In english
  ΓιόγκαΣυμβουλευτικήΣεμινάριαΒιβλίαΆρθραΣύνδεσμοιΣχετικάΕπικοινωνίαΧάρτης του ιστότοπουSitemap
(from the West to the East)
(a guidance for
intercultural unions)
(the case of the
bicultural children)
  FROM PLATO TO SRI AUROBINDO (from the West to the East)
Maria Karastergiou, PhD

Avant propos

I was born and grew up in Greece, the country of birth, of Socrates, Plato, Pythagoras. I feel privileged for my greek origin, honoured that i learned at school Ancient Greek, the language of my ancestors, being able thus to read the philosophical texts in the original. Grateful to my teachers because they transmitted to me their respect and love for the Ancient Greek language and culture, for the Ancient Greek philosophers. My favourite philosopher was and still is Plato. Emblematic figure even today, is highly valued by academics as well as by spiritual people around the world.

Plato's philosophical doctrine : 'No evil happens to a good man.' 1

Plato (427/8 - 347/8 BC) was the son of a wealthy and noble family. He was a philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, writer... According to Shouler 2 Plato was a polymath at work. He was equally comfortable writing on ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, politics, philosophy and aesthetics (philosophy of art). He made contributions to every branch of philosophy, leaving behind a system of thought that is breathtaking in breadth and depth...

Plato, Socrate's disciple and Aristotle's teacher, is an inspiring figure among the Ancient Greek philosophers. When his teacher drunk the conium and died Plato was twenty-nine years old. After his teacher's unjust death he started questioning the democracy of Athens. He was preparing for a career in politics but the execution of his teacher (399 B.C.) had a deep impact on him.

In 387 B.C., twelve years after the execution of Socrates, Plato founded a school in Athens, the “Academy”, for the study of philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, logic, sciences...The Academy in Athens, in Ancient Greece, was the first Institute of higher learning in the Western world. It served until A.D. 529, when it was closed by the emperor Justinian.

Along with teaching in the Academy Plato was also writing books. His dialogues with his teacher, Socrates as a prominent figure, still teach us the concepts of Higher Knowledge, Ethics, Justice, Virtue, Beauty. Socrate's thought, especially in the beginning of his writings served as inspiration and foundation for Plato's philosophy. His thirty-five dialogues are generally divided by scholars into three periods : early dialogues, middle dialogues and late dialogues. A few of them are considered transitional works. The early dialogues witness mostly Socrates' point of view and ideas. Plato, In his 'Seventh Letter', described Socrates as “the justest man alive.” His teacher's unjust death by the court of Athens influenced his later thinking.

Asking himself about the nature of the ideal type of 'politevma' he wrote his master piece, the well-known book 'Republic' ("Politia'). The ideal State, according to him, should be ruled by a person with adequate knowledge, what Plato would call 'philosopher-king.' He points out that 'The ideal State can never grow into a reality or see the light of day, and there will be no end to the troubles of states, or indeed of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers.'3

The philosopher-ruler or the 'philosopher-king' to be able to govern the State should have the right education and posess knowledge of the Good, the vision of the interrelation of all truths to one another. Once this person was ready to govern had to renounce also to all the material posessions.(4) 'The Republic' thus is dedicated to the education required of the Philosopher-King.

The ideal state, the norm for a state, according to Plato, is 'Aristocracy' (aristos = best + kratos = rule). But not Aristocracy of the blood, but Aristocracy of the spirit. In the 'Allegory of the Cave' (Book VII of The Republic)4   Plato, through Socrates, is talking to Glaucon developing his idea of the qualities of the Philosopher-King: 'Yes, my friend, I said; and there lies the point. You must contrive for the future rulers a different, a better life than that of a ruler. And then you may have a well-ordered State. For only in the State which offers this, will they rule who are truly rich, not in silver and gold, but in virtue and wisdom, which are the true blessings of life.5

Car Politics and Ethics, according to him, are interconnected. He believes that a State is like a giant person. As justice is the general virtue of the moral person, so also it is justice that characterises the good society.

In the same book, he presents symbolically the predicament in which humanity finds itself. He presents briefly most of his major philosophical concepts. Mainly, that the world revealed by our senses, it’s not the real world. It's only a poor copy of it. The following selection is taken from the Benjamin Jowett translation (Vintage, 1991), p. 253-5

[Socrates] This entire allegory, dear Glaucon, the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief...But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of Good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort. And, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world. And the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual. And that this is the power upon which he who would like to act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.

[Glaucon] I agree, he said, as far as I am able to understand you.

[Socrates] Moreover, I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.

[Glaucon] Yes, very natural.

[Socrates] And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplations to the evil state of man, misbehaving himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavouring to meet the conceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice?..

