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1/ "Tradition and Innovation History", anthropology, adaptation, ethics' In Synergies Chine 11, 14. 12. 2016. Gerflint.
Tradition and Innovation History", anthropology, adaptation, ethics' In Synergies Chine 11, 14. 12. 2016. Gerflint.
The dyad (couple) : « Tradition/Innovation » is a dyad of opposed orientations. It is in keeping with the general human experience in 3 ways : a) Individual or collective human participants take sides for one or the other of these orientations one is considered a good one, the other a bad one, for example one refers to the « Ancient » and condemns the « Modern » or the reverse ; b) As this conflict happens in connection with different issues and at different times of history, a general issue of an adaptative nature appears with the remembrance of that repetition. A cultural conduct acquired through former experiences can always appear efficient in new experiences. It is necessary to keep it in order to use it again. On the other hand it can prove inefficient and in that case it is necessary to invent another one. We proceed from human participants in conflict to a general issue of adaptation under « Tradition, Innovation » you find : « to keep, to hold » or « to modify, to invent » ; c) Yet the 2 opposed orientations are neither good nor bad in themselves. It’s only the way they’ll be regulated, articulated, composed that will be good. In order to reach it is necessary to refer the best possible to the specificities of the fields of experience, to the peculiarities at once of situations and singularities of the persons. It is clear that any pedagogy (in particular that of languages-cultures and of French as a Foreign Language) has much to do to implement that complex manifold adaptation ; d) And, already, keeping away from the prestige of a past (both religious and political) in which a culture of stability, order and authority has too often imposed itself. Controlling as well the lures of a present (of both economics and information) in which a culture of spontaneousness, of accelerated renewal or even of a jungle, presents itself as the new truth of experience.
Keywords: tradition, innovation , history, modernity , anthropology, neoteny , adaptation, ethics, pedagogy
Présentation de l’article en français « Tradition, Innovation : histoire, anthropologie, adaptation, éthique »
Résumé : La dyade « Tradition / Innovation » est une dyade d’orientations opposées. Elle s’inscrit dans l’expérience humaine générale de trois façons. a. Des acteurs humains individuels ou collectifs prennent position pour l’une ou l’autre de ces deux orientations, l’une étant jugée bonne et l’autre mauvaise. Par exemple, on se réfère aux « Anciens » et on condamne les « Modernes ». Ou l’inverse. C’est la zone des conflits identitaires personnalisés. b. Comme ces conflits se produisent en tout domaine, en tout lieu et à tout moment, cette répétition réfléchie et cumulée fait apparaître une même problématique adaptative générale. Voyons-la. Une conduite culturelle, acquise au cours d’expériences antérieures, peut se révéler toujours efficace dans des expériences nouvelles. Il faut donc la conserver pour la réutiliser. Par contre, elle peut se révéler inefficace et, dans ce cas, il faut en inventer une autre. Sous la dyade « tradition, innovation », on a : « conserver, maintenir, réutiliser » ou « explorer, modifier, inventer ». On passe d’acteurs humains en conflits à une problématique anthropologique d’adaptation concernant tous les humains. c. Dans ces conditions, les deux orientations opposées ne sont ni bonnes ni mauvaises. Seule sera bonne ou mauvaise la façon dont elles seront régulées, articulées, composées. Pour y parvenir, il faut référer le mieux possible la conduite à inventer aux spécificités des domaines, aux particularités des situations, aux singularités des personnes. Le simple respect de cette complexité et la volonté d’y répondre déterminent une éthique. Et cela en pédagogie, dont celle des langues cultures et du FLE. Cette pédagogie a beaucoup à faire pour mettre en œuvre la nécessaire adaptation plurielle. Cela, déjà, en prenant de la distance à l’égard des traditions prestigieuses d’un passé (religieux et politique) dans lequel une culture de stabilité, d’ordre et d’autorité s’est trop souvent imposée. A condition d’en prendre tout autant à l’égard des séductions d’un présent d’économie et d’information dans lequel une culture de spontanéité, de renouvèlement accéléré, voire de jungle, se donne comme la nouvelle et seule vérité d’expérience.
Mots-clés : tradition, innovation, histoire, modernité, anthropologie, néoténie, adaptation, éthique, pédagogie
1. « Tradition, innovation », une problématique humaine : de l’histoire à l’éthique Synergies Chine dédie ce n°11/ 2016 à un ensemble d’études sur la relation entre la tradition et l’innovation dans l’enseignement/apprentissage d’une langue étrangère, par exemple, la langue française en Chine. Le texte qui suit ne traite pas directement le thème élu de cette pédagogie singulière en elle-même. Les coordonnateurs de ce numéro nous ont demandé une contribution étudiant la dyade « Tradition, Innovation » du point de vue sociologique et philosophique. La lecture du texte sera sinon simplifiée du moins mieux adaptée à la libre mobilité du lecteur s’il perçoit clairement la spécificité des quatre parties qui le compose. Voyons comment elles s’articulent. La dyade « tradition, innovation » relève de tout un ensemble de dyades d’opposés. Leur énoncé bref est à la fois prometteur d’un chemin d’accès à la complexité du réel, mais aussi trompeur, car cet accès ne va jamais de soi. Il devra venir d’allers-retours indéterminés, exploratoires et constructifs. Le fonctionnement de la dyade « tradition, innovation » ne peut pas échapper à l’ambivalence : maléfique ou bénéfique, ni sa définition à l’ambiguïté : opposition ou composition. Les dyades d’opposés pourront toujours être critiquées en raison de leurs pentes réductrices mais louées aussi en tant que précieuses symboliques adaptatives (cf. ci-après). La dyade « tradition, innovation » participe pleinement de ce secret adaptatif. Pour le comprendre, il faut la sonder et la fonder à la fois dans l’histoire et l’anthropologie. La première partie (Histoire et engagement) englobe. Elle va de la dyade elle-même à ce qui la contient : l’histoire des personnes, des groupes, des sociétés qui la produisent, s’y réfèrent et l’exercent. Qu’est-ce que les développements des sociétés et de leurs membres font avec cette dyade ? Présente dans tous les domaines, la dyade « tradition, innovation » s’est inventée comme symbolique adaptative générale tout en passant par de grands déséquilibres historiques. Le fait qu’elle se présente comme une opposition ne doit pas cacher qu’aucune des deux orientations ne peut éliminer l’autre. A travers leurs partisans, mixtes eux-mêmes, elles n’en ont jamais fini de lutter pour l’emporter. D’où ces deux grandes périodes historiques où l’une prime et ensuite l’autre. Dans les tribus, royaumes ou empires, la Tradition se repositionne constamment. Dans les nations marchandes industrielles et les sociétés d’économie mondialisée, les innovations se précipitent en tête. Lors de la transition séculaire de la première époque à la seconde, du siècle classique au romantisme en passant par les Lumières, à trois reprises, émerge une nouvelle querelle des Anciens et des modernes. Le contrepoint des primats historiques (diachroniques), toujours relatifs, est justement la symbolisation dyadique systémique (synchronique). On est passé de l’histoire à la sociologie et à la psychologie, disciplines où la dyade « tradition, innovation » est présente dans bien des recherches. La seconde partie (Anthropologie et ouverture) réfère la dyade « tradition, innovation » au fondement qui, dans le monde du vivant, la pose comme indexation humaine toujours possible. A partir de la conscience de l’opposition, l’anthropologie nous fait remonter à ce qui en est la source : la néoténie humaine. Il s’agit de cette condition biologique, en préparation dans le monde du vivant qui, avec l’apparition d’homo sapiens sapiens, franchit un seuil décisif. L’être humain est l’animal le moins programmé, avec à charge de se programmer lui-même. Pour y parvenir, il lui faut prendre acte de ce qu’est le monde. Or, le monde n’a pas de limites assignées connues. Les humains, sur le long terme, n’en ont pas de définitives. Ni vers le passé dont, sous des formes variables, la tradition rend compte au présent. Ni vers le futur que toute innovation tente d’inscrire dans le présent. Pour les humains, leurs conduites sont donc des épreuves adaptatives puisque, dans chaque situation problème, ils doivent décider de la bonne répartition différentielle entre des orientations opposées. En effet, ils doivent faire face à la diversité et au changement du monde et des autres en changeant leurs programmes. Après la néoténie, l’adaptation, au sens le plus large et le plus profond, comme chez Piaget ou Berne est donc le second mot nécessaire pour comprendre la dyade « tradition, innovation ». Le troisième mot est « culture ». Ces trois mots signent des « faits, valeurs ». Des « faits » dans la mesure où les moyens de l’humain lui permettent d’observer, d’agir, de penser dans cette perspective infinie d’adaptation et de culture. Des « valeurs », non pas inscrites dans un ciel préalable, mais réalisées ou non, individuellement et collectivement dans toute stratégie de poursuite de l’invention culturelle. S’ouvrant à ces trois « faits, valeurs », l’humain est ainsi, de nature, un être d’adaptation, de culture et d’éthique. D’où sa recherche toujours entre des opposés. Ainsi, comme l’expose Louis Dumont (1977, 1979, 2013) entre « l’homo hiérarchicus » minimisant l’innovation, et « l’homo aequalis » la maximisant. Or, la difficulté est grande de traiter les deux orientations sociétales opposées. D’où, le risque de bricolage insatisfaisant mais auquel peuvent, un temps, croire les peuples. Telles sont les « crases » qui veulent tenir ensemble ce que l’on ne sait ni articuler, ni réguler, ni composer. Ainsi, dire que la dyade « tradition, innovation » est adaptative, culturelle, éthique, ce n’est pas l’automatiser. C’est tout le contraire. Son destin relève de la responsabilité des humains. Ils ont les moyens d’y parvenir, mais seulement s’ils les prennent en compte et en charge de multiples façons. La troisième partie (Adaptation et culture) rend compte de quelques études critiques concernant les différents fonctionnements stratégiques, adaptatifs, culturels et déjà éthiques (ou non) de la dyade « tradition, innovation ». D’abord, l’opposition est pervertie quand manque déjà la référence éthique à l’intérieur de chaque orientation. C’est le cas si l’on ne pose pas les questions : « quelles traditions se maintiennent, et pourquoi ? », « quelles innovations sont entreprises et pourquoi celles-ci au détriment d’autres ? ». Dans leur titre bref, les dyades d’opposés, comme « tradition innovation », pré-formulent la complexité, de façon d’abord « simplexe » (Berthoz, 2009). Il faut entendre par là une simplicité au service de la complexité. Et c’est ce qui se produit quand « tradition, innovation » sont là pour une multiplicité (une infinité) de séparations, régulations, articulations, compositions. La complexité adaptative, stratégique et culturelle, répond alors à la complexité du réel. Cependant les simplifications reviennent toujours. Ainsi, lorsqu’on limite la tradition à la seule dimension temporelle du plus lointain passé, sacré comme tel. Ou quand on sacre le présent comme tel, et toute innovation qui s’y produit. Ou enfin quand on délaisse le vis-à-vis « tradition, innovation » dans ses multiples variables entre les civilisations, les sociétés et leurs acteurs. On ne peut prétendre que le mieux est déjà contenu dans telle civilisation, telle religion, telle culture. Et qu’il n’aurait plus qu’à s’appliquer : partout, pour tous et pour toujours. Chez un Fukuyama (1992), le régime démocratique dominant en Occident était supposé devenir la forme politique universelle et définitive. Il se rétracta au motif judicieux que sciences et techniques en découvrant l’univers, ne cessent de modifier même les organisations politiques consacrées. Par contre, la transitologie, qui s’était ainsi fourvoyée, redevient une discipline précieuse dès lors qu’elle pose les transitions comme toujours à inventer entre traditions et innovations variables selon pays, situations et acteurs. Dans une quatrième partie (Ethique et pédagogie), nous abordons la façon dont la dyade « tradition, innovation » joue pleinement dans le domaine des langues-cultures. Nous partons, avec Christian Puren (1998, 2002, 2011) de l’évolution de leurs cinq didactiques successives en France sur plus d’un siècle. L’interprétation claire et concise de cette évolution révèle le vif intérêt de la fonction méta. C’est elle, en effet, qui construit, au long du temps, chez nombre d’acteurs et dans nombre de domaines, cette effectivité adaptative, culturelle, éthique des dyades d’opposés telle qu’ici « tradition, innovation » (16). La pédagogie des langues-cultures doit prendre en compte une multiplicité de données variables selon les pays, les langues en présence et les types d’acteurs. Un exemple relativement simple et très éclairant peut en être donné quant à la nécessité de multiples adaptations en ce qui concerne les situations à la fois « multi, trans et interculturelles ». Leur évolution étudiée pour les Etats-Unis et pour la France souligne combien la pédagogie des langues-cultures est ainsi hautement problématique. Elle doit toujours produire entre traditions et innovations multiples ce qu’il y a de mieux dans chaque situation sociale et donc aussi dans chaque situation pédagogique. Mais cela jamais une fois pour toutes.
