Étienne de la Boétie: Discourse of Voluntary Servitude

In a 1963 anthology, The Quiet Battle: Writings on the Theory and Practice of Non-violent Resistance (paperback by Beacon, 1968), edited and introduced by Mulford Quickert Sibley, Étienne de la Boétie receives attention as the first modern voice of nonviolence. An English translation of Boétie’s Discourse of Voluntary Servitude (1548) is offered by two internet archives: The Memory Hole and Constitution.Org.

“For the present I should like merely to understand how it happens that so many men, so many villages, so many cities, so many nations, sometimes suffer under a single tyrant who has no other power than the power they give him; who is able to harm them only to the extent to which they have the willingness to bear with him; who could do them absolutely no injury unless they preferred to put up with him rather than contradict him. Surely a striking situation!”


Peace Readings Summer ’08

A dozen reviews of books for peace seekers in the July-August 2008 Summer Reading Issue of Peacework Magazine. See for example a review of Francis Boyle’s latest appeal for civil resistance, and a reading of Cormac McCarthy’s dead center narrative about what will happen if we don’t stop the madness before the nuclear bombs fall.


The Lost Pyramids of Caral

“The magnificent ancient city of pyramids at Caral in Peru hit the headlines in 2001. The site is a thousand years older than the earliest known civilisation in the Americas and, at 2,627 BC, is as old as the pyramids of Egypt. Many now believe it is the fabled missing link of archaeology – a ‘mother city’. If so, then these extraordinary findings could finally answer one of the great questions of archaeology: why did humans become civilised?” And what role did warfare play in the development of the earliest cities?

A Google Video from the BBC


Philosophy at the World Conference: A Discussion

Minutes: The Conference of Philosophical Societies (CoPS) met to discuss “Philosophical Themes of World Congresses of Philosophy: What Impact?” at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore, Bristol room, 6.30-9.30pm, December 27, 2007 during the annual meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division.


John Abbarno, President, CoPS
George F. McLean, Vice President, CoPS, Sec.-Treas. The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (RVP)
David Schrader, Executive Director, APA
William McBride, Secretary-General, International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP)
Kihyeon Kim, Secretary-General, Korean Organizing Committee for the World Congress of Philosophy
Jinho Kang, Vice Secretary-General, Korean Organizing Committee for the World Congress of Philosophy

The goal of the CoPS meeting was to invite the American philosophical societies to explore the philosophical challenges and opportunities emerging from globalization as well as how nations and cultures could unite while sustaining their identity through change. As stated by the letter of convocation from the President of CoPS:

Are the traditional avenues and methods of reasoning sufficiently equipped to address these new concerns? As philosophers we wonder how this global impact challenges our own enterprise.

We see this reflected in the theme of the next World Congresses of Philosophy (XXII) planned to convene 30 July-5 August 2008 in Seoul, South Korea. The theme is “Rethinking Philosophy Today.” Gone it seems is the confidence of the previous World Congress (XXI) held in Istanbul, Turkey in 2003 which had the theme “Philosophy Facing World Problems.” In more sobering times we rightly face the task of rethinking the philosophical enterprise itself. This is a most rare step–unequaled since, perhaps, Descartes set the modern goal of “clarity and distinctness.”

The American philosophical community seems called upon in a special way for this task. United in the American Philosophical Association (APA) it is also diversified and specialized in the 173 societies listed in the Directory of American Philosophers. The Conference on Philosophical Societies (CoPS) serves to interconnect this open network.

G. John Abbarno chaired the session.

William McBride, Secretary General of FISP introduced the work of FISP in the past years and pointed out the problems facing the professional philosophical organizations. The World Congress of Philosophy will be held in Seoul, Korea on July 30-August 5, 2008, it is the first time since 1900 that the World Congress will be held outside of the North Atlantic region. In this global age, it is necessary to seek out what other cultures and civilizations can contribute to present-day philosophical thinking. Asian cultures as both rich and diverse can contribute and enrich world philosophy. Other cultures recognize the significance of this global interaction and actively engage in international philosophical activities. American philosophers need, and are needed for, this open world horizon of the many ways of thinking and doing philosophy. Today international collaboration in philosophy has become especially important.

