Magazine On-line [spring 2011]
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Appiah urges students to learn from other cultures

Princeton University philosophy professor Kwame Anthony Appiah delivered the fall Kenan Lecture October 20 in Haggin Auditorium.

Appiah is one of the world’s leading scholars on cosmopolitanism, a philosophy of universal ethics. His book, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, won the 2007 Arthur Ross Award from the Council on Foreign Relations.

Appiah explained that cosmopolitanism says people ought to view morals and ethics in an increasingly global society. He described cosmopolitanism as the idea that everyone is “a citizen of the world,” and only when we understand other cultures in the world can we approach those cultures ethically.

Appiah, who was born in London and raised in Ghana, has a Ghanaian father and an English mother. But, as he noted humorously, heritage was not what defined his parents.

Kwame Appiah“Many people told them that their mixed marriage was going to be difficult,” he said. “And my parents agreed because my father was Methodist and my mother was Anglican.”

The lecture encouraged audience members to branch out and study other cultures and develop real relationships, not just be content with American people and ideals. Only then, he pointed out, can we truly be citizens of the world.

“There is a magic power in crossing boundaries wherever you are and whatever your vocation,” he said.

The lecture was part of Transylvania’s William R. Kenan Jr. Lecture Series and was funded by a grant from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust.

Visit Appiah's website for more information about his books and other works.

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