cosmpo - Pak 1 Professor Rowe Cosmopolitan Cultures 13...

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Pak 1 Professor Rowe Cosmopolitan Cultures 13 February 2008 Assignment 1 Pluralism With the advent of the Internet and the advancement of technology that can take us across the globe in only a matter of hours, our lives have been connected to strangers oceans away from us . However, as Americans, we have the convenience of interacting with different cultures and ideas in our own backyard . What once took days of sailing to a foreign country only takes us a fifteen-minute drive downtown into the bustling China town . The term cosmopolitan, which was formally reserved for only the elite, can now be applied to people who never even leave the country . In Kwame Anthony Appiah’s best selling book, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, cosmopolitanism is defined in two parts . Appiah defines the first strand as a universal responsibility toward other beyond our immediate connections . His second strand characterizes a cosmopolitan as valuing particular human lives and acknowledging that different people have different cultures and beliefs from our own (Appiah xv) . In the first few chapters of the book, Appiah largely elaborates on the second strand of cosmopolitanism . To be even more specific, I will focus on Appiah’s assertion that true cosmopolitans have a commitment to pluralism . Although Appiah does not explicitly define pluralism in his book, it is inferred that pluralism is the idea that there are different practices and cultures with different societies that we should respect (Gray) . Appiah also
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Pak 2 strongly emphasizes the importance of conversation in carrying out pluralism . Although Appiah’s assertion that pluralism’s needed in a cosmopolitan society is valid, it does not entirely address the difficulty in implementing such an idea . Appiah does acknowledge that disagreement is inevitable, however, he fails to realize that conversation across borders and cultures is much more difficult then he says it is in the book . To elaborate on what pluralism is I must first clarify on what pluralism is not . Pluralism is not synonymous with relativism or liberalism (Gray) . Relativism is the idea that differences in ideas, values, and morals coexist and that these values (Gray) . Relativism also states that there are no absolutes since everything is relevant to the situational circumstances one is surrounded with, such as culture, family, and other social influences . In the book, Appiah clearly disagrees with the idea of relativism . He defines it with the sentence, “From where I stand I am right, and from where you stand you are right .” (Appiah 32). The danger in this mentality is that if we all had our own beliefs we would not tolerate others or even take the initiative to understand other culture because we believe our way is the right way . The foundation of conversations between borders would crumble because people would be “living in different worlds” (31) . Rather, relativism, Appiah states, would only encourage silence. (30).
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cosmpo - Pak 1 Professor Rowe Cosmopolitan Cultures 13...

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