IS RATIONALITY UNIVERSAL?Paris - More than 100 philosophers, academics and intellectuals, half of them from Africa and the rest from Europe, the Americas and Asia, will take part in a conference called "The Encounter of Rationalities" to be held in Porto Novo (Benin) from September 18 to 22.
The conference is organised by the African Centre for Advanced Studies, the International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies (ICPH) and UNESCO's Pathways into the Third Millennium programme, which is a series of meetings about the knowledge and values to be found in our societies, organised by the Human and Social Sciences Sector of UNESCO.
The second half of the 20th century saw the West's monopoly of rationality challenged. New people entered social science research who spoke for peoples and cultures who had until then themselves been the objects of investigation. But the total shake-up of the situation has led to an absolute relativism that is another dead-end, because closing each culture in on itself hampers communication and dialogue.
Can paths be opened up to build a rationality that is truly universal? This is the overall aim of this conference, during which the concept of rationality in science, culture, politics and economics will be examined. Participants will discuss, for example, how to express science in non-European languages, as well as belief in witchcraft and the link between language and rationality and religion and rationality.
A paper to be given by anthropologist Harris Memel Fotê (who teaches at Abidjan University and formerly held a chair at the Collège de France) is called "Towards the Encounter between Rationalities: a Theory," and one by American philosopher Richard Rorty will be "Universalist Grandeur, Romantic depth and Pragmatist Cunning".
Other participants expected include Stanislas Spero Adotevi (Burkina Faso), Reginald F. Fraze Amonoo (Ghana), Ernest Beyeraza (Uganda), Kwame Gyekye (Ghana), Ioanna Kucuradi (Turkey), president of the International Federation of Philosophical Societies, D. A. Masolo (Kenya), Elikia M'Bokolo (Democratic Republic of Congo), Joseph Nyasani (Kenya), Lucius Outlaw (United States), along with Maurice Aymard (France) and Luca Scarantino (Italy), respectively secretary-general and assistant secretary-general of the ICPH, and Jérôme Bindé, head of UNESCO's Division of Foresight, Philosophy and Human Sciences.
A forum of African scientific associations will be held at the same time to consider the relationship between traditional knowledge and modern science.
Contact: Monique Perrot-Lanaud
Bureau of Public Information, Editorial Section
Tel: 33 (0)1 4568-1714