Philosophy, Matauranga Maori, and the Meaning of NZ Biculturalism
New Zealand has scarcely taken the first step towards genuinely bicultural dialogue, because no-one has indicated clearly what that first step must be. Four general questions for NZ are introduced which broaden out into a search for definition of the needed first step. (1) Does philosophy’s ‘Enlightenment ideal’ demarcate fairly, accurately and exhaustively what is genuine intellectual accomplishment by humans? (2) Was NZ’s most famous philosopher, Karl Popper, correct to compare ‘tribal’ consciousness so invidiously with his vaunted ‘open society’? (3) How might NZers best conceptualise the relationship between Matauranga Maori and science? (4) How might philosophy best conceptualise its own cultural specificity, or thereby the cultural conditions that are necessary for the very existence of philosophy and theoretical science? Because of its defining biculturalism, NZ possesses a particularly deep-lying institutional need to answer such questions both reflectively and well. Suppose for the sake of argument that philosophy and science (a) were brought to NZ only within the heritage of those who arrived long after its indigenous people did, and yet, (b) themselves define, by the ideal to which they are beholden, what it is to reflect or dialogue truly well or ill. Then there is no coherence (in terms of any possible truly inclusive ideal dialogue within NZ) to NZ’s legally mandated biculturalism. Such a dire realisation would be important if true, and it is equally important to diagnose and intellectually redress the error in it if it is false. New insights would result were NZers collectively to investigate this, which they largely have not done before now. NZ needs these insights as starting-point for true bicultural dialogue, if there is to be one.