Carus Lecture on racism could spark conversation

Concoridia’s 2014 Carus lecture titled “Liberalizing Illiberal Liberalism” might stir up more than a crowd – at least, the Philosophy Department hopes so.

Dr. Charles W. Mills, John Evans Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy at Northwestern University, will conduct a lecture based around racism in the Centrum on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Levi Heath, secretary of Concordia’s Department of Philosophy, said this is the second annual Carus Lecture, named after long-time Concordia donors Alwin and Elisabeth Carus. Each year, the philosophy department hosts a speaker who will address a specific philosophical issue.

“The Carus Lecture is an opportunity to engage the community in philosophical thought in a way that’s not often possible,” Heath said. “As Socrates says: the unexamined life is not worth living.”

According to philosophy professors Corwin Aragon and Susan O’Shaughnessy, the lecture will cover racism in a liberal setting – such as Concordia College – and how our liberal agenda may actually backfire, causing new social justice issues.

“Liberalism, which is the ideology of equal rights and individualism, has at start been very delinquent,” Mills said in a previous lecture at Stony Brook University. “Should we retrieve liberalism? And if so, how?”

O’Shaughnessy, this year’s Carus Professor, invited Mills to speak on race because she believes his non-confrontational approach may attract and invite conversation.

“Dr. Mills is very engaging,” O’Shaughnessy said. “[Race] is the question we think Dr. Mills will be able to relate to students.”

The supposedly funny, approachable Mills has written several books in his primary field of racial philosophy such as “The Racial Contract, Blackness Visible: Essays on Philosophy and Race” and “Contract and Domination.”

O’Shaughnessy and Aragon believe Concordia may benefit from a discussion, as Concordia is no exception to racial bias.

“Race isn’t biological,” O’Shaughnessy said, “it’s a social construct.”

“Everybody has those [racial] biases,” Aragon continues. “It’s more about how the ways our biases are in our structured living.”

According to Heath, liberal institutions put a great deal of emphasis on eliminating racial bias, but only on paper. Mills will explain some of the ways those aspirations don’t reach society.

“[We must] question the relationship between ideal and actual,” O’Shaughnessy said.

 

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