Earlier this summer I wrote about the Summer Colloquium for NYUAD students. As part of the colloquium, I recorded a 35-minute lecture at NYU-TV that responded to questions generated by the students’ reading of Anthony Appiah’s Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. The video was made available to NYUAD students via a private iTunes link, and it’s just been made available to NYUAD faculty and staff as a Flash video on the NYUAD Intranet. Both sites are password-protected, but the video may eventually be made public on the NYUAD website.
As an act of penance, I forced myself to watch the video in its entirety while riding the stationary bicycle in the Sama Tower rooftop gym on my first morning in Abu Dhabi this week. (Penance for the fact that my sessions at the gym have been woefully few and far between this past spring and summer.) I’m glad to say that I didn’t discover any major gaffes and that I still agree with what I said in the lecture. A good thing, because I have to do a live-follow-up next Tuesday at our opening dinner for the students. The lecture begins with an account of my full name — Cyrus Rusi Kaikhusroo Patell — and its relation to the naming of my children in order to set out a model of cultural change that accords with the one that Appiah describes in his book. During the video, I discuss a little of the history of cosmopolitanism as an idea; explore the importance of “conversation” to current conceptions of cosmopolitanism; and then deal with such issues as Appiah’s description of “positivism” (focusing on his account of the relationship between beliefs and desires), the dynamics of negative and positive liberty, and the relation between individualism and communitarianism. Most of these points were prompted by the questions that students posed online during the portion of the colloquium by philosopher Matty Silverstein, a member of the NYUAD standing faculty. It ends with the suggestion that the lecture itself, like Appiah’s book, has been less about providing answers than about starting a conversation.
The lecture was pitched primarily to those who had read Appiah’s book, but my talk next week will attempt to open up that conversation to those who didn’t manage to participate in the summer colloquium. I’m planning to keep it short: it’ll be an accompaniment to dessert. So, hopefullly, short and sweet.