“Being Human” lecture commentary by Gwenyth Van Doren

When attending this lecture, I was not expecting Professor Quillen to approach the concept of humanity through storytelling and the role of storytellers. Yet, it was provoking to think about humanity not in relation to our ability to reason, according to Locke, but in the way that we tell stories. Locke’s definition of humanity leaves room for dehumanization because if we do not “reason”, we are not considered human. But, with Professor Quillen’s approach, it is hard to dehumanize someone in this sense because we are all storytellers in some way or another. Furthermore, I appreciated Professor Quillen’s emphasis on the need to listen to other people’s stories, but at the end Uyen raised the important point that having the power to tell your story comes from a place of privilege that not everyone experiences. Thus, if we should avoid telling other people’s stories, how do marginalized people get their stories told? Furthermore, how do we find and hear the stories that are crushed by other stories? Another question that I thought about during this lecture was that even though Professor Quillen stated that we need to listen to other’s stories, what is the difference between listening and simply tolerating the story being told? Overall, I enjoyed attending Professor Quillen’s lecture and the perspective it provided on humanity through the lens of storytelling.

Leave a Reply