Fragile Pluralism


  • Hans-Georg Soeffner



first and second order constructions of meaning, pluralistic societies, intercultural translation, maxims for communication, ethnocentrism, identity formation, immigration society, pluralism


This essay first appeared in German in Magdalena Tzaneva, ed. Nachtflug der Eule: 150 Stimmen zum Werk von Niklas Luhmann. Gedenkbuch zum 15. Todestag von Niklas Luhmann (8. Dezember 1927 Lüneburg – 6. November 1998 Oerlinghausen). Berlin: LiDi EuropEdition (2013), 73–100.

A shorter version of the essay was published in Hans-Georg Soeffner, and Thea D. Boldt, eds. Fragiler Pluralismus, Wiesbaden: VS Springer (2014), 207–24.

The present translation for Entangled Religions – Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of Religious Contact and Transfer is by Nicola Morris.


The article describes the emergence of pluralism within the process of globalization and the impact of this development upon individuals communication and the definitions of the ‘self’ and the ‘Other’. The author illustrates the pitfalls of the human tendency to view the world from an ethnocentric perspective and with the corresponding attitude. He argues that in ‘open societies’, successful citizens will be capable of recognising and articulating distinctions between individuals, as well as between groups, beliefs, lifestyles and attitudes. These citizens must also be aware and capable of adapting for their purposes the full repertoire of language games and role games in their social world, in order to perceive and utilise comprehensive systems such as frameworks for cooperation. These skills will help them implement ‘maxims of communication’ and ‘existential hypotheses’.







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