- This Course is based mainly on "Nonkilling Philosophy", chapter prepared by Professor Irene Comins Mingol and Professor Sonia Paris Albert (UNESCO Chair of Philosophy for Peace, Department of Philosophy and Sociology, University Jaume I Castellón) for Toward a Nonkilling Paradigm (Honolulu: Center for Global Nonkilling, 2009). The Course is part of the Interdisciplinary Program on Nonkilling Studies at the School of Nonkilling Studies.
Philosophic reflection can and should help us to transform the suffering of both humans and nature. Philosophy, with its etimological significance of love for wisdom, or rather, the love of knowing how to live, constitutes a practical knowledge, committed to praxis. In this chapter we will outline the contribution of Philosophy in the construction of a Nonkilling Paradigm. In order to achieve this we have organized our analysis into four sections. Firstly we introduce the discipline and concept of Philosophy. Following this introduction we will consider the two fields of work, in this case Peace Studies and Gender Studies, with which philosophy has, since the middle of the 20th Century, established a reciprocal relationship of an interdisciplinary nature in order to begin its conversion into a Nonkilling Philosophy. Finally we will conclude with some epistemological and paradigm change reflections.
A new paradigm for human sustainabilityEdit
At the present time, it would appear that Philosophy is losing all of its value. If we listen to certain conversations that are taking place around us (are being held around us), we will hear such things said as “it is useless to study and learn Philosophy or to reflect philosophically, because nowadays, society is going in a different direction”. It has reached the point where the very role of Philosophy is being questioned, even in the field of education, and this fact has led to very few people deciding to study Philosophy as an academic career.
Why does Philosophy seem to be losing its value? Certainly one of the causes is related to current scientific views, (which have endured since the time of Modernity with Galileo and, later, with Positivism) whose most relevant features are objectivity and neutrality. In other words, priority is given to the opinion that, scientific disciplines must be value free and they have to be developed, if possible, in a laboratory under some sort of experimental conditions. In this sense, it is evident that Philosophy loses its scientific character, as do the disciplines of the humanities and the social sciences, as values form an important part of Philosophies dealings with human and social issues.
However, if Philosophy discusses human beings and all that surrounds them; is it not necessary in our society? Are philosophical reflections about human-beings, about the situations that threaten us and about the circumstances in which we live, not fundamental to the sustainability of life? We live in times marked by violence of all types. The media inform us daily about cases of gender violence, of classroom violence, bellic conflicts, terrorism, etc. Therefore, we believe that it is ever more necessary to recuperate philosophic reflection as a means of understanding the cause of these events, and find viable alternatives that help to transform them peacefully. Evidently, these reflections would make us consider the life situations that are conflicts; they would make us open debates about them; they would allow us to stop being so technical; and they would humanize us so as to enable us to listen and be listened to.
The etimological meaning of the word Philosophy as “love for wisdom” and its sense of thaumatzein (amazement) can help us to understand to what, we were referring to when we mentioned the importance of philosophical reflection to the sustainability of life. That is to say, one significance for the term Philosophy that come from the two senses already mentioned above could be the following: Philosophy takes place when we feel amazed by things and situations that seem strange to us, when instead of distancing ourselves from them we question them, we decide to find out more about them. With this attitude we could help to manage many of the previously mentioned violences, thereby favouring the sustainability of life. For example, one case might be when we are amazed by a culture that appears strange to us and we decide to get to know it better rather than excluding the people that form a part of it and starting an intercultural conflict.
So, could we consider Philosophy as a science if we take into account the notion cited in the previous paragraphs? Only if we question the vision of science already mentioned, and we learn to perceive it from another perspective. We have said that Philosophy is a basic element for the sustainability of life because it helps to reflect on the situations experienced by human beings, and on the human being itself. In this context, from the UNESCO Chair of Philosophy for Peace of the University Jaume I we work with the purpose of finding alternatives for the transformation of the suffering of both humans and nature by peaceful means, and thereby achieve greater and better sustainability of life (Martínez Guzmán, 2001; 2005). This Philosophy for Peace allows us to question the notion of science (both modern and posititivist) based on objectivity and neutrality, thanks to the formulation of an Epistemological Turn which at the same time enables us to recognise as sciences those disciplines that traditionally have been denied such recognition.
