In his latest book, Horizons of Difference: Engaging with Others, Fred Dallmayr argues that the dialogue between religious and secular commitments, between faith and reason, is particularly important in our time because both faith and reason can give rise to dangerous and destructive types of extremism, fanaticism, or idolatry.
In this interdisciplinary and cross-cultural synthesis of philosophy, religious thought, and political theory, Dallmayr neither accepts the "clash of cultures" dichotomy nor denies the reality of cultural tensions.
Instead, operating from the standpoint of philosophical hermeneutics, he embraces cultural difference as a necessary condition and opportunity for mutual cross-cultural dialogue and learning. In part 1, "Relationality and Difference," Dallmayr explores the emergence of diverse loyalties and attachments in different social and cultural contexts.
The assumption is not that different commitments are necessarily synchronized or "naturally" compatible but rather that they are held together precisely by their difference and potential antagonism.
Part 2, "Engagement through Dialogue and Interaction," dwells on the major means of mediating between the alternatives of radical separation and radical sameness: dialogue and hermeneutical interpretation of understanding.
In this respect, the emphasis shifts to leading philosophers of dialogue such as Hans-Georg Gadamer, Bernhard Waldenfels, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. In a world where the absolutizing of the ego encourages selfish egotism that can lead to aggressive warmongering, Horizons of Difference shows how the categories of "difference" and "relationality" can be used to build a genuine and peaceful democracy based on dialogue and interaction instead of radical autonomy and elitism.