Thursday, September 27, 2012

Going Dutch

"The Netherlands is the bicycle capital of the world, with 40% of all traffic movements by bicycle. They have created a bicycle friendly country that promotes a healthier, more active lifestyle for its residents. Last year over 1.3 million bicycles were sold in the Netherlands..." And to where are they pedaling? Philosophy Night!
The Dutch, it seems, like their philosophy. In an essay for Filosofie Magazine, Frank Mulder discusses the public role of philosophy in the Netherlands.
Attention to the subject, Mulder points out, peaks each year on the Night of Philosophy. Held annually at the International School of Philosophy, it attracts a lay audience a thousand strong. As one organizer says, “The Dutch see an evening of philosophizing as a night out”: many cafes hold philosophical readings and discussions and books of philosophy regularly become best-sellers.
Mulder dates the growth of popular interest in the subject to the early 1990s, when neo-liberalism, commercialism and “hyper-individualism” began to disenchant the Dutch, whetting their appetites for fresh conceptions of society and the good life. 
Meanwhile, where I live, there's a new piece of legislation promoting a very different, very stale old conception of the good life.
House Resolution 789: Reaffirming the importance of religion in the lives of United States citizens and their freedom to exercise those beliefs peacefully.
"As if that really was a problem in our country," indeed.

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