Philosophical Perspectives on Multiculturalism

In Michael Burayidi (ed.), Multiculturalism in a Cross-National Perspective. University Press of America (1997)
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Sullivan surveys the philosophical problem-areas surrounding multiculturalism as an ideology of group-identity. While endorsing the claims of underrepresented minorities for recognition, the article sides with traditionalists in prioritizing the autonomy of the self-fashioning individual over ethnic or cultural affiliations. The multicultural challenge to Western logocentrism, its assertion of the implicit power structures embedded in truth claims, and the excesses of postmodern relativism are all subjected to measured criticism. Finally, the essay examines Habermas' role in postwar Germany's embrace of multiculturalism as a national platform of reinvention, and as a means to negate the trauma of the monocultural chauvinism of the Nazi era. However, Sullivan argues, it has taken cosmopolitanism too far. While post-national strategies such as Habermas' Verfassungspatriotismus are well-intentioned, they are ultimately too sterile, universalist and abstract, to satisfy a deep human need for belonging, rooted in a common cultural heritage. -/- All rights reserved. For permission to reprint please contact Rowman & Littlefield

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Stefan Sullivan
Oxford University (DPhil)


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