IS PEACE POSSIBLE? / Vol. 42, No. 1 (Spring 1975)
Arien Mack, Editor
Howard B. White, Professor of Political Philosophy in the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, died in New York on November 5, 1974.
Where have all the flowers gone? Only twelve months ago the speeches and writings of leading Western statesmen from Nixon and Kissinger to Willy Brandt exuded confidence and great expectations. This was the era of "structures of peace," of "generations of peace," of common endeavors—I refer not only to West-East relations, but equally to relations between the United States and Europe, to European unity, to closer economic collaboration on a global scale, and so forth.
The modern science of peace starts from the conception of a world which is rational throughout and which contains in itself all the elements necessary for the harmonious cooperation of all mankind. It is for science to detect those elements, variously defined as harmony of interests, laws of economics, free trade, and modern communications; it is for law to apply them where they do not prevail spontaneously; and it is for negotiation and compromise to discover them under the surface of apparent conflict.
Statesmen frequently declare that they want to preserve peace. Such declarations are both popular and useful. Clearly, professions of peace are preferable to warnings that war is inevitable or imminent. Of course, when statesmen and diplomats publicly talk of peace or war they usually have certain political objectives in mind. It takes at least two to make peace, but only one to disturb it. Often in the past declarations of peace did not halt the outbreak of war, and sometimes talk of peace has been rhetoric that statesmen indulged in to deceive others or themselves.
The topic concerns expectations for peace prevailing in United States foreign policy, with emphasis on the present juncture and the prospect so far as discernible. My intention, avoiding the bog of detailed narrative, is merely to offer some observations. The key word has many nuances. These include the state of grace associated with freedom from psychic harassments such as dread, perturbation, or guilt; absence of noise or commotion; presence of amity and concord; enforced public order; the fact of or conditions for an arrest of hostilities between organized societies; and an enduring condition of not being at war.
The Cold War of 1948-68, in addition to causing confrontations and crises between the world's major power blocs, also produced a system of world organization; a system which contained within itself many possibilities for conflict. of which overt military conflict was only one. This paper discusses the roles of the USSR, United States, and Communist China throughout the Cold War and after and notes how social conflict was caused and at the same time contained by these three powers.
Those who plan for peace rightly start from the assumption that peace is partly nonexistent and partly insecure, and that the mechanisms of world history neither create nor safeguard it automatically. Planning for peace means elaborating peace-promoting, practicable modifications of the present international system so precisely that they can be put before political leaders as targets they can actually pursue. A discussion paper such as this cannot come up with such plans; it can merely attempt to name the problems that stand in their way. In making this survey I shall move from the general to the particular and discuss: (I) peace based on social foundations in the whole, and particularly the Third, world; (2) the military peace between the First and the Second Worlds; and (3) the special problems of the Federal Republic of Germany within the ambit of European security.
The science of war has reached its culminating point, but a science of peace hardly exists. On the one hand it is a fact that up to now the champions of peace research have not been able to offer any concepts that might be given serious political consideration. On the other hand it is equally certain that such concepts, even if they existed, would receive only small political support. But clinging to the status quo in a rapidly changing world leads unavoidably to war. Those who want to establish peace have to change their world, have to try and establish a new system. Yet this runs contrary to the interests of those who are sitting at the levers of the administrative machineries. Peace research, on the other hand, is feeling its way in a political vacuum.
This paper is based on the premise that a concept of peace must go beyond the mere absence of war, and that continuing a status-quo policy cannot be called planning for peace. The author presents a three-phase outline for the transformation of violence: the short-term objective is to preserve the state of non-war; medium-term planning must evolve policies of global social planning; and the long-term phase should involve putting positive peace models of world-wide acceptance into practice. (First presented at a conference in Bonn Bad-Godesberg on June 20–21, 1974, on the theme: "Is Peace Possible? Can We Plan for Peace?")
In the present study I am concerned with sketching the thrust of Gurwitsch's thought about the foundations of logic, one of the formal sciences. In this paper I shall confine myself to outlining what he accepted without endeavoring to distinguish between what is original and what is derivative in that position. It must be emphasized, however, that there is much more both expressed and implied in his work in logic than I have time to convey. My exposition mainly follows the order in which his relevant writings were published.
The foregoing statements must be taken as no more than headings under which the wealth of insight of Gurwitsch’s historical studies can be brought into focus, along with those of his studies in psychology, mathematics, and physics. What interests me in all of this—as much in Gurwitsch's reading as in his teaching—is the self-conscious exercise of a philosophical attitude and approach which is at times implicit, at other times explicit. And it is a philosophical attitude and approach equally at the basis of the development of Gurwitsch's own thought. My purpose here is to join together a wide variety of Gurwitsch's texts in order to formulate this attitude and approach.
I wish to take this opportunity to offer a few of my own reflections on what has always seemed to me to be one of the late Professor Gurwitsch's most fundamental philosophical insights. In many of his writings he has emphasized what he has called the ambiguous nature of consciousness,l by which he meant that consciousness lends itself to both causal-explanatory account in terms of functional dependencies on natural phenomena and phenomenological-descriptive account. The ambiguity consists in this very possibility of different points of view. At the same time. for Aron Gurwitsch, consciousness as "the medium of access to whatever exists and is valid" constitutes "a unique realm of absolute priority." It is on these two theses that I propose to reflect, taking into account the concept of the life-world developed in continuation of Husserl's later writings.
Questions, and not answers, chart the path in the life of a thinker. Within the domain of phenomenological inquiry, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, and Gurwitsch never ceased in their interrogation of the perceptual experience. Up to their latest writings, they return time and again over earlier steps. In order to assure themselves that the soil of perception had been carefully plowed, their tireless effort seems to find within itself the source of its constant renewal. What kind of necessity, we may ask, led them to retrace an already charted route? Why, once explored, could not the ground be abandoned? These questions have been raised and answered, not once but many times. Their persistence is therefore all the more puzzling.
One of the perennial, and most intriguing, logical and philosophical issues is that concerning the part/whole relation. Not only was it central to the work of Aron Gurwitsch, especially to his lengthy study of consciousness and perception, and to Husserl before him, but it is as well one of the fundamental issues in the theory of the sciences, art, history, and of course to the problematics of social reality and human life. It is also an issue which defines some of the basic arguments among philosophers. It is no exaggeration to say that what one maintains on a considerable range of questions will be definitively determined by what one's position is, implicit or explicit, on the part/whole question.