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ERIC Number: EJ889567
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 11
ISSN: ISSN-1523-1615
Cosmopolitanism and Our Descriptions of Ethics and Ontology: A Response to Dale Snauwaert's "The Ethics and Ontology of Cosmopolitanism"
Hansen, David T.
Current Issues in Comparative Education, v12 n2 p41-44 Spr 2010
In recent years scholars across the humanities and social sciences have revitalized the ancient concept of cosmopolitanism. Dale Snauwaert illuminates why this is so in his thoughtful article on what it might mean to educate for a shared humanity. Snauwaert shows why many people find so-called "realism" an unsatisfactory political and moral orientation toward the world. In this article, the author is not convinced that what Snauwaert calls Mohandas Gandhi's "ontological grounding" is in fact "essential" for the project of world justice. He is not persuaded it is the only alternative to the sort of vulgar pragmatism Snauwaert is concerned to avoid, and rightly so since the other side of the reductionist coin of "realism" is the claim that human nature is "a complete social construction." The author imagines culture at three levels: (1) the familiar anthropological plane wherein communities reconfigure practices and ideals; (2) the level of cultures of art (teaching, practicing science, musical traditions the world over, etc.) in which new forms and techniques emerge in often surprising ways; and (3) the level of the individual person endeavoring to cultivate ("culturate") her or his life as meaningfully and seriously as circumstances permit. The recognition of cultural creativity at these levels can generate a deep, robust sense of hope in what humans "can" accomplish if they give themselves over to the task, as many have done across the ages. Moreover, in this task people do not need to "be" cosmopolitan, as if they must take on a new identity. It is more judicious to say they can be "cosmopolitan-minded" and "cosmopolitan-hearted" in various moments amidst the vicissitudes of their highly local, particularized lives. As sympathetic as he is with just about everything Snauwaert has put forward in his article, this author remains concerned that a fixed, "a priori" conception of human nature can inadvertently end up becoming state-like. (Contains 1 endnote.)
Teachers College, Columbia University. International and Transcultural Studies, P.O. Box 211, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A