Selling at the Marketplace of Ideas

The Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius proposed a rather large educational enterprise when he wrote, “We exist for the sake of one another. Teach them, then, or accept them as they are” (Bk 8:59).

teacher's desk with apple, books, pencils, and ABC blocks

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

I wish this were not the wisdom of the ages, but experience indicates that it is: teach people the way of tolerance and pro-sociality, or deal with the consequences. 

However, since that sort of education isn’t compulsory, we do have to take ideas of communalism and pro-sociality to the marketplace of ideas, where there are some who will always be selling, never buying—never open to anything new or different.

Yet, if we reject coercion and violence as the primary methods of social control, education is the best alternative. Education and that marketplace of ideas.

How do we “sell” ideas such as cosmopolitanism or multiculturalism–or even their cousin, tolerance–at that big bazaar of ideas? 

Religion can’t do the educating, apparently. After all, the Good Samaritan parable and its clincher about everybody being our neighbor doesn’t appear to have done a lot of good in America’s more fundamentally religious regions. 

Direct orders such as “Love your neighbor as yourself!” haven’t gone all that well either. 

What’s a multicultural cosmopolitain to do? How do we convince more of our fellow citizens that we exist for the sake of one another? 

Perhaps it’s a case for the Ad Council? After all, eyeballs on screens is the latest marketplace of ideas.

Or. There’s always Marcus Aurelius’ alternative . . . “accept them as they are.” 

But who buys that?

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