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  • The Fundamental Starting Point of Transcultural Communication
  • František Burda (bio)

There is no doubt that the modern epoch is accompanied by the phenomenon of worlds growing closer to one other and by the remarkable acceleration of the diffusion of cultural elements. This is what it means to say that the present time is characterized by globalization. However, the evaluation and interpretation of globalization is difficult. In this article I will focus on the implications of globalization for our understanding of the human person. More and more often, either in a realistic or utopian way, the current world is described as a global village. Many speak about the new identity of cosmopolitan citizenship, and about an emerging unity of cultures and religions, or about the unity of humankind.

In the following, I will attempt to consider to what extent the contemporary globalizing trend contains in itself fundamental assumptions for the possibility of transcultural unity in multiplicity. Then I will focus on modes of communication that participate in establishing this unity. Given that very diverse cultural and religious worlds are converging, it is necessary that we find a concrete and functional starting point for these worlds to communicate with each other. Culture and all its elements are the exclusive attribute of the [End Page 148] human person. No idea can be implemented and become real without being communicated to those for whom it is intended and without being accepted by, understood, and accomplished by them. To communicate ideas effectively, it is necessary to know the recipients and the worlds they inhabit. As Ignazio Sanna has proposed:

Someone might think that particular social and cultural unity could be generated, and more or less instigated, by the more and more powerful phenomenon of globalization. However globalization, planetarisation of economics and politics, strengthens rather than mitigates ethnic and cultural divergence, political and religious differences of particular groups and countries. The reason, among others, is the remarkable contrast between the speed at which the world unites itself and the slowness with which people manage to produce tools and institutions that would administer to the world as a united whole.1

The contemporary world is very complex; it does not have an easily definable identity. Therefore it is necessary to think about anthropological starting points and possibilities of transcultural communication that would embrace the whole scale of different cultural domains and particular cultures, religious convictions, ethical stances, political or economic systems, and so on. It is necessary to ask on what foundation we can build the real possibility of transcultural unity. Is our image of unity, of the closeness of all people, a mere fiction?

Globalization and Humankind

It is quite evident that various pieces of information—images, goods, capital—and even people circle the world with frequency and unusual speed. This phenomenon connects people globally by the mere fact that it shortens distances among worlds, cultures, and peoples. Convergence also occurs at the level of moral and civil consciousness. Let us call this phenomenon horizontal proximization. China is a striking example of this phenomenon. Yet globalization, through [End Page 149] the movement of people and goods and through mass communication, social networking, and general technological participation, does not increase unity and social cohesiveness, but rather establishes an enormous market that offers numerous cultural and ethical perspectives, where differences of particular cultures, religions, and ethnic groups become more visible and available. On the one hand it seems that globalization leads to absolute unity; the whole world is engulfed in the whirl of a single society where everyone thinks in one way, practices similar customs, wears similar clothes, listens to the same music, and so on. Yet, on the other hand, we are witnessing the exact opposite motion of splintering and differentiation; collective ideals are crumbling on all levels,2 people are mutually drawing away from one another in a bizarre, technological estrangement. Western culture is characterized more by the phenomenon of cultural and religious fracture, with increased postmodern axiological differentiation, than by the fact of deeper global unity.3

As we have mentioned, humankind is the recipient of globalization and the collective ideals connected to it. In order that these ideals could become effective, the...


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