1. « Tradition, innovation », une problématique humaine : de l’histoire à l’éthique
2. Dualismes déconstruits, dualisations constructives, adaptations singulières
3. Royal-impérial, religion et politique. La tradition : de l’invention, au primat
4. National-mondial : économie et information. L’innovation : de l’invention, au primat
5. Anciens et Modernes. De l’histoire à l’adaptation. Diachronie et synchronie
6. Formations d’adultes et division stratégique et culturelle du « travail social »
7. L’homme néotène : « Tradition / innovation » entre absolus et infini
8. « Tradition / innovation », de l’adaptation à la culture : Piaget et Berne
9. Sociétés holistes traditionnelles, ou modernistes novatrices, et leurs « crases »
10. « Tradition, innovation », un « fait-valeur » à préciser
11. L’antinomie de Benjamin : trop de Tradition et pas assez
12. « Tradition / innovation », de l’interférence aux adaptations multiples
13. « Traditions, novations » et vis à vis des civilisations, tel « Chine, Occident »
14. Entre tradition et innovation : transitions et transitologies
15. Un siècle : cinq focales en didactique des langues – cultures. C. Puren
16. Retournement « meta » et gain adaptatif : des opposés aux composantes
17. « Multi, trans, inter », entre histoire et pédagogie des langues - cultures
2. "The in-between, we meet it" - 2016, septembre. IRIS n°37.
2. "The in-between, we meet it" - 2016, septembre. IRIS n°37.
The in-between, we meet it : it is my neighbour. For me, it was present in the intercultural trainings-searches for the Services of the youths : French-German, German-Polish, French-from Quebec. The others : enemies or allies ? Those of yesterday or the new, then, the East and the West. Their rivalry for space referred to us in the in-between of the cosmos and the human being ; the cosmos, the mark of the in-between. In microphysics, in every particle, its antiparticle. The proton in core, electrons surrounding but also the neutron. In cosmology: brilliance of spin-dries stars ; centripetal gravitation up to the black hole. Le Monde of the alive is not outdone. From the cell to the being pluricellulaire. From the fissiparity to the sexual reproduction. In-between of the vegetable world and of the animal kingdom ; of the human being, open to the infinity, and of the full universe. But if they feel empty, the human beings fall in absolutes, which sometimes bring them to the murder others. The antidote : living, thinking, inventing the in-between of history and of the civilizations.
Keywords: The other, intercultural, rivalry, cosmos, physics, biology, human being, infinity, absolute, history, civilization
L’entre deux redoublé entre le cosmos et l’humain ou l’intérité cachée
1 L’enchevêtrement des entre-deux des sociétés dans la 2e moitié du 20e siècle
2 L’entre-deux de l’anthropologie : néoténie (1884) et infini
3 Absolutisation des fins, perversion de l’humain
4 L’entre dans la sagesse antagoniste des mythes
5 Civilisations et humanisations : évolutions de leurs entre-deux
6 Entre-deux du cosmos
7 Dynamique de l’entre
8 Critique de l’interculturel aux deux visages
9 Identité, altérité et le mot de Couturat (1905) : l’intérité
10 L’histoire : entre-deux, centralités et « régulations » (5e s. av. J.-C.)
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Intercultural skills, semiosis, humanization - Abstracts
1. « The intercultural anthropological hermeneutics : divination, interpretation, revelation. The indefinite of the human being, the infinity of the cosmos »; “L’herméneutique anthropologique interculturelle : divination, interprétation, révélation. L’indéfini de l’humain, l’infini du cosmos »
In La Francopolyphonie 10/2015 vol.2 - Chişinău, ULIM, 27.03.2015 - L’interculturalité et l’herméneutique à travers la linguistique, la littérature, la traduction et la communication
Interculturalism and hermeneutics are together anthropological and coextensive with human history. In fact, men in war or in peace meet, interpret and engender each other in a culturally different manner. Hermeneutics exists as a discipline when the exchange of representations, language and culture and is reflected as problematic. However, exchanges between humans also address their exchanges with the worlds, visible or not. Hermeneutics is thus concerned with the myths founding of societies or rulers’divinatory practices. It is also by the great revelations that run over a millennium and a half from the Upanishads to the Koran. Very early and everywhere, other revelations, profane, are at work: technical, scientific, aesthetic. Hermeneutics, sacred or profane, and hermeneutics of history converse to constitute an ensemblist antagonist hermeneutics. It highlights the associations- dissociations of major activities: religion, politics, economy, information; and those of the forms of society: tribal, royal-imperial, national, global. All these cultural factors intermingle in the singular societies. This hermeneutics questions upon an anthropology and a history, each of them is intercultural and antagonist. She reflects them through its set of interpretations between trust and suspicion. This set allows to stop any overhang hermeneutics to prefer a burst of hermeneutics to the former. It echoes the metastability of the neotenous human. Humans who do not support themselves as such look for stable absolutes at the risk of intolerance. Others live the condition of neoteny as openness to the world of infinity, of others and of themselves. Hermeneutics becomes prospective. It finds that the antagonism experienced in a real misunderstood becomes heavily destructive. It brings the possibility of their explanatory comprehensive treatment and of their constructive regulation positively articulating religion, politics, economy, information; such as forms of society, tribal, imperial, national and global. But this treatment is proposed without imposing itself. The interpretation remains open: the neotenous human can always prefer the absolute immediately to the call of infinity that frightens him or her. Hermeneutics stands there.
Keywords: absolute, activities anthropology, divination, forms of society, hermeneutics, history, infinity, interculturalism, interpretation, modernity, mythology, neoteny, profane, revelation, sacred.
L’herméneutique anthropologique interculturelle : divination, interprétation, révélation. L’indéfini de l’humain, l’infini du cosmos
L’interculturalité et l’herméneutique sont ensemble anthropologiques et coextensives à l’histoire humaine. En effet, les hommes en guerre ou en paix se rencontrent, s’interprètent et s’engendrent culturellement différents. L’herméneutique existe comme discipline quand l’échange des représentations, linguistiques et culturelles, se réfléchit comme problématique. Or, les échanges entre humains traitent aussi de leurs échanges avec les mondes, visibles ou non. L’herméneutique est donc concernée par les mythes fondateurs des sociétés ou les pratiques divinatoires des gouvernants. Elle l’est aussi par les grandes révélations qui courent, sur un millénaire et demi : des Upanishad au Coran. Très tôt et partout, d’autres révélations, profanes, sont à l’œuvre : techniques, scientifiques, esthétiques. Herméneutique sacrée ou profane et herméneutique de l’histoire s’entretiennent pour constituer une herméneutique ensembliste antagoniste. Elle met en évidence les associations-dissociations des grandes activités : religion, politique, économie, information ; et celles des formes de société : tribale, royale-impériale, nationale, mondiale. Toutes ces données culturelles se mêlent dans les sociétés singulières. Cette herméneutique s’interroge sur une anthropologie et sur une histoire, chacune interculturelle et antagoniste. Elle les réfléchit à travers son jeu d’interprétations entre confiance et soupçon. Ce jeu permet de stopper toute herméneutique de surplomb pour lui préférer une herméneutique de sursaut. Elle fait écho à la métastabilité de l’humain néotène. Les humains, qui ne se supportent pas tels, cherchent des absolus stables au risque de l’intolérance. D’autres vivent cette condition de néotène comme ouverture à l’infini du monde, des autres et d’eux- mêmes. L’herméneutique devient prospective. Elle constate que les antagonismes vécus dans un réel incompris deviennent lourdement destructeurs. Elle apporte la possibilité de leur traitement compréhensif explicatif et de leur régulation constructive articulant de façon positive religion, politique, économie, information ; comme aussi les formes de société, tribale, impériale, nationale et mondiale. Mais ce traitement se propose sans s’imposer. L’interprétation reste ouverte : l’homme néotène peut toujours préférer l’absolu tout de suite à cet appel de l’infini qui l’effraie. L’herméneutique se tient là.
Mots-clés : absolu, activités, anthropologie, divination, formes de société, herméneutique, histoire, infini, interculturalité, interprétation, modernité, mythologie, néoténie, profane, révélation, sacré.
2. « The insufficiently cognitive and pragmatic man…»; « L’homme insuffisamment cognitif et pragmatique. Le fait et la valeur – le dire et le faire – le profane et le sacré »
J. Demorgon in La Francopolyphonie 9/2014-1 - L’interculturalité et la pragmatique à travers la linguistique, la littérature, la traduction et la communication
The terrestrial globalization and cosmic globality lead to history globalization. The simultaneous and successive diversity of cultures realizes a huge experience. On reflection, the diachronies turn into adaptive synchronies that lead to a new possible intercultural concept, more adaptive, inventive and creative. This is the case of adaptive synchrony which represents our central dualization of cognitive and pragmatic. Thus, there are three linked dualizations: the fact and value – the saying and doing – the profane and sacred. Acultural trend streng thens the opposition of poles in order to make them to ignore themselves, to overlook one of them. Another cultural trend mixes them taking the risk to confound them. The third orientation is essential, that of their articulated distinction. We will see it in connection with three great “fact-values”: that of “our” from the identity, thatof “their” from the alterity and that of “between” from exchanges and trade. “Identity,alterity and interity” founds the superior “fact-value” of the integrated interity. Only the interity allows the human to find answers to his neoteny. It allows the deployment of hismeans to infinite, towards infinite of the world and others. Even so, the neoteny is alsoexperienced as incompleteness. It leads the humans to satisfy and to complete their susceptible purposes. They divert their means for these purposes. Agamben shows that these means represent the only truly “facts-values” of humans : community, face, gesture, love, language, thought, policy. Agamben indicates as human origin – the language sacrament : according to which there are no religion, no law, no politics, no science. This allows us to resume the joint of profane and sacred. The four big forms of the successive societies – tribal, royal and imperial, national market and modern globalized informational economy – all of them have operated a singular capture of sacred in order to be initiated. How to diminishe, or even to reduce the non-human side of the sacred and to restore its contribution to the continuous humanization. A cognitive, pragmatic and infinite task! An on going hyper fragile possibility: a religious cultural creation initiated at the highest level of spirituality of every religion in order to fight the religious miseries where the violence murders always proliferates.
Keywords: cognitive, pragmatic, “fact-value”, neoteny, language, history, experimentation, humanization, “profane, sacred”, religion, ethics.
« Y a-t-il une culture capable de répondre à l’expansion élargie de la conscience humaine ? Je pense qu’aucune culture n’en est capable, si ce n’est cette modernité englobante qui, en raison de sa mémoire récapitulative, se penche sur son passé et réévalue non seulement son propre patrimoine, mais celui de l’humanité tout entière ». Daryush Shayegan, propos recueillis par Chantal Cabé, in « L'histoire de l'Occident » Le Monde, hors-série, 2014
L’homme insuffisamment cognitif et pragmatique. Le fait et la valeur – le dire et le faire – le profane et le sacré
La mondialisation terrestre, la mondialité cosmique entraîne la globalisation de l’histoire. La diversité des cultures, simultanées et successives, réalise une expérience géante. À la réflexion, les diachronies se muent en synchronies adaptatives. D’où un nouvel interculturel possible, plus qu’adaptatif, inventif, créateur. C’est le cas pour la synchronie adaptative que constitue notre dualisation centrale du cognitif et du pragmatique. Trois dualisations lui sont liées : le fait et la valeur – le dire et le faire – le profane et le sacré. Un courant culturel renforce l’opposition des pôles au point de les faire s’ignorer, voire de négliger l’un d’eux. Un autre courant culturel les mêle risquant de les confondre. Une troisième orientation est indispensable, celle de leur distinction articulée. Nous verrons cela à propos de trois grands « faits-valeurs » : celui du « nous » de l’identité, celui du « eux » de l’altérité et celui de l’« entre » des échanges et du commerce. « Identité, altérité, intérité »fonde le « fait-valeur » supérieur de l’intérité intégrante. Elle seule permet à l’humain de répondre à sa néoténie. Celle-ci permet le déploiement de ses moyens à l’infini vers l’infini du monde et des autres. Toutefois, la néoténie est aussi vécue comme une incomplétude. Cela entraîne les humains vers des fins susceptibles de les satisfaire, de les compléter. Ils détournent alors leurs moyens au service de ces fins. Agamben montre que ces moyens sont les seuls vrais « faits-valeurs » de l’humain : communauté, visage, geste, amour, langage, pensée, politique. Agamben place à l’origine de l’humain le « sacrement du langage » selon lequel il n’y aurait ni religion, ni droit, ni politique, ni science. Cela nous permet de reprendre aussi l’articulation du profane et du sacré. Les quatre grandes formes de sociétés successives – tribales, royales et impériales, nationales marchandes et, aujourd’hui, d’économie informationnelle mondialisée – ont toutes opéré une capture singulière du sacré pour se constituer. Comment diminuer, sinon réduire, le côté non humain du sacré et restaurer sa contribution à l’humanisation poursuivie. Tâche, cognitive et pragmatique, infinie ! Une possibilité en cours hyper fragile : une création culturelle religieuse s’amorçant au plus haut niveau de spiritualité de chaque religion pour combattre des misères religieuses où prolifère toujours la violence des meurtres.
Mots-clés : cognitif, pragmatique, « fait-valeur », néoténie, langage, histoire, expérimentation, humanisation, « profane, sacré », religion, éthique.
3./ « The semiotic challenge of intercultural world…Hominization and humanization »; « Le défi sémiotique de l’interculturel mondial. Moyens et fins. Hominisation et humanisation »
J. Demorgon, in La Francopolyphonie 8, 2013.1. Chisinãu, ULIM. https://app.box.com/s/c6tbjp8a2o8lwjj26xny
Abstract : There is a triple semiotic challenge of the intercultural world: how to discover and understand its anthropological base, its planetary historical deployment, its situation in the middle of the human evolution? In our first part, we place this question of the semiosis of intercultural world under the lighting of the neoteny like base of the hominization. This onemakes that the human actor, not programmed by nature, must give himself his own purposes. In our second part, we see varying these purposes during four successive times of history. It results a contrasted feeling from it. In spite of different chosen purposes, the human societies never could avoid catastrophes of an extreme gravity. Inhuman behaviors, repeated, contradict humanizations however put ahead, that they are religious, political, economical. This prevalent and heavy report is accompanied however by another report, positive, that of the exceptional successes, dazzling human act economic. This heavy report accompanied however by another report, positive, that of the exceptional successes, dazzling human actors in the technical, medical, scientific, and esthetical fields. However, these successes come from the exercise applied but spontaneous of their means of hominoid. Consequently, our third part must study the semiosis of intercultural world underthe angle of the dialogical ones between purposes; ones between means ; and betweenmeans and purposes. Exceptional contributions of Agamben, Van Lier, Ricoeur are necessary. We see that the semiosis of intercultural world is in question and is generatedbetween the means of the hominization, the purposes outlined by these means and the purposes which the human actors choose. The way, non-linear, multiplement interactive, between hominization and humanization even received from Michel Serres his beautiful name: the hominescence.
