n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Diversiteit en wetenskapsbeoefening

Volume 43, Issue 3_4
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


This paper focuses in the first place on the logic and semantics of the term "diversity", showing that it intimately coheres with the nature of the distinctive analytical ability of the human being - the capacity to conceptualize and to classify on the basis of differences and similarities. Against this background it is argued that the universal side of scholarship does not preclude diverging cultural and lingual shapes because science can only be practiced within a particular culture and by implementing a specific scientific language. The encyclopedic diversity of disciplines which found a shelter in the modern university cannot deny that it is the fruit of a specific Western tradition - although in more recent times it managed to gain a foothold in non-Western cultures as well.
However, the developments of the last century made it clear that the Enlightenment picture of an unbiased "reason" that can function as an infallible guiding star on the path of progress to a better future, underwent a radical threat through the emergence of historicism and the relativism inherent in the contemporary postmodern climate. This leaves more room for the acknowledgement of the disruption and inner tensions which can be observed in the history of all the academic disciplines. The latter, from mathematics, physics and biology to humanities, logic, history and sociology, simply did not succeed in transcending alternative and oftentimes radically conflicting theoretical stances.
In the last part of the paper awareness of the connection between diversity and pluralism is asked as well as for the importance of the distinction between structure and direction. Understanding this distinction may serve as a safeguard against state absolutist tendencies also discernable in some of the policy proposals of the current South African government.

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