Cultural commons: a philosophical analysis – Part I


This article explores the ways in which a background of non-discursive practices properly describable as “cultural commons” underlies the very possibility of law and norm in the governance of a social group. This effectiveness of these practices provides conceptual sources for the recovery of other forms of commons, such as land or environmental commons. The idea of ​​a cultural common good is a distinctive ideal that stands out from other political and moral ideals, such as freedom, equality and brotherhood. It sets itself apart from the ideals of trust and cooperation. The article clarifies how it relates to these and other fundamental institutions of modernity, such as capital and the state. As such, it cannot be inserted into constitutions, nor can it be directly the aim of politics. It is a non-optional and non-cancellable ideal, which could be identified with what Marx called “non-alienated” life.

The concept of the common good has many contenders today, but these have gradually emerged over its long conceptual history. Initially, its deployment seems to have been limited to areas of land for cultivation, grazing or simple foraging. All of these activities were carried out by inhabitants of the commons, who may or may not have formed a population that saw themselves as a group, but who, whether they did or not, in a certain sense, can be considered to have shared Earth. .

Today we speak with far less restrictions of the environmental commons of the entire planet Earth. Even geologists, by demanding a change in nomenclature for our present era (no longer the “Holocene” but the “Anthropocene”), have abandoned their predominant focus on the lithosphere to claim the atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere. terrestrial as planetary commons; and with new technologies making knowledge much more freely accessible outside the covers of books and journals, and outside the walls of schools, academies and libraries, the claims of a common knowledge or a digital common are now ubiquitous.


About Lucille Thompson

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