Cross-cultural understanding: Its philosophical and anthropological problems

Abstract
Abstract I wish to discuss the constitutive conditions ? and aporias ? of the representations of the other in philosophy, sociology and cultural studies. In so doing, I show that crucial to the problem of ?tolerance? is the answer to such questions as: How do we represent the stranger and the other? How does this representation come into being? How can it ? in given instances ? be changed? I shall suggest that the arts may play a decisive role in this process. In this paper I shall attempt to outline a double thesis: (a) the philosophical theory of the experience of something other requires the challenge of ethnology as the science of the stranger; and (b) conversely, however, ethnology itself requires a theory of cultural strangeness, which although always presupposed is never developed. I shall pursue this thesis in three stages. In the first section, I shall say something about the philosophical study of the other and its latent affinity with ethnology. In the second section, I shall take some key terms from the current dispute within ethnology over methodology, and attempt to show that the experience of something other (alien) requires a medium to express, or rather to describe, this experience. This problem of ethnographic depiction and description, lying between science and art; and the suggested solutions to this problem, developed particularly by postmodern American cultural?anthropology, namely an aesthetisization without art, leads to the third section of this paper. This provokes the following question: what does art ? that moment which remains hidden within the contemporary ethnological discussion ? have to offer to our understanding of the (cultural) other? Further, we may ask, as paradoxical as it may at first sound, whether it is precisely from art, perhaps indeed only from art, that the way is to be found leading towards that which hasn't yet been problematized in all these contemporary intercultural debates: an ethic of intercultural understanding as the most important precondition for intercultural tolerance or toleration
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