The Epistemological Turn (Martínez Guzmán, 2001; 2005) becomes a new paradigm, subverting the notion of traditional science when it is affirmed that this science is not even acceptable for the natural sciences, because even the more technical disciplines are neither, objective or neutral. Or rather, objectivity and neutrality cannot exist because we value everything, from our training as mathematicians, physicists, historians or philosophers. In this regard, it promotes a new image of science which places the human being in society at its foundation. We will continue by resuming the fifteen points that make up the Epistemological Turn (Martínez Guzmán, 2001: 64; Martínez Guzmán, 2005: 114-116):
- Instead of objectivity we should highlight the intersubjective character of science and show the mutual demands made by those implicated on each other.
- Instead of the perspective of the observer, we should highlight the participative perspective.
- Rather than focus on the relationship between subject and object, we should highlight the relations between people.
- Rather than the dichotomies between facts and values, we should highlight the role of values and the inexistence of “pure facts”.
- Instead of neutrality we should highlight the commitment with its values.
- Rather than the paradigm of conscience, we should highlight the communication paradigm.
- Rather than questioning the idealism of Peace Studies, we should highlight its realist character because it is from it that we understand the different ways we have for doing things, whether they violent or pacific.
- Rather than unilateral reasoning, we should highlight the relation between reason, sentiments, emotions, care/tenderness and affection.
- Instead of neutral justice, we should highlight the existence of justice based on solidarity and “care”.
- Rather than seeing the world as an abstract space, we should highlight its existence as a world made up of a diverse number of places.
- Instead of considering nature as objective and distant, we should highlight the union between nature and the human beings that form part of it.
- Rather than the dichotomy between nature and culture, we should highlight the links between the two and allow for the social construction of nature.
- Rather than emphasizing the masculine, we should highlight the category of gender to understand how excluded have women been in the name of neutrality.
- Instead of only seeing human vulnerability in the development of mechanisms of aggression, we should highlight its value in generating care and affection.
- Rather than understanding peace as a thing of heroes and saints, we should highlight that peace is for people like us.
The Epistemological Turn is then converted into a fundamental tool for sustaining life, if we take into account that working from it we can formulate a new vision of science. This turn is complemented by parallel proposals formulated by other fields of understanding, such as the notion of imperfect peace Francisco Muñoz is elaborating, with his academic training as a historian. The defining characteristics of the notion of imperfect peace basically revolve around two ideas. Firstly, there is the recognition of the experiences of peace that can be found in every social reality that may serve as guidelines and as inspirations for peace building. Secondly and directly related with the first, peace understood as an unfinished process, in constant development.
Apart from these proposals to construct a new Non Killing Paradigms, more inclusive and committed to praxis, we will consider in depth two fields of understanding that, as we have already said, nourish themselves in a reciprocal manner with philosophy in the construction of a new paradigm, that are peace studies and gender studies. In the next section we concentrate on the image of conflicts that appears in the Epistemological Turn of this Philosophy for Peace. We will carry out this analysis by means of a philosophical reflection that will allow us to once again perceive the value of Philosophy to the sustainability life.
Peace studies and the peaceful transformation of conflicts: challenges for a Nonkilling PhilosophyEdit
Nowadays, people experience many different types of conflict such as gender violence, classroom violence, environmental violence, armed conflict or different forms of terrorism. Violence can be found everywhere or, at least it seems that this form of human interaction is the only one to be emphasised. We say this «form of human interaction» because it is true that we can do things in other much more peaceful ways and are characterized by their capacities for recognition, empathy, linguistic understanding and cooperation. It has already been pointed out that this is the understanding that Martínez Guzmán (2001; 2005) provides for one of the theses that make up the Epistemological Turn of his Philosophy for Peace when he indicates that we the pacifists are the realists because we do not deny the presence of violence, instead we make the affirmation that it exists together with peace. Evidently, all of our effort as people working for peace is focused towards learning peaceful means that will aid us to achieve peace. The constant presence of violence has been favoured by the media. So much so that, we continually, read of, listen to and see news charged with violence, and that are read, listened to and observed by a public that seems to demand it, and that is being ever more absorbed by the spectacular form of reporting that is promoted by these media (Riviére, 2003; Sánchez Noriega, 1997; Sartori, 2002). This fact and the way in which we have traditionally learned to regulate our conflicts has led to violence being converted into a habit difficult to overcome, which in turn has led to a negative image of conflict being increasingly predominant due to the destructive effects at that are produced on a material and personal level by the use of violence. Identical ideas can be found in the work of Cascón Soriano (2001) where the lack of energy and time are identified as two other causes of this negative interpretation of the predominant conflicts in our society.
