Tanner Lectures on Human Values
Fintan O’Toole Columnist with The Irish Times and Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Visiting Professor of Irish Letters at Princeton University
“Known and Strange Things: The Political Necessity of Art”
(November 9) Lecture 1: Against Artfulness--Democracy has become, not so much aestheticized, as artful. Reactionary politicians create collusive relationships with their audiences in which exaggeration and provocation are performed and consumed. Citizens become fans. This is less a form of democratic deliberation, more an ersatz replacement for the aesthetic experience.
(November 10) Lecture 2: Negative Capability--Democracy cannot sustain itself without what John Keats called “negative capability” – the capacity to live with doubts, uncertainties and mysteries without having to impose apparent resolutions. The current crisis of democracy is rooted in the loss of this capacity and the insistence that contradictions are inherently intolerable. How can artists seek to restore it?
The Tanner Lectures on Human Values are presented annually at a select list of universities around the world. The University Center serves as host to these lectures at Princeton, in which an eminent scholar from philosophy, religion, the humanities, sciences, creative arts or learned professions, or a person eminent in political or social life, is invited to present a series of lectures reflecting upon scholarly and scientific learning relating to “the entire range of values pertinent to the human condition."