As far as the nature of justice is concerned Plato proposes a way of salvation through a 'journey upwards', 'into the upper world', through 'the ascent of the soul into the spiritual world.'

“It's there”, according to Plato, “that the souls are ever hastening, into the upper world they desire to dwell.”

He thus advocates that the real world can only be apprehended spiritually by the 'pnevma' (spirit). He argued thus against the Sophists, who through words and rhetoric they could manipulate their listeners. Words are even more serious sources of illusion, especially in speechmaking and in rhetoric. Someone gifted in word usage, like Sophists, according to him, could pull away people from the truth. Sophists maintained also that the good life is equivalent with pleasure whereas Plato agreed with his teacher's idea that 'good life is knowledge and virtue.” In fact, he agreed with Socrates' view of morality in general and the concept of virtue as function.

Accepting Socrates' and Pythagoras' concept of 'metampsihosis' (rebirth) he believed deeply in the immortality of the soul.

In the same well-known work 'The Republic' 6 Plato criticises the visual and imitative arts. According to him, these arts trade in appearances merely, not in realities. As far as art is concerned, he believed in the art that imitates Ideal realities, not the photographic imitation of that which can be sensed. In his 'Symposium' he holds that 'all beautiful things participate in the Idea of beauty.'

Sri Aurobindo's connection with Plato

Sri Aurobindo was a revolutionary, a philosopher, a poet, a visionary. He's not only a deep explorer of consciousness. He’s the creator of a new approach, “Integral Yoga”, which inspires today people like Ken Wilber or Andrew Cohen. The story of his life, a deep, enlightened, passionate, mystic adventure inspired most of the spiritual people of our century. His concepts influenced and still have a deep impact on philosophers, psychologists, writers, poets.

Sri Aurobindo was born in Calcutta, in 1872. At the age of seven he left for England. He returned to India in 1893 and he immersed himself in the Indian culture. He became fairly fluent in Bengali, his mother tongue, and learned several modern Indian languages as well as Sanskrit. 'The more he was immersing himself in the Indian culture the more his admiration was growing. However, it was evident to him that the Indian civilisation could not regain its full stature as long as India was under English occupation. Interestingly, at that time, this was not at all a common view: the Indian elite of those days had widely accepted the superiority of the English culture, and Aurobindo would become the first Indian intellectual who dared proclaim publicly that complete independence from Britain should be the primary aim of Indian political life.' In 1906 he moved to Calcutta where he soon became one of the most outspoken leaders of the political movement for Indian independence. After 1926 Sri Aurobindo retired entirely to a small, first floor apartment in order to concentrate fully on his inner work. From this time onwards, he left the daily care for the small community that had begun to develop around him, to the Mother, his spiritual companion. This community became the formal beginning of the 'Sri Aurobindo Ashram'. We know relatively little about what Sri Aurobindo did during the 24 years after his retirement to his appartment. He spoke hardly to anybody, except for a short period just before the Second World War when he needed physical assistance after breaking his leg, and he saw his disciples only 3-4 times a year in a silent “darshan”. During this time he wrote almost five thousand letters to his disciples which were published. He revised as well some of his books like the 'Essays on the Gita,' the first two parts of 'The Synthesis of Yoga', and 'The Life Divine'7. In His 'Integral Yoga' he described the process of 'the Divine rehabilitation of the 'Matter'. In the beginning of the XXth century he was writing that 'man is a being in transition'.

His whole life was a mystic creative experience that brought peace, full concentration on his inner work, deep connection with the Divine Consciousness.

His most important work, is the epic poem, 'Savitri'. 724 pages, over 24000 lines, beauty of creative expression, poetic visions, it has no equal in the English language. One of the most beautiful spiritual poets of our era.

Sri Aurobindo's knowledge of the Ancient Greek language allowed him to read Plato's works like 'Republic' or 'Symposium' from the original. He was Inspired not only by the philosophy and philosophers but also by the Ancient Greek culture and the lifestyle in general. He points out that 'The culture and civic life of the Greek city, of which Athens was the supreme achievement, a life in which living itself was an education, where the poorest as well as the richest sat together in the theatre to see and judge the dramas of Sophocles and Euripides and the Athenian trader and shopkeeper took part in the subtle philosophical conversations of Socrates, created for Europe not only its fundamental political types and ideals but practically all its basic forms of intellectual, philosophical, literary and artistic culture.”8 It’s the Hellenic ideal, according to him, that created the modern mind. With, however, "a greater stress on capacity and utility and a very diminished stress on beauty and refinement".9 Having faith in humanity, he believes that 'this is only a passing phase. The lost elements are bound to recover their importance as soon as the commercial period of modern progress has been overpassed. And with that recovery, not yet in sight but inevitable, we shall have all the proper elements for the development of man as a mental being.10

