Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cosmopolitan Crisis

As Brian Lord wrote in his comment to Cosmopolitan, if we resolve our personal culture crisis by reorienting ourselves to a cosmopolitan worldview, it puts us at odds with most of the people around us.

We will make some people uncomfortable. Some won't like us. Some will hate us.

That is, the solution to our first serious philosophical crisis, shifting to a cosmopolitan perspective, creates a second serious crisis.

It isn't fair, really.

After all, the pre-culture-crisis parochial mindset seems so stable, so effortless (so immune to the broader reality), at least until sufficient contact with other cultures brings an end to that ignorant calm. After all the work it takes to successfully navigate the culture crisis that disrupted that peace, it feels like victory ought to come with some kind of reward, at least a vacation.

Instead, the stable parochial worldview is succeeded by the doubly unstable cosmopolitan one - unstable first because we deliberately destabilize our own worldview over and over in the search for new perspectives and second because we will be treated with variable degrees of hostility for being conspicuously different from most people. We graduate not to a second contentment but to shifting ground with people throwing rocks at us.

That's deeply, inescapably, essentially part of the very definition of the cosmopolitan worldview. Our new, cosmopolitan status quo is a fluxus quo, a state of continuous change, fundamentally different from our mental childhood, different in kind. The cosmopolitan crisis is permanent and sets us in motion for the rest of our lives.

We can never go back to the childhood of our first parochial worldview. Stability and peace are what we sacrifice when we mentally grow up.

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