Past Issues



Guest Co-Editor: Kinya Nishi (Konan University, Japan) 
Bilingual Issue English-Japanese
Culture and Dialogue, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2017, pp.1-6

It is with great sadness that we learned that our Honorary Member Tzvetan Todorov passed away on the 7th February 2017. Professor Todorov had been supportive of the Culture and Dialogueproject from the outset. As a historian, philosopher, aesthetician, and literary critic he witnessed and reflected upon many of the good and bad things our modern world offered – and continues to offer. In one way or another the nature and possibility of the dialogue was always for him a central question to address, should we take the time and the trouble to think of how to bring out the best in the human condition. One thing that the cycles of life cannot take away from us is learning from the spirit of the dialogue that Tzvetan Todorov conveyed. The cruelty of death will never prevent us from transmitting to our fellow human beings what he called “that fragile legacy, those words that help us live a better life.”  

            Faithful to this spirit we are devoting Volume 5 Issue 1 of the Journal to the theme of “culture and the environment,” following an international forum that we organised back in the summer 2015 at Etchigo-Tsumari Art Field, near Niigata, Japan. This is a uniquely bilingual, English-Japanese issue, and, speaking here as the Editor in Chief of the Journal, we are most honoured that Kinya Nishi, Professor of Aesthetics and Philosophy at Konan University, Kobe, accepted our invitation to be our Guest Co-Editor. 

            Only in the relatively recent past has humanity felt worldwide the growing urge to rethink the way we relate to the environment. The human environment has been deeply affected by socio-economic factors of all kinds, by new techniques to maximize information and transportation efficiency, and by the need to be more competitive than our fellow human beings in order to survive (at least in market-oriented societies). The built environment has very much embodied these mutations through architecture and urban developments, impacting thus on human relationships as never before and using natural resources perhaps past the point of no return. Whether the environment is human, built or natural, there is, it seems, a vital need to re-establish the dialogue between usand it

            Etchigo-Tsumari Art Field is a worldwide known site that endeavours not only to preserve but also foster and renew the dialogue between ourselves and our environments; it is a site where, at best, art, local communities and nature mingle into each other for a more considerate relationship with and renewed understanding of our environments. 

            On the occasion of the Triennale 2015 a group of scholars from different horizons gathered at a forum organised on-site and entitled “In-Dialogue: Culture and the Environment” to present and exchange ideas about the different ways culture relates to the environment, whether human, built, or natural. The forum was endorsed by the International Research Group for Culture and Dialogueand the Japanese Society for Aesthetics

            Above all, we are indebted to Etchigo-Tsumari Art Field founder and organiser Fram Kitagawa and, in particular,curator Rei Maeda.Without her the forum, the visits and all the exchanges that took place with local people, artists and participants would not have been possible. The students who helped run the forum equally deserve special praise. A special thanks must likewise go to Mami Aota for the efforts she put into translating the abstracts of the presentations into Japanese, and to Hiroshi Yoshioka, Kinya Nishi, and Amiko Matsuo for providing instantaneous translation – an ever-perilous exercise. Finally and worthy of notice for what has nowadays become a rarefied form of human agency, all invited speakers accepted to take part and contribute on good will: Amiko Matsuo (California State University), Wu Mali (National Kaohsiung Normal University), Brad Monsma (California State University), Hiroshi Yoshioka (Kyoto University), Laura Fisher (The University of Sydney), Wei Hsiu Tung (National University of Tainan), Kinya Nishi (Konan University), Clélia Zernik (École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris), andMami Aota (The University of Tokyo).

            Whether in relation to Etchigo-Tsumari Art Field, other similar projects in environmental and community art, or simply more universally from philosophical, anthropological, or sociological perspectives, topics presented and discussed at the forum spanned cultural identity, memory, communication, place, creativity, and economic factors – all of which are vital ingredients for the survival of communities.  These burgeoning ideas make up the core of the present issue of Culture and Dialogue.

            Echigo-Tsumari Art Field was therefore more than a simple opportunity to exchange ideas about the environment, be it natural, built, or human, and environmental issues. The site is an appeal that calls for a response: it has given us the opportunity to reflect on how art makes us become aware of what is at stake when we relate to our environment – and how to improve such a relationship. In their own way all contributors are addressing such issues, whether in relation to Etchigo-Tsumari Art Field, other artistic residencies and community art practices, or simply through the lenses of literature and philosophy.

            In his opening essay Kinya Nishi addresses the evolution of the perception of nature in Japan from the perspective of literature and, in particular, Matsuo Basho’s poetry. The three following essays focus specifically on the aesthetics of Etchigo-Tsumari Art Field:Amiko Matsuo discussesFram Kitagawa’s conception of “cultural revitalization through the visual arts”; Brad Monsma offers an interpretation based on ideas of “assemblage” and “agency”; Carmela Cucuzzella and Paul Shrivastava highlight the regenerative and developmental dimension of Etchigo-Tsumari Art Field. From a different geographical and cultural perspective Laura Fisher addresses similar environmental issues at the crossroad between aesthetics, anthropology and ecology by considering two art projects set in Australia: Sugar vs the Reef?and The Yeomans Project. Mami Aota closes the discussion by reminding us of the relevance of the beautiful when it comes to considering the natural environment; the question of whether our aesthetic appreciation of nature pertains to artistic beauty becomes therefore fundamental. We are also welcoming a topical book review by John Rippey on Fram Kitagawa’s Art Place Japan: The Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale and the Vision to Reconnect Art and Nature(trans. Amiko Matsuo and Brad Monsma, 2015). 

            This bilingual issue in English and Japanese would not have seen the light of day without the tremendous work of our translators: Masanobu Matsuo and Izu Matsuo; graduate students Rie Kodera (Kyoto University), Mami Aota (The University of Tokyo), and Eiko Mitsunaga (Kyoto University).     

            Finally and as ever, we would like to thank our editorial team and all our Board members for the vital support and encouragements they give to the Journal.


