Sunday, July 02, 2006
It was a great chance to explore my larger familial context, and now that I've returned home I've found a word for one of the themes that flowed through many of the conversations I was involved in, something that's been on my mind a lot lately, from current events, to work, to life in our new multicultural neighborhood: Cosmopolitanism. As Kwame Anthony Appiah says in his essay The Case for Contamination (via):
Cosmopolitans think that there are many values worth living by and that you cannot live by all of them. So we hope and expect that different people and different societies will embody different values. Another aspect of cosmopolitanism is what philosophers call fallibilism - the sense that our knowledge is imperfect, provisional, subject to revision in the face of new evidence.Incidentally, Appiah's use of the word "contamination" nicely parallels my "Question Purity" pattern for organic design. Oh, and as long as we're revisiting that post, I also recently ran across this post from 37 Signals that parallels my "Patterns, Not Rules" pattern.
The neofundamentalist conception of a global ummah, by contrast, admits of local variations - but only in matters that don't matter. These counter-cosmopolitans, like many Christian fundamentalists, do think that there is one right way for all human beings to live; that all the differences must be in the details