Kwame Anthony Appiah
One of America's Leading Public Intellectuals
- Edward O. Wilson
Named one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 public intellectuals, Kwame Anthony Appiah teaches at New York University. He has previously taught at Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Duke, and the University of Ghana. From 2009 to 2012 he served as President of the PEN American Center, the world’s oldest human rights organization. In 2012, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by The White House.
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.
The Honor Code: Making Moral Revolutions
Philosophers spend lots of time thinking about what is right and wrong, and some time thinking about how to get people to see what is right and wrong—but almost no time thinking about how to get them to do what they know is right and to stop doing what is wrong. Anthony Appiah has spent the last decade thinking about what it takes to turn moral understanding into moral behavior. In this talk, he explores one of the keys to real moral revolution: mobilizing the social power of honor and shame to change the world for the better.
Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers
How is it possible to consider the world a moral community when there is so much disagreement about the nature of morality? In this talk, based on his award-winning book Cosmopolitanism, Anthony Appiah presents answers that are grounded in a new ethics which celebrates our common humanity, while at the same time offering a practical way to manage our differences. 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. With wit, reason, and humanity, Appiah explores some of the central ethical questions of our time.
The Honor Code
In this landmark work, a leading philosopher demonstrates the revolutionary power of honor in ending human suffering. Long neglected as an engine of reform, honor strikingly emerges at the center of our modern world in Kwame Anthony Appiah's The Honor Code.
Over the last few centuries, new democratic movements have led to the emancipation of women, slaves, and the oppressed. But what drove these modern changes, Appiah argues, was not imposing legislation from above, but harnessing the ancient power of honor from within. In gripping detail, he explores the end of the duel in aristocratic England, the tumultuous struggles over footbinding in nineteenth-century China, and the uprising of ordinary people against Atlantic slavery. Finally, he confronts the horrors of "honor killing" in contemporary Pakistan, where rape victims are murdered by their relatives. He argues that honor, used to justify the practice, can also be the most effective weapon against it.
Intertwining philosophy and historical narrative, Appiah has created a remarkably dramatic work, which demonstrates that honor is the driving force in the struggle against man's inhumanity to man.
A moral manifesto that forces us to reconsider a world divided between the West and the Rest, Us and Them. We have grown accustomed in this anxious, post-9/11 era to constructing a world fissured by warring creeds and cultures. Much of humanity now seems separated by chasms of incomprehension.
Kwame Anthony Appiah's landmark new work challenges the separatist doctrines espoused in books such as Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations. Reviving the ancient philosophy of "Cosmopolitanism," a school of thought that dates to the Cynics of the fourth century bce, Appiah traces its influence on the ethical legacies of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, Kant's dream of a "league of nations," and the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In doing so, Appiah shows how Western intellectuals and leaders, on both the left and the right, have wildly exaggerated the power of difference--and neglected the power of one. One world. One species.
Challenging years of received wisdom, Cosmopolitanism is a resounding work of philosophy and global culture.