Keywords: Anthropology, Divine market, Human Rights, Human’s purposes and means, geopolitics, hominization, humanization, World intercultural, neoteny, semiosis, translation.
Le défi sémiotique de l’interculturel mondial. Moyens et fins. Hominisation et humanisation
Résumé. Il y a un triple défi sémiotique de l’interculturel mondial : comment découvrir et comprendre son fondement anthropologique, son déploiement historique planétaire, sa situation au cœur de l’évolution humaine ? Dans notre première partie, nous plaçons cette question de la semiosis de l’interculturel mondial sous l’éclairage de la néoténie comme fondement de l’hominisation. Celle-ci fait que l’acteur humain, non programmé par la nature, doit se donner à lui-même ses propres fins. Dans notre seconde partie, nous voyons varier ces fins au cours de quatre époques successives de l’histoire. Il en résulte un sentiment contrasté. En dépit des fins différentes choisies, les sociétés humaines n’ont jamais pu éviter des catastrophes d’une gravité extrême. Des comportements inhumains, répétés, démentent les humanisations pourtant mises en avant, qu’elles soient religieuses, politiques, économiques. Ce constat prégnant et pesant s’accompagne cependant d’un autre constat, positif, celui des réussites exceptionnelles, éblouissantes des acteurs humains dans les domaines techniques, médicaux, scientifiques, esthétiques. Or, ces réussites proviennent de l’exercice appliqué mais spontané de leurs moyens d’hominien. Dès lors, notre troisième partie doit étudier la semiosis de l’interculturel mondial sous l’angle des dialogiques entre fins ; entre moyens ; et entre moyens et fins. Des contributions exceptionnelles d’Agamben, de Van Lier, de Ricœur sont nécessaires. Nous voyons que la semiosis de l’interculturel mondial est en question et s’engendre entre les moyens de l’hominisation, les fins esquissées par ces moyens et les fins que les acteurs humains se choisissent. Le chemin, non linéaire, multiplement interactif, entre hominisation et humanisation a même reçu de Michel Serres son beau nom : l’hominescence.
Mots-clés : anthropologie, Divin marché, Droits de l’Homme, fins et moyens de l’humain, géopolitique, hominisation, humanisation, interculturel mondial, néoténie, semiosis, traduction.
4./ « Critic of the intercultural reason. A new comprehensibility of the human history. Three antagonist major figures of the human being in genesis »; « Critique de la raison interculturelle. Une nouvelle intelligibilité de l’histoire humaine. Trois grandes figures antagonistes de l’humain en genèse »
J. Demorgon, in Francopolyphonie 7. vol.1. 2012. Chisinãu.Ulim. https://app.box.com/s/bbcj4h1jjlvz1l6ib7dt
Abstract : In the global dimension of developing, we put and practice “intercultural” and training skills. The generalization – even educational standardization – this training is desired. However, many authors have found – as we, from our Critique de l’interculturel (2005) – that this "intercultural" has simplified the task under tragic disorders are continually emerging in our news. There is strength and a renewal of multicultural events. There were attempts of all sorts of cross-cultural non-free or failure of perversion. Rather than rallying to the intercultural as a solution, you have probably prefer a more exact position of difficulties which are both multi-, trans-and intercultural. Such an antagonistic and adaptive triad imposes itself a sign to avoid mistakes – ever recurring – an illusory universalism and culture without a horizon. In the same vein, a new intelligibility will review several dichotomies reducing the benefit of a higher complexity. That’s why we have "multi-, inter-, trans-disciplinary." Or, equally, "particularize, generalize and singularize" (Demorgon 2010a). Or "identity, alteration, interity". These examples, among others also beyond the triadic, reflect the implementation of antireductionist thoughts and actions. These are only possible by understanding the destructive antagonisms in the reference to "devices" to be invented to become builders. That’s why it requires the access to a theory of actors, strategies, cultures and societies, based on the establishment of“world information” (Demorgon, 2002). This is now currently emerging: the “Grammar of civilizations” of Braudel ((1963), 2008) to multiple contributions of today on economy, geography, history, global (Diamond, 2000; Baechler, 2002; Goody, 2006, Cosandey, 2007; Testot, 2008; Norel, 2009). “World information” should become the new object, and updated in debate, demanding training to developments and societal culture becoming. Beyond the two methods “comparative – descriptive” and “comprehensive-explanatory”, a third emerge appears, “dialogical-implicative”, whose reference founder is to challenge the reductionism “fact-value, as H. Putnam is 2004, showed.
Keywords: globality, intercultural skills, antagonist adaptive triad, new intelligibility, reducing dichotomies, higher complexity, multi/inter/trans disciplinary, identity-alteration – interity, world information, dialogical-implicative method.
Critique de la raison interculturelle. Une nouvelle intelligibilité de l’histoire humaine.
Trois grandes figures antagonistes de l’humain en genèse
Résumé : Dans la mondialité en développement, on pose et on pratique des formations à des compétences « interculturelles ». La généralisation – voire la standardisation pédagogique – de ces formations est souhaitée. Cependant nombre d’auteurs ont trouvé – comme nous, dès notre Critique de l’interculturel (2005) – que cet « interculturel » se simplifiait la tâche au regard des désordres tragiques qui ne cessent d’émerger dans notre actualité. Il y une résistance et un renouvellement des faits multiculturels. Il y a des tentatives transculturelles de toutes sortes non exemptes d’insuffisance voire de perversion. Plutôt qu’un ralliement à l’interculturel comme solution, il faut sans doute préférer une position plus exacte des difficultés qui sont ensemble multi-, trans- et interculturelles. Une telle triade adaptative antagoniste s’impose comme signe pour éviter les erreurs – sans cesse renaissantes – d’un universalisme illusoire et d’un culturalisme sans horizon. Dans la même perspective, une nouvelle intelligibilité devra revoir plusieurs dichotomies réductrices au bénéfice d’une complexité supérieure. Ainsi « pluri-, inter-, transdisciplinaire ». Ou, tout autant, « particulariser, généraliser, singulariser » (Demorgon 2010a). Ou encore « identité, altérité, intérité ». Ces exemples, parmi d’autres aussi au-delà du triadique, témoignent de la mise en œuvre de pensées et d’actions antiréductionnistes. Celles-ci ne sont possibles qu’en comprenant les antagonismes destructeurs en les référant aux « dispositifs » à inventer pour qu’ils deviennent constructeurs. Pour cela, il faut accéder à une théorie des acteurs, des stratégies, des cultures et des sociétés, appuyée sur la constitution d’une « information monde » (Demorgon, 2002). Celle-ci est désormais en cours d’émergence: de la « Grammaire des civilisations » de Braudel (1963, 2008) aux multiples contributions d’aujourd’hui sur l’économie, la géographie, l’histoire, globales (Diamond, 2000; Baechler, 2002; Goody, 2006, Cosandey, 2007; Testot, 2008; Norel, 2009). « L’information-monde » doit devenir le nouvel objet, en débat et réactualisé, de formations exigeantes aux développements et aux devenirs culturels sociétaux. Au-delà des deux méthodes « comparative-descriptive » et « compréhensive-explicative », une troisième émerge: « dialogique-implicative » dont l’une des références fondatrices est de récuser le réductionnisme « fait-valeur », comme H. Putnam, 2004, l’a montré.
Mots-clés : mondialité, compétences interculturelles, triade adaptative antagoniste, nouvelle intelligibilité, dichotomies réductrices, complexité supérieure: pluri-, inter-, transdisciplinaire, identité-altérité-intérité, information-monde, méthode dialogique-implicative.
5./ Gabriel Layes : Cultural dimensions
pp. 53-65 in Alexander Thomas, e. a., Handbook of Intercultural Communication and Cooperation : Basics and Areas of Application. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 25.10.2010, 412p.
« The French researcher Jacques Demorgon (1989, 2010) developed a model that also includes cultural dimensions and which he imbedded indifferentiated cultural théories suitable for dealing with some of the risks mentioned above. For those who are internationally active, this offers a grid that helps them to reflect upon and categorize unfamiliar actions more accurately.
Similar to Hall, Demorgon determines his cultural dimensions by attempting to cover the entire spectrum of possible human action. Consequently, this can only be a dimension that is characterized by two opposing poles. The example of the action mode – that is, the form that action takes – illustrates this : One can only act extremely quickly or extremely informed. Both occurring simultaneously is not possible. In this respect, all theoretical action modi can be exemplified between these two extremes. Thus, the action mode represents the first of a long list of dimensions definid by Demorgon. The most important of these are mentioned below.
Action orientation. This cultural dimension extends between the two poles labeled simultaneity and consecutivity and is related to Hall’s differentiation between monochronic and polychronic patterns of time. Once completed, the focus shifts to the next step. In simultaneous action orientation, several tasks are tackled at the same time and thus cas tolerate gaps in a given action procès.
Attention. Demorgon sees a close connection between action organization and directing attention, which he defines as a separate cultural dimension. Its opposite poles are centered and diffuse attention. When concentration is centered, the focus is on a few things only, albeit with utmost intensity and precision. Accordingly, diffuse attention occurs when an observer perceives any number of aspects of a situation, however, with relatively little précision.
Communication mode. Demorgon différentiâtes between the two extremes explicit and implicit communication as it applies to communication in particular. At one extreme, every effort is made to explain all relevant information as precisely as possible. In contrast, at the other extrême, much remains unspoken and must be deduced from the context of the conversation, which, of course, dépends on the nature of the Relationship between the conversation partners.
Communication content. Demorgon describes this second dimension in communication as objective and subjective speech. In objective speech, the speaker detracts from himself by referring to statements about facts and tasks at hand, which he tries to présent as precisely as possible. In subjective speech, on the other hand, the speaker himself is at the center of the communication process, while imparting personal views and émotions as descriptively as possible.
Motivation. According to Demorgon, this cultural dimension describes what motivâtes a person to act. At the task-related extrême, the tasks themselves motivate to action. This corresponds to Thomas’cultural standard of task orientation. In Relationship orientation, action is dépendent on completing a task involving important individuals. For example, a person wants to do another a favor or because a person has the authority to demand complétion of a task.
Authority. This cultural dimension establishes a relation between motivation to act and a person’s authority. Demorgon distinguishes between external and internalized authority. In the the case of external authority, task complétion dépends on individuals higher up in the external hierarchy, who are in a position to order complétion of the task, to supervise and to evaluate it. In the case of internalized authority, tasks are completed even when there is no assigned outside authority to ensure that the task has actually been completed. On the contrary, individuals who are higher up in the hierarchy are not welcome to « interfere » where they are not needed. Responsibility. Authority is concerned with responsability. Demorgon distinguishes between the extrêmes détermination and co-determination. In the first case, authoritative persons do not tolerate interférences. Instead, they assert personal opinions or form them if they do not happen to have any explicit ones. Responsability encourage others to contribute their views and opinions to the decision-making process. In the way, the responsibility is evenly distributed.
Decisions. As is évident in the different approaches to responsibility, this subject relates directly to the issue of decision-making behavior. Here Demorgon différentiâtes between the extrêmes dissent and consensus. Dissent refers to opposing decision-making behavior, which can be a réaction to a person in charge in a higher position in the hierarchy. Much emphasis is placed on opposing opinions and suggestions to avoid a focus on one predominant view. During consens-oriented décision-making behavior, only those thoughts are voiced that are not only realistic and feasible from the outset, but also bound to achieve a consensus. The idea hère is to pièce all ideas together in a sort of mosaic with the resulting compromise being accepted by all as the best solution.
Attitude toward Organizations. In organizations’decision-making behavior, responsibility, authority, communication mode and many more aspects we have discussed here are institutionalized. Thus, according to Demorgon, the Relationship between individual and organization présent a further important cultural dimension. Here, he distinguishes between the extrêmes degradation and appreciation in relation to institutions. In the case of dégradation, all organizations are regarded with skepticism and are rejected or resisted with a feeling that they do not serve the individual. The opposite is true for the orther extrême where institutions and organizations are seen as positive, providing the individual with identity, sensé and security.
The manner in which Demorgon incorporates these cultural dimensions into a general cultural theory is just as important as the individual cultural dimensions or their description. On the basis of his general theory, Demorgon develops a grid that helps the practitioner to understand and consider unfamiliar forms of behavior from various angles. This approach prevents the viewer from regarding other-culture individuals as « cultural machines », who behave according to well-defined cultural dimensions.
