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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

The Capacity for Civic Engagement: Public and Private Worlds of the Self

This book is about connection, about the different kinds of connection and the different meanings they embody. My interest is not only in the kinds of connections it is possible for the individual to make with other individuals, but also with connection to a larger world of meaning and experience. An important aspect of this larger world to which I give special attention is the one we speak of in the language of the public: public life, public space, public institutions. The specific issue I propose to explore is: What is the nature of our attachment to the public, and why do public life and public institutions matter to us? While it is possible to treat connection to the public on the same basis as we treat connection to those particular others having special significance for us, my main concern is with the possibility that this connection may develop on a different basis. My main hypothesis is that there is a special capacity the individual must call upon when making this new kind of connection, one to which the individual may or may not have access.