22.01. – 01.02.2015

Thema Eng

Thema Eng


Over the past decades, political, social and economic upheavals have resulted not in a hoped-for rapprochement between cultures and an alignment of living conditions, but in new breaches and even more heterogeneous order and value systems. It is possible to observe that parts of society – and the individual political systems – apply different, often incompatible rules simultaneously, either in principle or as required, despite the fact that mutual perception and exchange (workplace, neighbourhood resp. trade relations or cultural contacts) have been facilitated and intensified in terms of infrastructure. It is almost impossible to ascertain resilient generally-recognised basic norms and role models that might provide orientation. Obviously a fundamental definition is also not wanted, as it might run counter to an optimisation strategy that complies with the respective expedient conditions and is focused ultimately on egoistic and situative advantages.

One must consider that, from the very start, most people, including large sections of our society, are prevented from participating in these optimisation processes on account of their origins, or are not in a position to adapt to the constantly changing conditions. We are familiar with the “breaches between the worlds”, yet we seem to be able to successfully edit them out as unavoidable concomitant ills.

Does our universalistic guiding principle, oriented around the values of the Enlightenment and democracy, actually provide an effective basis on which to overcome the breaches between the worlds, or at least prevent them from drifting further apart?


There is every indication that universalistic aspirations cannot be considered sustainable at a time when we are confronted daily with a diversity of clashing and superimposed cultures and systems, and with an increasing individualisation driven by pragmatic optimisation strategies. This also includes legislation and set norms in national states. There too, particularistic fragmentation is on the rise, due above all to economic necessities. The concomitant differentiations which, normatively, can only insufficiently underlie the various incompatible structures, result in a hybrid area of conflict, where the order of battle is uncertain, indeed incalculable, for the individual. In such a particularistic construct, it is no longer a matter of granting similar rights to everyone, but of justifying their infringement as being situation-related.

Or must we – above and beyond universalistic horizons – not only expose the heterogeneity, the incommensurable aspect of the worlds, but also make this the point of departure for a debate about normative intervention and concepts of connectedness (in the micro- and the macrocosm), which can only be done in a fragmentary and decentralised way and for which ever new forms must be found?