If unusual forms of action are repeatedly observed, one might ask on which level the observed : Is it the behavior shown by an individual (individual level), a small group of individuals (group level) or that of a specific social class (subculture level) or is it a phenomenon that can be observed throughout all groups ans subcultures of a nation (national-culture level) ? Does one actually have enough contacts to answer this question ? A business manager who spends some months on an international assignment within the scope of short-term project work hardly has the time to come in contact with local nationals outside of his immediate work environment. His business partners, on the other hand, represent a small section of the given population. Even Trompenaars narrows his scope when he refers specifically to cultural différences in the « business world ». Considering the specific Framework within which Hofstede surveyed his candidates, one might come to the mor to the point. According to Demorgon, the issue of levels constitutes an initial filter through which observations should pass, before drawing conclusions about national-culture idiosyncrasies.
A second filter asks what specific modes of behavior can be observed in different areas of life. The manager who expériences his foreign business partners exclusively within a work-related context might be surprised to see the way these same people behave at a private party or a religious ceremony. Everyone knows, from personal expérience, how many different types of behavior are displayed depending on the social context. Therefore, before jumping to conclusions, it is extremely important to ascertain if one is dealing with behavior that is related to particular areas of life and are only shown there, or if they overlap into other areas of life.
A third filter should be in place, according to Demorgon, when attributing national-cultural characteristics. Here, he refers to history.
Even if specific modes of behavior can be observed in all areas of life and social groups, they can still be, in a historical sensé, situational snapshots taken under conditions of force or necessity, for example in connection with war or the collapse of the economy. If a country is suffering from inflation and stores are looted, then one will hardly conclude that this is a national-culture pattern. Not until particular modes of behavior reoccur throughout history can catégories pertaining to national-culture characteristics be applied.
The cautiousness with wich Demorgon treats the cultural dimensions that he himself developed should also be an example of how to treat the models developed by Hofstede, Hall, Trompenaars and others (considering the authors themselves do not do it). Aside from the previously mentioned questions, the détermination of cultural dimensions poses two more fundamental problems which Demorgon also faces and which in concluding, we would like to explorer further. Questions of this sort tend to arise when the described models are used as research Tools. They can be useful where they provide practical orientation in reflecting on unfamiliar forms of action.
6./ For intercultural European and word : L’histoire interculturelle des sociétés, Jacques Demorgon, Paris, Economica, analyse de A. Boutaleb, in Futuribles (Version in english et version en français) et autres recensions
For Jacques Demorgon, professor of philosophy and professeur of social psychology, globalization has several aspects. It is economic and financial but also sporting. But one and the other are part of a vaster unit, that of the multicultural and intercultural globalization which it is necessary, more than ever today, to study and understand. The means of doing it are in constitution and this book wishes to make some contributions while starting with a testimony on a rare ground of the intercultural one the experientielle international meeting. Accordingly, the author analyzes many interdisciplinary and international work concerning the large societaux historical currents and watch how, over two decades, started to constitute an ethics, a methodology and an epistemology of the intercultural one. An interdisciplinary modeling was installation, by requesting sciences of the individual and collective human conduits and the history. First to take account of the general adaptive problems in the genesis of the cultures. The second to confront itself with the singularity of the situations and freedoms from which the strategies of the actors are worked out and are generated the cultures. Through this work, the author presents the intercultural one as deludes idealizing at the time when this last is recognized like factual historical matrix. Consequently, Jacques Demorgon builds an argumentation in favor of an ethical and cognitive foundation of intercultural relating to intercultural work really carried out here and there, for example starting from the migratory contacts, international projects of the companies, a true European education. It is in this collective direction that it offers to the readers of invaluable tools of analysis and action for intercultural not deluding at the same time local and total, daily and geopolitical. It is under these conditions only that, according to the author, the intercultural one can be the great adventure of our time.
Assia Boutaleb, Futuribles. Maître de conférences en sciences politique, Paris VIII. - This work, rich person and dense, of a quasi-universal scale, offer a thorough analysis and a base of work to the actors of intercultural European and world.
N. Dormoy, Multilingual Europe, 05-1999, “Historical, political, methodological and ethical, the book of Jacques Demorgon treats the intercultural one like stamps geneses societales.
C. Delory-Momberger, Practices & Analyses from formation, 02-1999 “A new conceptual framework... an invaluable synthesis constituting a new conceptual framework will accompany the reader along his reflection and of its action.
N. Carpentier, Cultures moving, 04-1999 “Completely revolutionary... And if the intercultural relations made it possible to write a universal history? The idea makes its way in the work. This book, with reading absolutely, is done everything revolutionist.
- S. Gengoul, Decoding, RFO-television, Guadeloupe, 03-1999
Futuribles Pour Jacques Demorgon, professeur de philosophie et de psychologie sociale, la mondialisation a plusieurs aspects. Elle est économique et financière mais également sportive. Mais l'une et l'autre font partie d'un ensemble plus vaste, celui de la mondialisation multiculturelle et interculturelle qu'il faut, plus que jamais aujourd'hui, étudier et comprendre. Les moyens de le faire sont en constitution et ce livre souhaite apporter quelques contributions en commençant par un témoignage sur un terrain rare de l'interculturel la rencontre internationale expérientielle. Dans cette optique, l'auteur analyse de nombreux travaux interdisciplinaires et internationaux concernant les grands courants historiques sociétaux et montre comment, sur deux décennies, ont commence a se constituer une éthique, une méthodologie et une épistémologie de l'interculturel. Une modélisation interdisciplinaire s'est mise en place, en sollicitant les sciences des conduites humaines individuelles et collectives et l'histoire. Les premières pour tenir compte des problématiques adaptatives générales dans la genèse des cultures. La seconde pour se confronter a la singularité des situations et des libertés a partir desquelles s'élaborent les stratégies des acteurs et s'engendrent les cultures. A travers cet ouvrage, l'auteur présente l'interculturel comme leurre idéalisant au moment ou ce dernier est reconnu comme matrice historique factuelle. Des lors, Jacques Demorgon construit une argumentation en faveur d'une fondation éthique et cognitive de l'interculturel relative au travail interculturel réellement effectue ici et la, par exemple a partir des contacts migratoires, des projets internationaux des entreprises, d'une véritable éducation européenne. C'est dans cette direction collective qu'il offre aux lecteurs de précieux outils d'analyse et d'action pour un interculturel non leurrant en même temps local et global, quotidien et géopolitique. C'est dans ces conditions seulement que, selon l'auteur, l'interculturel peut être la grande aventure de notre temps.
Assia Boutaleb - Futuribles. Maître de conférences en sciences politique, Paris VIII. "Cet ouvrage, riche et dense, d'une envergure quasi-universelle, offre une analyse approfondie et une base de travail aux acteurs de l'interculturel européen et mondial."
N. Dormoy, Europe Plurilingue, 05-1999 « Historique, politique, méthodologique et éthique, le livre de Jacques Demorgon traite de l'interculturel comme matrice des genèses sociétales. »
C. Delory-Momberger, Pratiques & Analyses de formation, 02-1999 « Un nouveau cadre conceptuel... une precieuse synthèse constituant un nouveau cadre conceptuel accompagnera le lecteur au long de sa réflexion et de son action. »
N. Carpentier, Cultures en mouvement, 04-1999 « Tout a fait révolutionnaire... Et si les relations interculturelles permettaient d'écrire une histoire universelle? L'idée fait son chemin dans l'ouvrage. Ce livre, a lire absolument, est tout fait révolutionnaire. »
S. Gengoul, Décryptage, RFO-television, Guadeloupe, 03-1999
7./ Taking a hard look at the « intercultural » from a sociological point of view
Intercultural exchanges target and source: codes, adaptation, history. A critical moment for the intercultural field. Keynote Speaker au Congrès Sietar-Europa.I/ Problems of the intercultural field First, let’s look at several problems raised by the critical observers of the field of intercultural studies
Intercultural exchanges target and source. Codes, adaptation, history
A critical moment for the intercultural field
Intercultural studies as an independent field of research and as an applied discipline came into being during the second half of the 20th Century. It addresses several fields: international relations, business, immigration, European construction, as well as the arts and the media. Although this new field has continued to develop, it tends to lose sight of the fact that it is based on analysing de facto human interactions and creating functional responses to them, irrespective of whether these exchanges are seen as desirable or not, whether they are constructive or destructive, positive or negative, peaceful or violent. Globalization has been the key driver for the development of the field as well as the determinant of which intercultural exchanges or interactions should be studied. Globalisation has led us to discover just how diverse people, groups and societies really are.
We cannot lose sight of the fact that Intercultural Studies take place in a context of selectively chosen human intercultural exchanges that define it and on which it continues to be focused. If we ignore this, then how we deal with these exchanges runs the risk of being amateurish and simplistic. It suggests that it can solve problems that are, in fact, beyond its scope.
So, we are right to be suspicions and to raise questions about “intercultural studies.” This is especially true when “intercultural” is proposed as an instant analysis and a “quick fix.” “Intercultural” becomes an attractive label that gets plastered over the real ingredients of problems and gives the illusion of being a panacea. (1) A thorough critique is needed to define how these “selected” intercultural exchanges are linked to the very intercultural studies that give rise to them
1/ Knowledge of Cultures and limits to empirical surveys
Intercultural studies are based on limited and often imprecise knowledge of cultures. They do not clearly distinguish between truth and prejudice, nor give clear data about how long cultural phenomena have lasted and, even less, how long they will last in the future. Empirical investigations cannot settle these points. Attempts to do so with questionnaires and instruments are based on definitions which are believed to be obvious and yet remain debatable. Unconscious understandings and expectations that are put into the questions come out in the results. In interviews, however thorough, the cultural characteristics addressed are clearly subjective. Given such processes, and in order to make sure that the cultural answers of yesterday are always topical, empirical investigations are continually repeated.
2/ Even References to acquired Cultures are inadequate
If the intercultural field has a limited conception of established cultures, it has even less understanding of emerging cultures. Very often, it is not even aware of these. Thus, in a major German chemical multinational, the head office and its French subsidiary are at odds. The latter is waiting for the planned delocalisation of a Belgian production unit to be carried out in its favour. Preliminary work has been carried out but the transfer is not happening.
The French people in charge pose the issue in terms of a Franco-German intercultural problem, in terms of the “reliability of a German decision”. The reality is elsewhere! The German multinational is being threatened by a large South Korean firm to which it will end up selling one of its departments. The people in charge of the subsidiary company were still in the intercultural problem of acquired cultures, whereas the company was already struggling with the sustained emergence of globalisation. (2)
3/ Insufficient attention to the ability of cultures to adapt to new circumstances
The “disciplined” intercultural approach treats cultures as more or less positive resources whose synergy it can manage. However, the quality of a cultural response does not exist in itself; it depends on its capacity to adapt to contexts which can change. The invented culture which can be of service in one context can do disservice in another. Thus, a policy of unification in a country can, on the one hand, strengthen it, and on the other can impoverish it by an excessive control of the diversity which sustains it.
If it has no concern for the adaptive problem which relates to any cultural response, the disciplined intercultural approach is part of a less than dynamic evolutionary conception of cultures.
4/ Culture: Code, Programme and Adaptive Freedom
With the desire to be based on stable cultural characteristics, which it needs for its pragmatics, the intercultural field tends to treat cultures simply as codes. Admittedly, a culture is part of a shared code, so that it can be stated and transmitted. But it was initially the fruit of adaptive research. Forgetting this source results again in treating cultural characteristics like “programmes.” As a result, adaptive freedom disappears, where it is, at least potentially, always present.
A cultural response, taken as a dimension of the identity of a group, leads the group to hold on to it even if the response is also partly “counter-adaptive”. Only an inventive new cultural adaptation can articulate this type of contradiction.
5/ Interactions between different cultural actors: obstacles or resources. Intercultural exchange as a target
With the desire to be based on stable cultural characteristics, which it needs for its pragmatics, the intercultural field tends to treat cultures simply as codes. Admittedly, a culture is part of a shared code, so that it can be stated and transmitted. But it was initially the fruit of adaptive research. Forgetting this source results again in treating cultural characteristics like “programmes.” As a result, adaptive freedom disappears, where it is, at least potentially, always present.
A cultural response, taken as a dimension of the identity of a group, leads the group to hold on to it even if the response is also partly “counter-adaptive”. Only an inventive new cultural adaptation can articulate this type of contradiction.
6/ Interactions between different cultural actors: building of another culture
We can now clearly identify the two different perspectives for intercultural studies. The first one, concerns implementing “adjustments” to communication, co-operation between people, groups, and organisations from different cultures. This is a very noble task which occupies many people in many sectors. Not only is this work not likely to die out, on the contrary, it should develop. However, it becomes distorted if it fails to clearly define its limits.
It is a disciplined approach, but it is uncertain about the truthfulness or the timescale of the cultures to which it refers. It is limited to being “with hindsight” in relation to those cultures which it takes as read, even though these cultures are also involved in contradictory evolutions and unforeseen developments.
II. Resources and methods in the intercultural field
1/ Reasoning from the perspective of identity without regard to interity
Intercultural exchange as a source
It is the constantly interacting human strategies which produce an interculturation (intercultural exchange), which is real, whether we like it or not. It is as much the product of violent exchanges as of peaceful ones. (3) Day to day intercultural exchange remains the fundamental matrix of human history. The knowledge and management of this exchange exceed current human possibilities by a long way.
The profound authenticity and the effectiveness of the disciplined intercultural approach depend on the modesty with which it can situate itself in relation to day to day intercultural exchanges.
2/ Reasoning from the two perspectives: identity and antagonism
Identity reasoning was initially found in the construction of myths, cosmogonies and religions by resorting to totems and gods. It then spread to history through the figures of civilizing heroes, military leaders, kings and emperors. Lastly, scientific thought developed and defined its role as the recognition and identification of things and beings.
