The idea of the commons is the idea of something shared without rivalry, whether it is land or the environment or knowledge. The survival of the commons depends on human co-operation. In Culture, Capital, and the Commons, Akeel Bilgrami asks the question: Can human co-operation be enforced by regulation, by policing and punishing non-cooperation?
Invoking ideas in thinkers ranging from Nietzsche and Marx to Wittgenstein, Foucault, and Bishop Tutu, the book explores the extent to which regulation and the law depends on a background of the cultural commons that is implicit and inarticulate, and the extent to which the cultural commons is itself sustained by overcoming alienated human relations.
AKEEL BILGRAMI is the Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. As a philosopher of language and mind, he has published Belief and Meaning (1992) and Self-Knowledge and Resentment (2006). As a philosopher of moral psychology and politics, he has published Secularism, Identity, and Enchantment (2014), and is presently completing a major study of Gandhi. He has been Chair of Columbia’s Philosophy Department and was for many years the Director of the Heyman Center for the Humanities.
“Thoughtful and thought-provoking, carefully and persuasively argued, this impressive inquiry leads us step by step to recognise how essential it is to attain a unified unalienated mentality if we are to have any hope of overcoming crises so severe that we can barely find words to capture their immensity.”
– Noam Chomsky
“It’s an important reading of the “tragedy” of the commons, which departs from the assumption that “rational” motivation is centred on the interest of the agent, and shows the real nature of common action, and the sources of social solidarity. It is a very important work which really needs to be published now, if we are to combat some of the ills of contemporary democracy.”
– Charles Taylor