                                                            Gerald Cipriani and Kinya Nishi











 したがって、越後妻有アートフィールドは、自然であれ造られたものであれ環境や環境問題に関して単に意見交換をおこなう好機という以上のものであった。その現場は、応答を求める一つの呼びかけであったのだ。我々が環境に関わるときに問題となるものを芸術がいかにして意識させてくれるか、またその関係をより良いものにするにはどうしたらよいか、そうしたことを反省する機会を、この現場が与えてくれたのである。寄稿者は —— 越後妻有アートフィールドに関わるもの、他のアート・イン・レジデンスやアート実践に関わるもの、さらに文学や哲学のレンズを通して論じるものなど —— それぞれの仕方で、こうした問題にアプローチしている。

 冒頭のエッセイにおいて、西欣也はとりわけ松尾芭蕉の文学の観点から日本における自然知覚の変容を扱っている。これに続く3本のエッセイは、越後妻有アートフィールドの美学に特に注目している。松尾亜実子氏は「視覚芸術による文化的再生」という北川フラム氏の考え方を論じている。ブラッド・モンスマ氏は、「集合体」および「主体」という概念に基づいた解釈を与えてくれる。カーメラ・ククゼラ氏とポール・シュリヴァストラヴァ氏は、越後妻有アートフィールドの再生的・開発的な側面を強調している。これとは異なる地理と文化上の視点から、ローラ・フィッシャー氏は、「サトウ対サンゴ?」および「ヨーマン・プロジェクト」という、オーストラリアで実施された二つのアート・プロジェクトを考察することで、美学と人類学と生態学の交わる点における環境の問題を扱っている。一連の論考の締めくくりとなる青田麻未氏の論文は、自然環境を考える際の「美しいもの」の重要性を思い起こさせてくれる。自然の美的観照が芸術美にも適合するのかどうかという問いが、そこでは根元的な意味を持つ。また我々は、ジョン・リッピー氏が本誌に売ってつけの書評(北川フラム著、松尾亜実子、ブラッド・モンスマ訳『アート・プレイス・ジャパン ——越後妻有アート・トリエンナーレそして芸術と自然を再びつなぐための思想』、2015年)を寄稿されたことを喜びとしたい。





西 欣也


日本語訳:西 欣也


INTERPRETATION AND DIALOGUE                                                                                                                   PURCHASE
Culture and Dialogue, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2016, pp. 223-224


Volume 4 closes with an issue on “dialogue and interpretation.” The Latin etymology of the word, interpretari, already contained elements of what we usually mean nowadays by interpreting something: clarifying, explaining, understanding, or even translating. Of course, interpretation also came to designate the transmission, expression, or embodiment of meaning found in messages of all kinds; the artist can interpret the world as much as the musician a piece of music or the actor a play. To interpret, in other words, is not always about ascribing meaning to something at a distance; it can also be about incarnating the meaning of the world, a musical piece, or a play. Depending on schools of philosophy, cultures and historical periods, emphases have fluctuated between the objective, subjective, and experiential natures of interpretation. Each of these different emphases has been determined by how the interpreter relates to the interpreted and, needless to say, by the ethical validity individuals, communities, systems, ideologies, cultures, or periods see in the act of interpretation. In any case, whether interpretation incarnates the revelation of being or attempts to retrieve the alleged original meaning of messages or the true nature of things; whether interpretation is a means by which the interpreter expresses his or her subjectivity or relives the experience of the world of the interpreted, interpretation is inherently relational. In that sense, interpretation is not only an essential element of conscious life; it shapes the way we relate to worlds, whether in space or time, whether human or natural. By doing so, interpretation shapes self and worlds. I interpret therefore we are. The relevance of “interpretation” as a theme to Culture and Dialogue is therefore self-evident: the act of “inter-preting” involves “between-ness.”

Each contribution in this issue of the Journal discusses, analyses, describes, or provides examples of the fundamental of interpretative “between-ness” at work. Nicholas Davey’s opening essay draws critically from Hans-Georg Gadamer’s conception of the “in-between” to formulate an understanding of hermeneutics as practice “between faith and reason.” Laura Di Summa-Knoop discusses a form of “missing dialogue” between contemporary art and philosophy by focusing on three interpretative aspects of artistic experience today: its “enactive accounts,” the “ethical content of artworks,” and the influence of “the art market” on artistic appreciation. Alexander Naraniecki bridges science and art by showing how Karl Popper’s “later writings on evolutionary epistemology and theory of objective knowledge” can renew our understanding of artistic creativity. Inspired by Krishnachandra Bhattacharyya’s “improvisations” from his reading and understanding of classical Indian texts and thought, Daniel Raveh provides an example of interpretative “in-between” at work by “interfering creatively” with Milan Kundera’s novel Slowness through the lens of poets and thinkers from ancient and contemporary India alike. Jonathan Day questions the relevance of Immanuel Kant’s account of judgement of beauty to understand the inherently ineffable nature of aesthetic experience as found in interpretative practices such as Zen writing, composition, musical improvisation and jazz. The two last essays of this issue of the Journal explore in different ways the metaphysics and ethics of translation as interpretation. Yong Zhong provides a detailed analysis of how the concept of “discourse” was introduced and translated into Chinese. The ensuing problems of interpretative inadequacy, Zhong argues, can only be addressed by adopting “an informed strategy” when it comes to translating such Western critical cultural concepts in the Chinese language. Validity in types of interpretation is also what Takeshi Morisato tackles by introducing the thought of Kyoto School philosopher Miki Kiyoshi on translation and understanding in the context of modern Japan. Morisato also offers the first English translation ever of Miki’s text “Disregarded Translation.” Finally, Robert Clarke reviews the recent publication of another form of interpretative journey, that of Stephen Pax Leonard in The Polar North: Ways of Speaking, Ways of Belonging (2014).

As usual, I would like to thank again my editorial colleagues, Martin Ovens and Loni Reynolds, as well as all the scholars who accepted to review the contributions that make up this issue, and the members of the Board for their continuous patience, support and trust. 

