- Spencer Wells, The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey: ch1 ("The Diverse Ape"), ch8 ("The Importance of Culture") - Apr 11
- Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers: Introduction ("Making Conversation"), ch1 ("The Shattered Mirror") ch 8 ("Whose Culture Is It, Anyway?") - Apr 18
- Prior to class on April 11 & 18, write down your answers to the quizzes I'll post here. We'll go over them in class.
- Prior to class on April 18, post a 250+ word comment here, or on D2L, replying to the Discussion Question of your choice (or your invention) pertaining to Spencer Wells' Journey.
- Prior to class on April 25, post a 250+ word comment here, or on D2L, replying to the Discussion Question of your choice (or your invention) pertaining to Appiah's Cosmopolitanism.
- By May 2, post a 250+ word comment here, or on D2L, discussing how you think our block relates to other things you've learned in the course. You can use relevant parts of your 5-page "round table" essay for this post.
Colleges Are Rejecting Our Common Humanity and the Science That Reveals ItAcademics often point out that diversity is good, in part, because it brings different perspectives and experiences to the table. I agree. In fact, this is one reason many argue that higher education needs to also promote viewpoint diversity. Diversity based on identities such as race does not necessarily reflect a deeper diversity of life experiences and personal beliefs.
This might come as a surprise to those trained to mindlessly repeat “white privilege,” but white people often have very diverse life histories and economic backgrounds. Tragedy and triumph are not bound to race, gender, or any other group identity.
That being said, I would like to focus on a different and often neglected benefit of all forms of diversity, including viewpoint diversity. Diversity doesn’t just showcase the many ways people are different. It also reveals our similarities. Diversity connects people across different groups by demonstrating a common humanity.
I was born and spent the early years of my life in West Africa. Most of the kids I played with were Africans. Guess what? It didn’t matter. Kids are kids. Children all over the world have an equal capacity for imagination and the same intrinsic desire to play, explore, and bond with others.
When my own children were in their early years of primary school, I was a professor in England. My children attended a school near the university that was extremely culturally diverse. English was not the native language of many of the students. Mine were the only Americans at the school and most of their friends were other international students from countries such as Pakistan, India, and China.
Though they certainly learned about a number of cultural differences, as did my wife and I, a crucial lesson they received was that people from all over the world have a lot in common... (continues)
Latest from The Ethicist: on public versus private selves and what you owe a prospective neighbor.
"You and I, in fact everyone all over the world, we're all literally African under the skin; Brothers and sisters separated by a mere 2.000 generations. Old-fashioned concepts of race are not only socially divisive, but scientifically wrong. It's only when we've fully taken this onboard, that we can say with any conviction that the journey our ancestors launched all those years ago, is complete."
Spencer Wells - The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey (2002) https://www.amazon.com/Journey-Man-Ge...
Credits: PBS https://www.youtube.com/user/PBS
The fossil record places human origins in Africa some 150,000 years ago, but science continues to search for details about the incredible journey that took Homo sapiens from Africa to the far reaches of the Earth. How did each of us end up where we are? Why do we have such a wide variety of colors and features?
Through the eons of time, the full story of human ancestry remains written in our genes. When DNA is passed from one generation to the next, most of it is recombined by the processes that give each of us our individuality. But some parts of the DNA chain remain largely intact through the generations, altered only occasionally by random mutations, which become what are called genetic markers. The order in which these markers occur allows geneticists to trace our common evolutionary time line back many generations.
Different populations carry distinct mutation, or genetic markers. Identifying and following the markers back through generations reveals a relationship shared by all humans, best conceptualized in the form of a genetic tree. Today, thousands of diverse branches, corresponding to unique human groups, can be followed backward to their common African root more than 100 millennia ago."The word ‘cosmopolitan’, which derives from the Greek word kosmopolitês (‘citizen of the world’), has been used to describe a wide variety of important views in moral and socio-political philosophy. The nebulous core shared by all cosmopolitan views is the idea that all human beings, regardless of their political affiliation, are (or can and should be) citizens in a single community." SEP
We humans have set foot on another world in a place called the Sea of Tranquility, an astonishing achievement for creatures such as we, whose earliest footsteps three and one-half million years old are preserved in the volcanic ash of east Africa. We have walked far.
"True, western societies are much better off materially than they were 40 years ago, but why is there so much crime, vandalism and graffiti? Why are divorce rates so high? Why are we seeing declines in civic engagement and trust? Why have obesity and depression reached epidemic proportions, even amongst children? Why do people call this the age of anxiety? Why do studies in most developed countries show that people are becoming unhappier? —RICHARD TOMKINS, Financial Times, October 17, 2003"
2. Why does Appiah use the term "cosmopolitanism" with ambivalence, but in preference to what other terms? Who first coined the term, and who elaborated it?
