SAAP Annual Meeting 2013

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Occupying Worldwide: George Herbert Mead and Radical Cosmopolitanism

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Joshua Houston
Vanderbilt University
United States

My aim in this paper is to mine the American philosophical tradition for resources on which local and global radical democratic movements can draw for their further development and the articulation of their aims. Specifically, I draw on the work of George Herbert Mead to articulate a view that is both radically democratic and cosmopolitan. The conception of radical democracy that I draw from Mead consists of a fusion of the concepts of democratic self-determination or popular sovereignty and of ‘revolution in permanence,’ which I conceptualize here in terms of ‘radical democratization.’ I also point toward a more strongly postnational version of Mead’s conception of international-mindedness in the form of ‘cosmopolitan-mindedness.’ The resulting ‘radical cosmopolitanism’ enjoins attention to an ever-proliferating array of perspectives and claims, both those of a broader community and those of concrete others, in the legitimation of social arrangements and the coordination of social life.


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