Arts & International Affairs: Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2018 - Page 78

VALUES AND PLURALISM IN INTERNATIONAL CULTURAL RELATIONS: A RETURN TO WITTGENSTEIN STUART MACDONALD FRSA SYM Consulting ARTS & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS • VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1 • SPRING 2018 The philosopher Wittgenstein is highly relevant today to thinking about how words such as “values” are being used today, or whether such discourses have any meaning. Wittgenstein starts by asserting that we are permanently incapable of ascertaining the adequacy or ultimate “truth” of our descriptions and claims (Moore 2010). This is because there is no Archimedean point, no position from which we can evaluate how well our ideas map onto the real world that we presume to exist independent of our concepts. Rather, whatever evaluations we make of meaning or meaninglessness, of truth or falsehood, of utility or uselessness, are made from within our cultural context. An example of an area, where “values” are discussed, is that of the nature of the power of the European Union (Damro 2012; Rosamond 2014), where the question is whether the EU’s approach to its external action is driven by norms or values, or by interests, or indeed whether it makes any sense, to draw a sharp analytical distinction between interest-driven and norm (or value)-driven action. An excellent example of this is the speech by the EU’s High Representative, Federica Mogherini, at the Culture Forum in Brussels in 2016, which is worth quoting at length: “Probably no other place in the world has the same cultural ‘density’ as Europe ... We should not be afraid to say we are a cultural super-power.” She concluded her speech by saying “Cultural diplomacy is not just a hobby for intellectuals. It is a cornerstone in our relationship with today’s world. It is vital for Europe, to promote our interests and advance our values.” Mogherini’s final sentence could hardly be clearer, or more confusing. Can we really serve our own interests and advance our values at the same time? Given this, I started to look into what philosophy could tell us that might help. The answer might be “not much,” but there are grounds if not for optimism, then certainly for keeping up the good work. This paper owes everything to (in fact is largely a paraphrase of) an excellent paper by Matthew J. Moore, in which he considers Wittgenstein, value pluralism, and politics. Why Wittgenstein? The answer is partly personal interest�I have been fascinated by Wittgenstein’s writing, especially Culture and Value for many years. Wittgenstein provides a way for us to evaluate seemingly incompatible forms of life. However, I suggest below that these incompatibilities can be the basis of social policy that increases cooperation rather than conflict in plural societies. 77 doi: 10.18278/aia.3.1.6