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Abstract

Culture, hospitality and relational ethics: some philosophical reflections

This paper is an adaptation of a lecture on Culture and Hospitality, given in Bournemouth after the events in New York now widely referred to as ‘9/11’. 9/11 made it clear that at least some groups of people understood each other badly or not at all. It made it clear that there are tremendous misunderstandings in communication between groups worldwide, and within groups of people, especially when they think their worldviews, values, norms and ethics are at stake. Sometimes the conflict is articulated as a confrontation between the American (western) way of life and the Islamic way of life. After 9/11 something ‘fundamental’ changed our common world. The dominant (western) culture could no longer impose its creeds, its methodologies, its political strategies on other cultures. There is – not only in the Muslim world, but worldwide – a lot of resistance. The dominant culture has to analyse its own self-image and must compare it with the image which the ‘other’ has of him (or her). Respect for the self and respect for the other have to be brought in balance. This article starts from the necessity to reflect on the more essential features of an intercultural dialogue. Reflection and dialogue are necessary because of increasing violence between individuals and groups on earth, and because of tremendous migrations. For his analysis the writer uses the ideas of philosophers like Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas and the psychiatrist Ivan Boszormenyi Nagy. The article distinguishes between the terms ‘multicultural’ and ‘intercultural’, and invites the reader to make a choice for intercultural dialogue and relational ethics. The consequence of such choice is the acceptance of an ongoing transformation within and between persons and groups. At the same time the reader is alerted to the need for interreligious and interconfessional dialogue proposed by Raimon Panikkar, for intercultural dialogue is not possible without inter-religious dialogue.


Author(s): Marc Colpaert

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