Recovering and Valuing Other Ethical Pillars Buen Vivir
Working Paper for the International Workshop Biocivilization for the Sustainability of Life and the Planet in the run-up to the Rio+20 Conference Rio de Janeiro, 9 to 12 August 2011
Which philosophical, ethical and political foundations?
Document proposed by the Forum for a new World Governance
We are entering the current critical historical juncture with the encouraging finding of peoples’ resistance and proposals. The ancient cultures of the various peoples of Asia, Oceania, Africa, and Latin America have constantly challenged, in practice and in theory, the conceptions of the allegedly linear and upward historical course of development of
humankind characteristic of Eurocentric, and then North American modernity, which had condemned them, as outdated remains of the archaic and survival of the backward, to inexorable improvement or extinction.
In this paradox of what is supposedly archaic and backward in theory, but emerges empirically with stubborn novelty and validity, there is at stake part of the current need of humankind for designing new forms of knowledge and understanding that can question the pillars of hegemonic civilization, now in crisis, and make it possible to deconstruct and surmount them. This crisis, multiple and comprehensive, is generating objective material
conditions that make it possible to see as current and pressing the alternative knowledge of other cultures that had emerged in parallel, separate, and distinct forms, and that had become highly developed. Although there existed in them relations of domination and conflict, they were of a very different nature from those of Western Europe and the United
States, and they held a secondary place under social regulation principles that combined social and environmental justice in support of harmony and balance in the world and the cosmos.
Overcoming various complex epistemological difficulties, awareness of these realities is growing, and this awareness can no longer be easily underestimated. Humankind is aware, for example, of the crucial objective fact that the major reservoirs of biodiversity on the planet have been conserved by several of these peoples called “barbarians” and
“uncivilized,” despite and against the “civilized” scientific progress of the modern West, which almost certainly would have exterminated those reserves of life if it could have got hold of them. Furthermore, while the original peoples were able through their resistance to conserve this treasure of vital hope for all humankind, at the same time the modern
civilized West created the atomic, chemical, and bacteriological horrors that could exterminate all human life, or at least damage it irreversibly.
Generating the conditions to facilitate this movement of epistemological and ethical decolonization to retrieve in a useful way the cultural heritages of the peoples of the world is a theoretical task of prime political significance that is already underway, but still insufficient, and to which efforts should be devoted, aware of the fact that these new or renewed ethical approaches should necessarily be incorporated into the process of
transition and improvement of civilization that started between the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first.
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