Sri Aurobindo is deeply inspired by Plato's style and profound reasoning. Referring to Plato several times in his writings, he stated that he was inspired by Plato's 'subtle reasoning and opulent imagery'.11

One of Plato's main concepts was that each form has its own preconceived idea. When a disciple is asking Sri Aurobindo to clarify that concept, if Plato means by that a creative conception, he replies that 'Plato had very mathematical ideas about the things. If he meant by it the creative conception then there are several things in it. First of all, it is not a mental idea but what he calls the "Real-Idea'. That is an idea with a Reality and a Power. Now corresponding to every form there is what may be called the archetype, the type-form. It already exists in the Real-Idea before it exists in matter. Everything exists first in consciousness and then in matter.12

When his disciple is asking if Plato's 'Real-Idea' could be the "Mahar-Brahma' of which the Gita speaks Sri Aurobindo hesitates to confirm this. He answers that he ignores 'if Plato had some intimation with the Supramental.' He goes on to affirm that 'as his mind was mathematical he cast it into rigid rational and mental forms.13

In his later writings, however, he will rectify that belief. In 'Heraclitus', he points out that 'even without religion philosophy by itself can give us some kind of light on the spiritual destiny of man, some hope of the infinite, some ideal perfection after which we can strive. Plato, who was influenced by Heraclitus, tried to do this for us. His thought sought after God, tried to seize the ideal, had its hope of a perfect human society.14 A ce propos, i should add that for Plato this perfect human society does not constitute a mere hope or an intellectual abstraction but something tangible, that can be realised, that can be manifested when the level of consciousness of humanity will allow this.

After all, the most important Ancient Greek philosophers, Pythagoras, Socrates and Plato, were, like Sri Aurobindo puts it, 'seekers of the 'Apeiron' (Infinite).15

Sri Aurobindo in his later work, entitled 'The Supramental Manifestation', goes even further making comparisons between Plato's concepts and the Ancient Indian scriptures. He states that the Ancient Greek philosophers 'from Pythagoras to Plato' were influenced by the Ancient Indian Mystic thought. To ignore the influence of the mystic thought and its methods of self-expression on the intellectual thinking of the Greeks from Pythagoras to Plato is to falsify the historical procession of the human mind. It was enveloped at first in the symbolic, intuitive, esoteric style and discipline of the Mystics, Vedic and Vedantic seers, Orphic secret teachers, Egyptian priests. From that veil it emerged its first aphoristic and cryptic style, its attempt to seize directly upon truth by intellectual vision rather than arrive at it by careful ratiocination. This is the first period of Darshanas in India, of the early intellectual thinkers in Greece. Afterwards came the full tide of philosophic rationalism, Budha or the Budhists and the logical philosophers in India, the Sophists and Socrates, with all their splendid progeny in Greece. The ignorance of the Mystics, our pristine fathers, purve pitarah, is the great defect of the modern account of our thought-evolution.16

A ce propos, Amal Kiran, an Indian scholar and his disciple, in his book entitled 'Sri Aurobindo and Greece”17 affirms that a spiritual influence of the Ancient Indian Scriptures on the Ancient Greek philosophy is evident in Sri Aurobindo's writings. 'But simply because Sri Aurobindo is Indian by birth, he does not attribute to India all that bears the stamp of spirituality in Greece.18

Plato's main concept was also that, as in the earthly realm there's a hierarchy among beings, the same holds true concerning the world of Ideas: 'The world of sense is the copy of the world of Ideas. In our visible world there is a graduation of beings...The same holds true of the intelligible realm or pattern of the world; the Ideas are joined together by means of other Ideas of a higher order...The Ideas constantly increase in generality and force, until we reach the top, the last, the most powerful Idea or the Good, which comprehends, contains or summarises the entire system.19 In a question from a disciple concerning the above statement Sri Aurobindo comments that “Plato was trying to express in a mental way the One containing the multiplicity which is brought out (created) from the One.”20

Intuitive knowledge

Sri Aurobindo goes on to affirm that 'Plato has these ideas not as realisations but as 'intuitions' which he expressed in his own mental form.21 In one of his letters to a disciple, published in 1963, in 'Circle Annual' he repeats that Plato derives most of his ideas by intuition. Replying to the question whether Plato had derived his concepts of the Good and God the Creator, from Indian books he affirms :''Not from Indian books -something of the philosophy of India got through by means of Pythagoras and others. But i think, Plato got most of these things from intuition.22 In his book 'Letters on Yoga' Sri Aurobindo one more time refers to Plato as a philosopher with 'intuition and spiritual development'.23

