I viewed my essay as a contribution to what should become an ongoing discussion in America about cosmopolitanism and education, and I am happy to see the vigor of the debate it has provoked. The replies are impressive in their diversity and quality. I am grateful to all those who responded; many of their points have force. These brief comments should be regarded less as a conclusion than as a series of points in a continuing debate.
A few general features of the replies trouble me: the failure of almost all to say anything concrete about any tradition or part of the world other than our own; some assertions that American patriotism and constitutionalism are special, unaccompanied by concrete reflection about any other tradition; the failure of any of the 29 authors to mention the European Community, even when discussing the prospects for transnational deliberation. I shall return to these concerns as I address the most prominent issues.
Many of the replies also seem to me to make an exaggerated distinction between patriotism and cosmopolitanism, characterizing cosmopolitanism as devoid of love and particular attachment, and suggesting that the cosmopolitan must disparage all types of patriotism. I attempted to characterize cosmopolitanism in a way that showed the large and legitimate place that it can give to local affiliations, within the constraints imposed by our awareness of our complex affiliations with other humans with whom we share both abilities and needs. Even in education, my primary focus, I argued that a curriculum for world citizenship may legitimately spend a disproportionately large time equipping pupils to function as citizens of their own nation, since much, though by no means all, of their activity as world citizens will be undertaken within the framework of the nation. I disparage the sort of patriotism that remains satisfied with ignorance about the rest of the world, and also the kind that cultivates the feeling that my country is better than others just because it is mine. To be sure, many varieties of patriotism do not have these features, and it is therefore wrong to infer from my argument that I disparage patriotism of all sorts.
But I can best approach the essays by addressing a number of the more specific worries they expressed, first about the cosmopolitan ideal (points 1, 2, and 3), then about my approach to patriotism (points 4 and 5); then I shall make some observations about the Stoics (6), and conclude with a question about transnational obligation (7).
1. Ideal and Reality. Yes, I am depicting an ideal. Like the Stoics, I believe that human nature poses no intrinsic barrier to achieving that ideal. Of course, there are many worldly and practical barriers, and learned psychological barriers as well. But my topic is education, and it seems appropriate for education to hold up to young citizens an exacting ideal, so that, as Plato put it, they can look to that ideal and live as if they were citizens of that city. (Kant’s Kingdom of Ends has a similar function in promoting the improvement of moral and political practice.) Even if we fall short, we can make tremendous improvements in young people’s knowledge of and moral sensitivity to the situations of others who live at a distance.
2. No World Government. True, there is no world government. There is, however, the fascinating case of the European Community, where the cultivation of broader ties of concern in politics, commerce, and education has not eradicated local attachments, but has in many respects helped them to flourish. More pertinent to our thinking about education in America, there are scores of international deliberations on issues of importance — the population conference in Cairo ; meetings on ecology, pollution, agriculture, women’s rights; programs connected with the International Year of the Family. Such transnational deliberations will become more numerous and more urgent. (Even success in business increasingly requires transnational deliberation.)
My proposal is above all a proposal about education. What I am asking is that we think, in shaping curricula, of the goal of producing citizens who can be informed and duly concerned participants in these debates. This will require changes in our conception of the requisite information for citizenship, and in the values we choose to promote as essential to good citizenship. We cannot assume that our own central values are also the ones best suited to world deliberation, though they might be.
3. Getting the Universal Right. But how do we identify the universal values of world citizenship among the many local values we encounter? No task is more difficult than balancing sensitivity to many local traditions against the perception of common human needs and capabilities. On the one hand, we want to admit that we may have much to learn from what we find elsewhere; on the other hand, frequently justice and human sympathy should lead us to criticize what we see. I have tried to answer these tough questions elsewhere (for example, my essays in a forthcoming volume, Women, Culture, and Development, ed. Nussbaum and J. Glover, Oxford 1995); and Judith Butler’s eloquent statement shows the type of process I would favor.
4. Is America Special? Several of the essays write vividly of the special characteristics of American patriotism and the American founding, arguing that we conceive of patriotism as wedded to cosmopolitanism in a special way. I did not deny this; in fact, I avoided saying anything at all about it one way or the other, since unraveling the many strands in the Founding was not the task in which I was engaged. I do believe that Stoic ideals played a substantial role in the Founding, though I have no idea how special it therefore is, since I know unfortunately little about the constitutional traditions of other nations. But American nationalism is rarely understood today as entailing obligations to other nations, even the obligation of learning a lot about them and being sensitive to their concerns. So I would like to recall our tradition to what is, arguably, an important aspect of its origins.
5. Patriotism, Emotion, and Political Strategy. I agree with a point made in several essays: the connection of general moral concerns with memories of intimate association gives these concerns a special power. The question, however, is: with what force should our schools seek to invest such ties? We could portray them as specially our own, and as the sources of our more general aspirations, without regarding them as in any way prior to or better than the more cosmopolitan attachments; I suggested that we view our own children as specially our own in some such way. To give another example, I intensely love the English language. I know that whatever motivates me as a writer, and whatever I can say as a writer, is bound up with the special properties of English. But I don’t think that English is better than any other language just because it is mine, and I don’t think that I should esteem the interests of English-speaking people ahead of other interests. I know that any human might have been brought up in any linguistic community, that the linguistic community of one’s birth is in that sense an accident, and that we share a general linguistic capability that is the basis of our mutual respect in matters of language. (This does not mean that I would want to replace the plurality of languages with Esperanto. I would not.)
