The Dialogical Research Institute serves as an interdisciplinary organization for scholars, both researchers and practitioners, whose work focuses upon the necessity of promoting dialogue for a deeper and broader understanding of the human self across cultures. Instead of pure objectivity or radical relativism, instead of absolute idealism or realism, the Institute rests upon the assumption that humanity is moving toward a zeitgeist that demands a dialogical and balanced objectivity that can promote a search for the dynamic, multifaceted, multiple layered, and intertwined truth about the self that exists across cultures. According to our assumption, truth ideally is dialogical.
The balanced objectivity demanded by the future will require not only understandings of a “Clash of Civilizations” but also a “Dialogue among Civilizations.” Awareness of both will be essential in efforts to acknowledge the truth about the need for exclusiveness and about the opportunities for openness that exist in the world today. The very fact of exclusiveness and pluralism necessitate dialogue as a higher human capacity both within and between persons. Exclusiveness and pluralism both need to be accepted and acknowledged as undeniable human tendencies, and both should be developed without the risk of radical absolutism or socially disintegrative relativism. One goal of the institute is to develop research perspectives that encourage better understandings of sincere commitments to a particular way of life (rather than radical absolutism) and appreciations of cultural diversity as a positive objective reality (rather than as a socially disruptive relativism). Problems of conflict and separation need to be overcome through collaboration, coherence, and integration within and between people. Transforming a clash of civilizations into a dialogue among civilizations should occur through the development of dialogical methods in science, philosophy, and art.
Dialogue should occur as a higher-order form of relationship, which does not merely reflect intellectual understanding but encourages deeper communication across persons and perspectives in terms of cognitive, emotional, and motivational processes at both conscious and unconscious levels. It should be emphasized that dialogue is a capacity both within and between individuals and any form of self-knowledge and self-awareness is in fact a dialogical process. A dialogical approach requires the development of self and other knowledge simultaneously. A disciplined interdisciplinary approach for developing a dialogical ethic through theoretical and methodological innovations in understandings of both self-knowledge and other-knowledge is the research goal of the Institute. Such a research goal would also facilitate understandings in the diversity of perspectives on mental health and illness that may exist across cultures.
Science, philosophy, and art need to develop knowledge in a dialogue between the observer and the observed so that a balanced objectivity can diminish the subject-object split. Both observer and observed should facilitate the discovery of lived and interpersonally responsive truths. A diversity of disciplinary backgrounds will be relevant. The institute, therefore, seeks to include contributions from Psychology, Sociology, Evolutionary Biology, Anthropology, Political Science, Theoretical Law, Neuroscience, Theology, Art, and any other discipline where the development of dialogue may be an important objective.