Perambulating the Bounds

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Anthony Appiah's Idea of the Cosmopolitan

The link is for an excerpt from a book coming out later this month by Kwame Anthony Appiah, a philosophy professor from Princeton (who left Harvard a couple of years in the dust-up between Larry Summers and the African/African-American Studies faculty). It looks like the book is good. While it seems to minimize the pain and loss from social, economic, cultural, and environmental disruption that occurs in the globalized world, there are things here I find immensely appealing. A decentered view of the world that sees influence between people that is mutual, not uni-directional–Now you look at Africa not because you want to fix it or save it, but because you can’t avoid its impact on you as well as yours on it. The embrace of heterogeneity as a moral stance. Fallibilism. The simple need to get used to one another. “I am human; nothing human is alien to me.” How you embrace cultural diversity as both desirable and inevitable but also resist cultural and social practices that themselves do not tolerate that diversity – once you let go of trying to maintain cultures in their purity, but assume that they are in a constant state intermingling, you have no reason to venerate what interferes with liberty.


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