Fusion of Horizon

Vincent Kundukulam

At postmodern times the virtue of dialogue is in an awful situation because the concept of virtue has been reduced merely to a professional skill under the influence of pragmatic culture. In a world where people lend ears only to the credible local narratives the dialogue cannot regain its power as a genuine locomotive of social living without practicing it authentically. Here follows a few means to practice dialogue virtuously.

Live out the ‘fusion of horizons’: The concept of ‘fusion of horizon’ proposed by the German hermeneutic philosopher Hans Gadamer (1900-2002) has something to contribute to the genuine practicing of dialogue at the postmodern age. Gadamer says that people come from different backgrounds and it is quite impossible to fully set them free from their history, culture, education, etc. and to instil in them another set of attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. Yet, a human person can know other cultures and get enriched by them provided one lets himself/herself to go beyond his/her own horizon. The horizon is the range of vision that one gets from a particular vantage point. Gadamer invites the dialogue partners to go beyond their own horizons and gets fused with the horizons of others. The individuals come for dialogue with their own experiences, interests, opinions and even prejudices. During the dialogue when one person receives a data from the other, the existing perceptions of the former get widened. When this process takes place among all the participants, there really happens a fusion of horizons. In such reciprocal exchanges, the perspectives and prejudices are altered and the individuals attain a wisdom greater than they possessed earlier as single individuals. In such an endeavour, one is not asked to reject totally his own horizon, which is impossible in any way. Dialogue guides people only to put their horizon in relation to others without surrendering their own. In fact it is an invitation to people to see their own horizons from a distance, which will give them a better perception of truth.

Dialogue has to be mystic-prophetic: The dialogues that take place among religions and within religions are often superficial and passive because they are manoeuvred by one question and one answer. The discussions that are conducted under the label of dialogue are, from the very start, a plot to arrive at a consensus, most probably to get the standpoint of the powerful approved. In such conversations, there is no real dialogue. An authentic dialogue demands, Tracy says, the intellectual, moral and religious ability to struggle to hear another and to respond to another. To Tracy, the agents in conversation must be ready to respond critically and even suspiciously. The best road to recover the cavity among the people would be critique and suspicion. Otherwise the dialogue will take place around the ‘projected other’ and not between the ‘real other.’ Without the prophetic intervention the struggle for justice and freedom will be weakened and without the mystical insistence, the engagement will lapse into mere arrogance.


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