Knowing <i>other-wise</i>: a discussion of alterity and the limits of philosophy


Hendrik Stoker and Herman Dooyeweerd discussed the relation between philosophy’s universality and the independence of the individually real That issue is currently discussed by postmodern philosophers exploring the limits of philosophy related to contemporary concern for inclusivity and alterity. I take up this issue by arguing that philosophy has limits. If these are not observed, philosophy contributes to exclusion or oppression of whatever transcends these limits. If, for example, philosophy imperiously sets the tone for our total relation to the real, its limits shrink our relation to the real. For if philosophy is limited by a focus on what is same, such imperious tonesetting will exclude the different from our attention. Calling attention to the inclusion and liberation of 'dijferents’ is a contribution of postmodernity. Rut I ask: can such calling attention remain philosophical without philosophy remaining imperial? Possibly our knowing of the different must be a knowing that differs from knowing the same. In my view, knowing what is ‘otherwise than being', is knowing otherwise than knowing philosophically. Such knowing will be otherwise by being wise to the other, in trust. It will not be a grasping of the other in and by a concept that is the same.

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