For more almost three-quarters of a century the University of Hawai‘i has been a center for an East-West dialogue carried on by the most prominent philosophers of the world. This dialogue began in 1939 when three visionaries—Professors Charles A. Moore, Wing-tsit Chan, and Gregg Sinclair—initiated the first East-West Philosophers’ Conference in Honolulu. Its aim was to explore the significance of Eastern ways of thinking as a complement to Western thought, and to develop a possible synthesis of the ideas and ideals. Comparative philosophy has evolved from this earliest idea to pursue a mutual accommodation among the world’s cultures, with conferences continuing to be held in 1949, 1959, 1964, 1969, 1989, 1995, 2000, and 2005. Each of these conferences focused on a theme chosen as a vital issue of its time.
These conferences have been successful in fostering dialogue among philosophical traditions, and were instrumental in the establishment of the East-West Center on the campus of the University of Hawai‘i in 1960 and in the founding of Philosophy East & West, now one of the leading journals on comparative studies, in 1950. Conference volumes from papers presented at these conferences have been published to further promote discussion on its theme within the world academic community.
The Tenth East-West Philosophers’ Conference on the theme, “Value and Values: Economics and Justice in an Age of Global Interdependence” (May 16 – 24, 2011) brings together philosophers from different cultures and with different perspectives to reflect upon a productive and sustainable relationship between economics and ethics. What is the appropriate relationship between worth (value) and what is worthwhile (values), between seeking a shared human prosperity and our different visions of what constitutes a moral life? The theme of the conference begins a conversation that anticipates Hawai‘i as host to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting scheduled for November 2011, a high-level international gathering that is expected to attract over 10,000 participants from the Asia-Pacific region to Hawai‘i, including leaders from 21 APEC economies, senior government officials, business leaders, international economists, Asia-Pacific experts, and worldwide media. What can a meeting of world philosophers contribute as a precursor of this important international event?
Conference recordings are available at: www.conferencerecording.com.