New book by professor looks at underlying societal structures

Posted: April 14, 2017

GRANVILLE, Ohio— Denison University announces a new book by Omedi Ochieng, assistant professor of communication, titled “Groundwork for the Practice of the Good Life: Politics and Ethics at the Intersection of North Atlantic and African Philosophy.”

In his book, Ochieng examines the question of what makes for good societies and good lives in a global world. He begins to build his answer through an overview and critique of North Atlantic and African philosophical traditions, which he argues unfold visions of the good life that are characterized by idealism, moralism and parochialism.

Ochieng argues that it is critically important to step back and understand what’s at stake when we seek answers about the good life. Those stakes, he suggests, are to be found only through a social ontology – a comprehensive and in-depth account of the political, economic, and cultural structures that mark the boundaries and limits of life in the twenty-first century. It is only in light of this social ontology that he then proffers an alternative normative account of the good society and the good life – which he spells out as emergent from ecological embeddedness; social entanglement; embodied encounter; and aesthetic engenderment.

The question that this book explores about what exactly counts as a good life is at once deeply global and local; deeply public and personal,” Ochieng states. “It is global because we know that all societies are interdependent. As Martin Luther King put it so well, ‘we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.’ No society exists in a vacuum. For example, policies enacted in Washington D.C. on the fossil fuel industry can spell the difference in the future between severe or catastrophic drought in, say, Kenya. Just as these questions are global, they are also inextricably local. In considering how to live, we are invited to think about our neighbors, our villages, our towns, our state, and our country. By the same token, the subject of what constitutes a good life is also urgently public and personal. It is public because it touches on questions of justice, law, policy, and ethics. But it is personal because each of us will eventually face existential questions about the meaning of our lives, the purpose of our vocation, and the value of our life projects. This book seeks to open a space for these kinds of questions.”

Omedi’s book does more than just appeal to intellectuals and scholars across the humanities and social sciences,” said Denison Provost Kim Coplin. “It opens up the academic disciplines to a whole new landscape of exploration into the biggest and most pressing questions of the human experience.”

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