Class IX + Diogenes part III + Kwame Appiah’s The Ethics of Identity + global citizenry

Class 9 global citizen ENGL 2150 CLASS IV Notes. spr 2013

Kwame Anthony Appiah – The Ethics of Identity

Above, please find my class notes and your new reading, from which you should only read the final section entitled “Rooted Cosmopolitanism.” Again, do NOT read the entire book; instead, read just the last section. However, if you want to read the entire book, it is here, for you. There is no class, tomorrow, Wednesday, 3/6/13.

21 thoughts on “Class IX + Diogenes part III + Kwame Appiah’s The Ethics of Identity + global citizenry

  1. 1.The father insisted that all humanity was part of their community, my understanding of it kind of relates to what Diogenes said “i am a citizen of the world”
    2.What is the true meaning of globalization?
    3.Race, ethnicity, and religion play a big role when it comes to identities.

  2. 1. There are more than six billion people in the world, and its population and diversity are increasing daily. How can one really achieve in being connected with everyone else?
    2. The mariner of Brittany prays to God as he sales alone in the sea: “Help me, my God! my boat is so small and thy ocean so wide” (249). Using that expression, Giuseppe Mazzini is trying to provoke the nationalism in the hearts of Italian workers. He believes that moral improvement and human progress can only be achieved by multiplying everyone’s forces and powers of action together, because individualism is too weak.
    3. Kwame Appiah points out that there is a “biological human nature, shaped by the more than 99 percent of our genes that we all share” (252). But as hundreds and thousands of years passes after our common ancestors, are we still brothers and sisters today? With time and expansion throughout the continent, different cultures, ethnicity, dialogue, religious beliefs are developed. The differences have now became so wide that we can no longer see each other as an unified global family.

  3. 1) When I first saw the phrase “citizen of the world,” I immediately thought of the United Nations. Appiah mentions that his father was committed to the United Nations as well as other international organizations. The United Nations serves as a neutral ground for its 193 member countries. The United Nations main goal is to promote world peace, which many believe to be unrealistic. To me, it is inspiring to think that there are diplomats from around the world who serve their country in hopes of making the world a better place.

    2) To what extent do moral obligations discipline ethical ones? Well according to Appiah, Moral obligations must discipline ethical ones. It is obscure to what means though. Appiah mentions Benthamite utilitarianism as one algorithm that has awful consequences regarding ethical and moral decisions. I learned about Utilitarianism in philosophy last semester. It is basically a system that is revolves on the idea of “the greatest happiness principle.” This meaning that whatever you do, it must be done with the intention of increasing the overall happiness of society. If an act you commit will hurt 3 people, but make 10 people happier, the act is considered just and therefore moral. Appiah believes that in many situations it is hard to decipher whether ethics, our idea of right and wrong will be able to conquer temptations and our own nature.

    3) Appiah states, “In Nussbaum’s view, “The accident of where one is born is just that, an accident; any human being might have been born in any nation, “and so such differences shouldn’t “erect barriers between us and our fellow human being.”” Personally, this statement really stood out to me. I would like to think that the region or state to which someone is born does not have an effect on who they become. But I would not be too sure if this is true. Different places have different cultures in the same way that different languages have different arbitrary meanings assigned to each word. I was born in China, but moved to America when I was 9 months old. America has given me so many opportunities that China would not have offered to me. To an extent, the place where you are raised and who the people who raised you, has some influence on who you become.

    4) Appiah ends with a proverb that says “In a single there is no wisdom.” Without learning from the world, other people, and from other cultures you will be left confused. Appiah argues that one cannot be wise by only knowing about themselves or their own ways of living. It is through, literature, experience and traveling that one can truly become knowledgeable of the world. I believe that a global citizen is not someone aware of their own country and others, but someone who has the ability to see the world through an impartial and much broader perspective.

    -G.E.M.

