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50 Years - 25 Intellectual Landscapes Explored
ISBN: 978-82-300-0471-5
Year: 2008

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50 Years - 25 Intellectual Landscapes Explored

Fifty years ago, in 1958, Galtung gave the first course in Conflict and Peace Studies at Columbia University, New York. But the decision to develop peace studies was taken in 1951 when applying for status as conscientious objector in his native Norway. Since then there has been many course

This book - a study in the philosophy of social sciences - is a report from the efforts to prepare the ground for peace studies, in five parts:

  • Trans is about trans-nationality, -disciplinarity and -level;
  • Epistemes is about expanding the horizon for scientific studies;
  • Pillars is about the basics, deep nature, culture and structure;
  • Peace is about violence-war-conflict-peace studies and practice;
  • Globalism is about implications for some social sciences;
and then an
  • Epilogue for social sciences in general.

Johan V. Galtung, born 1930 in Oslo, Norway. Lives in Spain, France, Japan and the USA and is mainly engaged in mediation and research. He founded TRANSCEND: A network for Peace and Development, in 1993, and was a rector of TRANSCEND Peace University 2003-2007.


50 Years - 25 Intellectual Landscapes Explored
by Johan Galtung

Table of contents



Introduction: A Short Intellectual Autobiography

Part One: TRANS

1 Trans-National:
Humanism; Nature-Culture-Structure-Actor-Spirit
2 Trans-Disciplinary:
Globalism; Humans-Nature-Culture-Structure
3 Trans-Level:
Isomorphism; Humans-Nature-Culture-Structure


4 Abrahamism vs Buddhism:
Pyramid-Dilemma vs Wheel-Tetralemma
5 Cartesianism vs Daoism:
Atomism-Deductivism vs Holism-Dialectics
6 Aristotle:
Causa efficiens, materialis, formalis, finalis
7 Time Asymmetry vs Symmetry:
Generalizing Scientific Activity
8 Seeking vs Transcending Invariances:
Empiricism vs New Realities
9 Transcending Epistemological Antinomies
� nomothetic vs ideographic: degree of integration
� synchronic vs diachronic: degree of dimensionality
� dilemma vs tetralemma: degree of malleability
� pyramid vs wheel: degree of logical coupling
� atomism vs holism: degree of space coupling
� positivism vs dialectics: degree of time coupling
� inter-subjective vs subjective:
degree of social space coupling
� intellectual styles: degree of eclecticism

Part Three: PILLARS

10 Deep Nature:
Basic Needs, Bio-Chemistry and Brain Physiology
11 Deep Culture: I-Cultures vs We-Cultures
12 Deep Structure:
Pyramid-Structures vs Wheel-Structures

Part Four: PEACE

13 Violence: Natural, Structural, Cultural and Direct
14 War: Variations over Time and Absurdities
15 Conflictology:
(No. of) Actors and (No. of) Goals; Praxeology
16 Paxology:
Negative vs Positive Peace; Sukha-Dukkha; Praxeology


17 Sociology: The Total Social and World Position
18 Economics: The Configuration of the Economist Brain
19 History:
Macro-History Between Deep Culture and Deep Structure
20 International Studies:
Between Mainstream and Counter-Trend
21 Media Studies: Violence Reporting vs Peace Reporting
22 Development Studies:
Deficit Studies vs Transformation Studies
23 Environment Studies: A Diversity-Symbiosis Paradigm
24 Religious Studies: Hard-Transcendent vs Soft-Immanent
25 Future Studies: Forecasting vs Ruptures

Epilogue: A General Social Science Paradigm?

Books and Chapters



Democracy - Peace - Development
by Johan Galtung and Paul Scott


A Short Intellectual Autobiography

Maybe an autobiographical intellectual sketch to start with?

Working for degrees in mathematics and sociology in the 1950s I found Durkheim's view of groups and societies as more than the sum of individuals--generally actors--fascinating. He called that "more" le fait social, of its own kind, sui generis. But what is that X, or Y, that makes sociology an X-Y-ology, beyond the sum of N psychologies?

Enters mathematics. Durkheim's view is mirrored in sets as more than lists of elements. Sets also have a sui generis.