By 'Intuitions' Sri Aurobindo means insights, flashes of truth coming from the Higher planes, they are neither mental concepts nor simple knowledge out of experience.24 This type of knowledge or insight that he attributes to Plato, 'intuitive knowledge', distiguishes him from other Ancient Greek philosophers, like Aristotle. Concerning the latter, Sri Aurobindo observes : 'I always found him exceedingly dry. It is a purely mental philosophy, not like Plato's.”25

He goes on to affirm that the Ancient Indian scriptures, the Upanishads, influenced the ideas of Plato as well as of Pythagoras. According to Sri Aurobindo, 'The ideas of the Upanishads can be rediscovered in much of the thought of Pythagoras and Plato and form the profoundest part of Neoplatonism and Gnosticism with all their considerable consequences to the philosophical thinking of the West.”26


They came from different origins, they were living in different countries, their main concepts were named differently. Paradoxically the ideas behind the names were identical : Truth, Virtue, Divine Love and Beauty, Justice, deep love and connection with the Divine Consiousness, Solemnity, Ethical Living...

The East and the West meet and connect harmoniously in their teachings. Sri Aurobindo, updating the Truth for humanity in his era, occasionnally refers to Plato and Pythagoras to connect the East with the Western world. To show that even Plato's ideas come from the same source, from the Ancient Wisdom.

We hold them dearestly in our hearts for awakening our Consciousness, for enlightening our path, for assisting us to our ascent towards the Divine.

The final paragraph of this article is a quote from the apology of Platos'teacher, Socrates in front of the judges that condemned him to drink the conium. Socrates, fearless and courageous, just and sincere, pure and innocent is trying to prove his innocence, attempting to convince the unconscious judges to apply justice. They declare that he's guilty accusing him with false accusations. His speech was transmitted to us through Plato in his book "The Apology of Socrates”. 'For if you think that by killing men you can avoid the accuser censuring your lives, you are mistaken. That is not a way of escape which is either possible or honourable. The easiest and noblest way is not to be crushing others, but to be improving yourselves. This is the prophecy which I utter before my departure, to the judges who have condemned me.27


1 Plato, 'The Apology of Socrates', 'Πλατων, Απολογία Σωράτους', ed. Kaktos, Greece, 1991

2 Shouler, in Amal Kiran, 'Sri Aurobindo and Greece', 1998, p. 96

3 Plato, 'Republic', (Politia), ed. Kedros, 1992, Greece

4 Ibid

5 Plato, 'The Allegory of the Cave', Benjamin Jowett translation, Vintage, 1991, p. 253-5

6 Ibid

7 Peter Heeh, 'The lives of Sri Aurobindo', Columbia University Press, N.Y., 2008

8 Sri Aurobindo, 'Social and Political Thought',SABCL, Vol. 15, p. 339

9 Sri Aurobindo, 'Social and Political Thought, SABCL, Vol. 15' p. 68-9

10 Ibid, p.69

11 Sri Aurobindo 'Heraclitus', 1968, p.12

12 A. B. Purani, 'Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo',, 24/08/1926, p. 496-7

13 Ibid, p. 497

14 14. Sri Aurobindo 'Heraclitus', 1968, p.62

15 Sri Aurobindo, 'The Supramental Manifestation', SABCL, Vol. 16, p. 366).

16 Sri Aurobindo, 'The Supramental Manifestation', SABCL, Vol 16, p. 338-4

17 Amal Kiran, 'Sri Aurobindo and Greece', 1998, p. 96

18 Ibid, p. 96

19 Amal Kiran, 'Sri Aurobindo and Greece', 1998, p. 1

20 Ibid, p. 1

21 Amal Kiran, 'Sri Aurobindo and Greece', 1998, p. 1

22 Sri Aurobindo, 'Circle Annual', 1963, p. 2

23 Sri Aurobindo, 'Letters on Yoga', SABCL Vol. 22, p.454

24 Amal Kiran, 'Sri Aurobindo and Greece', 1998, p. 96

25 'On Himself', SABCL, Vol. 26, p. 383

26 Sri Aurobindo, 'The foundations of Indian Culture", SABCL, Vol. 14, p. 270

27 Plato, 'The Apology of Socrates', 'Πλατων, Απολογια Σωρατους', 1991, Κaktos ed., Greece

  Top of page  
  ODE TO ALTERITY : A guidance for intercultural unions
Maria Karastergiou, PhD

"Whenever I meet a foreigner I have always the same feeling. I am meeting another member of the human family. This attitude has deepened my affection and respect for all beings."

Dalai Lama


…a study of the heterogeneous aspects of intercultural unions in the beginning of the 21st century.

In the traditional, monocultural societies the motif of death and rebirth regularly appears: The death of an era, a monocultural norm and, thus the homogeneous society. And rebirth of a new conception of the new human condition, this time a heterogeneous, intercultural one.

A world where travel, a globalised market and the influence of digital culture etc synergizes with the improvised daily lives of intercultural couples around the globe. Couples that deviating from ordinary forms or rules of relating, create a new reality, a new lifestyle of symbiosis !

Everything moves with lightning speed, ever changing and contributing to bring closer people from different backgrounds, from heterogeneous origins, from divers parts of the globe…

Love succeeds in overcoming the obstacles of ethnic limitations. A new energy that is not concerned by visas and has no regard for passports, circulates in this new era, inciting & bringing transformations. It flows across international borders connecting people from different origins, cultures and, languages, promoting the intercultural unions!!!

These people, especially their children, are the architects of a different world. They are the ambassadors of global peace, and the diplomats of universal love. They are the creators of a less racist, more creative, less conservative, more compassionate way of life. They follow their own paths by improvising their lives. Their lives unite different concepts, norms, values, patterns, behaviors, ideas, and philosophies...

Influenced both by the West as well as by the East they love change, transformation and mutations. 'Synthesis' is their motto. They approach life in a more universal, heterogeneous, non-prejudiced, eclectic, subtle and more refined way. They are the creators of a new approach of Being.

In our era, we are witness what is the beginning of a regeneration of the human race through synthesis of the East and West, the North and South, and through a union of different worlds, cultures, languages, accents, dialects.

Everything is changing, moving, flowing and nothing is what it appears to be…

Reaching new places by unknown paths

1st of October 1987, Paris, France: The birth of a beautiful soul, Felix, my beloved son. His father’s origin is French, mine is Greek, Felix is more than Franco/Greek...I feel blessed!

25th of May 1994, University of Paris VIII, in Paris, France: defense of my doctoral thesis in front of a scientific committee of Academics, researchers, psychologists, educators, psycholinguists and psychoanalysts specializing in interculturalism. At that time, my writing was more academic, the thinking more rational, the context strictly inquiring. The public was also more specialized.

12th of April 2012, Athens, Greece: “publication” of my book 'Ωδή στη Διαφορετικότητα' in Greek ( English, 'Ode to Alterity'). Seventeen years after the completion of my PhD Thesis the language of my work is 'untied', from 'foreigner' (French) it became maternal (Greek) and from academic more 'intimate' (to include the heart). The way of thinking has changed as well, from rational it became more spiritual (to include the Divine).

The “journey” lasted 25 years; the work remained in gestation from 1987 until 2012. I entrust it to you! “Shrinking”, from roughly 3000 pages to the only 300 reach now in your hands.

Departure point of this edition is the dynamics of the intercultural unions. They constitute a challenge on the intimate level by devising a new dimension that recognizes the heterogeneous, new and original ways of approaching the miscegenation. These ‘hybrid’ unions tend to evolve into a more general attitude. Within the framework of a more flexible approach, which offers a new meaning to the content of love and intimacy, communication, learning, education, the acceptance of diversity and alterity.

Throughout the pages of this study it becomes evident why a person that wishes to remain different has the right to accomplish this. Like the children of the intercultural couples who are the architects of a different world. They are the ambassadors of global peace, and the diplomats of universal love. They are the creators of a less racist, more creative, less conservative, more compassionate way of life. They follow their own paths by improvising their lives. Their lives unite different concepts, norms, values, patterns, behaviors, ideas, and philosophies...

Influenced both by the West as well as by the East they love change, transformation and mutations. 'Synthesis' is their motto. They approach life in a more universal, heterogeneous, non- prejudiced, eclectic, subtle and more refined way. They are the creators of a new approach of Being.

Even if you are not in an intercultural relationship, this book might hopefully inspire you, to see the mixed relationships of your children, or of your friends, or of couples that you will encounter in your life, from a new perspective. Misunderstandings and misconceptions are addressed, so that it will serve as a guidance for intercultural unions.

From homogeneity to heterogeneity, from Oneself to the Other, from the familiar to the unknown, different, complex this edition's aim is to assist those people experiencing the intercultural union or the mixed origin not as a burden but with grace, with gratitude, as a privilege, as a Divine gift!

Will our skin change color?

Regardless of prejudice and intolerance, our planet is already a multilingual and intercultural continent. No force can stop the intermingling and intermarrying of individuals from vastly different backgrounds. In all of the great capitals of the world, we witness 'intercultural unions, 'intermarriage”, intercultural families in all its glory.

Walking along the streets of big major capitals, of Paris for instance, a space of incredible inspiration and imagination is unfolding in front of us that includes every shade of skin color, a multitude of different facial features, a myriad of styles and tastes in clothing. Stirred into this mix are the scents of the Chinese restaurants in Belleville and the Arabic spice shops in Menilmontant. On the next corner, the Africans dressed in their long robes are loudly talk while bargaining. Turning onto Rue Saint Honore, we arrive at the doorsteps of ultimate glamour. Those of the top name prestigious French fashion houses, French elegance and class at its peak.

