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Love Of Country
by Thomas Harvey Skinner
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From Publishers Weekly
Brown University philosophy professor Nussbaum's lead essay, "Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism," which originally appeared in the Boston Review, ignites an energetic response from 15 other essayists. Tracing ideas to the Stoics, Nussbaum argues for cosmopolitanism over patriotism, asserting that the world citizen regards all human beings as fellow citizens and neighbors and that it is better to be a citizen of the world than merely a citizen of a state. While a few respondents agree with Nussbaum, most take steamy umbrage at her premise. Hilary Putnam says Nussbaum may be a prophet but world citizenship isn't for today. Robert Pinsky says she "spectacularly fails" and then eulogizes the sight of an American flag flapping over his neighborhood market. Elaine Scarry cautions against replacing nationalism with internationalism at the risk of bypassing constitutionalism. Richard Falk warns against replacing national patriotism with cosmopolitanism without "addressing the market-driven globalism." Others challenge Nussbaum on the basis that there is no larger world government to become citizens of, belittling her suggestion that people can have many allegiances and criticizing her for putting forth an abstract, rather than a specific, sense of humanity. In her reply to the respondents, Nussbaum maintains that we share a fundamental humanity by virtue of the fact that, although each person is born by chance into a particular country, "we are all subject to disease and misery of all kinds;...we are all condemned to death." Unlike the fourth century B.C. of the Stoics, practical opportunities for moral world citizenship without a world state are many. To say, as Nussbaum writes, "I cannot act as a world citizen, since there is no world state" is a cowardly way of avoiding thinking about how high a price one will pay to help others in need. Readers will wonder whether some of the respondents have a clue about what Nussbaum proposes in this exciting compendium.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In the essay that opens this slim but demanding volume, law and ethics professor Nussbaum argues that it is better to prepare children to be cosmopolitans--citizens of the world--rather than patriots of a nation. She states her case provocatively enough to allow 15 other professors to respond with demurrers ranging in tone from "yes, but" to "poppycock!" Each of the 15 offers a distinct perspective on the argument, although most respond with versions of the position that both patriotism and cosmopolitanism are worth inculcating. Only conservative historian Gertrude Himmelfarb is utterly dismissive of cosmopolitanism, thinking it a utopian abstraction that "obscures, even denies . . . the givens of life: parents, ancestors, family, race, religion, heritage, history, culture, tradition, community--and nationality." The most piquant of the other essays are Richard Falk's, with its reservations about such present-day, real-world aspects of cosmopolitanism as transnational capitalism and global marketing, and Judith Butler's critique, crabbed but cogent, of the universality of moral concepts on which cosmopolitanism depends. Ray Olson
From Kirkus Reviews
Nationalism or internationalism? That is the question debated in this provocative collection of essays by some of today's most subtle minds. In a 1994 Boston Review essay, ``Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism,'' Nussbaum (Poetic Justice, 1995, etc.) powerfully argued against patriotism as well as its darker incarnations (such as ethnocentrism), in favor of a universalist allegiance ``to the worldwide community of human beings.'' While not particularly new in its philosophical underpinnings, this essay created an enormous controversy in academia. Now, in a work featuring such notable scholars and thinkers as Nathan Glazer, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Hilary Putnam, and Michael Walzer, Nussbaum and editor Cohen (who is the editor of the Boston Review) have brought together 15 of the most notable and considered responses. As Europe and North America seem to be moving slowly toward confederation--and much of the Third World toward disintegration--the issues these essays raise are of vital importance. Philosophically, the conflict between patriotism and cosmopolitanism goes straight to the heart of what it means to be human. Are we political animals, forged by the particularities of our lives? Or do we share a larger commonality, some irreducible essence that is true everywhere and always? Predictably, most of the authors in this collection seem to come down somewhere near the middle, emphasizing, with only slightly different weightings, the importance of both the national and the cosmopolitan. Almost without exception, their critiques are thoughtful, revealing, and perfectly nuanced. Nussbaum concludes the book by answering and critiquing the previous pieces. Retreating a little from her previous position, she does acknowledge that cosmopolitanism is an ethical ideal that can only be aspired to through the ``local.'' Rarely does one come across a forum where all the facets of an important idea are so thoroughly debated. This is the give-and-take of intellectual debate at its finest. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
"Rarely does one come across a forum where all the facets of an important idea are so thoroughly debated. This is the give-and-take of intellectual debate at its finest." -Kirkus Reviews
After the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, American flags appeared everywhere. Is patriotism a good response at a time of national crisis? What does it mean for us to think of ourselves as a nation first? With our connections to the world growing stronger and more vital than ever, Martha C. Nussbaum argues that we should distrust conventional patriotism as parochial and instead see ourselves first of all as "citizens of the world." Sixteen prominent writers and thinkers respond, including Benjamin R. Barber, Sissela Bok, Nathan Glazer, Robert Pinsky, Elaine Scarry, Amartya Sen, and Michael Walzer.
About the Author
Martha C. Nussbaum is professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago and author of several books, including Love's Knowledge and Poetic Justice.
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