual and political advancement.

The august world religions and ideas in their distinctive capacities – Christianity, Islam, secular humanism – could inform global policymaking. It could address the divisions present in religious communities across the world and forge a philosophical alliance that encourages mutual dialogue, respect, love and understanding.

Philosophy, in all its forms, has the capacity to invite international communities to grow more curious about their respective neighbours’ aspirations in the spirit of charity. This could unite the world under a common interest that is inclusive of many ideological variations.

Inviting philosophy to have a place in global policymaking to promote further civilisational dialogue would help build a virtue-guided global order. Encouraging philosophical discussion in a way that allows for an authentic sharing and exchange of knowledge would also help in this endeavour.  

Philosophy has the capacity to reform the very infrastructural mechanisms that make up the global order for the greater good.

But this can only be carried out however if the nation prioritises philosophical advancement, that is, by incentivising people of all stripes in Malaysia to value philosophy as a uniting tradition.

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Pravin Periasamy is the networking and partnership director of the Malaysia Philosophy Society

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
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Khoo Soo Hay
Khoo Soo Hay
9 Mar 2024 11.24am

The poor have no time to be philosophers. Their time is spent in finding food and how to survive in this world