Gerald Cipriani



223            Editorial

                            Gerald Cipriani

          225            Hermeneutics: Between Faith and Reason
                            Nicholas Davey  

          246            Art Today and Philosophical Aesthetics: A Missing Dialogue
                             Laura T. Di Summa-Knoop 

          263            Karl Popper on the Unknown Logic of Artistic Production and Creative Discovery
                            Alexander Naraniecki 

          283             A Short Improvisation on Milan Kundera's Slowness
                             Daniel Raveh 

          301             Jazz, Kant and Zen: The Philosophy of Improvisation
                             Jonathan Day 

          317             Becoming Equivalent: Tracking the Chinese Renditions of “Discourse”
                             Yong Zhong 

          338              Miki Kiyoshi and Interpretation: An Introduction to “Disregarded Translations”
                              Takeshi Morisato

          349              Book Review
                              Stephen Pax Leonard, The Polar North: Ways of Speaking, Ways of Belonging   
                              Reviewed by Robert Clarke


CULTURE, SCIENCE AND DIALOGUE                                                                                                                    PURCHASE

Guest Editor: Martin Ovens (University of Oxford)                                                                                                                                                         

Culture and Dialogue, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2016, pp. 1-2


Culture and Dialogue was launched in 2011, at the time of the Arab Spring and the devastating tsunami in Japan. Both events reminded us in different ways of how hope and reality are the cornerstones of both suffering and the happy life. They were also telling reminders of the extent to which suffering and happiness are the forms of our relationship to otherness, be it our fellow human beings or nature. In other words, the states we live in or that we see are relational forms whose existence depends thus on a sort of movement of vacuity embedded (or not) with ethical concerns – a  mutual emptying that lets the appearance of things. This movement can be found and nurtured in the dialogue. 

From the outset, Culture and Dialogue has aimed to show and discuss the different relational forms such a movement of vacuity could take within specific fields such as culture, philosophy, religion, or politics. The Journal originally intended to be inter-disciplinary with “dialogue” as topic or method of investigation defining its identity. In point of fact, a substantial number of submissions came from philosophy, and it became increasingly obvious that the scope of the Journal would have to be redefined in terms of “cross-cultural philosophy and arts.” More than a simple semantic exercise, this new description reflects the cross-cultural philosophical emphasis while leaving the door open for inter-disciplinary approaches. Unquestionably, this requalification is giving a more direct and specific indication of what the journal is all about: a forum for researchers from philosophy as well as other disciplines, who study cultural formations dialogically, through comparative analysis, or within the tradition of hermeneutics.        

Volume 4 Number 1 is a special issue that focuses on the theme of “culture, science and dialogue.” Martin Ovens, from the University of Oxford, enthusiastically accepted the invitation to be the Guest Editor of this issue. His Introduction provides an insightful explanation of the various ways science and culture can be dialogically related as evidenced by each contribution: Masato Mitsuda explores how Zen and mathematics relate to each other through the work of renowned Indian mathematician Rāmānujan. Paul Ernest shows the extent to which mathematics is pervaded by cultural values such as human imagination and dialogue. Rossella Lupacchini demonstrates how “artificial perspective” in the visual arts embodies the ideal character of Euclidean geometry. Anne Silk stresses the importance of bearing in mind that observable phenomena, scientific knowledge and culture are intrinsically related to each other. Michael Johnson, by reflecting on the limits of knowledge, equally shows the close relationships between imagination, culture, technology, and the laws of physics. Martin Sahlén’s insistence that “good” models of the universe favoured by modern scientific cosmology are conventionally chosen binds the sciences and culture together. Elías Manuel Capriles brings the discussion to a different dialogical level by relying on the Mahāyāna Buddhist conception of epistemological delusion to explain how modern science has inexorably begotten a “deadly ecological crisis.” Stephen R. Palmquist justifies the dialogue between “opposing perspectives” by referring to Kant’s critical philosophy and the “mind-body problem.” Finally, Yvonne Greene provides us with “a new perspective on a very ancient and much misunderstood subject”: astrology – a subject that has, perhaps, always dialogically oscillated between belief and science.

Our words of thanks must go to Martin Ovens for his wonderful selection of essays; each of our contributors for bringing us to unknown territories and shaking our certainties; and of course our editorial team without whom the Journal would not run, in particular Rachel Coventry and David Beirne for the editorial assistantship they provided for this special issue.

Gerald Cipriani


1                Editorial
                            Gerald Cipriani

          3                Introduction: Culture, Science and Dialogue
                            Martin Ovens  

         25               Zen, Mathematics, and Rāmānujan: Uncommon Links 
                            Masato Mitsuda

         48               Values and Mathematics: Overt and Covert
                            Paul Ernest

         83               Ways of Abstraction – Artistic Vision and the “Ideality” of Mathematics
                            Rossella Lupacchini

         113             The Physics of Belief and the Beautiful Brain
                            Anne Silk  

         143             The Limits to Knowledge                       
                            Michael Johnson

         152              Which is the Best Model of the Universe?
                             Martin Sahlén

         170              Buddhist Epistemology and Western Philosophy of Science –
                             Toward a Synthesis Responding to the Current Predicament of Humankind
                             Elías Manuel Capriles 

         194              Kant’s Perspectival Solution to the Mind-Body Problem – 
                             Or, Why Eliminative Materialists Must Be Kantians
                             Stephen R. Palmquist 

         214              Astrology: Beyond Belief
                             Yvonne Greene


IDENTITY AND DIALOGUE                                                                                                                                       PURCHASE
Culture and Dialogue, Vol. 3, No. 2, 2013, pp. 1-2


