Multiculturalism and the Possibility of Transcultural Educational and Philosophical Ideals

Harvey Siegel 


How should we think about the interrelationships that obtain among Philosophy, Education, and Culture? In this paper I explore the contours of one such interrelationship: namely, the way in which educational and (other) philosophical ideals transcend individual cultures. I do so by considering the contemporary educational and philosophical commitment to multiculturalism. Consideration of multiculturalism, I argue, reveals important aspects of the character of both educational and philosophical ideals.

Specifically, I advance the following claims:

i) We are obliged to embrace the moral and political directives of multiculturalism.

ii) This obligation is a moral one: that is, multiculturalism is justified on moral grounds.

iii) Far from entailing any philosophically problematic form of cultural relativism, multiculturalism is itself a ‘universal’ or ‘transcultural’ ideal.

iv) Moreover, the advocacy of multiculturalism presupposes another kind of universality, dubbed below ‘transcultural normative reach.’

v) Consequently, multiculturalism should not be understood as entailing the demise of ‘universalistic’ dimensions of either philosophy or education.