What's a Weltethos? Translating the Global Ethic Project

Jonathan Keir


In 1990, in the hopes of overcoming issues related to opposing ethics amongst the world’s plurality of religions and moral codes, Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Küng developed the Weltethos (Global Ethic) Project. Now, as Küng reaches the end of his life, the project’s title requires new translations to ensure its continuation. Acknowledging the necessity of a literary interzone which is neither fanatical, nor entirely relativist, this article examines the politics of language in terms of branding and naming rights while focusing largely on the Confucian Tianxia system and Dar al-Islam model. The central question is whether translations of Weltethos exist that equally reflect the religions and cultures involved, allowing for the development of an ethos or spirit which is dialogical or literary, and to which all people can contribute.

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