In his “Querela Pacis” (The Complaint of Peace), the 16th century scholar Desiderius Erasmus employed a conventional literary device of his time to endow peace with a personality and voice. Fred Dallmayr, Packey J. Dee Professor of Political Theory at the University of Notre Dame, has taken up the theme in his book, “Peace TalksWho Will Listen?” which recently was published by Notre Dame Press.
In Erasmuswork, Peace challenges the reader to explain how “if I, whose name is Peace, am a personage glorified by the united praise of God and man, as the fountain, the parent, the nurse, the patroness, the guardian of every blessing which either heaven or earth can bestow can I believe [proponents of war] to be otherwise than stark mad; who, with such a waste of treasure, with so ardent a zeal, with so great an effort, with so many arts, so much anxiety, and so much danger, endeavor to drive me away from them, and purchase endless misery and mischief at a price so high?”
Dallmayr articulates Erasmuschallenge in more contemporary terms, applying it to the evolution of international law and global ethics and alluding to similar expressions in such widely varied writings as those of Francisco de Vitoria, Immanuel Kant, Hannah Arednt, Confucius, Ibn Arabi, and Jalal ad-Din Rumi.
According to Calvin O. Schrag of Purdue University, Dallmayr provides “a vibrant contemporary voice in the proliferating multicultural conversation of mankind” which “makes the strongest case yet for a peace-making culture that would be able to restrain the war machine mentality of our present age.”
Robert C. Johansen, professor of political science and senior fellow at Notre Dames Kroc Institute for International Studies, said that Dallmayrs book “opens our minds and hearts to an urgent, timely message of how to think about making peace. With penetrating insights and fascinating exploration, he shows that this message, which must be heeded if our species is to survive with dignity, has timeless roots that he vividly brings to light while drawing deftly on traditions at once ancient and modern, Western and Eastern, and from the global North and South.”
A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1978, Dallmayr specializes in modern and contemporary European thought as well as in comparative philosophy and non-Western political thought, cross-cultural dialogue, and global human rights. He is the author of 14 books, including “Achieving Our World: Toward A Global and Plural Democracy”; “Dialogue Among Civilizations: Some Exemplary Voices”; “Beyond Orientalism: Essays on Cross-cultural Encounter”; and “Alternative Visions: Paths in The Global Village.”
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