Volume 3 Number 2 of Culture and Dialogue focuses on the theme of “identity and dialogue.” The question of identity formation is a very sensitive one, very often because it is misunderstood or intentionally misused. The idea of identity is too frequently used as a political weapon for cultural domination. In other circumstances, however, it can simply be a means for recognition and therefore for survival under the threat of the dominant culture. Thus, the difficult question is not so much What is identity? but rather What should we do with identity? Or, to put it in more philosophical terms, Shouldn’t questions appertaining to the metaphysics of identity give way to questions about its ethical condition? In a sense, identity is no more than a device that enables us to come close to perceiving the unperceivable, the in-itself of things, or, simply, the inner self. We assume that this perceptual device is as identical as one can possibly imagine to the inner nature of things or the inner self of persons. Hence, the too often misguided argument against any attempt to work out what identity is: as inner selves and things in-themselves cannot be grasped since they are no more than forms of motivation, desire, or will – the argument goes – it is pointless to seek to pin identity down. Still, if identity amounts indeed to no more than wrapped up emptiness, life without identity amounts to emptiness without form – in other words, meaninglessness. There is no inner nature of identity, only lenses that enable us to see more clearly what is in-itself blurred or unsubstantial, what is felt density or dilation, or, even further, emptiness. In actual facts, the only possible in-itself is emptiness, and human beings have found different ways to handle the matter. The worst-case scenario shows individuals, groups, or even nations impose their own lenses onto others to be seen more clearly, or simply for everyone to identify the same thing. The alleged wonders of cultural identity as such for the sake of particularity, homogeneity, or communicative harmony become the will to power at work, thus ignoring the mutually enriching relational dynamics between Self and Otherness. This is where metaphysics becomes irrelevant and gives way to ethics. To use cultural identity as a means for an end is always the symptom of an unbalance between differences. Opulence and survival become, in this case, the two poles of the struggle for identity – the latter very often ensuing from the former. In any respect, what human beings have been capable of in the course of history for the sake of identity is quite baffling. The drive has been either to achieve sameness, or else to preserve uniqueness – in many cases with destructive effects. There is no meaningful life without identity, but unless we understand that the existence of identities depends on our ability and willingness to be renewed from each other, in dialogue, there will be coercion, intolerance and conflicts. Needless to say, this dialogical way needs time to be learned and practised, an increasing challenge for all of us in a techno-world where speed and forgetfulness leave little room for memory, protension, and therefore attentiveness.

This number of Culture and Dialogue brings together a variety of essays addressing issues of identity with concrete examples and from different perspectives, be they art, philosophy, politics, religion, gender, or ethnic studies. All essays describe and question the relational element at work in identity formation within different cultural contexts, such as Japan, America, Corsica, Mongolia, Norway, Australia, Italy, and Ireland. Hiroshi Yoshioka offers a topical critique of what lays behind the fashionable self-portrait of Japanese cultural identity as Cool Japan in all its uniqueness. Sandra Wawrytko addresses the sensitive issue of gun culture in American identity by resorting to Mahāyāna Buddhist conceptions of failed interconnectedness. Dominique Verdoni discusses cultural identity formation with particular reference to the Corsican language and literature against the background of more dominant or regulating cultures. Angelika Böck shows how art practice can disclose the processes involved in any attempts to represent otherness, including when different groups such as Mongolian herders, Sami singers, and Australian Aboriginal hunters use other cultural codes and perspectives. Francesca Pierini critically reflects upon culturally biased ways Anglo-American literature has traditionally portrayed Italian culture – an orientalised imagined identity. The selection of essays closes with Hannah Hale’s study on a very specific aspect of gender identity formation: how eating and drinking habits shape the development of masculinities within a community of students. All essays, in one way or another, disclose how identity formation is conditioned by, or emerges from, relationships between self and otherness, inside and outside, or minor and dominant cultures. As paradoxical as it may seem, the more we relate to each other the more identity becomes an issue.

I would like to thank all the contributors to this number on identity and dialogue for the richness of their interpretations and for the variety of perspectives they have brought in. I am also grateful for their responsiveness and reliability, two increasingly rarefied human characteristics. Furthermore, the Journal is pleased to welcome our new Assistant Editors, Loni Reynolds and David Beirne, as well as our new Copy Editor, Rachel Coventry. As the Journal grows in strength and size more support is naturally needed; our new editors have kindly accepted to offer their help, thus adding to the precious expertise that our existing Editorial Assistant, Jon Shaw, is already providing. The work that our editorial team as a whole has already achieved for this particular number – whether in the form of critical comments, suggestions, corrections, or formatting – can only be praised.

Gerald Cipriani


1                Editorial
                            Gerald Cipriani

          3                After “Cool Japan”: A Study on Cultural Nationalism
                            Hiroshi Yoshioka 

         13               American Identity and American Gun Culture: A Buddhist Deconstruction
                            Sandra A. Wawrytko

         29               Cultural Production in the Corsican Language: An Identity Field in the Making 
                            Dominique Verdoni

         37               Portrait as Dialogue: Exercising the Dialogical Self               

                            Angelika Böck

         53               Anglo-American Narratives of Italian Otherness and the Politics of Orientalizing Southern                         
                            Francesca Pierini                                                                                                                                                                 

        71               “Manly” Drinks and Secretive Cooks: On the Development of Students’ Gendered                     


                            Hannah Hale                                                                                                                                                                      


SPECIAL ISSUE:    RELIGION AND DIALOGUE                                                                                       PURCHASE

Guest Editor: Cosimo Zene (SOAS, University of London)            

Culture and Dialogue, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2013, pp. 1-2



Vol.3, No.1 of Culture and Dialogue is a Special Issue in many ways.

This issue marks the takeover by a new publisher. Because of contractual constraints and practical reasons the decision was made to continue our journey with Cambridge Scholars Publishing, whose great enthusiasm foreshadows a bright future for the journal. Our words of thanks, however, must also go to Airiti Press without which the journal would not have seen the light of day. We are indebted to Airiti Press for having invested into the launch of a new journal, with all the risks entailed, and for their dedicated hard work. We are most grateful for this. 

The Journal was officially launched in March 2011 and has since produced four issues, all of which focusing on a particular facet of dialogical practice within the field of culture, be it philosophy, art, or politics. Forthcoming issues will offer platforms to explore how dialogue impacts on the shaping of identity, aesthetic meaning, and historical significance. One issue will also de devoted to how dialogue manifests itself in language. This brings us to autumn 2015, after which other pressing themes will, no doubt, be proposed and treated.         

In whatever case, the thread remains the cultural forms of dialogue; many of us know how critical ignorance about the nature of the dialogue can be, in all fields, at all levels. Argentinian poet Antonio Porchia once wrote that “To be someone is solitude.” Any self-felt genius or world-leading mortal will identify with this. The solitude at stake is that of the one who fails to link with others, or an Other, by denying the possibility to relinquish some of him or herself. In fact, the true someone is never alone; the true someone never leads. This is the message Culture and Dialogue is striving to convey, express, or analyse in its various forms across the humanities, the arts, and the social sciences. Beside, the Journal has always sought, when possible, to preserve a certain spirit of writing in addition to academic rigour and creativity – a spirit that is undeniably fading in the midst of the publish or perish ethos adopted by advanced techno-capitalist systems of education in some parts of the world.

