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Mountain of Paradise

Reflections on the Emergence of Greater California as a World Civilization


Josef Chytry

Mountain of Paradise challenges conventional taxonomies of world civilizations by introducing a new and formidable candidate: the civilization of Greater California presently incubating as the evolution of California into a veritable «nation-state» or «world commonwealth» according to contemporary commentators and scholars. Through a series of reflective essays it clarifies the momentous implications of this claim by a thorough account of the genealogical origins of «California», permutation into its speculative moment of self-identity thanks to prolonged creative interchange with European thought and philosophy, advancement to status of a socio-economic powerhouse by the 1950s and 1960s, invention of distinctly Californian variants of political economy by the 1970s and 1980s, and present domination over regions formerly classified as «Greater California». In its range and originality Mountain of Paradise constitutes a robust contribution to current political, social, economic and global thematics.


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Chapter 3. The coming of European speculative thought: Three Stages


81 Chapter 3 The coming of European speculative thought: Three Stages1 If it is remarkable when a people has become indifferent to its constitutional theory, to its sentiments, its ethical customs and virtues, it is certainly no less remarkable when a people loses its metaphysics, when the spirit which contemplates its own pure essence is no longer a present reality in the life of the nation …. Systematic philosophy and ordinary common sense thus cooperating to bring about the downfall of metaphysics, there was seen the strange spectacle of a cultured people without metaphysics – like a temple richly ornamented in other respects but without a holy of holies.”2 Granted that, as has been often trumpeted, the twentieth century was the Amer- ican Century, all the more so has it been the California Century, as a formerly peripheral state on the west coast of the United States of America ascended to a ranking of anywhere between fifth and eighth economic power in the world. And granted that a civilization of this global ranking may need to display, following the citation from the philosopher Hegel above, something like its own “metaphys- ics,” the theme of California and “speculation” deserves further reflection. This chapter looks at California civilization and its relation to the European speculative tradition over three different historical stages. The first stage covers the emergence of Californian thinkers, primarily native son Josiah Royce and his fashioning of a philosophical idealism greatly indebted to classical German Idealism and its heirs; the second...

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