The 21st century is rife with tensions and conflict among cultures, peoples, and persons. In this thought-provoking book, Claes G. Ryn explores the great danger of turbulence and war and propounds a strongly argued thesis about what can make peaceful relations possible.
Many trust in “democracy,” “capitalism,” “liberal tolerance,” scientific progress, or general enlightenment to create peace and order. Ryn contends that the problem is deeper and more complex than usually recognized and that peaceful, respectful relations have demanding moral and cultural prerequisites.
One Western philosophical tradition, for which Plato sets the pattern, maintains that unity can be achieved only if diversity gives way to universality. Diversity must yield to a homogenizing transcendent good. A very different Western tradition, represented today by post-modern multiculturalism, denies the existence of universality altogether and celebrates diversity, which leaves unanswered the question of what will avert conflict. Ryn questions both of these positions and argues that universality and particularity, unity and diversity, are potentially compatible. He advances the thesis that a certain way of cultivating what is distinctive to persons, peoples, and cultures can enrich and strengthen our common humanity and increase the likelihood of peace.
In A Common Human Ground, now with a new preface by the author, Ryn sets forth a philosophy of human interaction that he applies to foreign policy and international relations, notably the issue of war and peace. Philosophical but not technical, scholarly but not specialized, Ryn’s well-received work is interdisciplinary, ranging from politics to literature and the arts.