In the previous lines we have talked about violence as a habit. On the contrary, the aim of this text is to propose the need to disaccustom ourselves to violence and learn these other forms of peaceful interaction that has been previously sited. It is true that many of the conflicts that we experience are regulated with violence. Then again, it is equally true that many others are treated peacefully. As has been affirmed by Muñoz (2004a; 2004b) in some of his work when, he states that the majority of our interpersonal conflicts are managed peacefully even though we do not stop to think about it. It is possible, that the very fact that we do not pay, as much attention to these conflicts that are managed by peaceful means, as we do to those managed violently, results from the emphasis that is placed on violence as was indicated previously.
In order to disaccustom ourselves to violence, a new, different and more positive image of conflictive situations needs to be learnt so a to favour the sustainability of life. That is to say, that being capable of transforming conflicts by peaceful means would allow us to view them in a more positive light, because their consequences stop being destructive once they do not cause material or personal harm to the same levels as is the case with the use of violence. Therefore, the working hypothesis that we deal with in these pages will be that conflict can be positive or negative depending on the means that are used to regulate it (Muñoz, 2001). Thus, the principle question is not that which searches for solutions that will put an end to the conflict, but rather that, which searches for peaceful alternatives that avoid the use of violence in the transformation of conflicts. It is this positive vision of conflict that we want to make people aware of with this work, because it helps us to understand another image (as a new paradigm) of conflicts that has not been taken into account up until now, and it is now that it is being highlighted by those of us who dedicate ourselves to working on these themes. This new interpretation emphasises a series of characteristics that can be summarized in the following manner (Fisas, 1998; Lederach, 1995):
- What is it? An interactive process
- What Characterises it? It is inherent to human relations; Its character favours change
- How to confront it? Provide multiple responses
- Conflict is an interactive process: the experience of a conflictive situation brings different people together who interact in order to regulate it.
- Conflict is inherent to human relations: It is recognized that people cannot live without conflict if they want their relations to evolve. Therefore, if they are inherent to their relations, it is wise to seek peaceful means to transform them favourably for all the parties involved. Much in the same way, the fact that transforming conflicts by peaceful means helps us to understand the presence of conflict and thereby overcome the need to seek solutions at any cost.
- Conflict favours change: it is accepted that the existence of conflicts favours the development of relationships and social changes. If there are no conflicts, it will be because we are happy with what we have. However, conflict represents a disagreement that, if managed peacefully, may be overcome, thereby providing for an improvement in relations.
- Conflict has multiple responses: Each conflict can be dealt with in many ways depending on the context in which it is taking place and the people implicated.
Understanding this interpretation of conflicts and its positive vision will be made possible if, we learn to transform conflicts by alternative means. Hence we propose the use of the methodology for the peaceful transformation of conflicts in an effort to disaccustom ourselves to violence and take up peace as a habit. Consequentially, this reflection from the Philosophy for Peace perspective has allowed us to once again see the value of Philosophy to the sustainability of life, given that, as we said earlier, philosophy and peace studies relate with one another in a reciprocal fashion. Within the framework of peace studies, the peaceful transformation of conflicts is the third term to be used to denominate conflict studies. Conflict resolution and conflict management were the two denominations used previously. Each one of these terms propose a methodology for dealing with conflictive situations and at the same time they have different implications (Lederach, 1995).
Conflict resolution was the first academic denomination which appeared in the 1950’s and has been strongly criticised since the 1960’s. It has a negative vision of conflicts, as it emphasises destructive consequences of conflicts and, thereby, signals that they need to be resolved. This interpretation gave rise to a whole series of criticisms, during the decade of the 60’s, from those who believed that forced resolutions were not always just, and from those who questioned whether it was really necessary to finish with conflicts.
Conflict management, the second academic denomination started to be used in the 70’s and it was strongly criticised from the 80’s onwards. With conflict management a more positive vision of conflict is introduced, although its destructive consequences continued to be emphasised. According to conflict management, conflicts are the same as all the other natural elements that can be regulated by laws, models and norms. This conception gave birth to criticisms in the 80’s from those who were of the opinion that conflicts are unlike any of the other natural elements, because they form a part of human affairs, and as such, they cannot be managed by laws. Furthermore, they believe management to be, too greatly influenced by business interests.
