chapter  6
22 Pages

The Politics of Difference

I suggested earlier (ĸchap. 2) that an important distinction between different approaches to politics and knowledge concerned the question of difference. One position argues against overdifferentiation and stresses instead a shared humanity and universal human characteristics. From this point of view, it is exactly the emphasis on difference that leads to bigotry, conflict, even genocide. As I suggest at a number of points in this book, however, such a position is tied on the one hand to a modernist emancipatory position that fails to recognize that it is exactly its own forms of hegemonic knowledge production that are part of the problem; and, more importantly here, on the other hand, this position works against the ethical imperative to engage with the profundity of human difference. I argue that it is only through an attempt at engagement that we can take up Kearney’s (1988) challenge for an ethical response to an other (seeĸchap. 5). As he suggests, once we have gone beyond the restrictions of a modernist view, “we may be in a position to discover another kind of relation between self and other-one more human than humanism and more faithful to otherness than onto-theology” (p. 363).