Volume 11, 2007
The Challenges of Diversity
The issues of difference, diversity, otherness, and the possibility of community have emerged as leading philosophical and socio-political questions in recent times. An increasing theoretical emphasis on issues of difference and alterity, with a corresponding convergence of topics like globalization, have brought into renewed focus not only the question of otherness, but more fundamentally, the question of how the encounter with the Other is to take place. My paper examines the treatment of issues of difference and otherness within a perspective of philosophical hermeneutics. In recent writings, Gadamer has suggested that the principles of his philosophical hermeneutics can prove beneficial in reflections on contemporary social problems of diversity and cultural difference. In examining these claims, I question whether Gadamer acknowledges sufficiently the challenges and resistance of otherness. At the same time, I also question the claims of some theorists who maintain that it is never possible to bridge difference and otherness. In the end I suggest that while the resistance of difference might be underestimated, there are nevertheless promising approaches for thinking difference and diversity to be found in a hermeneutical perspective.