George Fourlas

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George Fourlas is a Ph.D candidate in philosophy at the University of Oregon, and a visiting researcher at El Instituto de Gobernanza Democrática, Globernance. George specializes in social-political philosophy, ethics, and conflict resolution. His current research focuses on reconciliation in pre and post-conflict situations. He develops this focus through three overlapping projects: 1) reconciliation and justice; 2) reconciliation and race/ethnicity (specifically amongst Middle-Eastern Americans); and 3) the ethics of reconciliation.

Regarding the aims of this workshop, George says: “I am interested in what motivates persons to engage Others such that meaning and mutual understanding does or does not emerge. As a question, I might ask: Why do some people move to resolve their problems together while others do not?

Presentation title: “Risk, Vulnerability, and Recognition: Reflections on Language, Self, and Others in Non-ideal Interactions A roundtable discussion on enacting conflict transformation.”

Abstract: With this roundtable discussion we intend to lay out some initial theoretical ground for possible co-constructions between an enactive understanding of self experience in dialogical encounters on the one hand, and the ameliorative ethical and political aims of conflict reconciliation and transformation on the other. We hold in common the following claims, which bear a complex non-linear relation to each other:

(1) Recognition is a basic requirement for actual communication and intersubjective meaning-making to take place.

(2) One’s sense of self is an on-going achievement within social environments and which requires the active contributions of others.

(3) There are regularly occurring, non-pathological differences between persons that constitutively effect the meaning in communicative interactions (both because and in spite of the intersubjective conditions of selfhood).

Each of these themes are in play in each short presentation.

George Fourlas will discuss the role of recognition in collaborative meaning making processes, with a specific focus on conflicting persons. In cases of conflict, collaborative meaning making takes on additional characteristics that are not present in ordinary languaging activities. One such characteristic is a heightened sense of risk that comes along with engaging the Other, which is rooted in lack of trust. In ordinary meaning making activities, a certain level of non-propositional trust permeates the relational encounter. Basic trust is one of the coordinating activities that comes before linguistic encounter but is also realized within said encounters. In circumstances where this base level trust is absent or in question, meaning making between conflicting parties becomes a reconciliatory process insofar as it begins in the absence of normal pre-linguistic (coordinating) trust relations. This raises the question, what motivates conflicting parties to risk engaging one another and work toward reconciliation in the absence of trust? Here, George argues that recognition and co-presence are fundamental to motivating reconciliation processes.

After sharing these perspectives in short individual presentations, we will briefly respond to each other, and then jointly facilitate a group conversation with all participants.

George can be contacted via this email: gfourlas@uoregon.edu