March 30, 2003 11:07 AM   Subscribe

The Cosmopolitan Illusion, by Lee Harris, is a challenging response to Martha Nussbaum's inspiring essay, Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism. Nussbaum's essay was the subject of a previous thread. [Via Ye Olde Phart.]
posted by homunculus (5 comments total)
A fascinating confrontation of essays, homunculus. Anyone who fancies themself a citizen of the world should read the Harris essay and try to deal with the questions raised there. I don't have the answers, but thinking about them makes the muscles of my brain ache, and that's a good thing.
posted by languagehat at 12:24 PM on March 30, 2003

That's a long way to go to say "Keep it real."
posted by raaka at 3:58 PM on March 30, 2003

"Nations are as equal as so many madmen or drunkards, and I'll drink dead drunk the man who disputes me. Hear reason: nations are not so puny as to shrivel and vanish at the first tampering with their past, no, nor with the tenth. Nations are monsters, boy, with guts of iron and nerves of brass. Waste not your pity on them." -- Fritz Leiber, The Big Time
the essential question i think he asks is whether humanity denied is ironically humanity defined, i.e. whether it is our unique ability to be "inhumane" to one another that makes us "human." but i think he falls into his own trap; that in generalities, he states his particulars. like what is more *universally* human than perhaps empathy? yet what more *reason* is there to empathize than to understand someone's *particular* identity?

harris seems to make the mistake that multiple (even competitive!) affinities cannot be mutual ones; that to distinguish is to divide, i.e. don't attribute to the group that which can be attributed to an individual (or group thereof :) etc., etc. *mumble, mumble, category theory, mumble*

restated: education is the means to universal agreement, except that cosmopolitanism only works to the extent that others are willing to grant another their humanity, so the degree to which this grace is absent is precisely the amount of "structural antagonism" that can be measured in the world today. what then is it to be human, much less humanistic?
posted by kliuless at 11:08 PM on March 30, 2003

Wow, I see you've given this some thought, kliuless! Thanks for all the links; these will take some time to digest.
posted by homunculus at 11:17 AM on March 31, 2003

i dunno :D perhaps in the posthuman future the [im]mor[t]al issue is gonna be man's (postman's :) postin'humanity to manchines! questions!
posted by kliuless at 8:31 PM on March 31, 2003

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