On Mon., Feb. 10, Robert George '77, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, and professor and philosopher Cornel West held a collection in the Swarthmore Friends Meetinghouse to discuss what it means for intellectuals to learn from each other despite deep differences on important questions. Their visit, sponsored by the Institute for the Liberal Arts, came about after George and West devised ways to teach together and work with students to develop the skills of talking fruitfully across political, ideological, and other differences. Prior to the public event, they met with small groups of students in seminars at the Black Cultural Center.
George has been called "this country's most influential conservative Christian thinker," by The New York Times. His books include Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality, In Defense of Natural Law, and, most recently, Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism. He is chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and previously served on the President's Council on Bioethics and as a presidential appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He has been awarded the United States Presidential Citizens Medal, the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland, and many honorary degrees. As was noted during his introduction, George is also an accomplished bluegrass banjo player and finger style guitarist who led a band, Robby George and Friends, while at Swarthmore.
West is the Class of 1943 University Professor Emeritus in the Center for African American Studies at Princeton and is honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America. His books include The Ethical Dimensions of Marxist Thought, Race Matters, and Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism. He has taught at Harvard and Yale, as well as Princeton, and is currently a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He has appeared as Councillor West in two Matrix films and has done hip hop, soul, and spoken word recordings. West holds more than 20 honorary degrees and has received special recognition from the World Cultural Council. He is co-host, with Tavis Smiley, of the radio show Smiley and West and is co-founder of the Network of Spiritual Progressives. His autobiography is entitled Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud.