The True Ring Cannot Be Worn: A Panikkarian Way out of the Logic of the Three Rings
Vol. 5, No. 1
Responsibility, Mutuality, Dialogue, Interculturality, Religious Diversity
The Parable of the Three Rings is famous in its versions by Boccaccio and Lessing. They share the fundamental idea that only one religion is true but human condition does not let us know which one is the true one. It is an inherently modern idea to stress on the limits of human knowledge while arguing against pure forms of skepticism and relativism. The result of the parable is friendship in both versions, yet the question of truth remains at the center of the conceptual framework underlying the stories. On the contrary, scholars started giving much more relevance to the ethical side of dialogue, so that interpersonal relationship is not just the result of a cognitive process. Personal encounter should be prior to the question of truth. This new approach is challenged by the nature of the relationship with the other. Should it be symmetrical and mutual? Views on dialogue inspired by Lévinas must answer negatively. If we want to keep the relevance of friendship we should rather prefer Buber’s idea of dialogue. In our world, despite this, inequalities are such that symmetry and mutuality cannot be the standard condition of dialogue and we must be responsible in advance for the other (in the sense of Lévinasian servitude for the other). A mediation between these two standpoints can be found in Panikkar’s notion of inter-in-dependence, as I shall argue. In fact, this notion combines the interdependence present in Buber’s I-Thou relationship and the independence or separation stressed by Lévinas in the relation to the other understood in terms of relation between absolute terms.