Cultural interdependence and the ethical other: hermeneutical openness in interreligious dialogue and the effort to address pressing global issues

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In the 21st century we are still witnessing the potential threat of a nuclear holocaust, while the rapid advance of environmental disasters and global warming daily anchors in news headlines spreading fear to an already despairing humanity. Social injustice and fragmentation runs rampant, fundamentalism is on the rise and so are the global poor whereas alienation and hopelessness plaques multitudes in modern cities. Moreover, war and instability is the plight of millions drives against all odds hundreds of thousands fear ridden refuges hoping for a better future in migratory patterns toward western or other affluent nations. Concurrently, powerful nation states are engaged in a rally of military political and economic dominance in the international arena, whilst the global political and economic system constituting of an interdependence of financial markets networked via internet colonizes cultures peoples and social values at the beck and call of the few elite. But most importantly, in our highly globalized world where few cultures remain self-bounded or sharply contained, and encounters between diverse peoples and cultures are an everyday occurrence, humanity is gradually awakening to a new historical phenomenon a radically plural world of cultural and religious interdependence. More than any other epoch in history our times necessitate intercultural interreligious dialogue. It is time to work across cultural and religious divides for the strong affirmation of global justice founded on the principle of humanity, a principio universalis that calls for the eradication of all forms of suffering, promotes world peace and an ethics of care, accentuates the moral enhancement of human well-being amidst global turmoil. It is the contention of this paper that the global scale of suffering calls for hermeneutical openness in interreligious dialogue as the most appropriate stance for encountering the cultural or ethical other, to respect hear and reckon the truth of the other qua otherness as such. Here, the philosophical meaning of a ‘hermeneutics of openness’ is explored through the thinking of Schleiermacher, Heidegger, and Gadamer. For a deeper appropriation of hermeneutical openness before the ultimately other our inquiry turns to an exploration of Ramundo Panikkar’s vision of interreligious dialogue. A ‘hermeneutics of openness’ in encountering the cultural or religious other avoids the moral pitfalls of imperialism and violence, colonization and projection, endless polemics, argumentation and ethical adversity. Equally, the hermeneutical stance of openness toward religious otherness rises to meet the global challenge—overcomes the categories of sameness and difference—mostly helps promote intercultural interreligious networking communities of learning and solidarity that collectively aim to alleviate world suffering and combat global injustice. Hermeneutical openness clarifies and affirms the richness of cultural and religious diversity and the plurality of traditions and perspectives ultimately advances intercultural communities of human flourishing to help guide humanity out of the deadlock, to best help redirect the global political and economic system toward advancing social cohesion and the common good.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-296
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Arts & Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventMultidisciplinary Conference hosted by The International Journal of Arts and Sciences at the Katholische Akademie der Erzdiozese, Freiburg, Germany, 1st – 4th December 2015. International Academic Conference: Full Schedule - Katholische Akademie der Erzdiozese, Freiburg, Germany
Duration: 1 Dec 201514 Dec 2015


  • Interfaith dialogue, Interreligious hermeneutics, Intercultural context, Ethical other

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