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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 29, Issue 3, 2019

Philosophy in an Age of Crisis, Part III

Iwona Krupecka
Pages 57-70

The Order of Body
The Embodied Subjectivity as a Quasi-Universal Foundation of Dialogue?

This text focuses on the possibility of acquiring universal knowledge (especially about values) by individual subjective consciousness as determined both corporeally and culturally. Along with the appearance of the “question” of the cultural Other (and with the cultural relativism as its other side) the attempts of European philosophers to establish a kind of a universal sphere—intellectual basis for an intercultural dialogue—became more intensive, but still often limited by their relation to the values and ideas of the only one culture. In other words, the attempts to search the community of human kind in an intellectual sphere often led to the universality being the “universalized particularity” (Wallerstein), maintained by the empty signifiers (Laclau). But there is also another philosophical tradition, in which the “universality” of ideas, concepts or values is being perceived as a quasi-universality or pluri-versality, mediated by human organic and cultural interactions, and is being derived rather from “beyond”—from the condition of embodiment—than from “above,” the pure intellectual cognition. I focus on three instances of moving from the order of body towards the quasi-universal values: on Bartolomé de Las Casas’s posing a problem of the universal values in the context of intercultural dialogue, on Michel de Montaigne’s reflections on human nature and Walter Mignolo’s naturalistic foundation of the comparative studies. I chose these examples, because they offer a clear and expressed attempt to reformulate the very idea of possible universality in the context of the desired intercultural dialogue, but within the optics of the embodied subjectivities.

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