Going uphill in Monmartre, one can catch an Edith Piaf refrain, or a Jacques Brell or Brassens tune. Artists are still painting portraits and landscapes in the narrow cobbled streets. The famous Sacré-Cœur Basilica, an architectural wonder built at the highest point of the city, continues to receive daily visitors from all over the world.

At this hub of Western civilization people from around the globe meet, languages coexist, worlds unite and sometimes even collide, behaviors change, loneliness is prowling and eros lurks. Is eros, love, marriage, companionship between people of different cultural origins an attempt of transcending monoculturalism, a sign of the times or simply a result of a postmodern society that urges individuals to relate beyond borders?

As a result of this shift, a different energy begins to circulate and to flow freely. An energy with no interest in passports, nationalities, visas or residence permits. An energy that overlaps international borders. The connection of individuals from different nationalities, cultures and heterogeneous languages, results in the creation of intercultural intimate unions. Their orbits are significant. Their adventures are revealing new paths of relating intimately. The lessons the mixed couples provide can be valuable for the non mixed ones to learn from.

The two companions move ahead without knowing where they are heading. They make mistakes, they fall down and they pick themselves up again. They face unforeseen obstacles and hardships that a monocultural couple would not encounter.

Forging thus their destiny and realizing that the road will not be prove easy to navigate. The obstacles and the hardships encourage them to grow, as they stimulate the expression of the inner dimension. Consequently, they become stronger, offering a new, different, complex and more enriching picture of togetherness, of intimacy.

A symbiosis is formed based on tolerance, acceptance and diversity. Heterogeneity is no longer just wishful thinking. It's a reality, it manifests into real life. In seeking to melt and mash the beauty of this diversity so that it conforms to established previously held standards of homogeneity and uniformity, the only thing achieved is the impoverishment of this diversity’s expression.

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  BRIDGING THE TWO CULTURES : The case of the bicultural children
Maria Karastergiou, PhD

'Deconstructing the Ego'

'...Because the untested and the from elsewhere imported people cannot withstand it... '

Ulysse Elytis1

In these pages, the meeting with the Diversity occurs within the encounter with the "Other", with the "Different'. This encounter is not considered like the anticipated suffix of 'random’ individual paths, but as rather an active will for a union with a companion from a different origin.

The Alterity is synonymous to movement and to mobility. The “'Other” (here the partner in a mixed union) does not serve as a means to reflect ourselves (be mirrored), but serves as an opportunity to detach from the narcissistic "Mirror-Relationships' and move on to embody "Soul-Relationships" ("deconstructing the Ego").

Whatever familiar, known, static, still in time feeds the Ego. In the unknown, alternate, moving, different scenery of the mixed relationship there are less opportunities of feeding the Ego. The very nature of a mixed relationship is to deconstruct the certitudes, the prejudices, the preconceived ideas. Sometimes the two companions do not even speak each other's language, communicating thus in a basic english with a limited vocabulary. In this case, when words are missing they're replaced by sentiments, by love.

Ultimately, this makes the relationship between the two companions more heartful. An opportunity for discovery, adventure, initiation into something new, untested and different. Into something that has never been attempted.

“Thai,”, “Jordanian,”, “Mauritanian,”, “New-Zealander”, imply appealing origins, exotic characteristics, attractive features, and mysterious particularities...Car meeting the Stranger, the Other, the Different presupposes meeting a different culture, language, country, lifestyle, behavior, patterns, religion and tradition. Few physical similarities with the Other, minimum chances of identification, however infinite possibilities of connecting with the Universal, the Primordial.

Being connected with a “foreigner”, with a companion from a different origin, culture, language presupposes the over… ξεπέρασμα of international borders, and the categorization of differences. On the opposite, embracing and loving in spite of castes, races, economic classes, traditional and conservative ideas and, institutions…

In this book, the Foreigner is embraced intimately as a companion, as a spouse, as a husband/wife. Recognizing a primitive relation, an archetypal connection and a deep union with him/her.

Metics, 'Foreigners' or Nomads?
Or Decriminalisation of Alterity

Since the ancient times, people travel, migrate, choose places of residence other than their places of origin. Each era, according to the spirit of the time and the degree of tolerance, defines differently individuals from another origin: 'Metics', 'Barbarians', 'Foreigners', 'Immigrants', 'Nomads'. People differentiate accordingly their attitudes to diversity and are less or more open to it.

Stylianidis2 defines the ‘foreigner’ as the one who causes fear and destabilizes by questioning the boundaries of 'inside' and 'outside' us. In traditional societies and cultures, according to him, the “Foreigner,” the “Stranger", the “Other,” the “Different” 'odds', “is in excess”. Like something untested, unpredictable, incomprehensible, uncontrolled, “unverifiable'.

Eco3 believes, referring to Europe, that in our era we are witnessing the phenomenon of a ‘nomadic’ movement. The south, where there is overcrowding goes north, where there is a demographic decline. Nothing, according to Eco, can stop this process. Therefore, in the middle of the next century Europe, as Eco believes, will become a continent of mixed colours, of mixed races. Not only in terms of skin colour but, culturally as well.

Atali4 is employing the term ‘nomad’ as well in one of his publications. Two hundred million people, estimates the french writer, live at present as nomads in a country other than their country of birth. In thirty years the number will reach one billion. In times of globalization, where there is perpetual movement of capital, goods, people, information, that nomadism is conducive to economic reasons. It’s a driving force for progress. The most important discoveries are the result of inventions from nomadic people, writes Atali. The nomads in the past, were considered dangerous because they were not subject to monitoring by a state machine. They were unconventional, peaceful dreamers, their goal was freedom, traveling, discovering new places. They were moving goods and ideas without having a specific home, without being linked to a specific place. They were citizens of the world.

They had neither capital nor territory, not even a state structure. Apart from the Mongols of Tsegkis Khan, who had implemented a system of nomadic state structure and they had army as well, a hundred thousand men, constantly moving. They were believing in freedom, solidarity, and they adopted a ‘wandering lifestyle’ (erein). Nomads were perceived by the society as dangerous and they were avoided.

In our era there are radical differences between the new nomads and those of the past. The second were people moving collectively. Apart from various nomadic people who still exist and survive, more and more people live an individual nomadic life, without belonging to a group. The author, makes the distinction between the wealthy nomads estimated at about 50 million today, who have mobile phones, laptops, e-mail address while, on the opposite end, two or three billion people move constantly trying to survive. Many of them have come out to work in Europe from very distant places.

Provided that in the future, man will become more and more nomad the nomadism will become a way of life. Travel will transform our existence by changing the current data. It will be possible that a person can live and work without having a permanent home. With the email address the situation facilitates the person to have access to the labor market.

Tzirtzilaki5 in the Workshop of the 'Hellenic Psychanalytic Association’ on 'The Stranger', refers to "APOLIS”, which is a project of 'ephemeral habitation.’ As an architect, of Nomadic Architecture, concludes that more and more individuals abandon their countries of origin. This way, the number of people in 'exile' is rising. They are living in the postmodern metropolis and in the gaps. Architects following those ‘exiles’ or nomads, are also spread in the metropolis.

In our times the issue of accepting and 'hosting' these nomads or foreigners has become a hot topic. It’s essential to think in terms of our ability to accept new ways of diversity. Kristeva in her book entitled 'Etrangers a nous-memes' (tran. 'Strangers to Ourselves')6 calls the individuals from another country 'foreigners’ or ‘strangers’. She wonders 'whether the stranger who was the enemy in primitive societies, can become a friend in modern societies?”

"The violence with which the problem for the acceptance of ‘foreigners’ now arises”, believes Kristeva, “is related to the concept of diversity, which is not accepted by the modern man. And while back in the nineteenth and twentieth century the nationalism began as a symptom of romanticism it became a symptom of totalitarianism in our era. Contrary to the universal tendencies (whether religious or rational) it tends to ‘cage’ and even chase the ‘stranger’. Nationalism promotes, among other things, the uncompromising individualism of modern man. Questioning this modern individualism and assuming that the citizens realise nowadays their abysses, their ramblings, their oddities, their lack of equilibrium. This leads to a more rational state of being. The question thus that is posed is no longer in relation to the reception of the 'foreign' within a system that is deactivated, but in relation to the cohabitation of these ‘outsiders’ who all recognize that we partially are. Without looking to correct the ‘strangeness’ of the stranger. But just to touch it, feel it gently without giving it a definite structure.’

Kristeva concludes however, that slowly the modern man is changing. Becoming “more tolerant with alterity, more familiar with the new, less 'xenophobe', starting now to think on a global level and less and less in local, familiar terms. This way of thinking, more appropriate to the era of interplanetary travel, according to her, should be the rule.7

Even in Ancient Greece, in Athens, the population was divided between the Athenians, the slaves and the 'metics' (non Athenians). The residents not having an Athenian origin were called ‘metics’. They were even obliged to pay taxes to the Athenians, certifying thus the higher position of the latter.8

In 451 B.C., during the ruling of Pericles, conflicts were created. The social oppositions were protected from a legislation that prohibited the marriages between the Athenians and the metics. The heterocultural marriages were considered outlaws. Legal marriages, at that time, were only those between two Athenians. The reason, according to Vrisimtzi9 was political and socio-economic. This legislation, on the one hand was limiting the number of people who had civil rights and access to the power and on the other hand, the land did not go to the hands of foreigners but was owned only by Athenians. As a result of this law, marriages, ie those between an Athenian citizen and a non-Athenian, hitherto legal, were becoming non-legal. As a consequence, the male children who originated from them were deprived of their political and civil rights.

