C is for City

| February 13, 2014

In James Conlon’s essay, “Cities and the Place of Philosophy,” Conlon argues that the presence of the other is the essential quality of the city. Forcing “a continual and inevitable encounter with the foreign” is what distinguishes urban life from rural life (200). The diversity among the inhabitants of a particular city leads to a variety of beliefs and contrasting values. These differences thus establish a city as a bazaar. As Conlon states, “the marvel of a great city, the rush and excitement of it, is the sheer multiplicity of things it contains” (201). The brief excerpt from Plato’s work, The Republic, also touches upon the diversity inherent among the city’s inhabitants. Socrates states that the “diversities of natures” among them lead to a multitude of occupations (27). What I value so much about a city is described towards the end of Conlon’s essay as Conlon discusses the quality of anonymity. I love city life because I do not personally know 95 percent of the people I encounter in a given day. Those who value city life value their anonymity. While I treasure this freedom, I also relate to the “urban bond” Conlon describes. Being able to sit in a park and listen to music on my iPod or read a book while others pursue their own private ends is my idea of perfect company. The city appeals to a philosopher’s senses because it easily allows for observation. No matter what city or what particular area of the city one visits, there is always room for discovery and exploration.

Meagher, Sharon M., ed. Philosophy and the City: Classic to Contemporary Writings. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008. Print.