  4. 1. The author states “human beings are naturally and inevitably social” and then goes on and explains three reasons why. When reading this I thought back to Diogenes and the fact is he did not fit the ideal of any of the three reasons. Diogenes needed no nurturing, money, relations or any of the things stated as reasons why humans are not individualist. I feel that Diogenes is a true individualist.
    2. The second reason the author gives as to why human beings are “naturally and inevitably social” was “because we desire relationship with others: friends, lovers, parents, children, the wider family, colleagues, and neighbors.” This is true because without the interaction with others one would feel lonely and the only way to truly understand who you are as an individual is to establish who you are around others.
    3. To conclude with the book the author writes “In a single there is no wisdom.” Wisdom comes from the knowledge one acquires through experience of the world, reading, and trial and error. Without interaction with the world, making mistakes, realizing what is out there and what is not one would just be lost in their own mind. The only way to truly be wise is not about knowing yourself but rather knowing the world around you.

  5. 1. Kwame mentions “negative rights”, which ties into Saussarian linguistics.These negative rights are defined as what humans cannot do, which is similar to how Saussarian linguistics define an object as what it is not. Negative rights are more solidified than directly stated human rights since they limit the capabilities of humans to prevent the actions of one individual to conflict with the actions of another.

    2. The reading claims that people have a “sociality of mutual dependence”. I find this to be quite true since no can can ever be truly independent or individualistic. From birth, this dependence begins with the necessary nurturing from a parent. Even if an individual is an orphan, “being human” is based on the dependence on others. People observe and learn from others to on how to behave and uphold themselves.

    3. After reading this chapter, the question is raised: “Is world unification possible without knowledge or intelligence?” When undisturbed, an ecosystem runs smoothly. The environment is habitable for all species that dwell within. The world is one giant ecosystem but rather than having habitable environment for all the species it houses, it is becoming more inhabitable. Humans have been populating regions world wide. To make this possible, the environment must be altered to suit the living conditions of the humans.

  6. 1. “We have always been a traveling species.” From the Crusades to today’s advancements in technology, humans are constantly touching different sides of the map for different purposes. Globalization is an idea that is present in almost everything we do today, however, the world is still divided into its different societies.

    2. Appiah discusses the difference between moral obligations and ethical obligations. He states that while moral obligations must discipline ethical obligations, sometimes ethical obligations supersede moral obligations. Ethical obligations are for things that you owe yourself. Sometimes being selfish may be considered doing the right thing, and one must take care of himself before someone else.

    3. Appiah concludes with the thought, “In a single…there is no wisdom.” One can not possess wisdom without experience the world hands-on. Appiah preaches that it is through studying external figures, such as literature, outside cultures, and world travel, that one may come to find wisdom.

  7. 1. Early on in the chapter, Appiah mentions how his father stated that everyone should “aspire” to be a “citizen of the world”, and used the terms “Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.” After searching this saying up, Appiah subtly used the words of the 19th English poet, Lord Alfred Tennyson. It’s also a subtle point of making an intertwined reference to a “Parliament”, an English (UK) form of government (his mother’s roots) and a “Federation”, a form of government found throughout the world, including around Ghana (his father’s roots).

    2. Although not specifically named in the reading, the notion of cultural diffusion is a more direct example of a unified world – a “global village” as Appiah mentions. The idea itself is straightforward – a culture, an idea, a belief, or a tradition of one specific group of people is transported into an area that has no connection with any of these tangibles/intangibles, but then having them “diffuse” into the new area. It’s one that continues today, and one that Appiah, more or less, accepts as a genuine example of playing the part of being a “citizen of the world.”

