2009 — Presentation

Vienna Knowledge City Strategy

Contribution to the 5th Conference on Intellectual Capital for Regions, Nations and Communities (IC5).

World Bank Institute, Paris
Günter Koch

Hospitality toward difference—what I describe in my book as xeno-solidarity—is particularly important here. In the book, I call for an approach of outward-looking solidarity with the alien, the foreign, and the figure of the stranger, over restrictive alliance with the familiar, the similar, and the figure of the compatriot. The relationship between this position, abstract reasoning, and situated knowledge is not one I fully develop in the book, but I think the connections are profound and crucial.

The process of clearing critical space for neglected perspectives and alternative knowledge cannot take place without the operations of a self-transcending reason able to recognize that which lies beyond the immediate conditions of specific, situated consciousnesses. In other words, having the ability to engage in complex forms of abstract reasoning brings with it an ability to reach beyond the immediate realm of the same and into the xeno—to see things otherwise, and to be hospitable to difference. This has implications for the planetary perspective you mention in your question. Rather than seeing sapience as an invitation to species chauvinism, we can (and should) recognize that it is as crucial to any ability to deprioritize ourselves and our immediate concerns in favor of recognizing wider obligations to the environmental networks of which we are a part.