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Letter of Motivation

International Conference on Universal Knowledge and Language - 2002

(25th-29th November 2002)
Goa,India

THE UNDL FOUNDATION
INDIAN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY BOMBAY
TRANSCULTURA
     
BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Hideo AISO

Abdul-Latif Y. AL-HAMAD

Jean-Pierre CONTZEN

Tarcisio G. DELLA SENTA

Hans van GINKEL

M.G.K. MENON

Pierre MOTTU

Kazuhiko NISHI

Justin THORENS

Hiroshi UCHIDA

JosÚ Israel VARGAS

Hamid ZAKRI
 

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 barriers.

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 this function?

  • Engineering Perspective

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 and cultures.

 
COMIT╔ SCIENTIFIQUE

Umberto Eco, PrÚsident

Yue Dayun
Zhao Tingyang
Shigemi Inaga
Moussa Sow
Atoallah Mohajerani
Ali Paya
Dhruv Raina
Gustavo Martin
Prada
Fiorella Kostoris
Padoa Schioppa
Carmelo Lison
Tolosana
Maximilian Herberger
Antoine Danchin
Ivar Ekeland
Franois Jullien
Jean Marie LÚvy Leblond
Alain Rey
Alain le Pichon
Tobie Nathan
Jacques Perriault
Jacques Vauthiers

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