    3. Appiah shows an important factor of those who write and theorize on the idea of a unified “global village” – that they believe the only way something like that is possible would be to make a utopia, in a sense, or a small area filled with people, and where everyone’s best interest was taken into consideration. The “outside” world wouldn’t matter anymore. All of this done in a secluded island, or islands, or a fictional man made city. He calls it “a well ordered society.” Appiah then goes on to state that something like this shouldn’t even be considered a “Cosmopolitan” ideal, that “no island…is an island”

    4. It’s interesting that Appiah brings up the moral beliefs of Jihadists and Al Queda, and the Muslims that attacked innocents on 9/11 and onwards. He believes that this entire sect should be considered a “toxic cosmopolitan.” But, he admitted himself that his fathers belief of a true Cosmopolitan is a citizen of the world, and one who “leaves the place better than [he/she] found it.” Wouldn’t the Jihadists goals be the complete opposite (even if it is considered “toxic”)?

  8. 1.Kwame Appiah raises a point about “toxic cosmopolitans”, describing them as “connected with radical movements.” (220) Even though a problem experienced by a certain community, nation or country might be quite definite, it is still viewed through the prism of personal beliefs and therefore is assessed differently. An individual or a group of individuals, blinded by their own understanding of right and wrong, is completely unable to consider an alternative viewpoint not to mention ability to admit the mistake. They genuinely believe they are doing correct things in order to help “fellow citizens”, when in reality they harm even more.
    2.Kwame Appiah states that, “to be a citizen of the world is to be concerned with your fellow citizens.” (241) In this case, the citizenship is not limited by the borders of the country. It goes far beyond them and encompasses the whole globe. Hence, to be a real citizen of this global community enormous in size, one must be aware or at least show willingness to learn and understand concerns that exist in its most remote areas.
    It is fairly stated that, “a citizen of the world can make the world better by making some local place better.”(241) I’m convinced, that awareness of the global concerns does not necessarily require interference. Even though one might feel empathic to the needs of other “fellow citizens”, it should not be regarded as a call for an immediate action. For instance there is no need for a government of one country send troops to help the other country handle rebellion, let’s say. A better alternative would be to use the energy and willingness to change the world for the better within own borders

  9. 1) In the opening of chapter six, I noticed an immediate difference between the author’s and Diogenes’s beliefs about what a “citizen of the world” is. Diogenes’s interpretation is more leaned towards human and natural freedom in which a person has or should have the ability to do what he or she pleases. The author’s examination of this concept is that the person should not only have the ability to reside where she or he wants, but also has the responsibility to actively help out and perform civic duties in that community.
    2) One statement that I find to be extremely true is, “an identity is always articulated through concepts (and practices) made available to you by religion, society, school, and state, mediated by family, peers, friends.” This means that every person is extremely influenced by their surroundings and experiences. A person naturally identifies themselves by the group or culture that they belong in. This sort of counters the idea of global citizenship in the sense that everyone will affiliate themselves with a certain group rather than identifying with the rest of the globe as a member of one group.

    With the amount of diversity present in this world, is it really possible to achieve global citizenship? It seems to be rather impossible. There are too many factors and too many people residing on this Earth to come to close to achieving something like that. I believe that human beings are naturally protective and dominant and because of this instinct, there will never be compromise on things such as education or religion. Even without compromise, there will be people that don’t even want to accept others’ values by living separately but equally. Will global citizenship ever be possible? As far as I know, the answer strongly points to no.

  10. *THE THIRD STATEMENT WASN’T NUMBERED IN PREVIOUS POST*

    1) In the opening of chapter six, I noticed an immediate difference between the author’s and Diogenes’s beliefs about what a “citizen of the world” is. Diogenes’s interpretation is more leaned towards human and natural freedom in which a person has or should have the ability to do what he or she pleases. The author’s examination of this concept is that the person should not only have the ability to reside where she or he wants, but also has the responsibility to actively help out and perform civic duties in that community.
    2) One statement that I find to be extremely true is, “an identity is always articulated through concepts (and practices) made available to you by religion, society, school, and state, mediated by family, peers, friends.” This means that every person is extremely influenced by their surroundings and experiences. A person naturally identifies themselves by the group or culture that they belong in. This sort of counters the idea of global citizenship in the sense that everyone will affiliate themselves with a certain group rather than identifying with the rest of the globe as a member of one group.

