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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 21, Issue 1, 2011

Studies of Civilizations

Piotr Balcerowicz
Pages 73-94
DOI: 10.5840/du201121133

Rationality as a Common Public Domain

Even though globalization is not necessarily a modern phenomenon, quantitatively id does exceed anything which we could observe in the past. In its modern form it entails certain side effects and brings news risks which often involves direct encounters of people representing different or conflicting worldviews and systems of values. To speak of “a clash of civilizations” or “a war of civilizations” would be a misunderstanding, probably motivated politically. What is really pertinent is, however, the question to what extent conflicting systems of values (i.e. people representing or subscribing to conflicting systems of values and lifestyles) can coexist or enter in a dialogue, which should be a requirement for any strategy to solve or manage a conflict. In this context, it proves extremely fruitful to distinguish two kinds of rationality: of the first and second level. Such distinction helps, first of all, to understand to what degree, e.g., deeply religious people and secular scientists are rational, and in what context a dialogue or exchange of ideas between such divergent parties is possible. These results can easily be transferred onto a wide range of other conflicting systems of values. Further, the paper claims that it is not cultures or civilizations, the identity which being extremely complex, heterogeneous and multi-layered, as such enter into a conflict but cultural / civilizational subgroups. The conclusion is that a dialogue between two systems of values is in most cases possible, with one exception.