A Must Read for Cultural Brokers

"A Dozen Rules of Thumb for Avoiding Intercultural Misunderstandings"
by: Elmar Holenstein

Intercultural understanding does not fail by reason of insurmountable ontological obstacles, which are only susceptible to philosophical analysis. Intercultural misunderstandings are of the same kind as intracultural misunderstanding on the part of members of one and the same culture who belong to different regions, social strata, professions and the like, and are like these susceptible to explanation in psychological and sociological terms. Observing a number of rules of thumb makes it possible to avoid such misunderstandings for the most part.

The governing principle of intercultural hermeneutics is the traditional hermeneutic principle of equity: What all, particularly those concerned, affirm on full consideration of the circumstances is taken as the basis. One of the first requirements is that one must take members of alien cultures seriously and that one must rather doubt one's own perception than their capacity for logical consistency, goal-orientated rationality and ethical responsibility.

Intercultural misunderstandings are often related to ideas now recognized as being dogmatic, to the assumption that cultures are homogeneous and stand in polar opposition to each other, to the supposition that ethical and ethnic differences are correlated, to the lack of distinction between ›is‹ and ›ought‹, but also, among those who seek salvation in alien cultures, to the lack of distinction between what in fact cannot be understood and what fundamentally cannot be understood.

* 0. Principle of hermeneutic fairness (›equity‹)
* 1. Rule of logical rationality
* 2. Rule of teleological rationality (functionality rule)
* 3. Humanity rule (naturalness rule)
* 4. Nos-quoque rule (we-do-it-too-rule)
* 5. Vos-quoque rule (you-do-it-too-rule)
* 6. Anti-crypto-racism rule
* 7. Personality rule
* 8. Subjectivity rule
* 9. Ontology-deontology rule (›is‹ versus ›ought‹)
* 10. Depolarization rule (rule against cultural dualism)
* 11. Non-homogeneity rule
* 12. Agnosticism rule
* Notes