Tolerance and Truth in Intercultural Dialogue: Some Reflections

Elisabeth Meilhammer


An important key to intercultural dialogue is to reject ethnocentrism and to embrace tolerance. Since value systems constitute cultures to a large degree, the rejection of ethnocentrism is often taken to consist in acknowledging that no value system is intrinsically superior to any other value system. This would mean that either there is no objective standard of comparison for the different cultural value systems, or that, from an objective point of view, they are all of equal value. In any case, as far as culture is concerned, it seems that we cannot make any objectively true distinctions of value. Moreover, it seems that only this absence of objectivity can be the source of tolerance. The aim of this paper is to take a close look at this view, and to draw attention to some of its consequences, regarding, for example, the problems of knowledge, human communication, democracy, and intercultural education. It is asked whether there is a way to reconcile tolerance and truth.


20th century philosophy; philosophy; social studies; Wittgenstein Ludwig; culture; intercultural dialogue; interculturality; relativism; tolerance; truth

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