Our Objectives

A. Dialogic multiculturality

Cultural encounter forms a new, hybrid culture which will preserve as well as enrich cultural traditions on both sides. There is no need neither for integration which subordinates one cultural tradition to another, nor for a cultural assertiveness which insists on the total acceptance of one’s otherness. The former attitude implies violence by the majority, the latter – violence by minorities. Therefore we want to stimulate the understanding of the multicultural dialogue within the modern global society, which is far beyond cultural confrontation and the mutual ignorance of tolerance. We want to understand which role art, music and literature can play for the multicultural dialogue.

B. Dialogic understanding of the past

We aim at a dialogue with cultural history beyond the false antagonism between narrative “invention” of the past and mere “registration” of historical facts. We encourage research attitudes towards cultural past, which could enhance mutual understanding in multicultural societies. We aim at the implementation of dialogic historicity into educational practice, which will enhance multicultural integration.

Cultural identity takes shape in the reference to one’s own roots. Therefore, the key to substantial cultural interaction, which leads to cultural belonging, is our relation to our cultural past. We should describe processes of living encounter with the past, similar to a deeply rooted relationship to another person. Which forms of historical encounter can match this demand? How do they work? Who are the partners of the historical dialogue? How could they help to form new types of historical and cultural education? What is the presence, reality and relevance of cultural past? Is there a catalytic role of art and literature in the dialogue with the past? What is the impact of the encounter with a cultural past on the formation of cultural identity? How do I become a partner in the dialogue with past cultural formations? Do we need new, dialogic forms of imparting cultural, political and social history?

C. Dialogic understanding of gender processes

There is much imputing in contemporary gender research. As a rule, we perceive gender interrelations either as projections of desire or as expressions of the will to dominate. Although these phenomena play an important role for gender/sexual relations, research in the humanities should not a priori exclude the possibility of a dialogic attitude in this field. In this regard, gender research could and should explore possible new understandings of “gender” relations. In addition to the biology-based research of sex and the sociology-based research of mutually ascribed gender roles, there are mental/psychological as well as cultural aspects of relationship, exceeding “sex” and “gender roles”, for which we do not even have scientific terms.

D. Dialogic social sciences

What are the “elements” of the social sphere? According to traditional sociology, it’s “positions”, “opinions” or “behavior” of individuals, which can be summed up to give significant patterns. However, these elements must be understood as solitary individuals, individuals who are systematically detached of any interpersonal relationship, of any encounter. Can there be imagined a sociology based on social encounter, on interpersonal dialogue?  Which notion of humanness is presupposed by traditional sociology? Shall we content ourselves with this notion? Shouldn’t  sociology rather consider encounters as the constitutive elements of the social? How would such a sociology look like, which methods could it develop, what would be the epistemological status of its results?

E. Dialogic interpretation of art

Being closest to Bakhtin’s field of study, the field of interpretation is expected to be the most treated with regard to a dialogic approach. Mostly, however, Bakhtin’s dialogism is understood as a factor within fiction and not as an attitude towards it. There have been efforts, however, to generalize the exteriority/interiority double perspective proposed by Bakhtin. The dialogue with a piece of art should, on the other hand, not be reduced to a hermeneutic enterprise, for in a dialogue there is no absolute truth to be discovered. In a dialogue, both sides are in motion. Why don’t they lose their identity in it? Hence, what can “dialogue with a piece of art” mean? Can or even should art be treated as if it was an “Other” in the social sense?

F. Dialogic Pedagogics

Pedagogics seems to be the most fitting for a dialogical approach. Isn’t the dialogue between teacher and pupil the nucleus of any pedagogics? However, two approaches seem to neglect this offspring: on one hand, a one-sided concentration on instruction (I know what you don’t know and therefore I am in a position to instruct you), and on the other hand, a one-sided concentration on pupil’s needs, interests, and habits. Both one-sidednesses seem to be promoted by strictly empirical research, because strict empirics cannot include both sides of the pedagogical process in their interrelatedness, they cannot provide an understanding of the pedagogical encounter. What kind of dialogue is possible between the evidently unequal social instances of teacher and pupil? What is a pedagogical dialogue (Bakhtin would say it’s a Socratic dialogue but there is some doubt concerning the openness of Socrates’ questions)? How a teacher can prepare pupils and himself for the unexpected results of a dialogue? How can the necessary pedagogical distance be preserved in a dialogue? How teaching benefits from a dialogical attitude? Can an “attitude” be taught?

G. Dialogic Classification

Classification seems to be most monologic – one instance puts the other into a pigeonhole. Nevertheless, classification is inevitable in dialogic humanities, because attitudes and encounters have to be generalized. Can there be a dialogic classification, which classifies not only my “object”, but always also myself? Can we imagine an “understanding” classification, which leaves the door open for the Other to surprise me? How can we classify encounters? What is the epistemological status of classification in the humanities? Is typology a dialogical way of classification? Can culture be subject to typology?

H. Dialogic philosophy, theology and psychology

A tradition of dialogism in philosophy already exists. However, there is an antinomy between existential ontologies, which understand the encounter of the Other as a life and death struggle, and social ontologies, which postulate a deep “absolute” dialogue between human beings in connection with religious belief. Is it possible to get beyond this antinomy? Or do existential and social ontologies mutually exclude one another? How the individual’s dialogue with its social and existential environment does emerge in early childhood? What is the outcome of these processes in the field of cultural dialogue?

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