Talking About Talking About Race With Ian Cromwell

Earlier this week, Ian and I decided to experiment with our new toy, Google Hangout, and conduct a follow up interview to our written one from last week. The first video cuts out at around 10:25 and is mostly just an “off-air” signal because I lost my internet connection and Google Hangout kept recording. So, there are two parts, both below:

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Mclean

    Good conversation. Re: Cultural aspects, the last topic brought up.

    I think a partial solution to this issue is to push our language and concepts away from segregating culture and towards cosmopolitan culture. Ian brought up this point with ‘there is no such thing as Black Culture’.

    By segregating culture, I mean persepectives of culture and cultural norms that exclude people from emulating, or modifying, or appropriating, the culture. It is the sort of culture that leads to societal segregation and tribal mentality, which more easily leads to dehumanisation of the outgroup.

    Comsmopolitan culture is just that, allowing a diverse collection of microcultures to interact and exchange ideas freely, and influence, interact, and steal from each other and personal and collective levels without hesitation or censure. The internet itself is showing us how this can be done.

    It is as simple as using different names. Calling things ‘Black culture’ for instance excludes and prescribes, where for instance ‘inner city Detroit’ invites, similarly for ‘Native culture’ vs. ‘Reserve culture’, or even for instance ‘Jewish culture’ vs. ‘Jewish district culture’. Let’s geolocate (or internet-locate) culture and invite participation rather than segregate it.

    I know I’m stepping on a lot of feet with this suggestion, and I’m being an cultural imperialist here. Some people hold their cultural heritage dear and consider it important to be exclusive, and I respect that. However, and I recognize it might be my privilege talking, I strongly think the harm segregating culture causes well surpasses its benefits. It has been said that we all belong to a global village, so let’s start living as if we belong to one.

    • Mclean

      With some more thought, I should write this addendum first before waiting to respond later:

      I do think walls are important. Especially for groups that are in the minority: they can help build solidarity and add emotional comfort in the case of a dominant culture. I think culture like Jewish culture is important, and I’m not avocating the destruction of such cultures. Indeed, I would not mind seeing a Humanist subculture arise.

      However, I strongly feel that no one in a group should be forced into adopting the culture, and that the culture should not be forced to stagnate by censuring anyone in the group what wishes to change the culture. Similarly, if the culture inspires someone outside of the group, they should be allowed to run with it. This is all because it is ultimately the people concerned that are intrinsicly important, not whatever group they belong or subscribe to. It is the culture that should be judged by how it supports people, not people in how they support a given culture.

  • Lance Armstrong

    Loved this talk. Thank you for bringing Ian’s blog to my attention.