Thus, there are two ways of defining "Europe". Listing countries gives us the set in extenso, the extension of the set, the denotata. But we can also define Europe in intenso, the meaning, the connotata of that word, predicate, attribute. The set "gender" can be defined as {male, female, neutral}; "generation" as {young, middle-aged, old}, "race" as {white, yellow, brown, red, black}; but also by exploring meanings. Doing so we are a level above the elements; sui generis. We try to capture the idea "Europe" holistically, as a whole, holon. Like the number "3" is the meaning of the set of all sets with 3 elements, like 3 European countries, 3 genders, 3 generations.

Enter relations, even more sui generis. A bilateral relation, like A>B, A=B, more or equally powerful; or a trilateral relation, like A is between B and C, like the between-ness of middle classes, middle-aged, middle-sexed, says something not found in A, B, C alone.

Enters structure, sets with relations. A good X candidate.

A key relation in sociology is interaction. A social system is a set of interacting individuals. A world system is a set of interacting states groups, themselves sets of interacting individuals.

And a future universe system is a set of interacting worlds.

A society is a social system capable of sustainable self-reproduction of offspring and the means to satisfy their basic needs. If the rest of the world disappears it can still produce sufficient security, livelihood by handling the population pressure on resources, decisions handling challenges and identity to give meaning to life.

That gives five ways for societies to die: war-conquest, misery-disease, inadequate decision-making, alienation-meaninglessness, and resource exhaustion. The Horses of the Apocalypse reflect this well.

And then societies also die by absorption of one into the other or mutual absorption into one society, some future globalized society.

State integration absorbs local communities, regional integration absorbs states, and global integration ultimately absorbs regions.

How, then, would world society eventually die, given the assumed finiteness of everything? If we leave out conquest by other worlds and absorption into universe society, we are left with misery-disease, inadequate decision-making, alienation-meaninglessness and resource exhaustion, all of them leading to depopulation. Misery-disease point to nature, to micro-organisms, and to major depletion-pollution; inadequately handled. And apathy to too little or too much challenge.

Thus, desociation or globalization may stimulate an opposite process of resociation, of old or new societies to cope with problems. Identities come, identities go, identities come again.

Coming to grips with society implies coming to grips with its finiteness. And this leads to my basic question: is the cause located in the elements, or in their relations, in human beings or in their way of relating to each other? If the former the remedy would be genetic modification of humans, or massive education; if the latter transformation of relations, like from conflict to harmony, and from violence to peace. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive.

Enters mathematics again. Combining the set perspective and the relation perspective into the structure perspective--a set of elements with a set of relations--an image of X is on the horizon. Define sets and subsets of elements, and sets and subsets of relations--bi-, tri-, multi-lateral--a rich structural discourse emerges for le fait social; the social facts, the subject matter of sociology. So the topic chosen for my dissertation in mathematics included relations.

Looking inward the same discourse relates individual cognitions and emotions to a structural discourse for le fait individuel; for the individual facts, the subject matter of psychology.

And looking outward we get le fait global, global facts; the subject matter of "globology", a non-existing social science. IR got stuck at the level of states, even misnaming them as "nations".

Mathematics made me some kind of structuralist, later on focusing on such particular relations as conflict vs harmony, violence vs peace; all of them characteristics, predicates of the relations between actors not reducible to predicates or attributes of actors.

And mathematics also made me a culturalist. For structuralism I had used sets of elements and sets of pairs etc. inquiring into their meaning in intenso. In culture, a good Y candidate, meanings abound, begging for definition in extenso. Such basic meanings in a cultural discourse as the true, the good, the right, the beautiful, the sacred can be understood as divisions of sets into three subsets: +, 0, -:

confirmed-undecided-disconfirmed, for hypotheses;

true-?-false, for propositions;

valid-?-invalid, for deductions;

good-neutral-bad, for objects;

right-neutral-wrong, for actions (also speech, vocal and subvocal);

sacred-adiafora-profane, for times and spaces, for anything; and beautiful-neutral-ugly, for all of the above.

A structural discourse, X, describes and explains structural reality.

A cultural discourse, Y, describes and explains cultural reality.

And, if social=structural+cultural, with humans inside the structures and cultures inside the humans, then a social discourse uses both.

