Today space and time are being shaken by science and technology and the encounter between peoples and their traditions is becoming increasingly troubled, creating clashes between civilisations and problems of coexistence. We are subjected to political, religious and cultural fanaticism to such an extent that we are understandably longing for universal understanding. A typical example of this mentality is the syndrome of the global village. However noble the intention may be, it is still the result of the colonialist mentality. And yet there is a hunger for true understanding:
“We cannot live in a compartmentalised world. The other becomes a problem precisely because they invade my life and cannot be reduced to my way of seeing things. If one extreme is to think that we are right and the others are wrong, the other extreme is to believe that we are all suited to a type of global village.” Between these two extremes we increasingly find the words pluralism and interculturality, which represent a third approach, the basis for universal understanding. Interculturality is neither cultural relativism (all cultures are equally valid) nor the fragmentation of the human nature.
Respect for human dignity demands cultural respect, which is inseparable from mutual knowledge –without which we would fall into the temptation to impose our own culture as the model for human coexistence. In our modern-day age the proliferation of studies on peace and of the associations for its promotion open the way for hope, and the dialogue between cultures, civilisations and religions is a positive sign.
Through this book, the author insists on the need to overcome the dichotomies imposed by the classifying genius of the West in order to clarify each kind of problem. Overcoming does not mean cancelling the differences but rather transcending analytical thought, not through mere synthesis but through a holistic approach which allows for the indispensable plurality of cultures.