Edward Hall Ahead of His Time

Deep Culture, Intercultural Understanding and Embodied Cognition

Keywords: Edward Hall, intercultural education, cognition, embodied cognition, deep culture, insight, awareness, intercultural competence


This article reflects on current conceptualizations of intercultural understanding by reexamining the ideas of pioneer thinkers Marshall McLuhan and Edward Hall. It argues that common notions of intercultural understanding are reminiscent of McLuhan’s ideas—as a form of advanced perception and higher forms of awareness. It will argue, however, that Hall’s view—which emphasizes the importance of unconscious cultural programing and inner change—deserves more attention. Hall’s view is said to concord with insights currently emerging from brain and mind sciences. Examples of ideas that support Hall’s vision of intercultural understanding are discussed, including: 1) the embodied nature of culture, 2) culture and the unconscious mind; 3) the cognitive architecture of bias; 4) empathy and intercultural understanding; and 5) language and embodied simulation. It is argued that Hall’s fundamental insights, combined with these more recent ideas from brain and mind sciences, can act as building blocks for new approaches to intercultural education. Implications for pedagogy are discussed.

Author Biography

Joseph Shaules, Juntendo University

Joseph Shaules (PhD) has worked in intercultural education in Japan, Mexico and Europe for more than 25 years. He is a full professor at Juntendo University's Faculty of International Liberal Arts, in Tokyo. He is the director of the Japan Intercultural Institute, and a faculty member of the Tsuda University Graduate Program in TESOL. He teaches intercultural communication at the International Center of Keio University. Books include The Intercultural Mind (Intercultural Press) and Deep Culture (Multilingual Matters). He is proficient in English, Spanish, Japanese, French and Indonesian.