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The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 37, 1998

Philosophy of Science

Sheldon Richmond
Pages 266-274

The Two Cultures Problem

Many post World War II thinkers have been perplexed by the problem of how or even whether people from different cultures can understand each other. The problem arose when we started to think of culture as formative of language and thought. The common assumptions of most theorists of language are that language is fundamental to thinking and culture; and language, thought, culture or humanity is a natural product of biological evolution. Karl Popper and Michael Polanyi-seen as diametrically opposed-both independently criticize these assumptions and provide alternative theories of humanity (i.e. culture, thinking, and language) whereby cross-cultural understanding is a real problem that can be broached through engaging in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. So, though language and culture creates hurdles for achieving cross-cultural understanding, the pursuit of science transcends the limitations of culture.

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