Kwame Anthony Appiah – “Morgan Lecturer”

New York University

Morgan Lecture

Identity at Home and in the Wider World

Thursday, September 19, 2019
Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, 7 p.m.

Appiah will first explore the idea of identity philosophically, then focus on the psychology of identity and the challenges of managing identities in a humane way. He will examine how one particular identity—social class—works in our own society today, and end by discussing the role of identities across the world, defending the continuing relevance of a cosmopolitanism that is very much under attack. A book sale and signing will follow the presentation.

This program is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and the Morgan Lecture Fund and co-sponsored by the Robert Lecture Fund in the Department of Classical Studies, and the Churchill Fund. It is  also part of the Clarke Forum’s Leadership in an Age of Uncertainty Series.

Biography (provided by the speaker)

Exciting and erudite, Kwame Anthony Appiah challenges us to look beyond the boundaries—real and imagined—that divide us, and to celebrate our common humanity. Named one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 public intellectuals, one of the Carnegie Corporation’s “Great Immigrants,” and awarded a National Humanities Medal by The White House, Appiah currently teaches at NYU, though he’s previously taught at Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Duke, and the University of Ghana. He considers readers’ ethical quandries in a weekly column as “The Ethicist” for The New York Times Magazine. From 2009 to 2012 he served as President of the PEN American Center, the world’s oldest human rights organization. He is currently chair of The Man Booker Prize.

Anthony Appiah’s book Cosmopolitanism is a manifesto for a world where identity has become a weapon and where difference has become a cause of pain and suffering. Cosmopolitanism won the Arthur Ross Book Award, the most significant prize given to a book on international affairs. In The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen, Appiah lays out how honor propelled moral revolutions in the past—and could do so in the future. Walter Isaacson (Steve Jobs) calls it “an indispensible book for both moral philosophers and honorable citizens.” Among his most recent books are As If: Idealization and Ideals, an exploration of the way ideals facilitate human progress; Mistaken Identities, further explores subjects of his popular BBC series; and the brand new The Lies That Bind, an incandescent exploration of the nature and history of the identities that define us.

Kwame Anthony Appiah was born in London to a Ghanaian father and a white mother. He was raised in Ghana, and educated in England, at Cambridge University, where he received a Ph.D. in philosophy. As a scholar of African and African-American studies, he established himself as an intellectual with a broad reach. His book In My Father’s House and his collaborations with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.—including The Dictionary of Global Culture and Africana—are major works of African struggles for self-determination. In 2009, he was featured in Astra Taylor’s documentary Examined Life, alongside Martha Nussbaum, Slavoj Zizek, and other leading contemporary philosophers.

Morgan Lectureship
The Morgan Lectureship was endowed by the board of trustees in 1992, in grateful appreciation for the distinguished service of James Henry Morgan of the Class of 1878, professor of Greek, dean, and president of the College. The lectureship brings to campus a scholar in residence to meet informally with individuals and class groups, and to deliver the Morgan Lecture on topics in the social sciences and humanities. Recent scholars have been Jorge Luis Borges, Francis Fukuyama, Michael Ignatieff, Samantha Power, Art Spiegelman, Sandra Steingraber, Kay Redfield Jamison, Patricia Hill Collins, Winona LaDuke, Lila Abu-Lughod and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz .