Jackson W. on Carol Quillen’s Being Human

Professor Quillen’s interrogation of liberalism and “universal language” is a timely rebuttal to the (seemingly well accepted) themes that we are currently covering in Humes. She argues against traditional liberalism, and it’s unfortunate ability to de-humanize large groups of people when said groups don’t fall into pre-conceived (read: western) ideals of humans.

In place of Locke’s “hard line” on what constitutes humanity, Quillen suggests that maybe storytelling is all someone should need to be accepted as human. People of all cultures, from all corners of the world, can tell stories. And everyone has their own story, whether it be conflicting with someone else’s, or not.

Although delivered more like a story than an argument, Quillen certainly gets the listener to think deeply about humanity. Why does our society draw lines, where does it draw them, and is it right to draw these types of “dividing lines” in the first place? Finally, (a point brought up by Issac Bailey) where is it okay to draw lines for yourself, and disregard someone’s opinion — not as their side of a story — but as illogical & wrong?

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