Identity reasoning is thus based on three levels: religious, political, informational. Identity reasoning takes otherness as its opposite. But this otherness is merely the other’s identity. It is astonishing that what opposes identity and otherness was never given a name. Hidden in the galaxy of terms that include the prefix inter “, interity” (4) appears to be the forgotten or occulted concept. It is important to give a name to the fundamental situation in which human beings relate with each other or with nature. “Interity” precedes interaction and the intercultural academic field.
Indeed, “interity” first defines all the conditions in which interactions take place, second all the means that strategies encompass and, finally, the ensemble of the results that constitute cultures. Interity is thus both inter-strategic and intercultural. By denying ourselves the use of this word, we forego the need to highlight this overall complexity.
To ignore or to reject the primacy of this interity, human kind remains divided in individual and collective entities, always both opposed to each other and united. The door remains open for the totally foreign, for the unrecognisable and for that which always comes back at us as inhumane monstrosity that we cannot deal with.
3/ From intercultural to inter-strategic (Devereux)
Taking interity and antagonisms into consideration helps greatly to show that at the origin of the field that we call “intercultural”, we must discover the “inter-strategic” field. In fact, the intercultural field and the inter-strategic field are profoundly linked.
George Devereux has clearly underlined this link, through the concept of “antagonistic acculturation”. (5) The one who is dominated is not only subjected to the culture of the dominant person but, has at his disposal strategic responses.
Devereux highlights three of those strategic responses, in the ethnological field that are applicable to international relations. Thus Japan practised defensive isolation for two and a half centuries. Then, in the middle of the 19th century, Japan was threatened militarily by the recently industrialised West. Consequently, it used these very new means to carry out its own industrial revolution. That did not prevent it from reinforcing at the same time, a whole part of its traditional culture: operational and collective. (Chie Nakane 1973) (6)
It was able, in turn, to increase military engagements: from the war against the Russians, as early as 1905 to World War II, started with the famous surprise attack on Pearl Harbour.
After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japanese dynamism did not fade but was transposed to the economic sphere. Without this new Japanese challenge, the Western powers would not have been pulled into the exacerbated competition which was going to lead nations to globalisation and the USSR to implosion. (7)
4/ Looking at the particular, the general and the singular.
Intercultural research must position itself in relationship with reasoning as a whole. Thus it can, undoubtedly, testify to cultural characteristics. For example, in the West, to refer to oneself one puts one’s hand to one’s chest. The Japanese point to their face with their forefinger.
Admittedly, the ocean of cultural characteristics is totally real but it should not contribute to the distortion in the understanding of cultures. As we have seen, this understanding is impossible without resorting to their fundamentals that have initially developed in the great adaptive processes common to all human actors.
Later, we will identify other general fundamentals of cultures. On the one hand, the main societal sectors- religious, political, economical, informational - in which human actors always get involved even if they do so in different ways, in different times and places. On the other hand, the main successive types of societies, tribal-communitarian, royal-imperial, national-trading and, today, based on a world informational economy, that we will come back to later on.
Only this double knowledge of the characteristics and of the generalities of cultures will make it possible to conceive each one as unique. Indeed, uniqueness is precisely the specific way in which a culture brings together generalities and characteristics. As a single whole, a culture is comparable with others from the angle of its characteristics and of the general information it shares.
Thus, the comparative-descriptive method, constantly called upon, would remain finally very poor if it did not also seek to develop the understanding-explanatory method, the only one able to resort to these two matrices of understanding of cultures that are adaptation and history. While defining the main general types of societies, we will be able to better perceive the emergence of exceptional unique societies in the transitions from one to the other, as was the case with democratic ancient Greece, or modern parliamentary Britain.
5/ Different Humanities: adaptation and geo-history (Diamond)
The incapacity to refer at the same time to human adaptation and to geo-history leads to erroneous interpretations when it comes to understanding the uniqueness of man’s cultural destinies. For example, we know that on the whole there were more cultural developments over many centuries, in Asia and Europe than on the African and American continents. The famous American physiologist Jared Diamond is irritated at the continuing attempt to seek genetic explanations. (8)
In such a case, one starts from particular cultural differences and looks for a general theory to explain them. One thinks in terms of “characteristics” and of “general information” without going into “uniqueness”. “Uniqueness” comes from the fact that man’s interculturation only takes place in the context of human interactions with the whole of its geo-historic environment. What is then, the unique difference in fate between Eurasian, African and American humanities? Diamond tells us.
In Eurasia, which is a one block continent, development happened on close and comparable latitudes, facilitating transfer, accumulation and improvement of cultural answers. On the African and American continents, human groups had to cross extremely different geophysical zones (relief, climate, fauna and flora). This geophysical and temporal division of space was a real obstacle to exchanges. These successive individual zones made it difficult to tap into acquired cultural answers; new answers had to be found. Human development could start from the same adaptive capacities but it faced profoundly disadvantageous or unfavourable conditions.
Such are the true reasons for cultural shifts between the various human groups.
6/ From factual adaptations to the comprehension of an adaptive system
Human actors move from their completely factual adaptations to overall reflections on their adaptive system when they start to write and read their histories. At this point in time they discover that, to adapt, they must not so much choose one orientation in preference to another but rather compose opposing orientations and thus make them complementary, if they want to adjust as well as possible to the changing contexts which are theirs.
A society totally “open” would undoubtedly be likely to fall prey to various aggressive societies– it was perhaps the case of the area of the forgotten Pyramids of Caral, in Peru –(9) An almost closed off society – as was the case with Japan for two and a half centuries - would be deprived of external stimuli, its evolution would slow down and it would also finally be attacked. As a permanent adaptive process, a culture must always be able to go back to its earlier choices and to adapt them to changes. This adaptation is always antagonistic.
Openness but also closedness, unity but also diversity, stability but also change. It is from these main antagonisms that adaptation can be unceasingly repeated. When the actors discover an opposition, they finally understand that these opposite orientations cannot suppress each other. Instead there will only be adaptation because of the possibility of composing them.
Only then do they become aware of the need of inventing better compositions, better articulations in order to found societies which are both more complex and better balanced. We will now highlight the three main elements structuring interculturation (intercultural exchanges): antagonistic adaptations, areas of activity, and types of society.
III. Founding components of intercultural exchanges.
1/ An antagonistic adaptation which opposes or composes
To facilitate recognition of antagonistic adaptation, we will show how two authors, as related to intercultural studies as Hall and Hofstede, were close to its discovery. But let us first review its basic foundation. Establishing oneself in opposition, including to oneself, is one of the constitutive elements of human nature. A person who identifies himself solely to his cultural identity can only do so in total denial of this existential chasm.
Only the possibility of dissociation/association with oneself creates the possibility of dissociation/association with another. Adaptation is antagonistic. It can oppose one of the poles, whether it is oneself, that of another person or even of a way of behaving. It can also choose complementary association. Instead of fighting, the modernist and the traditionalist can seek the respective parts of tradition and modernity which are appropriate in a specific situation. Antagonistic and complementary adaptation creates the permanent intercultural foundation in the relationships of men among themselves and with nature.
2/ Hall: communication between adaptation and culture
Hall brilliantly showed how this antagonistic adaptation works with regard to communication. (10) With a close acquaintance, I have high context: I must be implicit, allusive, so as not to repeat to him what he already knows. With a stranger, I must define what I am speaking about and sometimes even define the words I use. Communication does not choose one orientation or the other; it must dose them according to the uniqueness of my fellow speaker at that time, neither completely familiar, nor completely foreign.
A culture which is only explicit or only implicit is unsuitable. Unfortunately, Hall does not go any further, leaving aside history which is the only element that can reveal to us the origins of national cultural biases. As it unifies, a society constitutes a broad common context which lends itself to implicit communication. Thus France brings together Roman, catholic, royalist and republican. Japan closed itself off to foreigners for two and a half centuries and is at the top of the list in implicit communication.
Conversely, in any country where there is diversity of subcultures, those who move around in them must resort to explicit communication, if they want to be understood properly. The more people use it, the more it will become, to some extent, part of the shared culture. Germany (11) and the United States are cases in point, to differing degrees and at different levels.
3/ Deconstructing Hall and Hosfstede
On the basis of Hall’s comments on communication, Hall and Hofstede need deconstructing to save them from their culturalism. Thus, Hall should have referred to monochronic and polychronic cultures through their antagonistic adaptive function: attention. Attention must be able to be centred, decentred or, as a rule, balanced between these two orientations. A tourist in a dangerous part of the city, who is looking for a street on a map, must be monochronic for the map and polychronic for danger which may come from anywhere.
To be always monochronic or always polychronic would be counter-adaptive.
Similarly, Hofstede refers to judicious “cultural indices”, except that he makes national cultural “programmes” of them. (12) But if humans can be so different, it is precisely because they operate within major antagonistic adaptive problems. Should “hierarchical distance” be reduced or increased? The “uncertainty avoidance mechanism”, encouraged or fought? The “individual”, come before the “collective” or the reverse? “Masculine culture” before “feminine culture” or the reverse?
How can one claim that a certain dosage, having become a “cultural indicator”, should be closed again on itself, once and for all! The problem must, on the contrary, remain open to allow the invention of new dosages adapted to new situations.
4/ Complex antagonistic adaptation: ternary and quaternary
The examples taken from Hall and Hofstede are those of binary adaptive antagonisms. They do not remain separate but interfere, constituting a complex unit to which ternary adaptive antagonisms can be added. (13) For example, that which in economics opposes and associates “supply, demand and exchange”. Or, in constitutional law, opposes and associates “legislative, executive and legal”.
We will also shortly see two examples of quaternary antagonisms which constitute the two other founding principles of the intercultural field we will overview: professional fields and the societal forms.
5/ Antagonistic dynamics: destructive, constructive, regulatory
The concept of antagonism is divided into three different semantic universes.
a/From cosmology to biology and sometimes in psychology, the term antagonism defines opposition as the very place of its adaptive regulation. If the opposition between men and nature could in no way be controlled, humanity would disappear.
b/In history and sociology, antagonism consists of a generally radical, systematic and extreme opposition, which can even lead to mutual destruction. So then, why does antagonistic regulation – which allows life to subsist in its changing environment – fall short when it comes to psychological and sociological interactions?
c/Regulation, quite the contrary, is a must. As such, life, along with its actors, acquires further freedom making it possible to invent cultural responses adapted to changing specific situations. Man thus positions himself very clearly between the benefits of nature’s regulating antagonisms and the luck or the evil resulting from the lack of their society’s regulating antagonisms. They are neither bees, nor ants, nor termites; they therefore have to build those regulating antagonisms. Institutions attempt to do this when they try to reconcile distance and proximity, unity and diversity, individual and collective, masculine and feminine, taking risks and staying cautious, etc.
6/ Religion, politics, economics and information
Man’s activities over time diverged, gradually constituting societal sectors: religion, politics, economics and information. Religion is the foundation of what men believe together, and which consequently bonds them and motivates them. Political power is the holder of the only legitimate use of violence. Economics was essential to produce the necessary resources for survival and beyond that, the resources allowing for the existence of religious and political activities. The information sector initially intertwined with the three others. Its demarcation took time and is still not clear even today.
Each sector emerges through specific assets, attempts to replace the other sectors, and through this dynamic, getting weakened and strengthened, seeks its uniqueness. Throughout history, kingdoms and empires emerged from the powers associated with religion and politics, controlling economy and information. With the birth of the modern trading nations, the association of economy and information came to control the religious and the political. The principal societal sectors mentioned above thus continued their development through an antagonistic and complementary interculturation.
With the current emergence of worldwide information-based societies, the information sector appears increasingly not as a dominating sector, but as the principal stake in human development. (14)
7/ Tribes, kingdoms, trading nations and globalisations
The major forms of society were not quickly developed as the central element of interculturation between societies. (15) Only unique societies constituted this central element. Georges Dumézil first clearly showed, in the case of Indo-European societies, that under the hierarchy of the gods as depicted in the epics and pantheons, lay, in fact, a hierarchy of the dominant societal sectors in these societies’ organisation. The politico-military, associated with the religious sphere, controlled the economy and information. Several post- Dumézil historians held that this situation defined the kingdoms and empires which succeeded the communities and tribes. They succeeded in doing so since politics had benefited from the unifying role of religion.
From the beginning of the emergence of the third societal structure, the trading nation, unlike the above examples, it was the association of the economy and information spheres that became the driving force.
Today, the cross-breeding of information and of planetary space and time, in all their dimensions, constitutes the new and real stake of knowledge and power in society. In this light, we can refer to them as “an information world”, even if the economic sphere still appears to occupy the dominant sector. A society is unique only as a product of the principal forms of society which, over the years, have woven its history and compose today. (16) Recognising the uniqueness of each society present on the planet today is essential to the understanding and analysis of interculturations in progress.
The failures of the IMF, the revelations linked to multiple conflicts, ongoing changes, keep us from believing that the term “nation” is appropriate to characterize countries whose deep differences are so well known.
IV. Processes at work in the transformation and invention of cultures
1/ Transductions, articulations and crasis (Bateson)
To understand the beginnings of societies and cultures requires the knowledge of the processes of interculturation wherever and whenever they happened. However, history and the beginning of societies and cultures do not concern only traditional scientific methods: induction and deduction. Induction establishes a law, starting from particular facts regularly found in investigations.
Deduction seeks to highlight the demonstration of a general law in particular situations, renewable if need be. These methods, although judicious, must be supplemented by the recourse to the transductive analysis which is essential to follow the interactions and interferences between societies and groups, themselves unique actors in unique situations. Transductions follow the methods of the transformation of existence and situations because of their unforeseen meeting or of their durable coexistence in the same place. Their action is often facilitated by mediating third realities.
