Cosmopolitanism and the Philosophy of Education
- Marianna PapastephanouMarianna PapastephanouUniversity of Cyprus
In its most popular sense, cosmopolitanism is taken to be a way of life and a kind of selfhood. The cosmopolitan self learns from other cultures, embraces diversity, and considers her selfhood or lifestyle defined more by routes than by roots. Thus understood cosmopolitanism becomes a descriptive concept, that is, it says something about how the person lives and acts and about what the person is like. When this cosmopolitan existence is elevated to a political ideal or virtue, it strikes a normative note. For example, to say that a society or an individual is cosmopolitan is to attribute something good to such a society or individual, that is, to see in them a commendable feature or to summon them to acquire it. Philosophy has, from antiquity to the present, formulated, debated, contested, revisited, and negotiated the descriptive and normative aspects of cosmopolitan existence and citizenship. It has thus provided rich and diverse descriptions and prescriptions of cosmopolitanism. Political philosophy, in particular, investigates the relationship of cosmopolitanism with kindred or alternative descriptions and prescriptions of how we exist or should exist in the world.
In line with philosophy, the philosophy of education also considers what counts as cosmopolitan. Often transferring philosophical insights directly to educational frameworks, educational philosophy discusses whether cosmopolitanism (and which version of it) may be a desirable pedagogical aim. Questions such as “who embodies the cosmopolitan,” “what matters as cosmopolitan practice,” or “how to cultivate the cosmopolitan subject and the corresponding citizenship” are indicative of educational-philosophical concerns. At a deeper level, educational philosophy addresses challenges to identity, contestations of Western values, and contemporary, global changes that affect educational appreciations of cosmopolitanism. And it examines how critical approaches to cosmopolitanism and to related notions may shed new light on educational cosmopolitan sensibilities and reveal ambiguities in cosmopolitan political and pedagogical operations.