Monday, June 4, 2007

Cultural relativism according to Herder

"What is the ideal form of life? We cannot be both Greek and Phoenician and medieval, and Eastern and Western, and Northern and Southern. We cannot attain to the highest ideals of all centuries and all places at onces."
Isaiah Berlin, The Roots of Romanticism, The True Fathers of Romanticism

We might be not be able to understand anymore the mind of the Greeks, but I still would believe that we can understand the minds of other peoples which are our contemporaries. In the first case, you cannot experience anymore the life of the Greeks beyond their writings, which are an imperfect - but still rich - way to know a people. In the second case, you can become or try to become one of them, although you might never be entirely accepted by the visited communauty, except if you are one these excentric English travelers ready to disguise to discover what is officially forbidden to the foreign.

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