    3)With the amount of diversity present in this world, is it really possible to achieve global citizenship? It seems to be rather impossible. There are too many factors and too many people residing on this Earth to come to close to achieving something like that. I believe that human beings are naturally protective and dominant and because of this instinct, there will never be compromise on things such as education or religion. Even without compromise, there will be people that don’t even want to accept others’ values by living separately but equally. Will global citizenship ever be possible? As far as I know, the answer strongly points to no.

  11. 1) In “Rooted Cosmopolitanism”, Appiah initially discusses the semantics of globalization in the way that it was applied in the past, and the way it is applied now. He says that humans were naturally predisposed to a nomadic lifestyle – we are naturally travelers. This brings up the meaning of the “old” globalization, which is the spread of humans throughout the globe. The modern definition of globalization, as Appiah says, would be referring to the way CNN and NBC have a global audience and the fact that information can travel from one continent to another in a split second. Going back to Diogenes for a moment, was Diogenes’ idea of cosmopolitanism based on the idea that humans are naturally nomadic or that all people should ideally be interconnected? Either way, cosmopolitanism continues to be an ideal, and perhaps only a fantasy.

    2) On pages 217-218, Appiah clarifies that the Cynic and Stoic meaning of “citizen of the world” does not mean the Earth, but the whole universe. Of course, this is strictly from translation from the Greek language. It is an interesting thought, to imagine a cosmopolitan world (Earth) that incorporated alien life forms. Could we exist in relationships with mutual respect to completely unfamiliar extraterrestrial beings? It’s wishful thinking to say that we would be tolerant enough for that, at least at the start. But could the Cynics or Stoics have ever though of that at all? Has Appiah?

    3) In “The Domain of Moral Equality” on page 228, Appiah discusses human norms and how they exemplify a failure of common sense. Racism and sexism are instances where societal norms would be viewed as complete failures. It is simply preposterous to have a different treatment of another human being simply because they do not look similar to you… yet this occurs everywhere. Stereotypes, as we discussed in a previous class, are extremely prevalent in society today and evidently so – they seem to govern almost every single thing we do. Knowing that this occurs, and knowing that there is probably no likelihood of changing this (Appiah uses the example that one will always treat one’s best friend better than a stranger), can a truly equal global community exist?

  12. 1. An important statement that the father of Appiah left in his final message and that he often said was to: “Remember that you are citizens of the world”. There is a direct connection between this statement and Diogenes. One of Diogenes’ fragments was, “ I am a citizen of the world”. In addition to that he preferred to be beaten by the Athenian guards than to admit he was a citizen of Athens. Appiah made a reference to Cynics who were the originators of the phrase “citizens of the cosmos”. The Cynics as Appiah expressed to the customs and tradition of a specific place. Cynics also rejected local loyalties such as city guards. After reading this I was able to understand why the Athenian guards beat Diogenes when he denied his citizenship as an Athenian.
    2. Appiah quoted Virginia Woolf who expressed, “By freedom from unreal loyalties is meant that you must rid yourself of pride of nationality in the first place; also of religious pride, college pride…” Others see these loyalties as the causes chaos and the lack of union between nations. John Rawls was one of the individuals that believed that the only way to be able to arrive at equality was by stripping away all differences that can arise amongst people. He believed that differences of religion, sex and others made decision making between individuals difficult. Cosmopolitanism believes that these differences need to be there in order to be able to value an individual that is different from what one is accustomed to. To be a “citizen of the world” is to take value in all that there is. Towards the end of the chapter Appiah mentions John Stuart Mill who believed in the greater happiness principle and also that differences were “rewarding”. It can be concluded that culture relativism is important in cosmopolitanism.
    3. Appiah stated, “A shared biology, a natural human essence, does not give us, in the relevant sense, a shared ethical nature.” The only thing that all human kind has in common is the same biological make up. What makes one individual different from the other is the personality and culture. I’ve always found it fascinating when I see images of individuals that have met another individual from another part of the world that look almost alike with similar facial structures and characteristics. These individuals might not have anything in common regarding their culture or where they are from but their looks. It is amazing how the biology of human kind is made up that two individuals can be so similar but so different at the same time.
    Ethical standards vary between individuals. The morals that an American person was taught are not the same from the person that is part of an African tribe. What may seem right to me might be wrong to another person. How can we globalize human rights if ethics and morals vary between cultures? Can we apply global human rights and know that they will be followed by the entire world?

