Being in the World

Being in the World: Dialogue and Cosmopolis

Fred Dallmayr
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 286
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  • Book Info
    Being in the World
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4193-0
    Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    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...

  5. 1. Being in the World: A Moving Feast
    (pp. 15-29)

    Our age of globalization conjures up a host of challenging problems, mostly of a cultural, economic, and political nature. A steadily expanding literature deals with these problems. What is not often noticed is that globalization also harbors terminological and semantic quandaries. We know at least since Copernicus and Galileo that our Earth is a “globe” and not a flattened landscape. Given this knowledge, what does it mean that our habitat is “globalized” in our time? Surely, its physical “global” shape is not modified. In aggravated form, similar semantic problems beset other terms often used as equivalents: likeworldorearth....

  6. 2. Cosmopolitanism: In Search of Cosmos
    (pp. 30-46)

    The legacy of Western “modernity” is ambivalent. On the one hand, it has bequeathed to us the inspiring ideas of global brotherhood and universal justice. On the other hand, in the aftermath of the Peace of Westphalia, it has launched the agenda of a compact, exclusivist nationalism or nation-state, an agenda often copied or supplemented by equally self-contained subnationalities. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the nationalist agenda was steadily on the upsurge, engendering first a series of interstate wars and then the violent paroxysm of two World Wars. In the midst of these conflagrations, the broader civilizational vision was...

  7. 3. After Babel: Journeying toward Cosmopolis
    (pp. 47-58)

    In the earliest times, after the great flood, the Bible tells us (Genesis 11:1–9), “the whole earth had one language and few words.” The people took hold of a stretch of land in order to settle there and gain means of subsistence. They soon developed skills as artisans and craftsmen and even ventured into the fields of construction and engineering. After they had acquired sufficient competence and self-confidence, they said to each other: “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, so that we make a name for ourselves and not...

  8. 4. Humanizing Humanity: Education for World Citizenship
    (pp. 59-71)

    This is indeed a momentous gathering: the first “World Humanities Forum,” the first international meeting designed to underscore the importance of the humanities in our world.¹ And significantly, the gathering is called and organized by UNESCO, that institutional branch of the world community whose assigned task is the promotion of global learning and education. As we read in the charter establishing that world body (in 1946): “The wide diffusion of culture, and the education of humanity for justice and liberty and peace are indispensable to the dignity of man.”² To be sure, education whose promotion is entrusted to UNESCO is...

  9. 5. Ethics and International Politics: A Response
    (pp. 72-85)

    It is a privilege and a pleasure to respond to my colleagues and friends.¹ It is a privilege because my colleagues are distinguished practitioners in their respective disciplines. It is a pleasure because reading their papers has broadened my horizons and responding to them enhances my critical self-understanding. My colleagues pose to me different questions and approach my work from different angles. However, if I am not mistaken, I perceive in their papers a common theme or thematic fabric that links them together: the theme of “ethics and international politics” (broadly construed). What leads me to this assumption or perception...

  10. 6. Befriending the Stranger: Beyond the Global Politics of Fear
    (pp. 86-100)

    Cosmopolitanism has a difficult relation with borders or boundaries. It cannot completely discard borders or bounded limits—without turning into an extraterrestrial enterprise or a mere flight of fancy. But it can also not blithely accept them, preferring instead to treat them as moving horizons. This dilemma is endemic to human living and thinking. Clearly, our thinking—that is, our attempt to understand the world—inevitably proceeds from certain bounded premises, certain taken-for-granted assumptions or frames of significance—whose precise contours, however, remain amorphous and open-ended. Even if, hypothetically, we should be able to fix or determine the initial framework,...

  11. 7. The Body Politic: Fortunes and Misfortunes of a Concept
    (pp. 101-118)

    Looking at contemporary humanity, one can hardly avoid the impression of a huge body or organism ravaged by multiple diseases and even catastrophes.¹ Even without detailed diagnosis, it is not hard to trace these ailments to a set of underlying factors or causes: political oppression or domination; radical inequality between rich and poor; xenophobia sometimes resulting in genocide; terrorist violence; and the abuse of religions and ideologies. If such ailments occurred on a small scale or in a limited group of people, efforts would quickly be made to find remedies to combat the existing ills. However, if they happen on...