Conflict transformation, is the third academic denomination that arose in the 90’s and continues to be used nowadays. However, although this methodology currently takes precedence, the terminology of resolution is still the most used.
Concentrating on the peaceful transformation of conflictive situations, a notion that we want to highlight with this text, it can be said that its main interest is in highlighting a positive image of conflict, in such a way that these situations of conflict may be understood as situations that have to be confronted by peaceful means with the intent of overcoming them and creating new objectives, which will make it possible to maintain relations into the future. Conflict therefore favours, the strengthening of relations and there continuity due to an end of tensions, and from the experience of transforming a conflict positively. This context is achieved by the use of peaceful communication as a method characterised by the principles of Discourse Ethics. In this sense, it presupposes the conditions for the liberty and equality of all speakers during the speech act, together with the three validity claims of speech that focus on the truth in what is being said, the veracity of intentions and the corrections used in the grammatical process (Cortina, 1994; Habermas, 1993; 1989; 1979).
The importance granted to communication by transformation is such that, what is said ends up being what is done due to the influence of Austin’s Speech Act Theory (1976). Therefore, any transmitted message is converted into an act with consequences and, for this reason, it is necessary to be careful with how we say things and be aware of the consequences that they might have, if we are to successfully achieve the positive transformation of a conflict. This idea identifies the sense of responsibility that each person should have with every physical or verbal act carried out, as is illustrated by the cited theory of Austin, if we remember the three parts that this philosopher of language has pointed out for all speech acts: 1) Illocutionary force refers to the force with which we say something. In other words, what force is used if what is said is a promise, a threat, etc.. Therefore it is the responsibility of the emitter to measure the force and forma with which a message is transmitted to ensure that it is apprehended by the receiver. 2) Illocutionary effects, such as comprehension and apprehension take place when the receiver understands what has been said. In this case the responsibility belongs to the receiver. 3) The perlocutionary act represents the consequences derived from what we say. Here once again we find that it is the responsibility of the emitter to be conscious of the effects of his or her words and listen to the petitions of the receiver.
To take this responsibility into account during the communication helps to create a link of solidarity between those who interact favourably in respect to the peaceful transformation of conflicts. In itself, it favours the recognition between the parties that goes beyond mere linguistic recognition, as it is perceived as a necessary aspect of what constitutes human integrity. This understanding has been patented by Honneth (1992; 1997) who positively values recognition in the following three ways: 1) In our physical integrity, with the concrete particularities of our bodies (stature, weight, skin colour, etc.) 2) As members of a juridical community that have rights and obligations. 3) In our lifestyle with our tastes, our way of dressing ourselves, our way of being, etc. (from a perspective based on the principles of interculturality).
In summary, the peaceful transformation of conflicts is converted into a methodology (as a new paradigm) to be followed because it highlights the value of peace by putting into practice a peaceful and facilitating form for the communication of experiences based on responsibility and recognition. In the same way as these principles make it possible to witness cooperation between the parties implicated in the conflict and allows them to experience its empowering faculties in the aim of finding suitable agreements for the reconciliation and rebuilding of relations. This rebuilding process may be favoured by the experience of women as will be seen in the following section. We shall now go on to analyze the reciprocal exchanges that take place between philosophy and gender studies in the construction of a new paradigm.
A Nonkilling Philosophy: The Care Ethics PerspectiveEdit
The practice and theory of the feminist movement has had a revolutionary or innovative effect on philosophy (Amorós, 2006: 217), especially in reference to the construction of a Nonkilling Philosophy and a new paradigm. We could say that there appears to be a mutual interaction between the new epistemological models and the newly emerging actors. These newly emerging actors, until recently kept in silence, are characterized by two principal features: culture and gender. Women and the non-occidental countries have had their voices excluded from epistemological paradigms. Occidental science has in this sense operated a form of triple exclusion: ontological, epistemological and sociological, by determining what merits being the object of investigation, by determining what types of research methods or knowledge are valid and which are not; and by indicating who are the experts and who are not. Thus the need to elaborate epistemologies that are capable of making visible, those who before were submerged actors, invisible to other epistemological positions (Amorós, 2006: 259). This notion frames the Epistemological Turn that we have been working on and is what we consider to be one of the shifts axis is the incorporation of the gender perspective.
