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NO.296 12.06.2016

“We Need Multilateral Universality that Recognizes Distinctiveness”


“The current understanding of universality based on the Western unilateralism that abstracts diverse uniqueness into a loose generality is inadequate to explain non-European phenomena”


“We need to strive for the true sense of universality: multilateral universality that functions as a medium to understand distinctiveness,” said Professor Sun Ge of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on November 21, 2016, in the special lecture titled “Re-thinking Universality” at the Crown Hall. In this lecture, she argued for a new concept of universality.


“Only violence awaits judging another culture with unilateral value perspective”
Professor Sun emphasized on the need to transform the existing value perspective, using the concept of democracy as an illustration. She said, “The concept of democracy as we commonly understand is based on the precocious form of American political system, and the myriad confusions and problems that we see today stem from superimposing this particular perspective of democracy on everything, regardless of context. This is due to the different value priorities among different countries and people groups. Some society may aspire to another social value than human rights. Some other society may not think the freedom of press is important. Since each different society may have distinct value priorities, judging it from a unilateral value perspective will necessarily result in violence.”



“It must be a medium to intercede diverse distinctiveness that can contribute to all humanity”
Professor Sun suggested a new concept of universality called “Multilateral Universality.” She said, “Universality can create mutual understanding among diverse particularities, and this mutual understanding can help particularities to evolve. Namely, universality as a true arbitrator will improve particularity. This kind of universality is only possible when all peoples of the world are truly united.”


Professor Sun projected that the Internet would lead to the formation of a commonwealth of all humanity around the globe. She said, “If everyone’s interest can be opened up unhindered by national boundaries, that would lead to the formation of a true commonwealth of all humanity. This would require sustained efforts to open ourselves up while continually networking with others. While doing so, universality should function as an arbitrating medium to interface diverse particularities and distinctiveness in a constructive and beneficial manner to all humanity. This will be the true meaning of universality.”


Looking for ways to transform current civilization problems into a sustainable civilization
It was the sixth lecture of the "Asking Global Intellectuals: Shift of Civilization and Future of Asia" series co-hosted by Kyung Hee University and the Foundation Academia Platonica since April 2016. The lecturers include Professors Yubal Harari (Hebrew University), Slavoj Zizek (Kyung Hee Eminent Scholar and University of Ljubljana), Mary Evelyne Tucker (Yale University), Erwin Laszlo (Club of Budapest) and others.


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