Universality — with the right for the distinctive: science in the intercultural dialogue

Language: In German

With author’s permission, the journal LZA Vēstis is publishing the report, in German, by Otfried Höffe, professor emeritus of Tübingen University, which he delivered opening the plenary session of 2016 General Meeting of German National Academy of Sciences LEOPOLDINA, on 23 September 2016. While observing and analysing the recently growing intensive migration of representatives of various cultures in Europe, and modelling its processes, also the General Meeting of LEOPOLDINA was organised as the reaction of the academic society to disturbing events and was dedicated to the role of science in the procedure of intercultural dialogue.

Following are the main conclusions of the report by Prof. O. Höffe:

  1. The society has inherent striving for knowledge. This driving force is characteristic not only of Western European science but is deemed as a common feature of humanity.
  2. Striving for knowledge is also characterised by cognition of intercultural issues, in order to comprehend the distinctive and the unfamiliar.
  3. In the intercultural dialogue preferable are methods and views through which various cultures can recognise themselves. This is the principle to recognise oneself in another one. The intercultural discourse is not only a synchronous totality of phenomena from one and the same historical period but it can be of a diachronic nature which allows to grasp the common things in various epochs. Striving for intercultural cognition is contrary to epistemic ethnocentrism or ethnically limited introspection.
  4. Is modern science pan-Western in essence? One of the axioms of intercultural dialogue is the following: the things that a culture specifically respects about itself are respected also by other cultures. And vice versa — the values denied by one’s own culture will not call for recognition by representatives of other cultures. No limits are characteristic of science. A scientist’s profession is not restricted to belonging to the West or to the East. Quite on the contrary — it is even more than global, it is cosmopolitan. Notwithstanding the specific form characteristic of culture, science serves to universal interests, and therefore, it has a globalising, even cosmopolitan nature.
  5. Striving for intercultural cognition can be realised the necessary components being courage and competence. However, while proceeding this route, it is essential to answer the following question: do the cultural disctinctions have the significance of an argument in the scientific world?