Philosopher emphasizes being a global citizen

Justin Armburger

Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah, professor of philosophy at Princeton, presents a speech in Cartwright Hall titled “Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers.” Leslie L. Cusano | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

Because of technology and globalization, the world is becoming much smaller, Kwame Anthony Appiah told an audience of more than 150 people last night.

Appiah, a Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of philosophy at Princeton, spoke to the crowd during the first evening of festivities at the 12th Annual Celebration of Scholarship in Cartwright Hall.

“We’ve come to the point where we can realistically imagine contacting one of the other 6 billion of us,” Appiah said. “Globalization has made this ancient ideal relevant.”

Appiah, referred to on the Celebration of Scholarship’s Web site as a postmodern Socrates, talked for more than an hour about the history of cosmopolitanism — being a citizen of the world — and what it means to be a cosmopolitan.

“Cosmopolitans realize their nations demand more of them than the global community,” Appiah said, “just as we realize our families demand more of us than our nations.”

Appiah, born to a mother from England and father from Ghana, talked about learning to be tolerant and open-minded toward people from other parts of the world at an early age.

“I learned something which they exemplified when they got married: openness to peoples and cultures,” he said.

Brooke Russell, human development and psychology major, said cosmopolitanism is an issue relevant to her.

“I can relate it to being open and accepting people for who they are,” Russell said. “You really have an obligation to everyone, and you can’t just be concerned with yourself.”

Anita Levine, a graduate student pursuing her doctoral degree in education, bought Appiah’s latest book, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, awhile ago, but had not gotten around to reading it.

“I just found out he was coming today,” Levine said. “If I had known he was coming, I would have hurried up and read it so I could have him sign it.”

Contact science reporter Justin Armburger at [email protected].