Come join us at this week’s Philosophy Club meeting Thursday, February 8, from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m. in 421 Auerbach Hall as Dr. Brian Skelly of the Philosophy Department presents "Democracy and Human Socialness". First page of text follows (see attached for full paper).
The modern narrative that democracy is a recent experiment has been the grounds for two essentially conflicting trends which of late, oddly, have dovetailed in a messy way to create a monster of us. By “us”, I mean primarily American culture, but secondarily contemporary western culture and anyone else who chooses to follow in its footsteps.
The first of these conflicting trends is American Exceptionalism, the notion that, since our nation constitutes, as it were, a test-case for the salvation of humankind, we are entitled to think of ourselves as categorically distinct from all other nations, deserving of all the special privileges we have taken for ourselves and would certainly not want other nations to take for themselves.
The second, more recent of these two conflicting trends emanating from the notion that democracy is a recent experiment is a pervasive sense, felt more than declared, of disenchantment with democracy itself; that the experiment has failed; democracy doesn’t work; that it is unnatural and intrinsically dysfunctional. Having grown weary of the experiment, so this attitude suggests, we should reach out to strong leaders and put ourselves loyally and unilaterally in their care. In the last thirty or forty years we have developed such a nostalgia for autocracy that we have appointed so-called “czars” to take care of those areas of public life that have been seen as most troubled, Education Czars and Drug Czars being among the most prominent examples. Another similar sign of our autocracy-envy is our great fantasy with the notion that we should enlist private-sector business magnates – also commonly called “czars” – to get things done in the public sector.
Although we don’t seem to notice, these two trends are in blatant conflict, because one of them puts us on a pedestal for the sake of democratizing the world while the other represents general apostasy from the very notion of democracy. Nonetheless, most recently they have indeed dovetailed to make of our culture a selfish, childish, almost pathologically antisocial monster, driven entirely by irrational and, as here just noted, even contradictory urges.
This is where we are right now as a culture; we need to step away from our political gamesmanships long enough to come to grips with it. In particular, we need to understand and critique these two trends, each on its own merits, while seeing the inanity of their mutual embrace, since, properly understand, one undercuts the other and vice-versa....
The University of Hartford Philosophy Club has an informal, jovial atmosphere. It is a place where students, professors, and people from the community at large meet as peers. Sometimes presentations are given, followed by discussion. Other times, topics are hashed out by the whole group.
Presenters may be students, professors, or people from the community. Anyone can offer to present a topic. The mode of presentation may be as formal or informal as the presenter chooses.
Food and drink are served. Come and go as you wish. Bring friends. Suggest topics and activities. Take over the club! It belongs to you!
Democracy and Human Socialness