Nonviolence has not only been a method of struggle to transform conflicts, to condemn the existing levels of violence or to deal with the representative changes in the different societies. Furthermore, nonviolence tries to renovate other knowledge disciplines, such as: history, political theory, sociology, anthropology, religion, ethical philosophy (with the denominated care ethics), economy, feminism and also the so called experimental sciences (López Martínez, 2001: 232). This incorporation of non-violence into the epistemological paradigms has come about as a direct result of different legacies, among which it is worth highlighting the experience of women.
Even though not all women are pacifists nor are all men violent, it is not less true to say that there exist relevant gender differences regarding the use of violence. More concretely it can be proved that the majority of violent acts, those acts of direct violence, are committed by males or that males are more sensitive than women to those environmental factors that have an important influence on antisocial behaviour. There have been a variety of reasons given to explain the difference in attitudes towards violence between women and men, from which we can discern two principal differences (Magallón Portolés, 2006: 208): 1) The fact, that, women have in their majority been excluded from having access to power, the army, and the political decisions of government related to wars and military doctrine. 2) The historical socialisation of women in the tasks of caring and sustaining life has meant that women value life greatly, and that they are more inclined than men to protect and maintain life. Even though, both aspects contribute to this difference in social construction between men and women, the second one, the socialization of women in the tasks of caring, is the one that provides a more solid foundation and greater support regarding women legacy to the construction of a nonviolent thinking (Ruddick, 1989). The practice of caring implies, in itself, the development of a determined set of capacities and abilities such as empathy, responsibility, patience, tenderness or commitment, all of which are elements that constitute a Nonkilling Paradigm. That works on the premise that what we do is who we are, and that historically the role of caring has been attributed to women, as much in the private sphere (caring for the children, the elderly, the sick, the home…) as in the public sphere (women in nursing, teaching…), certain peace competencies have developed in women that could be shared with all of humanity if the tasks of caring were to be shared with men.
Carol Gilligan expressed for the first time, in her work In a Different Voice (1982), the different moral capacities that women have developed as a result of the socialisation in and practice of care. Up until then the Theory of Moral Development followed without exception the theories of her professor and mentor Lawrence Kohlberg. Gilligan amplified the moral theory of Kohlberg including an analysis of the moral experiences of women, given that Kohlberg’s theory was based on the study of eighty-four male children during a period of more than twenty years (Gilligan, 1996: 18). Through her work Gilligan discovered that, women persistently scored poorly when compared with their male equivalents on Kohlberg’s scale of moral development. This discrepancy in the scoring was due to the fact that the Moral Development Theory was built on the study of male experiences but was applied under the pretence of universality among women and men. However, Kohlberg is not alone in this, Rousseau, Hegel, Freud or Piaget, have also considered women to be of a lower moral capacity.
Gilligan detected in her study that women have a more relation based moral voice that, gives preference to the preservation of relations, in opposition to justice ethics, where preference is given to the abidance of universal moral norms. This different moral perspective of women results from the division of work based on gender and the acute division between public and private spheres. Men and women therefore develop two distinct moral perspectives in function with the unequal attribution of responsibilities: “Care Ethics” versus “Justice Ethics”. While the ethics of justice is based on the premise of equality -that everybody should be treated the same-, the ethics of care is based on the premise of nonviolence: that no one should be hurt (Gilligan, 1996: 174). Here it is necessary to point out that women are not more apt for the task of caring due to any biological explanation, but rather because of their learning process, it is the result of a social construction, more specifically a gender construction, and not features of sex. If women have different ethics, as Carol Gilligan suggests, if they have different priorities or a different attitude towards the world, then this is clearly a result of the sex based division of labour and the acute division between the public and the private that exists in the social world in which we live (Perrigo, 1991: 321-322).
The theory and practice of care implies the development of moral values, abilities and competences such as empathy, patience, perseverance, responsibility, commitment, accompaniment, the ability to listen or tenderness. All of which, are important values for building a Culture of Peace. To illustrate this, Betty Reardon suggests that “above all a culture of peace would be a culture of caring” (Reardon, 2001: 85). Furthermore, with these moral values the practice of care contributes to the development of fundamental abilities for the construction of Peace, and it is not restricted exclusively to the private domain, but rather it extends into the public sphere: abilities to peacefully transform conflicts and abilities for civil and social commitment.
