Philosophy and the City

¨And love became the world's origin and the world's ruler, yet littered is its path with flowers and blood, flowers and blood.¨ Victoria, Knut Hamsun (1898)
20. Before the advent of farming--and the trade and roads and cities and conquest that grew from it--men could not have spoken with any certainty of the many faceless others beyond the lands of their families and small communities. As trade and technology and government brought larger groups of men together anonymously, it became fashionable to speak of society, of culture and civilization, and later economy and nature, vast and mysterious concepts that men defined in each their own way and only sometimes were in agreement upon.
23. The family farm is but the first step to the city.
24. The city teaches man to think in abstraction, to consider his multitude of anonymous neighbors, to speak generally. The city teaches man to think of ideas de-personalized, nameless and faceless. The city provides him with a new vocabularly: of crowds, of groups, anonymous forces both economic and social, of causes and effects at what he calls the  ¨macro level,¨ of mathematical equations that must only be adjusted to achieve some better, more just equilibrium for his fellow man. Man´s new vocabulary brings into being new, previously unaccounted for phenomena. The city beckons man to apply his Reason to it. The city appears to man as imminently rational and transformable.
25. What can be named can be mastered, for naming is itself a mastery. New names encourage man to attempt a wholescale transformation of the city.
30. As the city is extended, the dwelling places of mystery are uprooted and abolished. The undomesticated earth, the dwelling place of animals and gods and sky, is pushed further to the earth´s edges. Having never been beyond the frontier philosophy can only speak of what it can transform in men and by way of men, of the great urban forces that direct them. Philosophy can only speak in the language of  the city. For the history of philosophy is a history of city life.
33. Descartes was only possible because of the city. Without a city to break apart the world into forces and phenomena, to make a man an individual, to make him anonymous, to separate him from other men while living next door to them, listening to them move about the apartments above and below him as he lays in bed; to make a man withdraw into himself, a disconnected individual subject to forces beyond him, but still comprehendable by his Reason: this is what Descartes learned from the city and constructed a metaphysics upon.
36. The Cartesian Error is always most attractive to the city dweller. The city is Reason made manifest, where man can dwell alone among his concepts.
47. The city is the dis-unity of man and woman. Where once there was family, love and flowers, there is loneliness, economic activity, and blood.
55. The city-born philosophy is never more than a repository for the anxieties of urban life, the city-born philosopher no more than a glorified urban planner. Verily, Plato´s Republic, the first acknowledged great work of philosophy, is above all a template for urban planning and social organization.
67. But if philosophy should not aspire to urban planning it should neither aspire to a kind of gardening, or cultivation of the living. Rather philosophy should be remade as subsistence hunting. It should no longer be grain and dairy fed, but sustained entirely on the wild protein it has hunted from the untamed forests.
70. If philosophy ended its preoccupation with the re-ordering of the world it might begin an other, more proper task. But for this proper task to present itself philosophy must break entirely with the city, to see how or even if it can survive where farms and cities were never possible. It shall be taken to that place to die, or to find itself transformed. But who are those men capable of taking philosophy there?

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