For Love of Country
Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism
So many of the problems we face today as a country and as a world are the result of ignorance and ethocentrism. The misguided War on Terror, one of the more important examples in our time, is the result of religious and culture intolerance on both sides. In her essay, “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism” Martha Nussbaum argues that to remedy such issues, we should forgo our nationalist tendencies and view ourselves first and foremost as citizens of the world, or cosmopolitans.
In particular, Nussbaum focuses on education as a breeding ground for cosmopolitanism. While she concedes that special attention should be given to the students’ own culture and history, she argues that we should teach our kids more about other cultures of the world rather than just mentioning that all people have basic human rights. We should teach them, she claims to think of themselves as world citizens first, American second. They should learn about the problems other countries face, and how such problems relate to our own country and the world, and our moral responsibility for them. In this way, we rid ourselves of the “us-them” mentality, and respect the moral interest of human beings. 2
Nussbaum then presents us with four arguments for cosmopolitanism based on the likely positive consequences of such a mentality. First, she explains about the process of learning about others, we learn about ourselves. We naturally assume our own customs are the best way of going about things; looking at other cultures helps us to see where we have room for improvement. Nussbaum uses the example of childcare – we might also look at the healthcare systems of other nations,