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Hardback: $75.00
ISBN-13: 9780824824761
Published: March 2002
Trade Paperback: $19.00
ISBN-13: 9780824825591
Published: March 2002

Intimacy or Integrity: Philosophy and Cultural Difference

  • How can I know something? How can I convince someone of the rightness of my position? How does reality function? What is artistic creativity? What is the role of the state? It is well known that people from various cultures give dissimilar answers to such philosophical questions. After three decades in the cross-cultural study of ideas and values, Thomas Kasulis found that culture influences not only the answers to these questions, but often how one arrives at the answers. In generalizing cultural difference, Kasulis identifies two kinds of orientation: intimacy and integrity. Both determine how we think about relations among people and among things, and each is reasonable, effective, and consistent. Yet the two are so incompatible in their basic assumptions that they cannot successfully engage each other.

    Cultural difference extends beyond nations. Cultural identities crystallize in relation to religion, occupation, race, gender, class. Rather than attempt to transcend cultural difference, Kasulis urges a deeper awareness of its roots by moving beyond mere cultural relativism toward a cultural bi-orientationality that will allow us to adapt ourselves to different cultural contexts as the situation demands.

    Wonderfully clear and unburdened by jargon, Intimacy or Integrity is accessible to readers from a variety of perspectives and backgrounds. By analyzing the synergy between thought and culture, it increases our understanding of cultural difference and guides us in developing strategies for dealing with orientations different from our own.

    • Thomas P. Kasulis is University Distinguished Scholar and Professor Emeritus in Comparative Studies at the Ohio State University, where he has taught in the departments of comparative studies, philosophy, and East Asian studies.
    • "Kasulis has done us an immense service in reminding us that philosophy is not 'the view from nowhere' but is rooted in cultural assumptions and that those assumptions influence both what is observed and what is concluded from what is observed. He chooses one particular axis of difference, intimacy vs. integrity, and shows us how in many contexts these two starting points lead to very different views, not only cross-culturally but in other areas as well. He provides the additional service of showing that recognition of cultural difference does not lead to relativism about truth. All in all, an extremely valuable book that should interest a wide audience."
      —Robert N. Bellah
    • "This is a truly pathbreaking work in the field of cross-cultural philosophy. In choosing the two ideas of intimacy and integrity in their various connotations and reiterations, Kasulis provides a pair of effective instruments with which to examine the genuine differences that separate the world views and practices of different cultures."
      —Graham Parkes
    • "This bold work, from a philosopher long at home in both Western and East Asian thinking, tackles head-on the urgent need of our time: how to evaluate fundamental differences between cultures. As a master teacher, Kasulis shows us how our language and style of analysis bring into relief different groups with whom we interact. He trains us to move gracefully from one mode of orientation to another, adapting to the cultural company we keep. Given the stakes in today's world, this invitation to deeper, more fruitful relationships among cultures demands our full attention."
      —Lawrence E. Sullivan