Being in the World: Dialogue and Cosmopolis

Being in the World: Dialogue and Cosmopolis

Being in the World: Dialogue and Cosmopolis

Being in the World: Dialogue and Cosmopolis

Synopsis

It is commonly agreed that we live in an age of globalization, but the profound consequences of this development are rarely understood. Usually, globalization is equated with the expansion of economic and financial markets and the proliferation of global networks of communication. In truth, much more is at stake: Traditional concepts of individual and national identity as well as perceived relationships between the self and others are undergoing profound change. Every town has become a potential cosmopolis -- an international city -- affecting the way that people conceptualize the relationship between public order and political practice. In Being in the World, noted political theorist Fred Dallmayr explores the globe's transition from the traditional Westphalian system of states to today's interlocking cosmopolitan network. Drawing upon sacred scriptures as well as the work of ancient philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle and more recent scholars such as Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Raimon Panikkar, this book delves into what Dallmayr calls "being in the world," seen as an aspect of ethical-political engagement. Rather than lamenting current problems, he suggests addressing them through civic education and cosmopolitan citizenship. Dallmayr advocates a politics of the common good, which requires the cultivation of public ethics, open dialogue, and civic responsibility.

Excerpt

By now it is a commonplace—a widely accepted commonplace—to say that we live in an age of globalization, that the world is steadily shrinking, and that people around the globe are increasingly pushed together. The saying has a ring of correctness or plausibility. What is correct is that financial markets are relentlessly expanding, that complex information networks are encircling the world, and that military weaponry is stretching around the globe (and capable of annihilating it many times over). What is not often noted is that the correctness of the saying conceals as much as it reveals. Underneath the readily noted surface phenomena, recessed or subterranean shifts are at work that transform the meaning of surface structures. Contrary to the widely held view that globalization is just a quantitative leap— that it is simply “more of the same”—the suspicion grows that the “same” is no longer really the same; that an unfamiliar “otherness” intrudes on all sides, making our time one of untapped horizons or open seas. Once attention is granted to these shifts, difficult questions surge to the fore, questions not amenable to quantitative tabulation—like “what is the meaning of ‘world’?” How can it be both a habitat and an open horizon? And who are we as human beings inhabiting this familiar/unfamiliar terrain? Despite the disappearance of open frontiers, does world or earth still remain basically terra incognita (perhaps terra nullius)?

Questions like these throw into disarray or put pressure on traditional conceptions of self-hood, subjectivity, and individual identity—and also on the relation between self and other(s). Perhaps what is dawning now is a connectedness or overlapping of selves, maybe even an intercorporeality (which is more than “intersubjectivity”). Intimated in the latter notion is a strong pressure placed on traditional bifurcations, such as those between mind and body, cogito and nature. And what about collective identity, the identity of nation-states . . .

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