The Concept of Encounter of Cultures in the Philosophy of History

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The Concept of Encounter of Cultures in the Philosophy of History


ABSTRACT: A general problem of philosophical interests concerns the possibility of objective knowledge of other cultures and a past culture, as well as the adequacy of their reconstruction. The problem of cultural development is also crucial. By the criterion I develop, a culture which has expanded its potentialities in various independent forms is an open culture able to enter into dialogue with any other culture.

1. To begin with, I must mention that at first I intended to present my paper at the Section of Philosophy of History, because the point at issue here has a great concern to the concept of history and to the methodological approaches of historians.
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The phenomenon of encounter of cultures has been known and described long ago, but in its definite meaning the theoretical analysis of the phenomenon may be dated by the late 19th and early 20th cc., the period of shaping of contemporary anthropology and philosophy of history. In this connection, in the field of the philosophy of history the work of Arnold Toynbee ought to be mentioned who has put forward a conception and a model for systematic representation of the whole diversity of historical facts concerning the encounter of societies, civilizations, cultures in space and time, (1) and, in the field of ethnology, the work of the American cultural anthropologists, of Franz Boas' school, in which theory and practice of intercultural and cross-cultural research have been initiated in different forms. (2)

3. In such a broad meaning of the term, the history of mankind presents itself as a variegated picturesque panorama of encounters of cultures. The immediate reminiscences are the great migrations of tribes and peoples; the Graeco-Roman invasion of the East; the incursion of barbarians into Europe; the invasion of Turkic nomads of the area of ancient civilizations; the Crusades; the discovery…