The general notion of being human hardly lacks emotional resonance, as tragic dramas that cross large gulfs of place and time readily show us. Moreover, I would agree with Robert Pinsky that particular love of concrete aspects of the distant should remain a big part of the way in which we draw students from the local toward the distant.
Partly on account of their motivational force, appeals to patriotism can be strategically valuable. Charles Taylor is right that we frequently have no choice but to mobilize people at this level. And yet, even here, there are two ways of proceeding: the way that appeals to the nation as an end in itself, and the way that appeals to values that are admirable in their own right, though they happen also to be enshrined in the history of the nation. Lincoln was extremely skilled in making the second sort of appeal — as in the Gettysburg Address, where the American nation is identified by its dedication to a general human ideal. That, to me, is a mark of his greatness as a national leader. To Benjamin Barber, whose account of America I found moving, I add that this is also what I find wonderful about Whitman as a poet: again and again, he sees Americans as men and women deep of soul, on their way to death, and praises America for addressing common human needs for freedom and flourishing. “I am he attesting sympathy,” he writes, on behalf of America; and I should like America to realize more completely the embracing sympathy for human difference and sameness that his imagination exemplifies.
6. The Stoics. Nathan Glazer is correct that the Empire was an impetus for Roman Stoics to think in cosmopolitan terms; but the idea of the world citizen was already elaborated by the Greek Stoics, who had no such preparation. To Anne Norton I can say that the Stoics were the boldest sex-egalitarians known in antiquity. The ideal cities of the Greek Stoics included equal citizenship for women, and even unisex clothing. Roman Stoics were more constrained in what they could advocate practically, but they still strongly defended the capacity of women for full virtue, the equal education of girls and boys, and the higher education of women. They also attacked the sexual double standard. Hipparchia is an example of shocking sex-equality, and she chooses that over riches. (Norton is unfair to Tagore too: for Nikhil is the first prominent male in his region to let his wife out of purdah, and he insists on giving her a higher education. Ironically, she first prefers to subordinate herself to Sandip, viewing her husband’s ideas as odd.)
I am very sorry that Harvey Mansfield did not take this occasion seriously enough to do even the most minimal research on the history of Stoicism. In addition to the primary texts, there are many excellent books that could have given him an accurate view of Stoic ideas about the relationship between philosophy and politics — including Malcolm Schofield’s The Stoic Idea of the City (Cambridge 1991), Miriam Griffin’s Seneca: A Philosopher in Politics (Oxford 1976), and Griffin’s study “Philosophy, Politics, and Politicians at Rome,” in M. Griffin and J. Barnes, ed., Philosophia Togata (Oxford 1989). Briefly, it is wrong to suppose that the Stoic doctrine of the worthlessness of external things led to a lack of interest in politics. There are surely deep tensions in their thought on this point, but that is another matter. The Greek Stoics proposed an ideal city; Roman Stoics Seneca (regent of the Empire under Nero) and Marcus, himself emperor, viewed their Stoicism as integral to their practice of politics, even if they did not always enact Stoic views with perfect consistency. Seneca’s On Anger, implicitly addressed to the Emperor Claudius, and On Mercy, explicitly addressed to Nero, give advice on such matters as military motivation, capital punishment, and sentencing. Furthermore, the anti-imperial conspiracies of Thrasea Paetus and Piso traced their republican ideals to Stoic notions of self-government.
Pace Mansfield, Stoics did care about hunger — in general, about the provision to all of “the first things of nature,” which can be achieved by a combination of personal prudence and benevolence. They cared intensely about women’s equality. They cared about marriage — Greek Stoics proposing its abolition, Roman Stoics redesigning it as a partnership for the common good. I am not aware of any writings on abortion, since that was so generally accepted in the ancient world, but Musonius Rufus did attack the practice of infanticide, leading the way for centuries of Christian teaching. Above all, they cared passionately about liberal education, my primary theme. They did focus on internal change of passion and thought: but they thought that these changes — for example, getting people to care less about money and status — would have big political consequences. In that sense they might be said to have discovered that “the personal is political,” that desires are formed by society and a reformation of desire can in turn reform society.
Above all, the Stoics are no elitists, separating “the philosopher” from the many. It is difficult to become good, but it does not require any natural endowment that is not the common property of all humans. They were dead set against hierarchy in philosophy and in education. As Seneca says, contrasting Stoics with Epicureans, “We are not under a king: each one claims his own freedom” (Moral Epistles, 33.4). Elsewhere, he defines liberal education as the education that can make each student truly free and self-commanding (Moral Epistles, 88).
Were Stoics pessimists, as Rachel Hadas says? Surely the Roman Stoics saw vividly the obstacles life presents to our moral goodness. They continually stressed the difficulties of progress, though they held that human nature is not bad in itself or by birth, but corrupted by social and worldly conditions. This being so, education can in principle, though with difficulty, cure its diseases — diseases not just of knowledge but also of passion. We may reasonably wish for and work for this cure. Anger can be extirpated, fear removed, even though this may require the patient effort of each day of every life.
7. Our Obligations to Others. When we think as world citizens, but also as citizens of nations, what will we decide about our obligations? Several of the papers ask tough and urgent questions. My focus in the piece was on the formation of citizens who could be intelligent participants in debates about those questions; I did not want to prejudge how the debate should come out, though I do have views about that. Let’s now begin that debate.