A major imperative of our time is to facilitate a dialogue
among civilizations as a way of building peace, development
and welfare for all nations. In fact, the "universalizing"
trend, and the tensions it generates in social, economic,
political and cultural environments, calls for reciprocal
knowledge and transcultural understanding among nations.
However, it would be difficult to initiate such a dialogue
without first building a bridge between "local knowledge"
and "universal knowledge" and without crossing language
This line of thinking is a source of motivation to search
for a universal understanding of multi-diverse manifestations
of knowledge and culture from philosophical and anthropological
perspectives; it is also an incentive for approaching language
from an engineering point of view.
- Quest for Reciprocal knowledge
Reciprocal knowledge implies diversity, and it makes sense
only in so far as we believe in the diversity of knowledge:
diversity in semantic contents, and diversity in logical
systems or categories, as well as in the different methodologies,
that each specific language and culture are developing to
achieve this goal.
The main question, for developing a universal understanding
of those different approaches, generating their proper measure
systems, either for the semantic or for the logical aspects,
as they appear in the different "language games" used in
different cultures, is to find a common measure, i.e. the
"measure of the measures", between those different systems,
and to be able, in this way, to register them. What would
be the tools for exercising this measure? How far is the
principle of a universal knowledge compatible with the diversity
of knowledge patterns? What are the possible and different
methodological uses of reciprocal knowledge, and reciprocal
anthropology, considered as a heuristic and epistemological
methodology, to face the dilemma of universality and diversity,
from the point of view of culture and from the point of
view of science?
The next, and closely related, main question is the function
of language. Rather than a "language", in the global cultural
sense of the term, should we not consider what could be,
from the scientific and cultural angles, the appropriate
writing system to record this diversity in a universal way?
To put the question in a different way, can a universal
computer writing system assume both functions (first of
all, to represent the universal understanding i.e., what
is commonly understood, in terms of universal logic, and
secondly, to record what is exclusively specific to the
different cultural knowledge patterns)?
How far UNL can be appropriate and relevant to accomplish
The philosophical and methodological questions that are
pertinent to the reciprocal knowledge approach are also
relevant from the engineering perspective. The concept of
"UNL as a language for computers" invites discussion on
the ways computer deal with languages, information, data
and knowledge. Computers can process objective data and
factual information without difficulty but can they process
subjective information just as easily?
The Conference, therefore, will approach the questions
on knowledge and language from the technical aspects of
treating multilingual information, data and knowledge representation.
It will in particular examine actual experiences in using
computer technologies for producing, storing managing and
accessing knowledge and contents, and make them available
in many languages simultaneously. I will, in particular,
provide opportunities for testing and learning on how the
UNL can achieve the transcultural approach of some key words,
key concepts and key images, such as "heart", "sun"," life"
etc. How their specific and unique meaning in the original
language can be expressed in their universal meaning?
The Conference will therefore approach the questions of
knowledge and language from the technical aspects of processing
multilingual information, data and knowledge representation.
It will examine concrete experiences in using computer technologies
to produce, store, manage and access cultural knowledge
and contents, and to make them available in many languages
simultaneously. It will, in particular, provide opportunities
for testing and learning how the UNL can achieve a transcultural
approach to a number of key words, concepts and images,
such as heart, face, life, or, at a more scientific level,
zero? This approach launched by Transcultura' project of
a 21st Century Transcultural Encyclopedia, inspires new
ways of understanding knowledge, and of processing it with
computer. How can their specific and unique meaning in the
original language also be expressed in their universal meaning?
This is why the Goa International Conference is unique
in its scope. It is intended to be an occasion for reflecting
on the interdependence of knowledge, culture and language,
using philosophical, social and engineering approaches.
It will also provide an opportunity for learning and discussing
the UNL as a multilingual infrastructure, enabling communication
and knowledge sharing among people of different languages