UNDERSTANDING THROUGH APPROPRIATION IN INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE ON ETHICS
In today's globalized world, we need to communicate values clearly and constructively across cultures and religions to avoid misunderstanding and conflict and to find shared solutions to the issues affecting human communities across the world. This communication is not easy to implement and requires a considerable amount of commitment and empathy. To be effective, intercultural and interreligious dialogues on ethics demand, first of all, an accommodation of different epistemologies coupled with a sincere respect for their richness and internal coherence. Furthermore, our values are so closely rooted in our identity that expressing them becomes a cultural act—even an act of faith in the case of interreligious dialogue. In this paper, I argue that we need to reiterate or embrace this act of faith in the other's values if we are to properly understand them. How is this possible? The answer calls for a theoretical discussion of the hermeneutics of interreligious dialogue. When applied to intercultural and interreligious dialogues, I contend that the theory of hermeneutics needs a specific epistemological dimension—namely that of “appropriation”—that entails that we borrow the other's epistemological outlook, adopt the other's ad hoc modes of communication or transmission of values, and integrate the other's values into the constellation of our sources of meaning.