The case for cosmopolitanism

July 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

Kwame Anthony Appiah is a philosopher advocating a school of THOUGHT HE CALLS “COSMOPOLITANISM”.

Source: Al Jazeera

It is an idea and way of being that the highest circles in Washington decided to recognise few months ago when the professor was awarded the National Humanities Award by Barack Obama, the US president.

He tells Al Jazeera what cosmopolitanism means, describing it as: “A tradition of thought that tries to develop the metaphor of the idea that we are all citizens of the world.”

So, what does this mean for how one defines oneself in terms of race, religion, class or nationality? Are we heading towards the globalisation of culture? And, does the rise of the right in places like Europe signal that we are, in fact, moving backwards as some react against cosmopolitanism?

I an interview in the Washington Post, Kwame Anthony Appiah gives his definition of “cosmopolitanism”:

“The version of cosmopolitanism that I favour is exactly about balancing universality and difference. Many people who believe (rightly) in universality want (wrongly, I think) to impose their vision of the world on others. They think not just that there are universal truths but that they already know what they are. And they don’t think they have anything to learn, as a result, from others. They don’t converse, they try to convert.”


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