Vol.3, No.1 is a Special Issue devoted to the theme of “religion and dialogue.” Cosimo Zene, of the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, kindly accepted our invitation to be the Guest Editor, and our words of thanks must first go to him. Cosimo has managed to bring together a range of outstanding essays of which the Journal can only be proud. To various degrees and in different ways all essays discuss dialogue and religion, or show dialogue at work in religious studies. We are most grateful to all the authors who generously contributed to this Special Issue and therefore to the life of the Journal; in alphabetical order, T.H. Barrett, Stephen Chan, Jan-Peter Hartung, Sîan Hawthorne, Catherine Heszer, Tullio Lobetti, Theodore Proferes, and Cosimo Zene.

Finally and as ever, many thanks to our Assistant Editor, Jon K. Shaw, for the great work he did, his attention to detail, and above all his reliability.

Gerald Cipriani


              1               Editorial
                           Gerald Cipriani

           3              Introduction   
                           Cosimo Zene

         10              Deqing and Daoism: A View of Dialogue and Translation from Late Ming China   
                           Tim H. Barrett

        23                Dialogue with a Devious Divinity: Sovereignty, Kinship, and Kṛṣṇa’s Ethics in the


                            Theodore Proferes

         48               Freak, not Sage: An Exploration into Freakishness in Modern Jewish Culture        
                            Catherine Hezser

         69               The Limits of the Dialogical: Thoughts on Muslim Patterns of In- and Exclusion   
                            Jan-Peter Hartung

         91             Trauma, Dislocation, and Lived Fear in the Postsecular World: Towards a First                                                                
                            Methodological Checklist
                    Stephen Chan

       104               The Pietas of Doubt: Dialogue, Consciousness and Weak Thought  
                            Tullio Lobetti

       122                An Outlaw Ethics for the Study of Religions: 
                             Maternality and the Dialogic Subject in Julia Kristeva’s “Stabat Mater”
                             Sîan Hawthorne

       147                The Challenge of Critical Dialogue and the Study of Religions         
                             Cosimo Zene


POLITICS AND DIALOGUE                                                                                          

Culture and Dialogue, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2012, pp. 1-4



“We have a double responsibility: to explore the consequences of a radical nihilism, and to try to recover the nostalgia for unity, justice, and earth. On the whole, more artistic and philosophical effort has been spent on the first, and too little on the second.”

    Thus spoke Ralph Harper in The Seventh Solitude (1965). Whether the plague of radical nihilism has affected us equally all over the world is obviously questionable; whether there have ever been unity and justice in this world also remains to be seen. But there is some truth in Harper’s saying. Insofar as we understand unity as a binding in the making between differences and not as a totality of sameness; insofar as a just world means a place where we do all we can to eradicate absolute suffering; and insofar as to recover the nostalgia for earth means to be attentive again to what we belong, then, yes, there is perhaps nothing wiser than to acknowledge that we do have that responsibility. 

    In a democracy of some sort it is not only up to politicians and decision makers to create the right conditions that guaranty responsible freedom. Those who believe – or are made to believe – in a Guide who holds the key to resolving the problems of a broken world, injustice and the environment are either dangerous actors or innocent victims. The history of humanity and the present world are unfortunately replete with such examples. It is for each of us to act concretely by way of an innocence that overcomes the horror of the self and yet lets the person breathe; it is for each of us to find ways of channeling those energies without destroying the place where we live. No individual or politician has the power to create the best of all possible worlds. To believe so is simply to misunderstand what it means to be a person who lives in a community. The best of all possible worlds, as Vladimir Jankélévitch once wrote in Le Pardon (1967), is the least bad. It must be a world made for better things; it must be a world where people relate to each other as persons willing to relinquish part of themselves to be enriched by otherness; it must be a world where communities learn from each other, not in order to preserve themselves, but to be renewed by what will no longer be perceived as unwelcome or even simply unfamiliar. Needless to say, one of the conditions for such a world in the making is mutual trust, which itself very much depends on how life in the community is organized, or how communities are made to relate to each other. This is the stuff of political life to which, in an ideal world, every single person should be given the chance to contribute without fearing the diktat of correctness or being subdued by coercive force in whatever form and at all levels.

    The theme of Vol. 2 No. 2 is “politics and dialogue.” All essays touch upon political life from different angles and in different ways, directly or indirectly. Sadly, before the issue was released we lost one of our highly esteemed contributors, Goutam Biswas. Professor Biswas served as Dean of the School of Philosophy at Assam University, India. He was a renowned scholar of Rabindranath Tagore and Martin Buber, and was indeed well aware of what dialogue can do to improve existence, let alone preserve it. He was acquainted with Buber’s translator Maurice Friedman who, in a sad coincidence, also died in the autumn of this year. Goutam Biswas was also aware of the need to develop understanding across the narrow boundaries to which academic disciplines, be it philosophy, anthropology, or the arts, are too often confined. His Art as Dialogue, published in 1996, is certainly a major contribution in the field. The essay that he kindly wrote for the journal reminds us with great insight of the centrality of “dialogicality” when it comes to envisioning knowledge of humans by humans, including in the “realm” of socio-politics. Overlooking the way we relate to other people, communities, or even civilizations, can indeed lead to misunderstanding or, in the worse case, conflict.

    Günter Wohlfart’s lecture text shows the way by bringing face-to-face interpretations of peace and war from different philosophical horizons. Neither Immanuel Kant’s idea of “eternal peace” nor Heraclitus’ conception of war as “father of things” will save us from the predicament caused by conflicts. Neither “all-too-good pacifism” nor “outright bellicosity” is the way forward. Rather, we should learn how to relate to the “enemy” without fighting, as Sunzi’s Art of War suggests; a sharp topical lesson for international politics to bear in mind. 

