Blog Archive

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Appiah, et alia.

This, from one Kwame Anthony Appiah:

“If cultural difference isn't the heart of the problem, then teaching people to respect other cultures won't be the solution. What will be? Creating an overlay of a common culture - a civic culture - where everyone recognizes that people are entitled to respect whatever their gender or sexuality, their race or religion, and wherever they came from.”


I only discovered this dude last week, while engaged in a Wikiwander in “Cosmopolitanism”....the idea of being a Citizen of Earth.
Mr. Appiah is remarkable.
I come to Philosophy from well outside the Academy...through Books.
I started, as I've said, with Nietzsche...and just sort of haphazardly made my way through a rather large part of the canon of Philosophy, based primarily in the West. A bunch of Dead Guys.
There was no Internet in those days, so I was limited to this haphazardness...bumping into Kant, or Plato, or Spinoza.
I've managed to cover a lot of bases by this method, but it has left me all alone and disconnected from Contemporary Philosophy.
I had never heard of John Rawls, for instance, until my rather late discovery of the Web.
There are many more Philosophers alive today than I suspected...and many more in the 20th Century than I knew of for most of my life.
What all of this led to is my necessarily forming my own opinions and stance...and then, often, finding that I had arrived independently at the sort of same place as my hitherto unknown Mr Appiah.
I never really liked the American Philosophers that I did know of...the Analytical and such...too reductionist and materialist and often far too specific and narrow for my tastes.
The closest I came to them is Russel.
This also engendered a somewhat scattered Philosophy of my own...I find it hard to be “of a school”.
I take what I like...what doesn't strike me as evil or silly or pedantic...from wherever I find it.
I've lately come to realise that I should probably attempt to put all of that together, somehow, into a semblance of a coherent whole.
On reflection, “My” Philosophy seems pretty coherent, to me...but that may be due to being quite alone with it for my whole life.
I've encountered very few other Feral Philosophers in my time, and only 3 of the Academic Variety; I really am a Vox clamatis in Deserto.
As with just about every other Human Relationship I've had, even with these rare specimens I never knew how much to include in a given argument or ramble or tirade or sermon...I had no clue what they had read, or even what was the common list of “what philosophers read”...or even if there was such a list.
Smart chick goes off on Foucault, before I had ever heard of him...and I go off on Uncle Friedrich or Kant, who she's never read(even summarily dismissed).
Smart dude goes off on Plato...but has never read poetry or fiction or anything about geology or archaeology or Mythology—they both had been Silo-ed into “this philosophical school”,or that, and led to ignore the rest of Humanity's Endowment.
I, on the other hand, have always been very Broad in my interests. I found it impossible to narrow my field of inquiry.(and, therefore, pick a Major,lol)
The Others I have encountered seemed narrow, to me, in this way.
It is a good thing, I reckon, that I only now come across folks like Judith Shklar, or Richard Rorty...let alone radicals like Hakim Bey.
Reckon I have a certain Grounding, due to my independent development.
This long experience of being alone among the Mundane means that I have little experience engaging with other Philosophers...of whatever Leaning.
The Web, and especially the various Fora and even Facebook, has at least allowed me to argue my point—but even there, I find that my interlocutors either agree with me on most everything, or are so silly and/or loathsome,that they are hardly worth the time, save as erstwhile practice dummies.(“Headpiece filed with straw, alas...”)
Every single representative of the latter group has been an unknowing victim of Certainty, and the vast majority have been of the Right, whether they knew it, or not.
The former group are those whom I count as “Friends”, although I will likely never meet them, in the flesh.(Some, I have “known” for almost 20 years).
“How nice,” I say to myself,” to find someone in Meatspace who is as well read and thoughtful as I think I am”,(having had no one to hold myself up to, as in a mirror).
I often wonder if I would even recognise such a creature...let alone Like them.
I simply have no experience save that of being the Smartest Guy in the Room, habitually misunderstood, and often regarded as insane.
This state of affairs has been difficult to articulate, as it is(as far as I know) goes beyond simple loneliness, or lack of beer drinking or fishing buddies.
Indeed, it contributes...more than anything that feeling of being an Anomaly, an Alien, that I have so often referred to.
Hence, my biggest regret is my choice of University.
Sam seemed like another world entirely, when stacked next to the little backwards places I came from.
How was I to know?
I had heard implied from all and sundry that “college was college”, that it didn't matter that much.
In retrospect, I should have pushed for Brown or Cornell or somewhere.
However, I have considered that in such rarefied places, I maybe would not have thrived...and certainly would not have developed so eclectically as I have, out here in the world.
Would I be as Broad?
As Deep?
Or would I have been channeled into one of the narrow intellectual ruts that I so lament?
Would I have grown as disillusioned and bored as I did in Huntsville?
All of this is mere conjecture, of course.
I followed my path as I saw it, and I still maintain a certain Amor Fati regardless.
I'm quite happy with how I've turned out, all things considered...but it might be cool to have an analog intellect to bounce off of, once in a while.

No comments: