How can I know something? How can I convince someone of the rightness of my position? How does reality function? What is artistic creativity? What is the role of the state? It is well known that people from various cultures give dissimilar answers to such philosophical questions. After three decades in the cross-cultural study of ideas and values, Thomas Kasulis found that culture influences not only the answers to these questions, but often how one arrives at the answers. In generalizing cultural difference, Kasulis identifies two kinds of orientation: intimacy and integrity. Both determine how we think about relations among people and among things, and each is reasonable, effective, and consistent. Yet the two are so incompatible in their basic assumptions that they cannot successfully engage each other.
Cultural difference extends beyond nations. Cultural identities crystallize in relation to religion, occupation, race, gender, class. Rather than attempt to transcend cultural difference, Kasulis urges a deeper awareness of its roots by moving beyond mere cultural relativism toward a cultural bi-orientationality that will allow us to adapt ourselves to different cultural contexts as the situation demands.
Wonderfully clear and unburdened by jargon, Intimacy or Integrity is accessible to readers from a variety of perspectives and backgrounds. By analyzing the synergy between thought and culture, it increases our understanding of cultural difference and guides us in developing strategies for dealing with orientations different from our own.