Transcending the Clash of Cultures: The Search for Common Shared Values


Ramin Jahanbegloo


The only way for cultures to creatively construct a common future is to have a dialogue together instead of retreating in an exclusive identity paradigm or abandoning their cultural heritage in the face of a uniformizing political and economic globalization. For this to be possible, two conditions must be present in every culture:  first a readiness to seek in the dialogue with other cultures, and, second, general agreement on the aim of constructing a "common shared values" beyond the legitimate diversity of the cultures. That is to say, different cultures can see the world in very different ways while sharing norms that are universal. The solidarity that emerges from a dialogue of cultures will always be accompanied with a horizon of a shared life and what we have in common as humans. This general sense of what binds cultures to each other emerges also through an awareness of the particular ways that cultures are bound to each other. It is interesting that this territory of plurality and solidarity can emerge despite ontological and anthropological differences between cultures.


Ramin Jahanbegloo is a well-known Iranian-Canadian philosopher. He taught in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto from 1997-2001. He later served as the head of the Department of Contemporary Studies of the Cultural Research Centre in Tehran and, in 2006-07, was Rajni Kothari Professor of Democracy at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi, India. In April 2006 Dr. Jahanbegloo was arrested in Tehran Airport and charged with preparing a velvet revolution in Iran. He was placed in solitary confinement for four months and released on bail. He is presently a Professor of Political Science and a Research Fellow in the Centre for Ethics at University of Toronto. Among his twenty books in English, French and Persian are Conversations with Isaiah Berlin (Peter Halban, 1992), Gandhi: Aux Sources de la Nonviolence (Felin, 1999), Penser la Nonviolence (UNESCO, 2000), Iran: Between Tradition and Modernity (Lexington Books, 2004), India Revisited: Conversations on Contemporary India (Oxford University Press, 2007), The Clash of Intolerances (Har Anand, 2007) and very recently The Spirit of India (Penguin, 2008).

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