3. Who linked our obligation to understand our confreres to our global economic interdependence?
4. What does it mean to value particular human lives, and why is this more a challenge than a solution?
20. What are the two primary uses of the word "culture"?
21. What does Appiah mean when he says that the artifacts of an extinct culture belong to all of us?
22. What's the difference between saying that people experience and value art, and that peoples do?
23. What's wrong with the "finders, keepers" rule of art acquisition?
24. What did Picasso allegedly say about great artists?
25. Contemporary culture's been poorly served by what kind of laws?
26. Whose people made the Great Wall of China, the Chrysler Building, and the Sistine Chapel?
- "The very idea of morality entails that "each person you know about and can affect is someone to whom you have responsibilities" - agree?
- Does "cosmopolitan" imply to you a condescending attitude?
- Can and should we separate economic and ethical globalism?
- Do you agree with Voltaire, and his German counterpart? xv
- Would it be easier to think of yourself as a citizen of the world if we were to encounter citizens of other worlds?
- What's your view of patriotism, and of Wolfe's and Tolstoy's repudiation of it? What do you think of the idea that a patriot always supports his nation, but his government only when it deserves support?
- Who are cosmopolitanism's noisiest foes today?
- Which end of the "partial cosmopolitanism" spectrum, between the nationalist who "abandons all foreigners" and the hardcore cosmopolitan with "icy impartiality," are you closer to?
- Can you claim a deep ethnic/religious loyalty without diluting your greater humanity? xvii
- Do you agree with Eliot and Cicero? xviii
- Do you feel conflicting urges to migrate AND settle? Have you felt it more urgently at different stages of life, as either a choice or a necessity? Will you migrate when you retire?
- If we respect diversity must we also respect anti-cosmopolitanism?
- Do you have a reply to any of Appiah's "cluster" questions? xxi
- Some studies say conservative anti-immigrationists are happier than liberal progressives. Are they flawed? Do they reflect the wisdom of Solon? 6
- Should the old saying "When in Rome...(etc.)" be amended to say that doing as the Romans does not imply believing with them or approving of them? Is this hypocritical?
- Does "live and let live" mean we must tolerate those who don't want to do likewise?
- Is Picasso's alleged remark about stealing relevant to the "cultural patrimony" debate?
- How much further can or should corporate branding go? 130
9. What was Darwin's "important insight" about race-consciousness?
10. What is polygeny, and why did theists and biologists object to it?
11. Anthropology in the early 20th century was overtly political with respect to what programs and policies?
12. Which evolutionist contributed to the growth of the eugenics movement?
13. A Sumerian creation myth says the gods overindulged in imbibing what?
14. Archaeological evidence suggests that Polynesians undertook an epic sea journey to where, within the past 4,000 years?
15. Only a few hundred generations ago we were all what?
16. What happened simultaneously around the world, around 10,000 years ago?
17. By adopting agriculture, Neolithic humans initiated what developments leading to modern civilization?
18. Over half of what male population shows evidence of a massive expansion in the past 10,000 years?
19. What transformative shift in thinking may have occurred in just a few generations?
20. Whose explanation for linguistic diversity presaged Darwin by over 60 years?
21. The rich vocabulary for horses and wheeled vehicles in all languages suggests what?
22. What model for how the Indo-European languages came to India appears to be true?
23. Who speak a language unrelated to any other?
24. What unique genetic link arose from a second migration into the Americas between 5-10,000 years ago?
25. What social quirk produces what Y-chromosome pattern?
- Spencer Wells says genetics provides a map of our wanderings as a species "from our birthplace in Africa... to the present day - and beyond." How do you think a knowledge of past migrations helps inform our understanding of the future?
- COMMENT: "The really vital question for us all is, What is this world going to be? What is life eventually to make of itself?" William James, Pragmatism
- Do you feel yourself to be vitally connected with ancestors, contemporaries, and descendants? Are we all links in a chain of genetics and culture? Does our day-to-day life reinforce or subvert a sense of connection? Why does this matter?
James F. Hollifield. “Governing Migration.” In Kavita R. Khory, ed. Global Migration: Challenges in the Twenty-First Century. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, 183-209.
Andrei Korobkov and Zhanna Zaionchkovskaia. “Russian Brain Drain: Myths and Reality.” Communist and Post-Communist Studies Special Issue on Disintegration of the Soviet Union. Twenty Years Later. Assessment. Quo Vadis? Richard Sakwa and Andrey Kazantsev, eds., vol. 45, no. 3-4, September-December 2012, 327-41.
Akraham Kahn. Bahok