The varieties of transduction all deserve to be studied, whether they are simple diffusions, transfers, gatherings, additions or hybridisations. As we will see later, the transduction of the sacred, a sort of hybridisation, has spread over the major areas of activity – religious, political, economic and informational. Then, we will highlight two opposite kinds of transduction: articulations and crases. We will use Gregory Bateson to better distinguish between them. In his view, human relationships are structured either around competition, or around complementarity.
Complementarity is expressed through the invention of institutions which link human beings or opposing situations. Such is democracy. On the other hand, competition often involves the emergence of extremes, whence a violent process of interculturation: crasis. This marked the 20th Century and remains present today.
2/ The transduction of the sacred: from the religious to the political and economic
Within the framework of Christendom, the political powers were subject to the religious powers but tried, at least partially, to free themselves from them. This remained difficult, as long as the religious powers had the resources of the sacred available to them. It was thus a crucial transduction which led the political powers to constitute themselves as sacred. It was a long story, of which we will recall only a few elements. The Protestant schism played a large part in this. Luther addressed the Christian nobility of the German nation.
In England, Henry VIII founded Anglicanism, the national Christian religion. In France, through “Gallicanism”, the state distanced itself. In Russia, the Tsars recovered the sacredness of Orthodoxy: and came to speak of “Russian faith” and of the “Russian God”. (17) Finally, the nation and its state become completely sacred. At the same time, from a Catholic point of view, the economy is devalued. There too, Protestantism plays a large part as Max Weber has shown. (18) For Protestants, the economic actor operating through the seriousness of his work ethic, of his profits, of his investments is as respectable, if not more so, than a corrupt Catholic priest.
Economics is from now judged worthy of being made sacred, at least in the present world, just as much as any other activity carried out in the respect of God.
3/ Some examples of articulation: democracies
Our first example is that of Rome. The king had died without descendents; a foreign king was to succeed him. The Roman aristocrats rejected the monarchy, then, offering their hand to the people agreed to give them a part in government: the Roman Republic was born.
Another successful articulation: Greek democracy. Athens regrouped four tribes who wanted to dominate each other. To avoid a division which threatened the City, they resorted to the Sages.
Thus, Clisthenos divided the four tribes into ten, each one obliged to contain populations from the city, the coast and the interior. (19) J-P. Vernant has well described this “power sharing”. (20)
A third example. The British aristocracy was traumatised by two political excesses: on the one hand, the violence of the absolute monarchy of the Stuarts, on the other, the dictatorship of Cromwell and the Puritans leading to the execution of the King. Norbert Elias highlights this: they have “to wait several generations before the antagonistic groups are again reconciled to live in peace.”
They succeed on the understanding that the tensions are necessarily “part of the parliamentary system whose non-violent struggles obey carefully laid down rules” (21) Our fourth example, closer to us, the return of Poland to democracy. Its articulation between different camps and actors was clearly expressed by the expression of the time: “for you, the President” (Jaruzelski) “for us, the Prime Minister”, (Mazowiecki from Solidarnosc).
4/ Genesis of the European crases of the 20th Century
Although not very visible, to begin with, through the maelstrom of events at the end of the 19th Century, a very grave trans-political schism was happening in Europe. Alongside the traditional kingdoms and empires, a new form of society was being sought and was already to be found in Italy, the Netherlands and England. Choices were being made. The United States was becoming a trading nation under British influence. France was going to hesitate for nearly a century to join in, with the Republic. On the other hand, Central Europe was refusing “democratic” options.
Similarly, Russia remained an Empire. This great schism between empires and trading nations led Europe to the First, then to the Second World War. Indeed, in order to succeed in overcoming their failure by whatever means, empires were transformed into even more violent dictatorships. The type of transduction which brought them to that point is called “crasis” which forced together cultural resources, however incompatible, such as nationalism and socialism. Thus, the Fascisms were born – Italian, Spanish, Japanese –German Nazism, and in yet another perspective, Stalinist terror.
As can be seen, “crasis” is a singular transduction put in place by societies in difficulty who want to give themselves a last chance. In these conditions, it is often a monstrous phenomenon. It is important to take this into account, to understand its beginnings and the provisions necessary to avoid it, namely: the invention of articulations.
V Acting and reasoning in the light of societies’ strategic and cultural futures. Monitoring and looking forward, articulations and crases.
1/ Intercultural exchange in all its forms
Let us summarize the tasks of the comprehensive-explanatory method of cultural geneses, when it becomes a prospective approach of interculturation in progress and to come. (22)
Interculturation must be taken into account when referring to principal adaptive problems.
Which balances will take place tomorrow on different continents and in the world at large between unity/diversity, authority/freedom, equality/inequality, closedness/openness, for example between protectionism and free exchange ?
Interculturation must also be taken into account when referring to conflicts and arrangements in the main areas of human activity. Is politics able to redefine its place and its functions at a world level, by relating to certain consequences of economic domination? Will information remain segmented – as a scientific, technical, aesthetic, media – and thus easily dominated by actors in other sectors?
Or will it be able to become a fourth power? What will become of religion, caught between its seizure from conflicts of identity and its unifying strengths? Interculturation must finally be taken into account with reference to the major opposing structures of society. The opposition between empires and trading nations which drenched the 20th century in blood is still present on a planetary scale. We have observed that empires define themselves by the power that political ideologies exert on the economy and on information. Around the world today, is not this definition still appropriate as regards several countries?
Interculturation between types of society oblige us to augment our usual vision of the oppositions between societies. We can see it from the geopolitical angle when dealing with certain resources: oil, water, etc. We neglect the trans-political dimension which deals with the incompatibility between diverse types of society. It is here that we have to take into account the fork in the road between two opposite forms of intercultural exchange: “crasis”, which moves opposition to destructive ends; or the “articulation” which invents their composition. We can only launch the debate here with a few observations.
2/ Opposing transductions between Europe and the United States (Kagan and Rifkin)
Shortly after September 11, 2001, the American conservative Robert Kagan produced an analysis of the comparative evolutions of cultural orientations in Europe and the United States. (23) Although he does not employ the term, he shows how two opposite transductions can be shown to work between the United States and Europe. In the beginning, “Atlanticism” was born from a clear community of interests in the face of the threats of “the East”. So the United States, on a war footing, continued to fortify itself. On the other hand, Europe, thus protected and who wanted to be turn the page on its tragic past, did not strengthen itself militarily. Eager to clean up the source of past violence, Europeans unified their societal references; the old authoritarian countries became democracies. Choosing a concerted mode of development for its nations, based on an implicit rejection of the recourse to war, Europe was embarked on the need to link the countries of which it was composed. For one part of them, this peaceful viewpoint even became an international model.
The analysis of this typically European transduction, as made by Kagan, makes it possible to understand how another American thinker, Jeremy Rifkin, can, in his recent work, present the emergence of a “European dream” which “passes Community relations before individual autonomy, cultural diversity before assimilation, the quality of life before the accumulation of riches, durable development before unlimited material growth, personal satisfaction before hard work, the universal rights of man and the rights of nature before ownership, and worldwide co-operation before the unilateral exercise of power” (24)
3/ Europe: from reality to dream ?
Before reconsidering this “European dream” which Rifkin presents, it is essential to situate it within the reality of Europe. (25) Europe was unable to control the sudden outbreak of war and the beginnings of genocide in the Balkans. Even in this intra-European situation, it called upon the American military.
Europe is incapable of producing real unity among its nations. That was widely seen during military engagements in Iraq. Eastern Europe, so recently under Soviet military domination, is far from having the dominant pacifist references of Western Europe.
Europe was unable to rally its most privileged populations, as the “no vote” of France and of the Netherlands (26) showed in 2005.
These failures however have not yet managed to dissipate the lessons that Europe has drawn from its own history.
Trans-political division, which it has been unable to avoid, has destroyed and dishonoured it. It is precisely because it had plumbed the depths of horror that it wanted to make the links between its nations the key to a peace which would be definitive because it is in permanent construction. (27)
How could it advance in this articulation? How could Rifkin then be right to ask: “What if Europe were not only our chance but that of the whole world?” The answer is clear: it is only because of the incredible effort in interculturation that Europeans will have to do to get there. (28)
There will be no articulation of their individual societies without effort on the fundamental articulations necessary to it; on a new articulation of the relations between the religious, political, economic and the informational; on new adjustments to the major antagonisms: unity/diversity, authority/freedom, equality/inequality which underpin democracy. If Europeans advance in this direction, they will thus be able to contribute to the most difficult articulation: that of the four great models of society (tribal, imperial, national, world-informational) which still deeply divide the whole planet.
4/ The United States and the world
The truth is that Europe is only very insufficiently engaged in this process. It undoubtedly still looks more in another direction: that of constituting itself as a power. Consequently, it is not the “articulation” which shapes its perspective but “crasis”. A kind of world-national “crasis” of the type which in a relative way the United States uses on the basis of its power. Admittedly, this crasis is profoundly part of the current climate since it tries to make associations between the two groups of cultural assets: those concerning national and those concerning a world culture.
At the same time, another unique “crasis” has happened, that of Al-Qaeda imposing its power which originates as much in pre-Islamic as in worldwide cultural assets. (29) Under these conditions, could the American world-national crasis be forced into becoming an imperial world-national crasis?
For multiple reasons, it is undoubtedly not what is most probable, even today. But if others crases of power were put to work in the world, what could happen? An analysis by Jacques Sapir tries to define the possible components of a US “crasis”.
Isolationism and interventionism are certainly two opposite orientations of American political culture. However, the reference to Providence and to the manifest destiny of the United States connects these opposites. This is why Jacques Sapir qualifies the possible American crasis as “providentialist isolationism-interventionism”. (30)
You will appreciate that it is not possible to develop such complex points here. All these analyses about the United States or Europe need to be pursued, without positive or negative prejudices.
Similar analyses about the world need also to be set in motion. We think we have shown that from now on we have better and more varied recipes for success.
1/ Demorgon J., « Interculturalism, ist Opponents and their Reasons », Sietar Europa, Newletter 1/2001.
2/ Demorgon J., Gebauer G., Merkens H., Kulturelle Barrieren im Kopf - Bilanz und Perspektiven des interkulturellen Managements,Campus Verlag, Frankfurt a. M., 2004.
3/ Molz M., Die multiperspektivische Théorie von Kultur von J. Demorgon, Regensburg, 1994. Cf. aussi : Intercultural Learning T. Kit 4, Jacques Demorgon and Markus Molz’s discussion of culture, Council of Europe publisching, Strasbourg, 2000.
4/ Demorgon J., Les sports dans le devenir des sociétés, L’Harmattan, 2005.
5/ Devereux G., Ethnopsychanalyse complémentariste, Flammarion, 1972.
6/ Nakane Chie, Japanese Society, Berkeley, 1973 ; tr. fr. La société japonaise, Paris, Laffont, 1974.
7/ Demorgon J., L’interculturation du monde, Paris, Economica, 2000.
8/ Diamond J., Guns, Germs and Stell. The Fates of Human Societies, W.W. Norton, N.Y., 1997 ; tr. fr., De l‘inégalité parmi les sociétés. Essai sur l’homme et l’environnement dans l’histoire, Gallimard , 2000.
9/ Wilson M., Les pyramides oubliées de Caral, documentaire, diff. Arte, Grande-Bretagne, 2002.
10/ Hall E-T., La danse de la vie, Seuil, 1984.
11/ Seul O., Zielinski B. & Dupuy U. (éds) De la communication interculturelle dans les relations franco-allemandes : Institutions – Enseignement et formation professionnelle - Entreprises, 1ère partie, J. Demorgon : Vers une théorie de la communication interculturelle, 2003.
12/ Hofstede G., Vivre dans un monde multiculturel. Comprendre nos programmations mentales, Éditions d’Organisation, 1994.
13/ Demorgon J., Complexité des cultures et de l’interculturel, Contre les pensées uniques, Economica, 4e éd. 2010. Cf. liste d’antagonismes avec auteur d’origine : pp. 119-123.
14/ Demorgon J., L’histoire interculturelle des sociétés. Une information monde, Economica, 2e éd., 2002.
15/ Demorgon J., Complexité…, op. cit., Périodisations des formes de sociétés, p. 153.
16/ Demorgon J., Critique de l’interculturel, 2e p. : Interculturation et sociétologie, Economica, 2005.
17/ Beckouche P., Le royaume des frères. Aux sources de l’Etat-nation, pp. 143-147, Paris, Grasset, 2001.
18/ Weber M., L’Éthique protestante et l’esprit du capitalisme, Paris, Plon, 1964.
19/ Bodeus R., in Brunschvig J., & Llyod J., Le Savoir Grec, Flammarion, 1996, pp. 164-180.
20/ Vernant J-P., Mythe et société en Grèce ancienne, Maspero, 1974, p. 96.
21/ Elias N., Introduction, in Elias N., Dunning E., Sport et Civilisation, la violence maîtrisée, Fayard, 1994.
22/ Demorgon J., « Die Kompetenz interkulturellen Verstehens und Handelns-eine kritische Analyse», in Baasner F., Frankreich Jahrbuch 2003, dfi, Wiesbaden, 2004.
23/ Kagan R., La puissance et la faiblesse. Les États-Unis et l’Europe dans le nouvel ordre mondial, Plon, 2003.
24/ Rifkin J., Le rêve européen, O. Jacob, 2005.
25/ Demorgon J., Lipiansky E-M., Dynamiques interculturelles pour l’Europe, Economica, 2003.
