Mistaken Identities – Kwame Anthony Appiah

Kwame Anthony Appiah says ‘race does nothing for us’. Photograph: BBC

Kwame Anthony Appiah says ‘race does nothing for us’. Photograph: BBC

Friday 6th January, 7:30pm, Unity House, Fennel Street, Loughborough

This Friday Room discussion meeting considers content of the four 2016 Rieth lectures, given by philosopher and cultural theorist Kwame Anthony Appiah, on the subject of creed, colour, country and culture.

Appiah argues that there is no such thing as western civilisation: “The values of liberty, tolerance and rational inquiry are not the birthright of a single culture. In fact, the very notion of something called ‘western culture’ is a modern invention”. He concludes the idea of “Western civilization” is a mistaken one, and that we should abandon it.

The debate is very relevant contempory politics. Some on the left have suggested there has been too much emphasis on identity politics – really? And deconstructing religion, ethnicity, nationality and culture might give insight as to how we perhaps could deal with the ascendency of the (far) right, and its attendent racism, nationalism, cutlural exceptionalism and relgious intolerance, in our day to day interactions?

You will benefit from a wee bit of preparation. A short summary is available in this Guardian long read article by Kwame Anthony Appiah. Hannah Ellis-Petersen discusses the relevance of the lectures to contempory politics in the Guardian here.

For those with more time, you can listen to podcasts each 1 hour long on the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00729d9/episodes/player)

You can also download all 75 pages of the 4 transcripts here 2016_reith1-4_appiah_mistaken_identies