  13. 1. With the advancements in technology available today, anyone can travel to anywhere else in the world and live anywhere they please. When meeting a different culture, diversity and population, how can someone become adapt to a new environment?

    2. Globalization introduces interchanges of international perspectives, products, ideas and different aspects of culture including religion, politics and economics. With so many various interchanges, how can one accept another?

    3. Global citizens, in terms of the concept of a one-world government system where all humans of every culture join as citizens of the world, is what most people can claim to be the “perfect world”. However, with the current existence of culture and traditions, how will conflict be avoided so that all humans follow under one culture?

  14. 1. This excerpt brings up the notion of global citizenship; a rather curious question. In attempting to decide whether it is feasible or not, it has become apparent to me that the answer is no. The world we live in has far too many variables for there ever to be complete unity. For example, in religion, it is ridiculous for me to imagine a world in which Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are joined as on. The thought is so preposterous it brings about humor. Should there ever be global citizenship, we will live in one boring world.
    2. My second thought regards to what extent humans of the world should “justify tolerance for illiberal practices that are grounded in local traditions.” For example male circumcision is widely accepted in modern society. However, to an outsider, this could look like some sort of barbaric mutilation at birth without consent. Similarly, there are plenty of rituals or traditions that Western culture observes as ridiculous.
    3. Lastly, this document in general made me think of how dependent I am on other people. Networking and communications is one of the most important parts of what some people describe as being ‘successful.’ Not only am I dependent, but each person leans upon one another, similar to an arc, where the weight is distributed on each brick. Mutual dependence enables efficiency and overall well-being. It is an essential part of almost all societies.

  15. 1) There are some fundamental differences in the way that Diogenes’ philosophy is expressed compared to Appiah’s. These become clear when taking into account the idea of globalization then and now. Would Diogenes have the same feelings about merging cultures in such a vast and diverse world we live in now?

    2) I agree with Appiah’s philosophy when he notes that a citizen of the world can improve the world they live in by improving the area they live in. This notion is an interesting way to view the minor contributions that people make to benefit or worsen their living situations every day. As citizens of the world, their actions don’t only affect the area they live in, but the world entirely by the choices they make. That is, if they were to consider themselves citizens of the world.

    3) Appiah made a claim saying that, “An identity is always articulated through concepts (and practices) made available to you by religion, society, school, and state, mediated by family, peers, friends.” This could be considered an interpretation on the nature vs nurture debate. His side focuses on the cultural lifestyle influences that our environment can have on an individual. It isn’t inaccurate, but it’s only one side of the story.

  16. 1. This article explores the concept of globalization. There is a commonly head idea of ethics. For example, in Hinduism it is common practice to crack the skull of the deceased to release the soul from the body. This would not be generally accepted by American culture, because it may be seen as depreciation of the body. On the surface, it would appear that these cultures share different values; however, this is not the case. Ultimately, both culture are paying respects to their deceased.
    2. Appiah states “Nobody would entertain the cosmopolitan project who couldn’t imagine wanting to be a cosmopolitan” (page 220). This statement confused me. Do we all want to be cosmopolitan? How can we want to be cosmopolitans, if we do not know what it can do for us?
    3. We can owe things to others without using the world equality. At the end of Plato’s Apology, Socrates debates whether or not to escape from jail. Crito argues that it would not be just for Socrates to allow himself to die because he would be abandoning his children. Socrates then says he does not know his family anything more than he owes any citizen of Athens or the world. How would Socrates feel about the word equality?

