Conviviality: Paradigm change IV

The purpose of the talks about “Utopia(s) reloaded: Science, activism and the techno-eco-social transformation” we are preparing for 26-28 October 2023 is to raise awareness of the scientific basis on which action can be effective in overcoming the current polycrisis. These talks are intended to explore the paradigm changes needed to transform our societies.

Conviviality is the focus of a new philosophy/social idea/art that tries to bring together the best of political ideologies like liberalism, socialism, communism and anarchism as to how to design social relations. Two manifestos have been published (The Convivialists 2014: Convivialist Manifesto – A declaration of interdependence. Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Duisburg.; and The Convivialist International 2020: The Second Convivialist Manifesto – Towards a post-neoliberal world. Civic Sociology, 16 June 2020. The manifestos were initiated by mostly French intellectuals, among them philosophers and sociologists like Edgar Morin who is Member of our Advisory Committee, Alain Caillé or Serge Latouche, the second manifesto has been signed by about 300 international first signatories. They state: “A different kind of world is not just possible; it is a crucial and urgent necessity. But where do we start when it comes to envisaging the shape it should take and working out how to bring it about? The Convivialist Manifesto seeks to highlight the similarities between the many initiatives already engaged in building that world and to draw out the common political philosophy that underlies them” (The Convivialists 2014). The term “conviviality” has Latin origins and means the quality of living together in the manner of dining together (convivor) of hosts (convivatores) and guests (convivae) at joint feasts (convivia). It was first used in the sense of self-limitation by an Austro-American writer (Ivan Illich 1973: Tools for conviviality. Marion Boyar, London) and characterises the message of Convivialism.

The manifestos of Convivialism introduced initially four, later five, principles and one imperative in the following order (The Convivialist International 2020):

(1) the principle of common naturality – humans “have a responsibility to take care of” nature;

(2) the principle of common humanity – “there exists only one humanity, which must be respected in the person of each of its members”;

(3) the principle of common sociality – “the greatest wealth is the richness of concrete relationships” that human beings as social beings maintain among themselves;

(4) the principle of legitimate individuation – “legitimate is the policy that allows each individual to develop their individuality to the fullest by developing his or her capacities, power to be and act, without harming that of others, with a view toward equal freedom”;

(5) the principle of creative opposition – “it is normal for humans to be in opposition with each other […] as long as this does not endanger the framework of common humanity, common sociality, and common naturality that makes rivalry fertile and not destructive”;

(6) the imperative of hubris control – “The first condition for rivalry to serve the common good is that it be devoid of desire for omnipotence, excess, hubris (and a fortiori pleonexia, the desire to possess ever more). On this condition, it becomes rivalry to cooperate better” [emphases erased].

The suggestion of these rules marks a paradigm change in social sciences and humanities. This change is apt to form the ethical basis of a common attempt of humanity to resolve the global threats.

Frank Adloff, the first chairperson of the International Convivialist Association, and Frédéric Vandenberghe who belongs to the first signatories of both manifestos are speakers at our event.


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