    If it is clear that naïve pacifism can in the long run pave the way for more destruction and misery, the question of whether installing the ethos of dialogue by force could be justified in communities that do not have such a tradition is far from being straightforward. In other words, interventionism may not always be the best means for the good cause. And as far as political dialogue is concerned, the reasons may be historical, cultural, or even civilizational. What Yingchi Chu and Horst Ruthrof show in their essay is that “obstacles to the emergence of political dialogue in China” are not only due to the practice of the political regime of the time; they also and more profoundly find their origin in the cultural tradition of Confucianism and its belief in some form of obedience and normativity. Moreover, this rich essay raises the complex issue of the cultural justification of political practices that are un-dialogical.

    Acceptability or condemnation of practices in the name of universal value or cultural customs is precisely one of the fundamental issues that Ian Fraser addresses in his powerful critique of Amartya Sen’s interpretation and use of Adam Smith’s “impartial spectator” as moral regulator. Whether privileging the universalizing “distant voices” of conscience or “cultural relativism” is a question that cannot be answered by either “one-sidedness” or “ambivalence.” A better world, Fraser suggests, would be one where people listen to those “distance voices” … “but not to the detriment of a dialectical interplay between the different forms of the spectator.” This is perhaps what may be called a dialogical conscience that would be attentive to cultural particularities through constant questioning and self-questioning for the sake of our “common humanity.”

   The relational element is also at the heart of Nicole Hassoun’s and David B. Wong’s proposal for a better understanding and handling of cultural formations. They highlight a real problem that has too often shaped politics and therefore the ways cultures are seen. The decision to preserve a culture on the basis of some obscure (or too simplistic) idea of immutable and authentic essence is indeed a monological conception of culture that is generally politically motivated by self-interest, in other words for the wrong reasons. Hassoun and Wong acknowledge that, in the context of globalization, efforts to preserve particular cultures “against threats” can be justified. But it is equally vital to recognize that “the boundaries and the content of culture can and do change over time.” Their idea of “cultural conservation” does justice to motivations and elements that can be both internal and external to a particular culture. The concrete examples discussed offer wonderful evidence of how dialogical understanding can contribute to the “conservation” of cultures in formation.

    Lastly, I would like to thank all the authors who have made this issue of Culture and Dialogue possible and who have indeed creatively contributed to the conservation of the journal. As ever, many thanks to our Assistant Editor Jon K. Shaw for his faithful commitment as well as to our Copy Editor, Anita Chen, and the team at Airiti Press. Each of us has the responsibility to keep the dialogue alive, not for its own sake, but for a better life.

Gerald Cipriani


              1                 Editorial
                            Gerald Cipriani

           5               I and Thou – Philosophical Anthropology and Dialogicality in the Human Realms
                            Goutam Biswas

         23               Eternal Peace – Eternal War:  Some  Remarks on Kant, Heraclitus and Sunzi
                            Günter Wohlfart

         31               Cultural Obstacles to Political Dialogue in China
                            Yingchi Chu and Horst Ruthrof

         51               Distant Voices: Amartya Sen on Adam Smith’s Impartial Spectator
                            Ian Fraser

         73               Sustaining Cultures in the Face of Globalization
                            Nicole Hassoun and David B. Wong


ART AND DIALOGUE                                                                                                                                      

Culture and Dialogue, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2012, pp. 1-2


          Vol. 2 No. 1 marks the first year anniversary of Culture and Dialogue. The number focuses on art, a world that is dialogical par excellence, even though, from time to time, forgetfulness justifies reminders.

        Artistic experience can be seen in many ways to be an affair of appeals and responses. The words of the poet or the sounds of the musician emerge from the invisible backgrounds of history, culture, and society to resonate both against and with the world of the one who is willing to listen. This resonance is the response that throws light on the words and sounds whose worlds become thereby apparent. In this sense, dialogue is the place of artistic experience. Even more, dialogue is what makes history, culture and society appear in a slightly different way each time the work of art calls for our readiness to be transformed by it. This availability, however, comes at a price; Nicholas Davey suggests in Unquiet Understanding (2006) that what we should be willing to risk in becoming open to each other, and therefore to other worlds, also implies that we accept to put ourselves in a difficult position. This is indeed a fundamental condition for dialogue to be a renewing experience. But for dialogue to remain healthy, it must rely on a principle of reciprocal freedom and trust – the only shields against coercion and meaninglessness. Moreover, some have seen in dialogue nothing but a good will hiding a disguised form of instrumental reason. This is perhaps the crux of the misunderstanding, for the prose of the world is the voice of dialogue.

           The resonance at stake is first expressed in Sonia Weiner’s essay that brings into dialogue Daya Krishna’s alternative conception of knowledge against postmodern trends and Vikas Swarup’s novel Q & A, published in 2005. Weiner’s insightful study shows how the thinker’s reflection can speak through the writing of the novelist, and vice versa. The second essay by Robert Clarke describes with beautiful words how a non- dual conception of dialogue between theory and practice can depict the flowing stream of artistic creativity. Feng Su’s study on cloud imagery in the Mao Zedong era offers another revealing example of the vital need to understand the creative nature of dialogue – and the way it can be manipulated by ideology – in this case between painting and historical tradition. Paul Gladston’s idea of polylogue between international postmodern thought and Chinese contemporary culture proves with impressive scholarship how multiple dialogical resonances do not need to degenerate into a cacophony of meaningless relativism. Erkki Huovinen puts forward in sharp conceptual terms the innovative idea of dialogical anthropology of art that allows for the human significance of art to emerge from the interfaces between artists and their worlds. Finally, Giuseppe Patella reminds us in critical terms how relevant the dialogical openness is between cognitive cultural practices – including aesthetics – in contemporary life.

            My words of thanks go to all the authors who have generously accepted to contribute to this number as well as to our Assistant Editors, Anne-Marie McManus and Jon K. Shaw, and to our Copy Editor, Anita Chen, for all the painstaking work they have done. Lastly, I am indebted to Nicholas Davey without whom I would have never discovered the spirit of dialogical hermeneutics.

