Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Self and the Other

At the start of awareness of the self lies the presence of you, and perhaps even the presence of a more general we. Only in dialogue, in argument, in opposition, and also in aspiring towards a new community is awareness of my self created, as a self-contained being, separate from another. I know that I am, because I know that another is.
Father Jozef Tischner, The Philosophy of Drama

[...]The world has always been a great Tower of Babel. However, it is a tower in which God has mixed not just the languages but also the cultures and customs, passions and interests, and whose inhabitant He has made into an ambivalent creature combining the Self and non-Self, himself and the Other, his own and the alien.

[...]The dialogue with Others has never been and will never be easy, especially today, when everything is on such an enormous scale and is so complicated that it is hard to take in and control, and when many forces are working to obstruct this dialogue, or even to make it impossible. But even without these short-term political, ideological or economically motivated interests and aims there are other, substantial, fundamental problems.

One of them is the focus of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis of so-called linguistic relativity. In the simplest terms, it says that thinking is formed on the basis of language, and as we speak in different languages, each of us creates his own image of the world, unlike any other. These images are not compatible and are not replaceable. For this reason dialogue, though not impossible, demands a serious effort, patience, and the will of its participants to understand and communicate. Being aware of the fact that in conversing with the Other I am communing with someone who at the same time sees the world differently from me and understands it in another way is important in creating a positive atmosphere for dialogue.

Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Other

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