Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Kantian Dinner Party Initiative

One of my more popular posts here at "Siris" is the 2010 post Immanuel Kant's Guide to a Good Dinner Party, in which I gave a summary of the basics of Kant's discussion of dinner parties in Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View. It was a bit of a lark post rather than anything fully serious, but I hope it has led a lot of philosophers, whether faculty or grad students, to take into account a side of Kant, and his ethics, that is often overlooked. (There are a few people who had previously looked at Kant's account of dinner parties; see, for instance, Alix Cohen's The Ultimate Experience: Kant on Dinner Parties. I wasn't aware of her article when I did my post directly from Kant, but Cohen is one of the world's top scholars when it comes to Kant's Anthropology, so it's not surprising that she had already seen the importance Kant gives to dinner parties.)

Having long talked about the topic, I was delighted to see this:

Debate without dogmatism.
Respect and enjoyment.
Civility and sociability.

These are the goals of the Kantian Dinner Party Initiative, a new project which aims to provide a forum where members of diverse communities can engage with timely topics in a respectful and democratic fashion.

The dinners, which will be conducted according to rules laid out by 18th-century philosopher Immanuel Kant, will include a maximum of nine guests, including a presiding host who ensures an open, inclusive and flowing conversation. Guests are asked to conduct themselves in a manner that ensures that "mutual respect and benevolence always shine forth." And, in an effort to engender trust, guests are also asked not to repeat anything shared during the dinner party.

The project, which was funded by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, is coordinated by Marquette University graduate student Anthony Lanz, alumnus Charles Dobbs and Dr. Ryan Patrick Hanley, Mellon Distinguished Professor of Political Science.

They have a bit more at the link. I wish the Kantian Dinner Party Initiative the best of luck in their endeavor, and hope that this is the start of a long, and often-copied, tradition.

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