Having defined X and Y in ways that opened for empirical research and theoretical reflection I turned to the two '?' above, issues that troubled me like they trouble others. Aristotelian-cartesian logic rules out the first "?" with its tertium non datur: a proposition is true or false, not undecidable. And Godel's proof of undecidability ruled in the second "?"; there are undecidables in theories.

Some exposure to buddhist logic made Aristotle-Descartes "either-or" a strait-jacket which, applied to the real world as science, also put reality in a strait-jacket. Buddhist logic expands the dilemma of true-false to a tetralemma, adding "both-and" and "neither-nor", both true and false, and neither true nor false. Add half-half (or 70-30, any division) and we get a pentalemma, accommodating the outcomes of a simple conflict over two goals: Goal 1, Goal 2, compromise, negative transcendence (neither-nor) and positive transcendence (both-and).

This matters because "it is either you or me" in a conflict is the legitimate child of Aristotelian-Cartesian logic, whereas combining, or negating opposites is a legitimate child of the tetralemma, flowing from that cultural premise. The answer is "by discovering-inventing-creating a new reality" beyond a reality accommodating only two possible outcomes of conflict.

And some exposure to daoist logic made the obsession with deductivism look like a strait-jacket which, applied to the real world as science, also puts reality in a strait-jacket. Godel's proof came as a relief from the boredom of a world with decidable propositions only. An axiom covering all truths would give us a static, ready-made world devoid of any newness, in the double strait-jacket of tertium non datur and decidability.

Where the buddhist tetralemma liberates us from either-or strait-jackets by inviting two additional possibilities, daoism liberates us from any ready-made world through the dynamic yin/yang of complex inner contradictions. When yin is vexing, yang is waning; an omnipresent dialectic in whatever has a wholeness to it, a holon. In daoist thinking dialectics and holism go hand in hand; like in aristotelian-cartesian thinking deduction and atomism, dividing what is into parts linked theoretically, meaning deductively, go hand in hand.

Must we favor holism-dialectics or atomism-deduction, like Western universities do, in favor of the latter? Or a holistic both-and, with inner contradictions? If the Orient enriched its thought from the Occident, then the Occident can break with its monotheistic creationism and be enriched by the Orient. Walking on two legs yields richer discourses for social facts.

I now got two faits sociaux, structure and culture, and the actors. The cultures are inside the actors as meaning, and actors are inside the structures as parties to relations. Being sui generis structures and cultures can be detached from actors and studied as dialectic holisms in their own right. The structure of capitalism can be studied without any reference to, say, USA; the culture of dualism can also be studied without reference to, say, USA. But named actors give us exemplars.

Structures steer and cultures guide actors; from outside by outer sanctions--punishment and reward--of institutionalized structures, from inside through the inner sanctions--for humans good/bad conscience--of internalized cultures. Thus, structures are cultured, conveying meaning. And cultures are structured, e.g., hierarchically, by priorities. And both convey power.

Thus the set of sanctions, and anticipated sanctions, is cut by two dichotomies, outer vs inner, and positive vs negative cybernetic controls. Negative feedbacks tend to privilege status quo whereas positive feedbacks may privilege change. Outer sanctions privilege conformism and inner sanctions may privilege innovation, diversity. Four cybernetic control profiles that steer reality. Faits sociaux that indeed matter.

Human beings try to eke out some free space between Nature, Structure and Culture. The stronger the negative-outer profile, however, the less actor differentiation and the less creation of new realities, meaning free space. The more positive-inner sanctions the more opening for creativity, space, new realities.

Kant (1724-1804) focused on Culture, our inner moral voice. The other is not the stars, but an often harsh social reality. If we want to do what we have to do life looks like free space. But this is also the formula for a static, conformist society. Kant was long on Culture, short on Structure and Nature.

Marx (1818-1883) focused on Nature as empty stomach and materialism, and on how Structure distributes misery and wealth. Marx was long on Nature and Structure, and short on Culture.

Freud (1865-1939) focused on the genesis of that "inner moral voice" in the battle between Nature and Culture, drives and norms, institutionalized and/or internalized. Freud was long on Nature and Culture and short on social-world Structure.

Conclusion: Three key insights and we need all of them. We need Nature, Structure and Culture in our search for knowledge and for knowledge of knowledge, our epistemology, which should accommodate both holism-dialectics, and atomism-deduction.

And with that introduction we proceed to our explorations.


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