Gerald Cipriani


1              Editorial

                Gerald Cipriani


3               Dialogue as Art – Reading Vikas Swarup’s Q & A with Daya Krishna 

                 Sonia Weiner

15            Play It Again Schumann – Towards a Non-dual Conception of Theory and Practice in           


                Robert Clarke

33            Restricted Dialogue – On the Interpretation of Cloud Imagery in the Mao

                Zedong Era (1942-1976)

                Feng Su

53            Problematizing Contemporaneity – Towards a Polylogue between International             

                Postmodernist and Chinese Contemporary Art Theories

                Paul Gladston

81            Dialogical Anthropology of Art

                Erkki Huovinen

107          Aesthetics, Culture, Dialogue

                     Giuseppe Patella          


PHILOSOPHY AND DIALOGUE                                                                                                

Culture and Dialogue, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2011, pp. 1-3


This second issue of Culture and Dialogue focuses on philosophy. The principle of the Journal is that each issue will approach “dialogue” from different cultural perspectives. Issue No.3 will consider the role played by dialogue in art, followed by issues on religion, politics, and education. This brings us to September 2013 and subsequent issues will likely reflect on dialogue within the fields of science, language, and environmental studies. More specific themes could equally be included in the future such as dialogue and cinema, power, or cultural identity.

        From a philosophical standpoint, any suggestion that such an undertaking inexorably smacks of essentialism is simply too grotesque for words. There is no attempt at building an ideology of dialogue as if the ability to grasp its essence could bring some kind of salvation. Any idea of promised land of dialogue would lead to disillusions, frustrations and ultimately conflicts – in other words, precisely the opposite to what the practice of dialogue strives to achieve. Each time the Journal gives authors the chance to publish on the topic of dialogue or to write in a dialogical fashion, we become more aware of what dialogue can do as well as of its limitations. Each time dialogue takes place it leaves a trace that contributes to the shaping of what some might call the essence of dialogue. The essentialist, on the contrary, is the one who does not want to accept that essences ought to be thought in retrospect. The essentialist is the one who thinks in terms of essences prior to looking at their traces. The essentialist does not see that the concrete particularity of the trace is a place that allows essences to manifest themselves, implying constitutive reciprocity by the same token. Far from being innocent, the essentialist does not allow the trace to renew the essence that is thought to be sempiternal. In other words, the essentialist seeks to preserve what is wrongly seen as the immutable universal dimension of essences to which individuals should be subsumed. Like all practices in the making dialogue does not follow a guide; nor does it seek to impose itself by shouting Listen to me! I know where to go! The life of dialogue is about meeting, as it was for Martin Buber.

        As the Editor of the Journal I cannot obviously speak for our contributors, but one thing is certain: each contribution is part of a working field without immutable fences. Each contribution does not tell us which way to take, but rather shows us how to find a way to a better life in a world made of differences and similarities. Clearly, the way of dialogue can take an infinite number of shapes as evidenced by the rich variety of contributions. This is not to suggest that those instances of dialogue taking place from different spatial and temporal perspectives are inexorably aimed at a synthesis of identification enabling us to work out some apodictic awareness of dialogue. Far from being a dice-throw, this method would run against the dialogical spirit of the Journal.

      The opening essay of this issue by Hans Köchler highlights one of the fundamental problems that the international scene faces with the “civilizational paradigm.” A true dialogue between “civilizations” should rest on principles of equality, dialectics and mutuality, instead of mere self-affirmation sourced from “civilizational nostalgia.” Above all, Köchler’s acute argument locates the possibility of “co-existence” precisely in reciprocal curiosity and engagement. It is this kind of understanding of dialogical relationship that is undoubtedly lacking at the levels of persons, communities, nations and civilizations.

        Engaging with different cultures is precisely what Helen Verran and Michael Christie have undertaken with Yolnu Aboriginal Australians. Their way of research is fundamentally dialogical in the sense that “doing difference” through togetherness is what precedes concept formation. A garma philosophical dialogue lies at the root of their empirical enquiry and the marvellous story that starts the essay, far from being anecdotal, embodies the truly postcolonial spirit at work. If there was a hopeful counterexample of what Köchler argues against, we might find it in this essay.

        Questions of civilizational identity are obviously at the core of what justifies dialogical approaches. By reflecting on “what it means to be an American today” through powerful albeit delightful images such as the “salad bowl” and the “tomato soup,” Peter Atterton discloses the fundamental problems that stem not only from the “originating violence” supposedly justified for the sake of a “social contract,” but also from monological orientations whose self-affirmative nature is equally and paradoxically justified on the basis of democratic principles. We are then brought to reflect on the idea of the “melting pot” and on the possibility of healthy co-existence that can indeed only rest on reciprocal engagements, whether within America or with the outside world.

        At the same time, Katerina Reed-Tsocha warns us in sharp conceptual terms that “conversation of mankind” as radically conceived by Richard Rorty is bound to defeat its allegedly liberating purpose. Interestingly, the ensuing “anti-essentialist and anti- foundationalist” radicalism that Reed-Tsocha describes as “missed potential” in Rorty’s proposition echoes in may ways what was previously suggested as regards to essentialism and the quest for apodicticity: they all run in different ways against the spirit of dialogue. Inevitably, they prevent meaningful “interdisciplinary exchange” of the kind that engages with – instead of ignoring or in the worst case destroying – boundaries such as those left by “historicities.” In other words, they prevent conceptual renewal through dialogue.

        Thorsten Botz-Bornstein gives us another telling example of what the concreteness of dialogical approaches can do. As a European “outsider,” if I may say so, Botz-Bornstein brings face-to-face two forms of “hyperrality,” one from contemporary Confucian China and the other from consumerist America. What emerges from this very rich and daring essay is no less than a questioning of what constitutes “culture” or “civilization,” depending on the context within which the “endless reproductions of fundamentally empty appearances” take place. In more abstract terms, the dialogical element in this study brings to light similarities and differences that would have otherwise remained unnoticed, and by doing so contributes to calling for mutual engagement and curiosity on a global scale.