26/ Demorgon J. « L’Europe dans le pas d’une Constitution ? » Le Croquant, 46, Lyon, 2005.
27/ Demorgon J., Communications and metacommunications, in Storrie T., The Evaluation of Intercultural Youth Exchange, National Youth Agency, Leicester, U. K., 2000.
28/ Demorgon J., Europa Kompetenz Lernen, Campus, Frankfurt a. Main, 2001.
29/ Demorgon J., Boomerangs dans une histoire monde incertaine, Le Croquant 33 : Le 11 septembre 2001 ou La dérégulation du monde, 2002.
30/ Sapir J., « Endiguer l’isolationnisme interventionniste providentialiste », Revue internationale et stratégique n° 51, automne, p. 42-44, 2003.
8./ How should cultural relations ships be experienced and thought out ?
Evènement jeunesse de la Présidence française de l’U.E. pour 51 pays Europe et Méditerranée.
1/ Understanding the diverse concept of culture
It is essential that all aspects of culture be considered.
In the Anglo-Saxon tradition, culture refers to anthropology, i.e. the way we eat, dress, live and interact in organised societies that control the behaviour of their members.
In the Latin tradition, culture is the promotion of an area and its techniques. Agriculture is the promotion of the earth. Architecture is the promotion of living spaces. There is still a culture that can be called "cultivated". It aims to be refined. It is a result of its own promotion, to stand out from others, the stratum that holds itself as superior within a society. It is found in the "culture" section of magazines discussing technology and science, literature and art: architecture, theatre, cinema, painting, music and dance.
However, all these aspects fall within the province of a single original biological fact. Human beings are relatively set apart from other animals. Birds do not learn how to build their nests, spiders naturally know how to spin a web. This deficit is an advantage for humans. Without set natural programmes, we must build and rebuild them according to the various experiences encountered. This constant need to adapt is at the root of culture as a fundamental dimension of human development.
2/ Culture is much more than elitism, it emerges from all human experiences
We make a serious mistake by setting culture apart from human activities. On the contrary, we produce all forms of culture in all our activities.
It then follows that economics is part of culture with research, production and marketing techniques. Politics is also related, in terms of the organisation of societies. Similarly, religion seeks to link mankind over the generations (such as ancestor veneration). It also serves as a link considering the very diversity of mankind.
At any given time, culture is what we consider worthy of being selected, preserved, transmitted, to be reused.
This is how we have the most precious aids available to us: information, communication and action. Anthropological and societal culture - economics, religion, politics - cultivated culture - techniques, aesthetics, science, justice, etc. -together make up the treasure-chest of human experience.
3/ Why are cultures both different and similar?
When we think about cultures, we think about differences. These stand out as key aspects. Differences in clothing and food are therefore very present in our experiences, as is the different related behaviour. Using fingers, chopsticks, spoons, forks, or knives are frequently part of table manners for different people. Cultural differences are often related to geographical areas, their physical and biological differences: landscapes, climates, animals and plants.
Another part of cultural differences stems from the various possibilities of human actions. In parts of Asia, people count in a different way. In the West, we count from our thumb to our little finger: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and change hand to continue to ten. In Japan, people count from 1 to 5, starting with the index finger and finishing with the thumb and continue from 6 to 10 in the same way and on the same hand.
Another source is due to the arbitrary nature of languages. This is remarkably true, once again, with numbers. The number 13 has both positive and negative meanings. It is often left out, whether on hotel room numbers or the number of place settings at a table. In Japan, the number 9 is not favoured because its homonym chu means "pain", "suffering", "grief. It is even worse for the number 4, pronounced "chi", meaning death. On this basis, no gifts of four flowers or four cakes are made. Eggs are counted in fives. Generally speaking, the Japanese prefer odd numbers to even numbers, seeing them as more beneficial.
Colours also hold many a surprise. The colour blue became a positive and even sacred colour in Christianity while the Romans saw it in a rather negative light. In many countries, the colour of grief is not black but white. This is the case in Japan, where people do not usually make a gift of white flowers.
All these differences impress us to the point that they prevent us from seeing our similarities between these cultural differences. For example, whether the colour of grief is black or white, in both cases, the absence of a person is symbolised by the removal of all other distinctive colours.
We must go further in understanding these similarities and differences if we want to adapt more to the world's cultures. We have to recognise that cultures are created by the manifold possibilities of human adaptation. Therefore, in certain cultures, we stay a large distance away from others, or, conversely, we even touch others a lot. There are cultures in which expressions are more exuberant, whereas in others they are more reserved. It is always humans who decide to act one way or another.
4/ Cultural characteristics are heightened by commonly inherited habits and identity-related pride
We have seen that cultural responses are a result of specific environments and also of human adaptations. However, once conducted, repeated and passed on, they become usual responses reused by people and groups. These responses no longer seem to be conventional for them. They are their responses, and, particularly as regards third parties, they become characteristics of people, groups and societies. By becoming habits and identities, culture can become rigid, to the detriment of human adaptations that are still necessary.
5/ Each person must adapt in his/her own culture
If adaptations create cultures, once created, cultures can limit adaptations. We must first of all remember that adaptation must not be considered in a simplified manner. It is not simply acceptance or submission. Human beings must be able to confront the animals that may attack them. Similarly, they must be able to face bad weather, storms, floods, fires, etc. Adaptation is not always directly related to current realities either. Culture is made from realities that we remember or imagine. Consequently, adaptation is also invention. Memories, analyses, anticipations of our experiences help us to understand how our responses change when faced with situations that themselves are changing. As much as we must be open to new things that are necessary for us, we must also be able to cut off to protect ourselves from too many or too hasty stimulations. It is not always easy to know to what extent we must close ourselves away or open ourselves up to the world, to others, to ourselves. From such situations, human beings have been able to see that real adaptation issues structure their experiences. Each situation must be assessed. On this basis, human adaptation fluctuates between more and less openness and closure.
These psychological adaptations are an extension of the physiological adaptations that we know well. Thus, our eye's pupils close when there is too much light and open when there is not enough. When our movements require additional energy, the heart beats faster. The vasodilatation of our blood vessels works for better circulation. When at rest, our heart rate slows and there is a vasoconstriction of our blood vessels. As our experience must adapt, our accompanying culture must also follow suit and break away from its own rigid nature. In every culture, it is necessary to be able to modify the usual response as necessary when faced with new situations. Variations, modifications, reconstructions of common responses require adaptive trial and error, a fair level of fluctuations around a usual cultural response. Regional fluctuations - because cultural responses can vary within a country. Personal fluctuations - because cultural responses vary within a group.
6/ Intracultural and intercultural adaptations: communication
A very illuminating example is that of communication difficulties. Some people have an "implicit" communication culture. They deliberately imply what they mean, supposing that their listeners can understand them all the same. Yet listeners cannot understand if they do not have the same references.
Conversely, some people have an "explicit" communication culture. They suppose that others will not be able to understand unless they give all the necessary references. They sometimes give too many references to their listeners, who are bored by hearing what they already know. Thus implicit and explicit speakers have difficulty communicating, even when they have good command of the other speaker's language or when they share a language.
This intercultural difficulty is already intracultural. Within each culture, we can be implicit with the people we know and explicit with strangers. This example of communication cultures helps us to understand why the relationship between human adaptation and cultures is so necessary. People with implicit communication are often biased against those with explicit communication. The opposite is as true. The mistake ofculturalism is to confuse cultures and natures.
As regards knowing why in some countries communication is generally more explicit and in others often implicit, this is due to differences in the political history of countries that are more unified or more diversified over the long term. History is a very important source of culture differentiation and we are beginning to understand this.
7/ With globalisation, are we becoming multicultural, transcultural, intercultural ?
We have previously used the terms "intercultural" and "intracultural". However, these terms are not universal. Different countries use different words. In some, the terms "multicultural" and "transcultural" are preferred.
If we look at the separations between people, groups, societies and their cultures, relations are termed "multicultural". They can be hostile, indifferent or respectful. We move from inhumane segregation to a drive to recognise others, called "multiculturalism". Multiculturalism is a reference in Canada, the United States, Great Britain and also in continental Europe.
If we look at what brings people, groups and societies together, relationships are often termed transcultural. These transcultural references may be taken from religion or politics. This is the case in France where many people refer to transcultural, republican and secular relationships. Transcultural relationships are promoted by some but not others. However, no religion has become universal, neither has a secular policy.
If we look at interactions between people, groups and societies, relationships are termed "intercultural". They may be violent and inhumane or humane and full of goodwill. When we speak of intercultural relationships without specifying, we only consider the positive intercultural relationships we would like to develop. It is neither essential nor preferable to choose between multicultural, transcultural and intercultural perspectives as they interfere in the changing experiences of people, groups and societies. Let us take a meaningful example. Researcher Nathan Glazer states empirical research demonstrating that in a large sample from the American press, the term "multiculturalism" is absent until 1988. In the same sample, it appears around one hundred times in 1990, 600 times in 1991 and 1,500 times in 1994. The change is visible. We would like to conclude by giving a very concrete example of this mixture of multicultural, transcultural and intercultural perspectives. We may be surprised to observe that it was written in the 1930s by anthropologist Ralph Linton:
"When our friend [the American citizen] has finished eating he settles back to smoke, an American Indian habit, consuming a plant domesticated in Brazil in either a pipe, derived from the Indians of Virginia, or a cigarette, derived from Mexico. If he is hardy enough he may even attempt a cigar, transmitted to us from the Antilles by way of Spain. While smoking, he reads the news of the day, imprinted in characters invented by the ancient Semites upon a material invented in China by a process invented in Germany. As he absorbs the accounts of foreign troubles, he will, if he is a good conservative citizen, thank a Hebrew deity in an Indo-European language that he is 100 percent American. "(Ralph Linton (1893-1953), The Study of Man. (1936)
There is only a step between Linton's wisdom at the beginning of the 20th century to current popular wisdom. Here the step is taken in an anonymous text, photocopied and displayed in a Turkish restaurant in the 11th arrondissement in Paris, now printed on postcards:
"Your Christ is Jewish. Your car is Japanese. Your pizza is Italian and your couscous is Algerian. Your democracy is Greek. Your coffee is Brazilian. Your watch is Swiss. Your shirt is Indian. Your radio is Korean. Your holidays are Turkish, Tunisian or Moroccan. Your numbers are Arab, Your writing is Latin... and you criticise your neighbour for being foreign!"
9./ Tom Storrie, The evaluation of intercultural youth exchange III./
Dynamics and problematics of intercultural exchange. Communications and Metacommunications
1/ In OFAJ Exploratory and research programmes
we have regularly noted that everyone is caught in a sharp dilemma. Eithe one is content to remain in the registers of politeness, discretion, fair play, cordiality, trying to get around, stop or minimise anything which looks like being a 'problem', in which case there can be no common research on misunderstandings, prejudices, identity or clashes of interests. Or, on the other hand, such researches are generally judged desirable and valuable, in which case each person must learn to get a certain distance on his or her own automatic reactions and behaviours, in practice and in thinking, deriving from particular social, regional and national identities, etc.
This distancing is a fundamental characteristic of life itself, of individual and collective consciousness. At its most sophisticated, this distancing can be called a 'meta-function'. The preposition 'meta' from the Greek means 'after', 'beyond' or 'above', with the idea that there will be a transformation of some kind. The term is not unknown, occurring, for example, in 'metaphysics', 'metamorphosis', 'metaphor' and 'metastasis'. As one can see, it always means:
• that one is chronologically situated after an event, a fact or a statement; • that one will logically place oneself outside, above or beyond; and • that this will transform realities because one will come at them differently, comparing them relatively, resituating them indifferent configurations which will give them forms andmeanings until then not perceived.
An international and intercultural encounter cannot properly happen if everyone, during the encounter, remains at his usual level of habitual existence, experience and development. It can only happen if circumstances, accidental or pedagogically instituted, lead the participants to bring into play, however little this may be at the start, their own 'meta' functioning. This functioning has its roots in everyday, even biological living; one mustn't think of it therefore, however psychological it may seem to be, as something very rare, complex and mysterious.
Even with unicellular life, irritability is a first elemetary distancing. Sense organs respond to messages from the environment. Smell, touch, taste, awareness of needs, remain closely attentive to the environment. Hearing and sight can allow reception of messages over long distances. From the retention and analysis of such messages, reasons are deduced to modify behaviour. Retroaction, feedback, is already this 'after' or 'beyond' function. One can speak of 'positive feedback' if current patterns of behaviour are reinforced, or 'negative feedback' if behaviour patterns are interrupted or modified. The awareness of physical distance through certain of our senses then allowed us, with the development of the brain, to discover a new kind of distance, that of analysis, of being able to further treat messages from the senses, producing our representations through thought, images and language. The 'meta' function is located precisely at the level of these representations and the exchanges that we make with them with ourselves and with others. It is a distancing brought into play (by one person or a group) regarding their representations and their modalities of exchange of these representations.
Think of participants attending an international stage. They bring a whole baggage of personal behaviours, of social, regional and national origins. Confronted with different perceived representations and behaviours from foreigners, they may pause a little before deciding to maintain, suspend or modify some of their own behaviours. But things don't remain at this first point of internal personal decision. In small groups, the participants note that certain representations which they exchange are not always in accord and can signify different things for the others, having different roots and configurations for different people. If the exchange gets sufficiently beyond the superficial or the formal, developing more openly and more familiarly, they will note difficulties in their communications.
