- Date: November 17, 2023
- Location: SMU Yong Pung How School of Law, Function Lounge, Level 4
Berggruen Research Center at Peking
University, Singapore Management University School of Social Sciences
Against the bleak backdrop of a fragmenting world, today’s academia has a stern moral duty to imagine, craft, and advocate for a narrative that will give rise to a more stable and harmonious world. But what is this narrative and how should we tell it? What is the “idea” behind a civilizational dialogue and what would clarifying this idea contribute to the geopolitical discourse?
The Tianxia Conference Series convened by the Berggruen Research Center at Peking University was established to imagine alternative planetary narratives. The Westphalian modern state system of equal, sovereign nations has been the prevailing understanding of international relations over the past few centuries. However, contemporary philosopher Zhao Tingyang opines that since this system begins with the nation-state, it does not have the capaciousness of a true “world order.” On reflection, the logic of our Tianxia Conference Series has followed a Hegelian dialectic. The Tianxia I and II conferences focused on responding to the failing Westphalian system by first clarifying the concept of tianxia within East Asian cultures and seeking alternative visions of a planetary order within other major cultural traditions. In Tianxia III, at the scale of “thick” world cultures we sought alternative formulations of a shared “minimalist ethic” that would provide the solidarity necessary to bring humankind together in a global order.
In this upcoming Tianxia IV, we want to take the promotion of a civilizational dialogue as a core objective to turn the narrative of a clash of civilizations into an accommodation among civilizations. Can a civilizational and cultural rather than a nation-state approach to the geopolitical discourse change the framework of engagement and move us closer to a shared planetary order?