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Wednesday, 28 January 2004, 12:00AM
Barnard's Inn Hall

Can we understand one another?

Professor Gwen Griffith-Dickson

Whether in academic writing or broadsheet journalism, we tend to see two different stances taken on the question of multicultural or multifaith understanding. One is the universalist tendency, that says that people are the same all over the world, and differences between cultures are no barrier to understanding. Such people often want to universalise on important ethical issues, such as human rights which are alleged to be universal. The other tendency is to say that culture differences are absolute; that even such a benign concept as human rights cannot be universal; and that there are insuperable barriers to understanding or indeed, as Mary Douglas put it when describing this view, that I have more hope of understanding my dog than a human being from a different culture.
Which of these views is right? Is there a way around falling into either of these two conflicting views?

professor-gwen-griffith-dickson

Professor Griffith-Dickson specialises in the philosophy and theology of different faiths. She has done groundbreaking work in bringing an interfaith approach to theology and the philosophy of religion. Her research work focuses on the beliefs of different religions, their mutual relations, and their impact on contemporary issues.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Professor Gwen Griffith-Dickson’s academic career has been spent entirely in London. At the University of London, Birkbeck College, she developed and managed the country’s largest continuing education programme in Religious Studies, along with Islamic Studies, Theology and Philosophy. She was the first woman to hold the Gresham Chair in Divinity in 2001 at Gresham College. She left Birkbeck in 2004 to found The Lokahi Foundation. With a background in theology and philosophy, teaching and research interests span the two disciplines, with a major focus on the philosophy of religion.
Gwen's principal research interests comprise the philosophical issues of religions, and the relation of different faiths and their shared histories and beliefs. She has a background in Continental European Philosophy, especially German thought, as well as a keen interest in Hawaiian Studies. Theological interests are at the philosophical end of theology: language, religious knowledge and metaphysics, interpretation and methodology.

All of Professor Griffith-Dickson’s previous lectures can be accessed here.

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28 January 2004

Can we understand one another?
Professor Gwen Griffith-Dickson

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