Research Project

This is the web page for the research project Intercultural Understanding, Belonging and Value: Wittgensteinian Approaches (PGC2018-093982-B-I00: 2019–2021) funded by the Spanish Ministry for Innovation, Science and Universities and the European Union. 

We aim to develop new approaches to the philosophical debate on intercultural understanding, from a broadly Wittgensteinian perspective.

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

  • Chon Tejedor (University of Valencia, Spain)

RESEARCH TEAM

  • Vicente Sanfélix Vidarte (University of Valencia, Spain)
  • Nicolás Sánchez Durá (University of Valencia, Spain)
  • David Pérez Chico (University of Zaragoza, Spain)
  • Carla Carmona Escalera (University of Sevilla, Spain)

INTERNATIONAL TEAM

  • Roger Teichmann (University of Oxford, UK)
  • Constantine Sandis (University of Hertfordshire, UK)
  • Danièle Moyal-Sharrock (University of Hertfordshire, UK)
  • Elise Marrou (La Sorbonne, France)
  • Juliet Floyd (Boston University, USA)

PROJECT SUMMARY

The philosophical question “How are we to understand other cultures?” arises from two sets of concerns: one epistemological, the other ethical. The question captures epistemological concerns such as: is it possible to understand the propositions, beliefs, reasons, practices, etc. of those who belong to cultures significantly different from ours? And: how do we track what counts as correct or appropriate understanding here? At the same time, the question captures ethical concerns such as: are some forms of intercultural understanding more valuable than others? And: do we have a moral requirement to seek such understanding?

The standard approach to this question – certainly in analytic philosophy – is marked by a sharp compartmentalisation of these two sets of concerns. We propose to develop, from the perspective of Wittgensteinian philosophy, an approach to this question that emphasises the intimate connection between its epistemological, linguistic and ethical aspects.

Our two main goals are:
i. To show that epistemology and ethics cannot be separated from each other when dealing with the question of intercultural understanding.
ii. To explore possible strategies for dissolving the assumption – implicit in much of the relevant literature – that, in seeking to understand other cultures, we are seeking to understand a phenomenon which is significantly hidden from us or to which we can only have indirect access, whereas our own culture is directly accessible or transparent to us. In our view, this assumption – which we call the intercultural inner/outer dichotomy – has had a detrimental effect on the debate on intercultural understanding, in so far as it problematizes our contact with other cultures and encourages a lack of a critical orientation towards our own.

The Wittgensteinian tradition – spanning Wittgenstein’s own corpus, as well as the work of prominent philosophers directly influenced by him, such as Elizabeth Anscombe Bernard Williams, Peter Winch, Stanley Cavell and Cora Diamond – is ideally suited to trying to address the question of intercultural understanding: it is singularly well versed in working at the intersection of epistemology, philosophy of language and ethics, as well as in providing philosophically rigorous treatments of culture. We aim to build on this wealth of Wittgensteinian strategies in order to develop an imaginative, fresh philosophical approach to the intercultural question.

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