George F. McLean, Director of the Council for Research in Value Philosophy and Vice President of CoPS told of the young Whitehead and Russell attending the first World Congress in Paris in 1900 and being impressed by the students of Giuseppe Peano. This inspired their joint work: Principia Mathematica, whence came two of the most important philosophical trends of the 20th century: analytic philosophy and process metaphysics. The World Congresses long had no particular theme, but only showcased whatever work was being done. After World War II general themes were added, at first in the philosophy of science, but with the emergence of the world from colonialism and the cold war issues of freedom and human dignity became central.
Since the new millennium the new global reality calls for attention to the diversity of cultures and civilizations and to their interrelations. Hence the theme of the 2003 World Congress “Philosophy Solving World Problems” now gives way to an even more fundamental of issues, namely, “Rethinking Philosophy Today”. This suggests recognition that today it is philosophers’ task to develop a new epistemology, indeed a new paradigm, in order to enable diverse civilizations to engage in peaceful global progress in our times.
The American philosophical situation today is twofold. On the one hand, the APA unites all in a well-organized professional society. On the other hand, 173 specific philosophical societies promote the specialized philosophical competencies in the many fields. It is important to our day to find a new way of drawing upon these special capabilities and applying them to the work of philosophizing on the complex issues of our times. This is the founding purpose of The Conference of Philosophical Societies (CoPS).

David Schrader, Executive Director of the American Philosophical Association pointed out that we constantly redefine philosophy as a perpetual path. Philosophy is to communicate ideas and find values for society. The APA has a 105 year history. Philosophers need to talk to each other. Whereas before it was difficult to travel, now technology and internet make it much easier to communicate physically and virtually. Separated from the rest of the world by two oceans, American philosophers seem not to have been adequately attentive to the thinking going on around the world. If one’s home can be a window of the world, philosophy needs to find value in everyday life and consider the social and political issues this entails.

Kihyeon Kim, Secretary General, World Congress of Philosophy Korean Organizing Committee introduced the organization of the XXIInd World Congress of Philosophy in Seoul, Korea (July 30-August 5, 2008), mentioning especially the new issue of globalization. This first World Congress of Philosophy to be held in Asia opens philosophy to a world horizon and its civilizations. Where professional philosophy thus far turned especially to the Greek tradition, globalization opens this to the new philosophical ideas and new identities of the world.

Along with the usual issues of scheduling and facilities, the organization of the current World Congress in Seoul faces that of participation from all region and hence of finances. As the important issue facing philosophers today is the crisis of humanity, it is important to revive the interest on the study of humanity itself. This calls for participation by representatives of all parts of the world’s philosophical communities and societies.

Jinho Kang, Vice Secretary General of the World Congress of Philosophy Organizing Committee provided detailed concrete information on the organization of the World Congress as a platform for dialogue of philosophies: East and West, North and South. Key challenges are how to enlarge and evoke more philosophical interests on some concrete social concerns; how to apply philosophical theories to human life. The World Congress program in Seoul aims to balance different philosophical ideas, thoughts and discussions and will offer a platform for dialogue and communication. It hopes to add the rich cultures of Korean and other Asian people to the global perspectives.

Discussion ensued especially on: (a) the pattern of registrations thus far, (b) the pre-Congress Congress conference of the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (Seoul, July 27-29, 2008) on “Philosophy Emerging from Culture” (, and (c) Islamic participation especially from South East Asia.
In conclusion President Abbarno extended special thanks to the speakers and especially to the Korean representatives who were thanked for their great effort to develop philosophy for global times. He offered assistance of the Conference of Philosophical Societies (CoPS) in any manner they believed would be helpful.

–Hu Yeping, Secretary, The Conference of Philosophical Societies

Articles CPP Newsletter Online Resources V26.2

Lt. Watada’s Initial Statement of Conscience

Newsletter of the Concerned Philosophers for Peace, Vol. 26.2 (Fall 2006)

June 7, 2006

by Lt. Ehren Watada

Family, friends, members of the religious community, members of the press, and my fellow Americans—thank you for coming today.

My name is Ehren Watada. I am a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and I have served for 3 years. It is my duty as a commissioned officer of the United States Army to speak out against grave injustices. My moral and legal obligation is to the Constitution and not those who would issue unlawful orders. I stand before you today because it is my job to serve and protect those soldiers, the American people, and innocent Iraqis with no voice.

It is my conclusion as an officer of the Armed Forces that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law. Although I have tried to resign out of protest, I am forced to participate in a war that is manifestly illegal. As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must as an officer of honor and integrity refuse that order.

