Josh Hayes, Associate Professor of Alvernia University, delivered a lecture on October 22, 2021 sponsored by the Philosophy Department. The title of the seminar was "Cosmopolitanism and Civil Friendship: A Dialogue Between Islam and the West.”
Hayes first discussed how, in contemporary society, the lines of validity have been blurred by the conflicting views, claims, and explanations of both the media and politicians. As a result “the prospect of engaging in a genuine Socratic dialogue to arrive at the truth remains a perpetual challenge—especially among citizens of our own nation.”
The philosophy of Cosmopolitanism was discussed at length—defined as “the philosophical idea that human beings have equal moral and political obligations to each other based solely on their humanity, without reference to state citizenship, national identity, religious affiliation, ethnicity, or place of birth” (Oxford Dictionary). Hayes drew parallels between this notion and that of the emphasis of Islamic beliefs on reading and writing. Both Greek and Islamic thought, he states, are intertwined and intrinsically interdependent with each other.
The notion of Cosmopolitanism gained traction after World War II within the context of actively combating future global conflicts and enacting a total community regardless of nationality or religious affiliation. As Mustapha Cheríf, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Algiers, states,“Universal civilization belongs to everyone and is owned by no one.”
One additional topic discussed in the nearly hour long presentation concerned finding common ground, specifically between Islamic and Christian thought. The key, it was stated, was to discard the delusional notion that everyone’s worlds refer to the same realities. It is crucial that we “love difference” because it is the only possible hope we have to prevent “tearing each other apart”. In short, embrace subjective truth.
Contemporary issues such as resurgences in nationalism, glaring economic inequality, and rejection of asylum-seekers (largely in the United States) were considered. Many throughout the world are still dealing with the effects of colonialism and the wealth gap that stems from it, among other factors.
This “migrant crisis” is one of survival, says Hayes. There are thousands who require a safety net at the southern border, and America justifies its immoral policies and practices with tribalistic, racist, and xenophobic thought and reasoning.
Furthermore, countries which are “home to the largest numbers of refugees” are all in the Middle East—Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Iran. No Western countries, which largely practice Christianity as opposed to other places of the world, are on this list. This practice of hospitality is a notable, selfless characteristic of Islam—quite the opposite of Christianity, as seen in the migrant policies previously stated.
Often the West preaches inclusivity, equality, and justice. Politicians and the media cast America as the “savior”— the most powerful and compassionate country in the history of the world. Propaganda and loquacious diction are utilized to condition citizens of the United States to believe in the nation’s inherent “goodness”. The disillusionment is glaring when one considers that Islamic countries practice hospitality by opening their borders to refugees, and thus epitomize morality to a greater extent than the “Land of Opportunity”. This, Hayes concludes, is the “difference between Cosmopolitan rhetoric—and action.”