However, heterocultural unions existed at that time despite the opposition of the society and the laws. The most famous one the union between Pericles from Athens, with Aspasia, an educated woman from Militos (Miletus?). Even Pericles became victim of this law. A few months after its application he met Aspasia, separating thus from his wife with whom he had already two children. If Aspasia was Athenian, or was originated from a city that had taken from Athens the right of intermarriage, ie the right to marry to Athenian citizens, Pericles could have married her. They lived harmoniously together without getting married until Pericles’death, in 429 BC. They gave birth to a son, who naturally would not have civil rights, if Pericles did not regulate the issue with a specific exception of the law.

Bridging the two cultures or
Between the two cultures?

The children of these mixed unions, the protagonists of this book, are born with an idiosyncrasy, between two linguistic and cultural origins.

When a child is born from parents from two different origins, instead of mutilating the one for facilitation purposes or allowing the one to dominate the other it’s vital to honor both equally, without discrimination. It is a blessing for the two heritages to coexist peacefully in the child! This inheritance facilitates the creation of a robust foundation for further growth and development.

Conflicts and “imbalance' between the two ethnic backgrounds do not allow the child to grow and develop harmoniously. It’s essential that the two different ethnic and cultural inheritances are experienced and are treated with the same enthusiasm by each parent, as the same dream, as a challenge, as a whole, as One!

Recognizing and accepting the child’s two origins, languages and cultures by the intra-familial as well as the extra-familial environment, constitutes not only a right, but also a duty and an homage to the child’s ancestors and to the parents’places of origin. This task requires an excessive amount of implication and energy.

The situation of double origin, the passage from one language to another, from one country to another, from one culture to another, on the one hand allows children to enrich their experiences and helps them open their horizon, on the other hand, this could become a destabilizing factor, it can create cracks…

In the first condition, the languages, the cultures aren’t away from each other (monoculturalism), or next to each other (multiculturalism) but involved, mixed, they merge (interculturalism). In the second, conflicts between the two origins result in a conscious or unconscious effort to supplant each other…

When there is a deep connection and communication among the two languages and cultures then the double origin is experienced positively! Otherwise, when conflicts between the two origins, quarrels between the two languages, incompatibility between the two cultures, comparisons, demotion, marginalization of one another, crowding-out effort, then the double origin is experienced as a "load". In this case interculturalism meets obstacles or is even absent.

Interculturalism, as defined by Camillieri, Cohen-Emerique10 is a theory that is placed between the global (Universal) and the personal (Singular). Simmard11 distinguishes between the "native culture" (local) and the "epidemic" culture (global). According to him, the first is like a dictionary where there are missing pages. Adding them from the second constitutes a necessity. Through acceptance, recognition and respect of the roots, of the local origin(s) first of ourselves and then of the others we may be able to embrace the Universal!

The intercultural experience, placed initially, between the "Universal" and "the personal", between the "local" and the "epidemic" (international), between the "maternal" and the "paternal" constitutes a challenge in our era. As it’s obvious, for people with one cultural origin, only through acceptance, recognition and respect of their "native" culture, their roots, their origin, their locality, first of themselves and then of another they may embrace the Universal. The same applies to children with dual origin. Only through acceptance, integration, and the cultivation of the two cultural systems they will be able to embrace and manage the Universal.

By groping and somehow by tinkering, they invent, build, hone, carve their own language and cultural edifice. Fixing thus consolidating and enhancing their internal foundations. Discovering and inventing (devising) tomorrow's world they will lead us from unknown paths, from new streets, from different shortcuts to unimaginative "landscapes".


1 Ulysse Elytis, 'Monogramma', ed. …..

2 Stylianidis

3 Eco U.,

4 Atali

5 Tzirtzilaki, Apolis, Workshop of the 'Hellenic Psychanalytic Association’ entitled “The Stranger”, 13/04/2010

6 Kristeva J., 'Etrangers a nous-memes' (tran. 'Strangers to Ourselves'), ed. ….

7 Kristeva J., 'Etrangers a nous-memes' (tran. 'Strangers to Ourselves'), ed. …

8 Vrisimtzis,

9 Ibid,

10 C.CAMILLERI, M. COHEN-EMERIQUE, Choc des cultures, L’Harmattan, Paris, 1989, p. 238

11 SIMMARD J.J., L`anthropologie et son casse-tête, Anthropologie et Société, Vol. 12, 1988

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