The Truth of Others: JCU Welcomes Author Giancarlo Bosetti

On October 25, the Guarini Institute for Public Affairs and the M.A. in International Affairs co-sponsored a book talk featuring Giancarlo Bosetti entitled “The Truth of Others: Cultural Pluralism and the History of Tolerance.” JCU Professors Pamela Harris and Michael Driessen were panelists at the event and Professor Federigo Argentieri, Director of the Guarini Institute, moderated the discussion.

Giancarlo Bosetti
Giancarlo Bosetti

Professor Argentieri also gave a brief introduction of Bosetti, highlighting his degree in philosophy and some of his journalistic work, including the foundation in 2004 of the association Reset Dialogues on Civilization, whose work continues to this day. Bosetti also founded the Italian cultural magazine Reset in 1993 and formally served as the vice-editor-in-chief of Italian daily L’Unità. Over his career, Bosetti has shown a strong devotion to cultural pluralism and has produced many pieces of work on the subject. He is now a cultural organizer and recently published the book The Truth of Others (Springer, 2023), which discusses the discovery of cultural pluralism. Pluralism exists in many forms and is a philosophy that emphasizes the existence of diversity and differences in people, beliefs, and ideas. This expands into areas such as the plurality of language, culture, and religion. Cultural pluralism celebrates the harmony that exists when minority groups can maintain their distinct cultural differences while still fully participating in the operation of the dominant society.

Bosetti began his presentation with a brief overview of his book, which discusses the steps taken in discovering, recognizing, and respecting cultural diversity and how these steps are fundamental advances of human civilization. The book looks for sources and resources of pluralism and the history of ideas. It does so by touching on “ten stellar moments of cultural pluralism” ranging all the way back from the 3rd Century BC to the late 1900s. Bosetti uses these ten key moments to inform readers about the creation and evolution of cultural pluralism. During his presentation, Bosetti dove deeper into seven of these moments and how they helped to discover the idea of pluralism. He discussed Emperor Maurya Ashoka, the Greek Christian Origen, 1400s philosopher Nicolas of Cusa, 1500s Dominican Bartolemé de Las Casas, Horace Meyer Kallen, Margaret Mead, and Isaiah Berlin. Bosetti shared how each of these people helped to develop the ideas of cultural pluralism.

Professor Pamela Harris started off by speaking on how relevant the book is right now, in a world where decision-makers think in a very monistic way, even though it is a story that takes readers deep into the past. Cultural monism is the opposite of cultural pluralism. It emphasizes social and cultural conformity to the dominant group and discourages differences in beliefs and values. Harris highlighted the importance of a liberal education that teaches pluralism in seeing both sides of a moral dilemma. Everyone can benefit from a liberal education that teaches how to appreciate and search for the truths of others. Professor Harris concluded by saying how cultural pluralism is like jazz. If everyone is able to play well and listen to how the others are playing, something beautiful will come of it.

Professor Michael Driessen finished the conversation by raising the question of inclusivism as a third idea between pluralism and monism. Inclusivism is seen as a distinct alternative to pluralism and monism and represents a different understanding of universal salvation and unity. Inclusivism recognizes God-willed diversity and is a position that is more dominant than pluralism among many religious groups. This idea opens opportunities for human fraternity among all members of a religion. Professor Driessen also challenged the idea that “monism is at the root of every extremism” by saying that it is not clear that monists can’t be tolerant.

The event ended with a lively Q&A discussion that dove deeper into some of these topics and addressed questions from the audience.

(Hayley Nowak)