On Being Human : Professor Quillen Lecture

The lecture series, “On Being Human” attempts to answer the big question, “What makes us human?”. President and Professor Quillen spoke on September 3rd about how she believes that storytelling is the key. Her lecture discussed how listening to and sharing narratives connects people and allows us to see the humanity in others.

While the terms of liberalism appear to be true, Quillen pointed out the insufficiency of a focus on “all equal” and reason, as we have discussed with Locke’s philosophy. This universal language generalizes, dehumanizing those who are different or “alien”.

Professor Quillen concluded with the possible solution that a liberal framework is valid, as long as we focus on listening to stories as well. This allows us to respect all of humanity while still respecting the distinctions between us. Following the lecture, some audience members asked questions about how we can value certain stories over others as more true or valid. However, I felt that these questions missed the point. To me, the lecture was not teaching how to seek truth in a haze of differing opinions, but rather, how to respect differing opinions to resolve conflict in a world of unnecessary hate.

Grace Gardella

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