Sara Ruddick in her work Maternal Thinking: Towards a Politics of Peace identifies the way in which the practice of caring for children develops techniques in women for the peaceful transformation of conflicts. In the home and outside it, women normally feel themselves as being weak or powerless. Normally they are socially poor, the objects of rather than the agents of wars, economic plans and political regime. As it is with other powerless combatants, mothers often resort to strategies of nonviolence and peace (Ruddick, 1989). Beyond caring for children, or maternal thinking, socialization in care values generally develops techniques for the peaceful transformation of conflicts. In this case there are three contributions worth highlighting (Comins Mingol, 2007: 93-105). From the care ethic understanding of conflict it is considered important that nobody comes out loosing, that all come out satisfied with the outcome of least some issue, in so that they do not break interpersonal relations. It is also important to listen to all the possible voices. Sensitivity towards the needs of others and the assuming of the responsibility to care for them leads women to listen to voices different to their own and to include different points of view in their judgments. In this way the apparent diffusion and confusion of women’s judgment is discovered, thanks to the work of Carol Gilligan, to be an example of the moral strength and responsibility of women. Finally, from a care perspective, when confronting a conflict, priority is given to satisfying needs rather than handing out punishment. Against this, with the ethics of justice, even though the theorists take into account the important role of satisfying needs, they focus their attention on the penalization and regulation of aggressiveness.
The socialization and the practice of care develops’ in women a commitment to the welfare of society in general and not only the family in particular. In this way we get to see how women are the majority presence in social movements, as volunteers and in different forms of participation in informal politics, or as they have been denominated civil society. More concretely, it has been in the decade of the 90’s in the last century and the first years of this century that we have seen the proliferation of women’s peace movements and initiatives. This has come about as a reaction to the ravaging wars that have been taking place, the peace processes and the programs of postconflict reconstruction, to the same extent in both countries immersed in armed conflicts and those countries that in recent decades have not suffered from war directly. Here we can draw attention to the efforts of movements like the Mujeres de Negro (Women in Black) and the Madres and Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo (Mothers and Grandmother of the Plaza de Mayo), among others.
The historical analysis of women’s behavior leads us to consider that the key to peace building and the new paradigm is not to give life, in itself key to the perpetuation of the species, but rather is to care for it. Care for life in its broadest sense, from the micro to the macro, can and should be the responsibility of both men and women (Magallón Portolés, 2006). To think ethically is to think of others. If we want this understanding to be a practice, it needs to be translated into legal measures and care attitudes. Both of which are essential. The only thing that care ethics does is draw our attention to how care has been forgotten as a basic ethical prescription (Camps, 1998: 75).
On the basis of our analysis, a Nonkilling Philosophy is necessarily a Philosophy committed to the recuperation of and the recognition of human potential for peace. From this point of view we challenge the old assumption that human beings are naturally violent by arguing that in parallel to the capacity to be aggressive, human beings also possess many abilities that favor a harmonious coexistence, for reciprocal care and the peaceful transformation of conflicts.
The paradigm of traditional science, which we commented upon at the beginning of the chapter, and is pulled down in part by its own features of quantification, experimentation and objectivity, has been seduced to a certain extent by the analysis of violence and war as human phenomena, leaving to one side the analysis from the perspective of peace and nonviolence. This seduction, characterizes the Natural Sciences to the same extent as it does the Humanities and the Social Sciences. There is one systematic deviation that converts violence and war in objects or materials worthy of investigation, but does not do the same for peace. Francisco Muñoz refers to this phenomenon as the cognitive dissonance according to which, they search for and value peace more, but they continue to think in terms of violence (Muñoz, 2001: 24). According to the peace researcher Francisco Muñoz, we often fall into the a cognitive dissonance similar to schizophrenia where we find that peace is strongly desired and felt whereas violence has been well thought out and studied (Muñoz, 2005: 283). This is what he also denominates as the violentology perspective (Muñoz, 2001; 2005: 284). This violentology perspective has the perverse effect of –with its emphasis on violence through research, analysis, and description- making it seem as though violence is more present, even, as was previously mentioned, in the media. According to authors such as Douglas Fry this emphasis on violence and war does not correspond with the empirical evidence, on the contrary it is due to a collection of cultural beliefs on the inevitability of violence and war that slants our interpretations and affects the way we see ourselves and others (Fry,2006).
There are two premises that justify and award working Towards a Nonkilling Paradigm: 1) Violence and war are not inevitable; on the contrary, human beings have a great capacity for peaceful coexistence and for dealing with conflicts nonviolently. 2) Cultural beliefs regarding the inevitability of violence and war skew our interpretations and affect our vision of human nature, to such an extent that they blind us to the possibilities of developing alternatives to war and violence.
