Cultures, in Conflict or Dialogue? Alternative Models


Hassan Hanafi


Cultures are living entities, carried by living human beings, and subject to the same laws of life, birth and death, struggle or concord, conflict or dialogue. Every culture has two aspects: a particularist and a universalist. The particularist aspect is the vehicle of self identity and autonomy. The universalist aspect is the common share between the self and the other and the common goal for all humanity. The relation between particularism and universalism resembles the relation between change and permanence. Cultural interaction is the expression of the balance of power between cultures. Dialogue is not only mutual talk, but dialectics between the two partners.

Examples from the two alternative models of “conflict” and “dialogue” are numerous. The challenge is when and under which circumstance does each model occur? The power of Greek Logos was behind the inter-cultural dialogue between Greek philosophy and nascent Islam. The power of domination is behind the cultural interaction between modern Europe and the rest.  This paper examines what are the ways and means to change the model of conflict to the model of dialogue.



Hassan Hanafi Hassanien was born in Cairo, Egypt. He received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Sorbonne University in Paris and later became a professor of philosophy at Cairo University. Hanafi has served as the Secretary General of the Egyptian Philosophical Society, and as Vice-president of the Arab Philosophical Society. He has also acted as an advisor to the InterAction Council, a coalition of 26 former prime ministers and presidents, and is a member of the Association for Intercultural Philosophy, which encourages a dialogue among philosophers from all over the world. Hanafi is the author of 30 books in French, English, and Arabic including: Contemporary Issues, Volume I on Arabic thought (1976) and Volume II on Western thought (1977); Tradition and Modernism (1980); Islamic Studies (1981); and the five-volume From Dogma to Revolution (Min al-Aqida ila al-thaura; 1986).

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