  17. 1. Since it is true that ideas from some regions have affected the cultures/religions of other regions, will the world ever have one common culture?
    2. Should we be forced to be cosmopolitans? For example, Appiah says “Christianity or the colonial mission civilisatrice, that manifest love for others by attempting to impose their own purportedly superior ways, often by the sword.” (221) This shows the downside to cosmopolitanism. Even though ideas are being spread, and other people are understanding those ideas, force is not the way to become a cosmopolitan.
    3. Must we rid ourselves of our pride in order to become cosmopolitans? Virginia Woolf says “…you must rid yourself of pride of nationality in the first place; also of religious pride, college pride, school pride, family pride, sex pride and those unreal loyalties that spring from them.” (222) I believe that a person can have pride. Tolerance is what someone really needs to start understanding a culture that is foreign to their own.

  18. 1. “Old” globalization is the type of globalization that can be connected with being a global citizen as it is human nature to be a traveler. With our history”s technological advances, traveling has been fairly simple over the 20th century. This kind of connectedness helps alleviate the idea of being a global citizen. “Modern” globalization is an entirely different term, it’s traced back to corporations and people with power to gain monetary funds beyond imaginable. I prefer to disconnect the term “Modern” globalization from the idea of being a global citizen because there are not any similarities, while there are several differences.

    2. The Ethics Of Identity, has changed the way I look upon myself, the idea of being a global citizen has never crossed my mind. Up until now I termed my identity to, “American,” but that is not in human nature. This way of identifying myself actually limits my global identity. This happens in the sense that when I leave The United States, I look at myself as an outsider to another country. Meanwhile, traveling is evident in history so limiting myself to ethnic or cultural identities furthers myself away from being a global citizen and recognizing identities as a unified group.

    3. Is a unified cosmopolitan world possible? Kwame Appiah stated that one must be concerned with your fellow citizens. This is apparent in our world but unfortunately it isn’t a strong aspect of the world. People are stuck and revolve around the idea of having big pockets. Today, I saw someone who I can identify as a citizen of the world, as a cosmopolitan. While on the subway today, this man holding a cooler half the size of him asked if anyone was hungry? He immediately reassured everyone that he really wanted to know, that he wanted to help. He gave out small snacks and drinks to those who were. “You don’t have to be homeless to be hungry,” is what he kept on repeating. After distributing the drinks and snacks he asked for donations so he can help provide for other people who are hungry. This man who doesn’t know any of who he helped, was deeply concerned and thrived through altruism.

  19. 1. Why does Appiah refer to the “global village” as an oxymoron when, his father briefly wrote that he and his sisters were citizens of the world, doesn’t that make the world your own “village” or so to speak if you are a citizen of the world?
    2. Appiah states “social justice is not an attribute of individuals”(228). I believe that he is wrong in saying this because there are many individuals with social justice as an attribute, most people believe in “neutrality” or fairness/evenhandedness. If you take a look at modern society there are many groups whether it be religious or political that have morals founded on fairness and equality. In a political sense, the attempt to eliminate the huge gap between different social classes to enable equal opportunity for each individual can be seen as a form of social justice. Some might say that personal image is the motive for these actions, but one will never know the true intentions of another and are not in any position to make such accusations.
    3. The matter, “human rights has gone global by going local” shows how powerful one little town or city can be when it comes to human rights or anything having to do with social justice (260). Human rights is universal, every country/state has been influenced by other countries/states when it comes to social differences, how these views of inalienable rights come to be globalized is mainly through politics and religion. In the sense of human rights, a view has to have a strong impact locally before a global change can occur. One main reason why globalization of human rights is stalled is that some believe that we do not have “natural rights that flow from our human essence”, but in actuality slavery along with the oppression of children and women would still be a common problem in major countries. This is not a problem due to a wide variety of laws being enforced all over the world.

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