My language is vibrant color and line.

Polylog: A Collaborative Art Form.

Polylog refers to an open space in which communicative exchange between several participants takes place. We share our thoughts, listen to each other and follow the others' lines of thought. Polylog is free from the compulsion to find a consensus. Therefore, we can allow ourselves to really listen to our interlocutors, to understand the other positions and to keep our own point of view open to change. Polylog promotes exchange, freedom and equality in being together with other people. Some call Polylog also a collaborative art form.

Polylog is a term that belongs to the field Intercultural Philosophy - a philosophical discipline that has two main focuses: Firstly, Intercultural Philosophy conducts a meta-discourse on the question of what philosophy actually is. Besides that it advocates a specific attitude of philosophising, namely an open space in which the contributions of all cultures and traditions are exchanged on an equal footing.

In practice, for those who wish to philosophize interculturally this means three things:

Atopia / Trans-Local Location

First of all it is important to reflect on one's own position - one's own location. No philosophy, no philosophical position is created in empty space. Rather, it is always tied back to a certain culture, to a tradition, to a language - and thus to a certain Sprachspiel (language game) that determines discourses(1) and discourse exclusions (taboos). Only when I am aware of my own position, my localization and rootedness, can I transcend them, include or exclude them(2), become trans-local and thus turn my usually distorted gaze into a rather unobstructed one.(3)


To philosophize interculturally means to respond to the stranger, the other one(4). However, this does refer to instruction, or explication of one's own position. In order to really be able to respond to the other, I must first of all become open for him, perceive him, expose myself to the imposition he represents(5). Only if I truly listen to the other, open myself to him, if I am ready to let him shake me/my certainties and advance beyond my own references, then I am connected with him; if I make myself deaf to his questions, if I merely explicate my own, fixed position, then I remain separated.


To philosophize interculturally means to enter into an equal communicative exchange at eye level with several participants, an endeavour that is based on freedom and mutual respect. We share our thoughts, listen to each other, pursue the others' thoughts further, search for overlaps. Polylog contains elements of parrhesia: the act of frank speech that requires courage because it breaks a silence and is associated with self-exposure. But Polylog goes further: we not only expose our position, we even put it up for discussion. This is possible because in polylog we are free from the compulsion to find consensus. This is why we can also allow voices within the discourse that are normally excluded(6) in our own Sprachspiel (language game). Philosophising interculturally is about more than just getting to know the positions of others. It is about reflecting on one's own position and perceiving one's own meanings - and limitations - and, if necessary, transcending them: by becoming open to the other, by letting him touch us and thus fertilize our thinking.

My language is vibrant color and line. by Karin Ulrike Soika
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