Mission Possible: Intercultural Communication and the Quest for Finding Shared Meaning

Alajlani, Zaher. “Mission Possible: Intercultural Communication and the Quest for Finding Shared Meaning”. Metacritic Journal for Comparative Studies and Theory, 7.2 (2021). Doi: https://doi.org/10.24193/mjcst.2021.12.11

Abstract: The source of objective meaning is a controversial topic. For most of human history, religion had a monopoly on meaning, truth, and values. But from the nineteenth century onwards and with relativism gaining more popularity, this began to change, leaving most people divided into two main camps: those who believe in the existence of objective meaning and truth and those who maintain that such concepts simply do not exist. The resulting impossibility of finding shared meaning is very problematic, especially when it comes to intercultural communication. In fact, to speak of communication is to speak of common meaning. In this paper, I attempt to provide a definition for intercultural communication, explore the issue of shared meaning, and propose a culture-free approach to the latter—one that is based on reverting to an axiomatic understanding of the notion of meaning. My aim is to conclude that the failure of both dogmatism and relativism to sustain intercultural communication should not be interpreted pessimistically. Quite the opposite, it should be viewed as an opportunity to investigate other promising alternatives, mainly Sam Harris’s science of morality.