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The path is created by walking



  We are somehow in between things. The internet is not yet taken as serious enough by academics of the social sciences and humanities. Intercultural philosophising is not yet established enough within academic philosophy. In intercultural debates philosophy is not concrete enough. And so we are inbetween, and in a way that is where we want to be, and where we need to be. Being in between characterizes the focus of intercultural philosophy, in between philosophies, cultures, disciplines, traditions, religions, and worldviews.

»This is an attempt with an open end – an attempt to openness. It is an attempt to cross boundaries, to provide space for exchange and contact, space for a philosophical polylogue


  Our project is an attempt with an open end – an attempt to openness. It is an attempt to cross boundaries, to provide space for exchange and contact, space for a philosophical polylogue. Some threads have been laid out. Now the task is to take them up, use them as starting-points, develop them further; also, to spin new threads, one's own threads, weave them into the wider web that is being created; not as a fun-fair of a multicultural "anything goes", but with intellectual seriousness and according to scientific standards.


  Where face to face communication between people of different cultures cannot be realized, the internet flirts with new possibilities. The difference between author and reader is blurred. Anyone who is able and willing writes and reads, sends and receives at the same time; everyone is a publisher of one's own writings – or so one might think.

The people involved in polylog: from editor-in-chief to independent collaborators:


  But let us not delude ourselves. Philosophising on the internet is something different, something unique. It cannot substitute the living dialogue, spoken around the same table, or on the same carpet; nor the reading and questioning, the periods of pondering, of bewilderment or of doubt; nor the unconditional submission to a text, a thought; and it does not want to. The vibrating intertextuality of the world wide web does not provide a guarantee for a communication that would be more than a mere exchange of signs. Understanding, or even mutual understanding, is not available as an update that can be downloaded into our minds. The labours and the struggle of numerous attempts to understand and to be understood cannot be avoided, even in the internet, or especially so; nor can the disappointment about failed communication be avoided.


  But the internet provides some means for a new path, breaking with monological decisiveness, a new path to a polyphone vitality eliminating all borders. However, there remain many hurdles which are hard to overcome: poverty, language, oppression; or the hurdles in ourselves. Establishing borders that negate humanity and culture often provokes protest and justifiable civil disobedience.


  This is so in times of terror and helplessness in the face of such negations caused by conflicts and wars; in oppression and exploitation; in wrestling intellectually to create paths towards a promising future in our globalising world; or due to the concrete experiences of otherness, the worry about the self and the search for self-identity, or the quest for historical justice. Intercultural philosophy has many faces and languages; it is pluralistic from the outset. It takes inspiration and encouragement from the multiplicity of discussions in which voices from all over the world find listeners, without being lost in arbitrariness. To meet this challenge, we hope for your participation and support.

Objectives and content of the project, our collaborators, legal and technical matters:


  We understand intercultural philosophy as an attempt to help make those many different philosophising voices audible in relation to their respective cultural contexts, and to make them fertile for a common debate on an equal footing. Thus for us, intercultural philosophy is a new orientation and practice of philosophising: a philosophising that requires and presupposes an attitude of mutual respect, of listening and of learning.


  We speak of a new orientation because philosophical claims to general validity have to prove themselves interculturally where a consciousness about the cultural situatedness of philosophy has been established. Thus, 'culture' and 'cultures' are consciously taken into central focus since they are understood as contextual sources of philosophising itself. And we speak of a new practice because this consciousness demands a diversion from an individually, monoculturally, and often ethnocentrically anchored production of philosophy. Instead, it aspires for a dialogical, processual, and fundamentally open polyphony of cultures and academic disciplines.



  Should you stroll through our webpages you will get an impression of what such a polyphony could look like. While we keep high editorial standards, it is in the nature of the subject that some things may still appear contradictory, fragmentary, and are therefore challenging. But these contradictions are welcomed, as naturally occuring. We are only at the beginning of our journey. As we continue, more contradictions, fragmentations, and challenges will appear. It is a project that cannot be completed. But even that is naturally so. This is philosophy.

Possibilities for financial support of the forum:


  It should not be kept secret that the start of our project was made possible by the voluntary efforts of several people. All of us were overwhelmed about the amount of work that we had to face. Even now, it can hardly be mastered in the little spare time that we have. Thus, in order to go beyond this starting point, we would like to ask for your individual support, not only in terms of thematic contributions, but financially as well. We would be happy to be able to give more than mere gratitude to people who work hard on translations, layout, or other things ...


  We do not know how the potentials of the internet will finally be used for intercultural philosophy, nor can we predict the turns of philosophical discussions between people of different cultures and with different languages. But we are awaiting your thoughts, your critique. So far, this is an attempt, an attempt with an open ending.

Bertold Bernreuter

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