  12. 8. A Secular Age? Reflections on Taylor and Panikkar
    (pp. 119-136)

    At least in the Western context, our age is commonly referred to as that of “modernity”—a term sometimes qualified as “late modernity” or “post-modernity.” Taken by itself, the term is nondescript; in its literal sense, it simply means a time of novelty or innovation. Hence, something needs to be added to capture the kind of novelty involved. To pinpoint this innovation, modernity is also referred to as the “age of reason” or the age of enlightenment and science—in order to demarcate the period from a prior age presumably characterized by unreason, metaphysical speculation, and intellectual obscurantism or darkness....

  13. 9. Post-Secularity and (Global) Politics: A Need for Radical Redefinition
    (pp. 137-150)

    In recent intellectual discussions, the termpost-secularityhas acquired a certain currency or prominence. Like other hyphenated terms (post-modernism, post-metaphysics), the word exudes a certain irenic quality, in the sense that the harsh features of traditional conflicts—between faith and reason, religion and agnosticism—are presumably mitigated if not laid to rest. Unfortunately, this hope may be mistaken. Like many similar labels, the termpost-secularitypapers over disputes of interpretation that cannot be brushed aside. For some interpreters—clinging to the prefixpost—the term signals the end of a loathed or despised aspect of modernity, its lapse into irreligion...

  14. 10. Political Self-Rule: Gandhi and the Future of Democracy
    (pp. 151-161)

    For students and friends of Gandhi, 2009 was an important year.¹ As we know, it was a hundred years ago, on a long sea voyage, that Mohandas Gandhi penned his bookHind SwarajorIndian Home Rule—a text justly famous because it has stood the test of time. The book was Gandhi’s opening salvo in his attack on colonialism and imperialism and his first public plea for Indian independence, freedom or liberation from foreign domination. Surely, there is ample reason for commemorating and celebrating this anniversary. Yet celebration here cannot just mean a nostalgic retrieval of the past or...

  15. 11. Radical Changes in the Muslim World: Whither Democracy?
    (pp. 162-176)

    History defies linearity. In a time when, at least in the Western world, major issues appeared to be settled and some even predicted the “end of history,” drama has suddenly erupted elsewhere—and especially in the Muslim world. A political arena that in many respects seemed relatively stagnant has unexpectedly been gripped by radical turmoil and revolutionary fervor. This does not mean that such turmoil is ever completely unprepared or unmotivated. Contrary to their portrayal (by some academics) as near-apocalyptic interruptions beyond intelligibility, revolutions have precursors or conditioning factors; usually they are the product of a deep social malaise, of...

  16. 12. Opening the Doors of Interpretation: In Memory of Nasr Abu Zayd and Mohammed al-Jabri
    (pp. 177-194)

    Interpretation is sometimes greatly underrated or undervalued; frequently it is seen as a mere method or subordinate tool of research. This view is seriously mistaken—as I shall try to show here mainly with regard to religious faith. As we know, the so-called Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—are based in large measure on divine revelation, that is, on a message reaching human beings from “another shore.” In the case of Islam, the Qur’an is even considered by most pious Muslims as the direct and unmediated “word” of God. Nor is this assumption restricted to the three cited world...

  17. Appendix A Beyond Multiculturalism? For Bhikhu Parekh
    (pp. 195-202)
  18. Appendix B Cosmopolitan Confucianism? Chinese Traditions and Dialogue
    (pp. 203-212)
  19. Appendix C The Complexity of Difference: Comments on Zhang Longxi
    (pp. 213-216)
  20. Appendix D Dialogue in Practice: Conversation with Members of a “Youth Forum”
    (pp. 217-226)
  21. Notes
    (pp. 227-262)
  22. Index
    (pp. 263-270)