In his acerbic lectures, Appiah explores some of the central ethical questions of our time. How is it possible to consider the world a moral community, for instance, when there is so much disagreement about the nature of morality? He offers answers that are grounded in a new ethics (Cosmopolitanism) which celebrates our common humanity, while at the same time offering a practical way to manage our differences. With wit, reason and humanity, he offers a new approach to living a moral life in the modern age--where the competing claims of “a Clash of Civilizations” on one hand, and a groundless moral relativism on the other, can make such a project seem impossible.
Kwame Anthony Appiah is our postmodern Socrates. He asks what it means to be African and African-American, but his answers immediately raise issues that encompass us all. His principal and abiding concern is how we individually construct ourselves in dialogue with social circumstance, both private and public, past and present.
He has taught philosophy and African and African-American studies at Cambridge, Duke, Cornell, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton Universities. He is currently Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton (with a cross-appointment at the University Center for Human Values)
Appiah’s latest book, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (Issues of Our Time), is a work of discourse on “clashing civilizations” that, according to Publisher’s Weekly, “reclaims a tradition of creative exchange and imaginative engagement across lines of difference.” His early philosophical work dealt with probabilistic semantics and theories of meaning, but his more recent books have tackled philosophical problems of race and racism. The Ethics of Identity, and In My Father’s House, are among his titles.
This event was co-sponsored by the UW-Madison Distinguished Lecture Committee, the UW-Madison African Studies Program, the Center for the Humanities, Global Studies, and with generous support from the Evjue Foundation.