Cosmopolitanism (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
History is drenched in bloodshed unleashed by human conflict. Nor is there much evidence that humanity’s violent inclinations are decreasing. World wars, human rights abuses, ethnic cleansing, and genocide characterized much of the twentieth century. There is no assurance that the twenty-first century will be better, but if moral improvement is to take place, the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah believes that a revival of an ancient ideal, cosmopolitanism, will be essential in that process.
Appiah’s project is to identify and defend an ethical outlook that can work in what the subtitle of Cosmopolitanism calls “a world of strangers.” The twenty-first century world is both the same and different from the world of the fourth century b.c.e., when ancient philosophers coined the term “cosmopolitan,” using it to refer to a “citizen of the cosmos.” Then and in contemporary life as well, one has normally been a citizen of a particular placecity, state, or countrynot of the universe. Then and in contemporary life as well, the world has been full of strangers, people with whom one has contact but who are not members of one’s family or particular community. In the twenty-first century, however, the world’s population is approaching nine billion. In space and time, people live closer than ever, but never have there been so many potentially hostile strangers.
Amid these similarities and...
(The entire section is 1901 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
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(The entire section is 50 words.)