Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The Middle Class and the Public Sphere

I can't recommend too strongly this wonderful post by Timothy Burke. He takes his daughter to a museum in Philadelphia, finds it swamped by rude, unsupervised, mostly minority kids, struggles with guilt and resentment, and leaves. Then he takes his daughter to another, more "elite" museum, and finds a different sort of problem. From this, Timothy works out, simply put, one of the finest reflections on the often deeply confusing way in which socio-economic realities have infected and affected the way we (academics, intellectuals, everyone) think about the common good that I've read in a very long time. A beautiful post. I've struggled in my own way to address some of the social complications inherent to these themes (in my own context--namely, being a philosopher in poor, rural Arkansas), but the way Timothy framed things makes for superb reading. Of course, the fact that I miss living in the Mid-Atlantic and taking my kids to those same museums maybe just makes it more poignant for me. Anyway, hats off to Tim--and read the whole thing.