The war in Iraq violates our democratic system of checks and balances. It usurps international treaties and conventions that by virtue of the Constitution become American law. The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people with only limited accountability is not only a terrible moral injustice, but a contradiction to the Army’s own Law of Land Warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes.

Normally, those in the military have allowed others to speak for them and act on their behalf. That time has come to an end. I have appealed to my commanders to see the larger issues of our actions. But justice has not been forthcoming. My oath of office is to protect and defend America’s laws and its people. By refusing unlawful orders for an illegal war, I fulfill that oath today. Thank you.


On June 22, U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the unlawful Iraq War and occupation. Lt. Watada has been formally charged with contempt towards President Bush, conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, and missing movement. Reprinted from

CPP Newsletter Online Notices Resources V26.2

Book: Moral Vision by Duane Cady

Newsletter of the Concerned Philosophers for Peace, Vol. 26.2 (Fall 2006)

Moral Vision: How Everyday Life Shapes Ethical Thinking by Duane L. Cady Rowman & Littlefield $21.95 paper ISBN 0-7425-4494-X May, 2005 134pp

“A deeply felt, wonderfully clear and heartening book. MORAL VISION reflects decades of writing and teaching about theories of war by a philosopher actively engaged in nonviolent projects, waging peace. Duane Cady’s revisionary moral concepts enable us to think against violence, to see nonviolence as reason’s dream.” * Sara Ruddick, author of MATERNAL THINKING: Toward a Politics of Peace

What is moral reasoning? Are we being reasonable when we make moral decisions if we cannot supply compelling arguments, criteria, necessary and sufficient conditions, decisive empirical evidence and the like?

In MORAL VISION, Duane L. Cady critiques the contemporary inclination to model reason after textbook natural science, noting that our values are not conclusions of proofs or derivations but frameworks in which such reasoning may take place, frameworks that we struggle to understand and explain. Cady goes on to suggest a rich conception of reason beyond that of stereotypical science, one that reflects aesthetic, historical, experiential, and pluralistic aspects of moral thinking, one that widens and deepens descriptions of how moral thinking typically happens.

CPP Newsletter Online Resources Site Notes

Archive Project

We are beginning to archive previous CPP newsletters, beginning with Volume 11. This is an eerie exercise, since it begins with articles written during the first Bush war on Iraq. You may access the archive of newsletter articles at the right column menu via the year of publication (1991) or volume number (11.1 and 11.2).

Articles CPP Newsletter Online Resources V26.1

There are No Words by Tom Fox

Posted in the Newsletter of the Concerned Philosophers for Peace Vol. 26 (Spring – Summer 2006)

“The ongoing difficulties faced by Fallujans are so great that words fail to properly express it.” Words from a cleric in Fallujah as he tried to explain the litany of ills that continue to afflict his city one year after the U.S.-led assault took place.

“All the men in the mosque were from my neighborhood. They were not terrorists.” Words from a young man who said he left a room of men either injured or homeless thirty minutes before the raid on his mosque, the same mosque shown in the now-famous videotape of an American soldier shooting unarmed men lying on the mosque floor.

“There haven’t been any funds for home reconstruction available since the change in Iraqi government last January.” The words of a civic leader from Fallujah as he showed CPTers the still-devastated areas of his city.

There are no words. A city that has been demonized by Americans and many Iraqis, using the words “the city of terrorists.” A city that its residents call “the city of mosques.” A city that even its residents have to enter at checkpoints, often taking up to an hour to traverse. A city that is being choked to death economically by those same checkpoints.

CPTers and a member of the Muslim Peacemaker Teams came to Fallujah to meet with friends and contacts to ask them if the city was planning on doing something in remembrance of the tragic events of last November when U.S. forces attacked their city of 300,000 to root out, by U.S. estimates, 1,500 terrorists.

What we heard in response were words of remembrance, resistance and resilience. The cleric said that a number of civic leaders had come to him with a proposal for an action in remembrance of the anniversary. Their proposal was to raise funds to contribute to relief efforts for the victims of the earthquake in Pakistan. He said that a teaching of Islam is to always look to aid others in need before asking for aid yourself.

The cleric said that he recently traveled to another Middle Eastern country and during his visit he met with a cleric from Libya. The Libyan cleric said that in his city, and in other places in Libya, parents are naming newborn girls “Fallujah” in honor of the city. The cleric said that more than 800 girls had been named Fallujah in his city alone.