        This issue of the Journal devoted to “philosophy and dialogue” ends with a strong argument against any conception of the mind or the sense of self that ignores its relational nature. Madhucchanda Sen shows how the problems that stem accordingly from Cartesian philosophy are echoed in the analytical tradition of so-called “Representationalism.” Sen endeavours to challenge this overlooking by bringing the phenomenological conception of “embodiment” into play. Sen’s compelling critical stance becomes apparent as soon as Representationalism is exposed to phenomenology, partly through carefully selected quotes.

        All these essays have contributed in their own philosophical ways to creating a dialogical working field to help enabling co-existence – and the aim is not to maintain differences aloof, but to renew them through mutual understanding. Issue No. 3 will let art speak in its own voice for more calls and more responses to be heard within our field and ways beyond.

        Finally, I would like to thank our new Assistant Editors, Anne-Marie McManus and Jon Shaw, as well as our Copy Editor Ying Ying Lee, for the marvelous work they all did.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Gerald Cipriani


Gerald Cipriani

5The Philosophy and Politics of Dialogue
Hans Köchler 

21Doing Difference Together – Towards a Dialogue with Aboriginal Knowledge Authorities Through an Australian Comparative Empirical Philosophical Inquiry
Helen Verran and Michael Christie

37What It Means to Be an American Today: Democracy “To Come”
Peter Atterton

63Mortal Vocabularies vs. Immortal Propositions – Richard Rorty and the Conversation of Mankind 
Katerina Reed-Tsocha

79America against China – Civilization without Culture against Culture without Civilization?
Thorsten Botz-Bornstein

109The Self and the Other, The Inner and the Outer: Dissolving Binaries
Madhucchanda Sen


INAUGURAL ISSUE                                                                                                        

Culture and Dialogue, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2011, pp. 1-2

Current natural and human-made disasters in Japan as well as political events in the Arab world are typical albeit terribly sad examples. The ones who dictate and act for their own survival regardless of the existence of otherness soon realise, often too late, that there cannot be such a survival. To realise this is simply to understand the nature of dialogue. The principle is at work in all fields and at all levels. Thus the issue at stake is to find ways of relating to nature and fellow humans that both acknowledge and allow the complementary and reciprocal character of such a relationship – a sort of equilibrium made of differences and sharing in order to handle the inferno, inexorability, and creativity of the spiral of life. This is what will hopefully constitute the spirit of Culture and Dialogue.
        The idea of creating a journal that explores the role played by dialogue in cultural formations comes indeed from the intimate conviction that if more people understood the nature of dialogue there would be fewer problems in the world. To many, this statement is self-evident. Why, then, are there so many problems in the world? A predicament, a tragedy, or a disaster perceived as such occurs when one’s will or the force of things becomes so overwhelming that it threatens the life of those whose consciousness makes them realise their plight. In other words, the problems of the world stem from human beings’ inability to see that their survival depends on their willingness to negotiate with otherness, be it nature or other fellow humans.
     Far from being a simple platform for academic exercises and heuristic purposes, the Journal seeks to convey the spirit of dialogue in its multifarious cultural facets, whether in the fields of philosophy, art, language, politics, religion, or science. It offers a field for thoughts on dialogue to be sown as much as for the cultures of dialogue to grow. The Journal also seeks that complementary balance imagined so beautifully by Tzvetan Todorov in La Signature Humaine(2009) – the balance between Mikhail Bakhtin’s theoretical approach to dialogue and the dialogical life of Roman Jakobson.
        To some extent, this inaugural issue embodies this balance with a first soul-moving essay by Mohamed Turki that resonates with a call for a new form of humanism inspired by the African conception of Ubuntu and Islamic values. Gereon Kopf has similar relational concerns, so to speak, when he questions our ways of thinking cultural diversity beyond the idiosyncracies of the particular and the platitudes of the universal, and this by masterly inviting us into the complex world of one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century, Nishida Kitaro. This set of theoretical reflections on various principles of relations culturally situated ends with a very substantial essay by Martin Ovens on the original idea of intercultural skepsis as a possibility, or even a condition, for creativity – such is the wonderful pathway of the sceptic pilgrim. The second series of essays instantiates dialogical principles, starting with Daniel Raveh’s remarkably thoughtful journey into the effects of cinematographic translations across cultures and a reflection on the degree to which the remake of the American thriller Memento by Indian film director Ajith Rahul Murugadoss creates mirroring, echoing, differentiations, or tensions. Kinya Nishi’s text, which might be perceived as dramatically topical given the current unfolding of disasters in Japan, offers another insightful understanding of the need to bring into dialogue different cultural formations as expressed in the idea of tragedy in art and literature, East and West. Dialogue, however, can also vitally take place between concrete entities such as architecture and the idea of stage, whether natural or theatrical, which Jale Nejdet Erzen’s very perceptive writing expresses in literal and metaphorical terms. Finally, this inaugural issue closes with a masterpiece of scholarship by Martin Svensson Ekström, who brings into dialogue the Aristotelian conception of metaphora and the linguistic world of early Chinese culture to answer the question Does the metaphor translate?
        The editor can only express his outmost gratitude to all the authors and scholars who have accepted to contribute to this Journal, as well as to those who have taken the trouble to respond to our call even if circumstances did not allow them to get involved. A word of gratitude as well to our publisher, Airiti Press, who put their trust in us and who had to undergo the painstaking task of juggling with different languages.
        The Journal has links with the UNESCO and is run in conjunction with the establishment of an International Research Centre for Culture and Dialogue affiliated with the Faculty of Languages and Cultures of Kyushu University, Japan.  

Gerald Cipriani


Gerald Cipriani

3Trans-cultural and Intercultural Humanism as a Response to the “Clash of Civilizations”
Mohamed Turki 

21Ambiguity, Diversity, and an Ethics of Understanding: What Nishida’s Philosophy Can Contribute to the Pluralism Debate 
Gereon Kopf

45The Sceptic Pilgrim: Seeking Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Patterns in the Philosophy of Creativity
Martin Ovens

91Translating Across Cultures: A.R. Murugadoss’s Ghajini in Focus 
Daniel Raveh

107A Multicultural Approach to the Idea of Tragedy
Kinya Nishi

117Architecture – A Worldly Stage
Jale Nejdet Erzen

125Does the Metaphor Translate? 
Martin Svensson Ekström