The belief that aggression and violence are inevitable in human beings, according to the empirical evidence, is erroneous. The anthropological data shows that there is a real human potential for peace, it is not just a utopian dream. Furthermore these beliefs are not only false, but they present a grave threat and obstacle to peace building, as they obsess us and hence dissuade us from searching for alternatives. We are dealing with beliefs based in a cultural tradition that has been emphasized from the book of Genesis to the writings of Hobbes or Darwin, with its conflictive, egotistical and competitive vision of humanity without ever taking other dimensions into account. These cultural beliefs have not only been seen to be empirically unilateral and biased, but are further considered to be in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we were therefore to believe that war is inevitable and the societies prepare themselves to fight against each other –building an army or procuring weapons that will threaten their neighbors- war could easily be the result. Apart from becoming a philosophy that fulfills these cultural beliefs it can also end up creating a bias in research by focusing it in such a way that it reinforces the previously existing belief. Hence it is a prophecy that fulfills itself and justifies itself. These beliefs affect us as they do the sciences that, while interpreting, history, psychology or philosophy through these lenses, see only violence and war wherever they look.
Fortunately, and thanks to the previously mentioned epistemological turn, there is a change taking place in the way that we approach and perceive reality. Fundamental to this change have been the contributions that philosophy has received from two more recent fields of work or disciplines: Peace Studies which stresses our capacities for the peaceful transformation of conflicts and Gender Studies which stresses our common capacity to care for life. With these tools philosophy can sensibly carry out its traditional functions related to: public commitment, criticism, and the preoccupation for transforming human suffering.
The definition of philosophy as love for wisdom, and as the illustrated search for the knowledge to live, also includes within the framework of its own epistemology the search for the knowledge to live in peace. It is a condition of the possibility to live well, to live a good life, to be able to live a life of peace. Hence philosophy as love for wisdom, love, and the search for the knowledge to live, in itself includes the love and quest for the knowledge of how to coexist peacefully. Our work as philosophers publicly commits us to the transform the suffering of both humans and nature by peaceful means (Martínez Guzmán, 2005: 28).
On the other hand the critical function of philosophy means that it must also critique the suppositions on which our society is based, it questions them, questions their appearances that we commonly accept as being natural members of a given culture. This questioning is not frivolous, rather it aims to test the validity of these phenomena, in search of the knowledge best shows us how to live and coexist. Philosophy in this context is, according to Celia Amorós, a critical discourse, that speaks out against indiscriminately set opinions and prejudices, so as to show the hidden interests and the blind spots (2006: 222). In order to definitively reveal the cultural violence that by means of different discourses can legitimize the structural and direct violence that exists in the world (Galtung, 1996). Cultural violence, as a principal characteristic, dulls our moral responsibility, so that we live with it without questioning it. A Nonkilling Philosophy should be sensitive to this phenomenon and work in two directions: 1) On the one hand, visibilizing and removing the veil of cultural violence, with its discourses that marginalize, exclude and ultimately serve to legitimize structural and cultural violence. 2) On the other hand, working to construct and reconstruct discourses that legitimize and promote Peace, inclusive rather than exclusive, a philosophy committed with the recognition of human diversity, intercultural solidarity and peace.
References and Further ReadingEdit
AMORÓS, CELIA (2006): «Filosofía y Feminismo en la Era de la Globalización» en Guerra, María José y Ana Hardisson (eds.) 20 Pensadoras del siglo XX, Oviedo, Nobel.
AUSTIN, JOHN LANGSHAW (1976): How to do things with words, Oxford, Oxford University Press. BONTA, BRUCE D. (1996) «Conflict Resolution among Peaceful Societies: The Culture of Peacefulness» en Journal of Peace Research, vol. 33, nº4, pp. 403-420.
CAMPS, VICTORIA (1998): El siglo de las mujeres, Madrid, Ediciones Cátedra.
CASCÓN SORIANO, PACO (2001): Educar en y para el conflicto, Barcelona, Cátedra UNESCO sobre paz y derechos humanos, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona.
COMINS MINGOL, IRENE (2007): “La ética del cuidado: contribuciones a una transformación pacífica de los conflictos”, Feminismo/s, 9, pp. 93-106.
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