Words are inadequate, but words are all we have. Words like “collective punishment” and “ghettoize” come to mind for the current state of life in Fallujah.

What words or deeds could undo the massive trauma faced by the people of Fallujah every day? Everywhere we went during the afternoon young boys listened to our words and the words of those with whom we were meeting. I kept wondering what was going on in their minds as they relived the events of a year ago and the ensuing trauma. What effect will these events have on their lives as they grow up?

There are no words.

Tom Fox was a member of a Christian Peacemaker Team working in Iraq. On March 9, 2006 Fox was found dead in Baghdad. Text reprinted from Nov. 8, 2005 entry from his blog, “Waiting for the Light”.

Articles CPP Newsletter Online Resources V26.1

Email to Mother by Rachel Corrie

Posted in the Newsletter of the Concerned Philosophers for Peace, Vol. 26 (Spring – Summer 2006)

(February 28, 2003) Thanks, Mom, for your response to my email. It really helps me to get word from you, and from other people who care about me.

After I wrote to you I went incommunicado from the affinity group for about 10 hours which I spent with a family on the front line in Hi Salam – who fixed me dinner – and have cable TV. The two front rooms of their house are unusable because gunshots have been fired through the walls, so the whole family – three kids and two parents – sleep in the parent’s bedroom. I sleep on the floor next to the youngest daughter, Iman, and we all shared blankets. I helped the son with his English homework a little, and we all watched Pet Semetery, which is a horrifying movie. I think they all thought it was pretty funny how much trouble I had watching it. Friday is the holiday, and when I woke up they were watching Gummy Bears dubbed into Arabic. So I ate breakfast with them and sat there for a while and just enjoyed being in this big puddle of blankets with this family watching what for me seemed like Saturday morning cartoons. Then I walked some way to B’razil, which is where Nidal and Mansur and Grandmother and Rafat and all the rest of the big family that has really wholeheartedly adopted me live. (The other day, by the way, Grandmother gave me a pantomimed lecture in Arabic that involved a lot of blowing and pointing to her black shawl. I got Nidal to tell her that my mother would appreciate knowing that someone here was giving me a lecture about smoking turning my lungs black.) I met their sister-in-law, who is visiting from Nusserat camp, and played with her small baby.

Nidal’s English gets better every day. He’s the one who calls me, “My sister”. He started teaching Grandmother how to say, “Hello. How are you?” In English. You can always hear the tanks and bulldozers passing by, but all of these people are genuinely cheerful with each other, and with me. When I am with Palestinian friends I tend to be somewhat less horrified than when I am trying to act in a role of human rights observer, documenter, or direct-action resister. They are a good example of how to be in it for the long haul. I know that the situation gets to them – and may ultimately get them – on all kinds of levels, but I am nevertheless amazed at their strength in being able to defend such a large degree of their humanity – laughter, generosity, family-time – against the incredible horror occurring in their lives and against the constant presence of death. I felt much better after this morning. I spent a lot of time writing about the disappointment of discovering, somewhat first-hand, the degree of evil of which we are still capable. I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances – which I also haven’t seen before. I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.

Rachel Corrie died in Palestine on March 16, 2003. According to Democracy Now!, “Eye-witnesses say Rachel was sitting directly in the path of the bulldozer holding a megaphone and wearing a fluorescent jacket when it ran her over, crushing her to death. She was 23 years old.” Text reprinted from


University of Missouri Peace Studies Review

To members of Concerned Philosophers for Peace and all interested:

The University of Missouri has had an interdisciplinary Peace Studies Program for more than 30 years. For much of this time it circulated a newsletter/informal journal, Peace Talk, to its supporters and interested persons. With the support of the University of Missouri administration, the Program has now inaugurated a scholarly publication, the University of Missouri Peace Studies Review, an interdisciplinary journal with refereed and invited essays and a book review section. There will be two issues a year. The second issue is in press.

The editors invite submissions from any field relevant to the study of roots of violence and routes to peace and the practice of peace-making. I have been asked to serve as book review editor and am seeking good and relevant books to review and capable reviewers. We expect to publish two or three reviews in each issue.

You are invited to subscribe to the Review and submit papers for its consideration. Information about the Review, subscribing and submitting material is available on the website

Yours in peace,
John Kultgen
Philosophy Department
University of Missouri – Columbia