In these circumstances, metacommunication is that indispensable distancing from the spontaneity of the exchange in order to pursue the analysis further. It can lead participants to stop and consider their affirmations or negations, either too rapid or brutal, to reflect on how their thinking is constructed, on all the differences bound in with languages, ideologies and cultures. Together they are led to work at the level of metacommunication. It's a situation which is both relatively banal and at the same time rare. Banal, because it happens fairly often in those international exchanges which have to some extent been thoughtfully developed, that metacommunication will come into the frame. Rare, because it is not easy to continue without evoking at ever deeper levels questions relating to the attachment of participants to their social, regional and national identities.
2/ Situations requiring metacommunications
In international and intercultural exchanges, difficulties of communication are more severe and more numerous. Recourse to metacommunication is therefore even more necessary. In our OFAJ research, we have noted that there are three recurring situations in which metacommunications occur. In the first place, meta-communication often occurs when it becomes necessary to go beyond verbal communication, falling back on a whole range of other modes of communication (drawing, photography, mime, improvisation ...), either with or without words.
Secondly, communication difficulties remarkably can suddenly appear, not between national groups, but within a national group. Normally, national groups try and agree their meanings before turning to the other national groups. Often these attempts to agree within national groups only partially succeed and sometimes not at all. And indeed, it is not at all evident that the French are easily going to agree on the meaning of 'citoyen', or the Germans on the meaning of 'heimat’. Metacommunication is here faced with a reconsideration of the play and evolutions of what is signified by one inadequate signifier, the single word itself. Problems of codification, of semantics and of definition are raised. As Korzybski, founder of general semantics has written, 'the map is not the territory' and, by the same token, words are not the things signified.
Thirdly, a whole series of other communication difficulties, arising during international exchanges, result not so much from questions of meanings but from the ways in which the different people organise their inputs. Their different contributions may not be comparable one with another, given differences in sources and origins, internal sequential logic and conclusions, argumentation and points of view.
In these three general situations, we could say that communication is largely bound to fail since the participants are not really speaking of the same things. Only their metacommunication is liable to allow them to explore what is happening. Let us take an example to illustrate the first point. In the case which we are going to consider, the representation of the facts is not organised by each national group according to the same temporal sequences.
What is cause for one is effect for the other. Thus, for reasons fundamentally to do with boosting notions of their own identity, French participants, when looking at German history, can very easily begin with the Nazi period. They very rarely attempt to understand this period better by coining at it from preceding periods in history. In this way, they geopolitically represent to themselves and present to the others a very specific Germany unrelated to a wider European and international history. Conversely, while Germans will sometimes organise their reasoning by relocating the Nazi period within European and international contexts, most prefer to deal directly with the period after Nazism to avoid the wounds and taboos in the memory of their history. Plainly, the sequence of events in this exchange are not organised in any similar way. As regards the next two points, research allows us an important and general remark here. We suppose too often that our communications can always be juxtaposed and are comparable. This generates considerable difficulties, even polemics, which wrangle on before fading inconclusively. The exchange of points of view in international encounters can only promote mutual understanding when the exchange is clearly pitched at similar levels. For example, it's not possible to put on the same level information and moral arguments, information and commercial arguments. If, in treating the questions of friendship or of violence, one indiscriminately mixes the different levels of persons, groups and nation-states, one will never make progress.
One must at least become aware - and only metacommunication allows us this awareness - that our communications cannot simult-aneously be very precise, very rigorous and very general.
If I speak of a whole nation, or a fortiori of Europe or of the world, I will never be able to speak with the same precision as with more limited matters such as the behaviours at a given moment in a stage of such and such a participant, or this or that passer-by in the street. Between these two extremes, there is a whole range of possibilities from the most limited, about which we can be precise, to much vaster questions which cannot yield the same kind of results.
3/ Contents, forms and directions
Communication cannot be reduced to a matter of codes. Communication precedes codes, engenders, uses and maintains them, and transforms, subverts or abandons them. It isn't the code which constitutes communication but the reverse: it's communication which constitutes the code. But how does one challenge established codes in order to rediscover original communication? By involvement in a common and problematic situation, a situation which causes problems which the participants are obliged to resolve together. If the communication is both imposed by the situation and desired by the participants, it then becomes a matter of finding the codes best adapted for the communication, adapting them as necessary, or even inventing them.
For example, there are those silences, those apprehensive moments of truth, during which one can almost hear the desire (or the lack of it!) to communicate. At such moments in cultural exchanges the forms adopted (the use of space and time, with relationships established) can allow work of a certain depth. Translation here is not necessarily a help; indeed it can usurp communication per se, substituting itself entirely for it.
Other remarks are pertinent here. It is important, for example, that those who do not wish to communicate, either in a particular way or in general, should not be pressured to do otherwise. Non-communication of this sort is perhaps their only way to communicate and this should not be denied them.
To deny this form of communication, to disguise it or mask it in some way, perhaps even to deplore it, is to lose sight of the objective, the promotion of communication, and to settle for the simple reproduction of a 'good' meeting where institutional and personal formulae are merely reproduced, where the real exchange is rejected for an appearance of it.
By the same logic, communication is firstly (and always in new situations) necessarily also incomprehension. What founds the reality of communication is the reality of shared problematics. In everyday life, as well as in OFAJ stages, when language becomes a fundamental obstacle to what people imperatively want to communicate, there is recourse to gestures and mime. But these cannot be decoded by the persons to whom they are addressed unless they have some idea of the situation to which they can refer and from which these gestures and mimes draw their meaning.
Decoding is only possible if both parties to the communication can refer together to the same situation, but this possibility is not so frequent as one might think. Even within the same national context, social, regional, age and sex differences can mean that it is not easy to refer to common situations. In international and intercultural encounters, participants find themselves deprived of references to the national life of the other. This is further compounded by the fact that all the codes which constitute a national culture have been evolved from problematic historical situations more or less known or forgotten by those whose culture it is, of which they will, however, have a confused intuition about which they certainly couldn't be explicit, nor even perhaps could they refer to it. As the 'outsider' who meets them won't have access to this intuitive reference, how might communication be possible between them, if not by meta-communication in a fairly deep exploration of historical perceptions ? Let us take as an example, to help us push further forward, an opinion voiced by Herder, the German 18th century writer, on which others in their turn have expended a lot of ink: ‘A prejudice in its time is a good thing, because it makes people happy. It recalls them to their centre, ties them more solidly to their roots, makes them flourish more in accord with their own character, more ardent and consequently happier in their inclinations and their objectives. In this regard, the most ignorant, the most prejudiced nation is often the best placed : desire for immigration or travels abroad is already illness, suppuration, unhealthy fleshiness, intimation of death.' (Herder, J. G., 1774).
In Franco-German exchanges, when prejudice is under discussion, it is often easier to avoid any attempt at metacommunication concerning this opinion of Herder's. Or alternatively, another common reaction is that both French and German participants agree that it is scandalous, prudently suggesting perhaps that this is only the particular opinion of Herder himself. Or again, perhaps a French subgroup will use it to bait a German subgroup. In this way, some French participants will choose to close their eyes and others to point the usual accusing finger. But in both cases, while all the while claiming to be against prejudices, they give evidence of their own prejudice. And in so doing, they pass completely to one side of a fundamental international and intercultural issue: the antagonism between the universalism which engenders imperialism and the will for a national specificity which engenders nationalism and racism.
Whenever, in Franco-German exchanges we touch upon the history of France and Germany, serious recourse to meta-communication is always necessary. It requires us to be prudent and it allows us to perceive and interrogate deeper, more hidden threads within history. Commenting on the passage from Herder, A. Finkielkraut (1986) opens up for us an approach for international and intercultural reflection: 'Thirty years before the battle of Iena and the Napoleonic occupation, Herder had begun the fight back against the preponderance of French rationalism with the announcement of this good news: there are no general values, only local values and chance principles ... and every pretension to universality reveals the will to power of a particular civilisation which wants to assimilate the others and impose its law. The cosmopolitanism of the Enlightenment was thus turned back to its national origins and accused of compromising human diversity by profaning the individuality of peoples.' Herder died in 1803. Bonaparte became Napoleon a year later, and in the years that followed, we had Austerlitz, lena, Friedland, Eckmuhl, Wagram, the names of avenues leading from the highly prominent Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Finkielkraut continues:
'Awakened by contact with the invader, the national consciousness rejected those universal values for which France carried the flag. The traumatism of the Napoleonic conquest was accompanied and prolonged by a radical criticism of the principles which underlay it: universality was nothing more than the alibi for imperialism. In reaction to the French invasion, the idea grew that the spiritual mission of a people was to cherish its difference, marking out its own domain and not to follow general principles ... To be German was the aim and the destiny from which one could not deviate ... It was the birth of the Volkgeist, of that "singular, marvellous, inexplicable, unutterable" national spirit which Germany was dazzled to discover in its past and which she proudly pitted against the parched abstractions of the modern age ... The Volkgeist burst beyond the frontiers of the Germanic world. All of Europe laid hold of it for its best and for its worst... the springtime of peoples and the obsession with ethnic purity ... the struggle of little nations against vast empires and the barbarous affirmation that nothing existed beyond the collectivity. This key idea gave back dignity to the losers in dynastic Europe, but it also heralded that new way of thinking which "leads from humanity through nationality to bestiality" and which in the 20th century plunged Europe into the abyss.'
Finkielkraut concludes: 'The will of peoples to decide their own futures finds its substance and its legitimacy in the valuing of the national spirit, nurtured by the notion of a community of shared memories, language and traditions. But, pushed to extremes and radicalised, this same notion makes the rejection of the foreigner a question of survival, if not a moral principle, and very soon calls into question the very notion of humanity itself as it promotes the belief that peoples in their essences are incompatible one to another.'
Responding to Finkielkraut's analysis, Lothar Baier (T982) gives a series of historical clarifications, in particular noting that Herder later repudiated the youthful work cited above. But a fundamental question remains: the complex play between nations uses particularising and universalising ideologies of identity where positions merge, overlap and reverse depending upon the different interests and power relations at any given moment, often leading to violent consequences and tragic results. It is these complex currents, with their extraordinary international and intercultural overlaps and reversals, which underly at a deep level the grave misunderstandings between persons, groups and nations.
4/ Metacommunication as radical critique of all communication
Up until now in discussing metacommunication, communication has been considered as means to achieve an end: to give information or orders; to transmit an emotion; to share questions; to obtain knowledge or reciprocal understanding or cooperative relations, etc.
Metacommunication was an aid towards achieving these aims. But communication considered solely as means can never fully cover the whole function of communication. If human communication could never be thought of as an end in itself, it would forever be at the service of multiple biological and social objectives of our individual and collective lives. We have here an inevitable and continual oscillation between the pre-eminence of life and of communication; we must live to communicate and we must communicate to live.
Herder's comments can serve again as an example: they are scandalous and paradoxical only if one fails to distinguish between what is of the order of objective knowledge and what is of the order of the existence of individuals and peoples.
Of course, a prejudice is always a prejudice, but isn't the worst prejudice that of those who think that prejudice can be overcome and that they are themselves nearing this state of grace? This amounts to forgetting that real life, whose limiting and finite structures will never be eradicated by objective knowledge, can at any moment subvert knowledge. Between the primary choice of either the pretension to a universality which becomes imperialist or of a national specificity which can lead to nationalist closure, Herder exalted the second because it was at that place and time momentarily diminished. There is a always a temptation to sort the good from the bad, truth from error, without reference to times and places.
But in international and intercultural historical evolutions, things don't happen with the logic of theoretical argument. There are real struggles where power imbalances are more than merely a play of language or ideas, and where there is little option but to lend one's weight to the opposing tendency. It is the failure to know how to enter into the complexity of these international and intercultural antagonisms that allows our countries and our cultures regularly to get caught up in murderous catastrophes, at which occasions we then wish above all to designate the good and the bad, the victors and the vanquished, according to an eternal manichean logic.
The rhetorics of universalising rationalism, or of particularising nationalism, or of culturalist relativism all have their grounded arguments, but this doesn't mean to say that each, in the concrete historical circumstances which condition their production, doesn't emphasise certain aspects or downplay others depending upon actual power relations and strategies, or even on the need for survival.
To the extent that we need to live to communicate, life itself is the priority and communication is a means to this end.
For example, a utilitarian perspective ties communication to technical, technicist or even technocratic fields. An economics perspective leads to considerations tied into marketing and financial fields. Or again, in the social field, our communications can be no more than the means of maintaining our hierarchical, tribal or group relations, etc. But in so far as we need to communicate in order to live better, we have to improve, therefore to be critical of, our communications as means, and this, as we have seen, is in the first instance the role of metacommunication. But then, if we're not careful, we find that we're treating communication as an end in itself, since our aim is its improvement and not its utilisation. This perspective of seeking to improve communication can perversely become the major objective, laying claim pretentiously to the universality of communication as a kind of absolutism as one has already seen with religion and science. The impossibility of communication as an absolute end in itself is hidden behind false universalisms which mask strategies of power.
But the opposing attitude, according to which communication is more modestly related to 'means', can also mask strategies of power. This is why these particularisms, national or other, can easily break the boundaries of their particularities and become widely invasive. One must not therefore withdraw from a metacommunication on the process of improving our communication as means - we need simply to develop also a metacommunication of communication taken as an end in itself. Ultimately metacommunication requires the regulation as well as possible of the continual deviations and perversions of communication both as means and also as an end in itself.
Jacques Demorgon, L'exploration interculturelle, Paris, A. Colin.
Auf Deutsch : Interkulturelle Erkundungen, Frankfurt/M., Campus.
Jacques Demorgon, écrivain - mentions légales - réal. o multimedia