The latest addition to the Zimmerman Lecture series, presented by Chad Kautzer Monday night, connected concepts from philosophers John Dewey and Hannah Arendt to the recent Occupy movement and Democratic practices as a whole.
The Zimmerman Lecture is named for John J. Zimmerman who was a professor at Emporia State from 1954 to 1982. The first lecture in the series was in 1987.
Kautzer said his inspiration for the lecture, “Returning to Democracy: Dewey, Arendt, and Occupy,” came from his own personal questions about the Occupy movement and what it was doing as a Democratic body.
“Most Americans actually have no experience with being in a Democratic public, and when you do experience one and those expectations of giving reasons and patiently listening and collaborating, those are often off-putting or jarring when they experience that for the first time,” Kautzer said.
Kautzer is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Denver, Colo., and he’s been an active participant in Occupy Denver since October 2011. He attended college at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, then the University of Wisconsin, Madison for his undergraduate work, and he attended Stony Brook University for his master’s degree and doctorate.
Luke Drury, senior political science major and Associated Student Government legislative director, said he attended the lecture primarily as part of an extra credit opportunity offered in his political geography class.
“Overall, I thought his message was very interesting in that the idea of a polis, the idea of people coming together because of a common problem, and about how, inherently, the Tea Party and Occupy are different – how he made that distinction between the two, I thought that was very interesting,” Drury said.
Ed Emmer, associate professor of philosophy, said he met Kautzer while he was doing his graduate work, and he felt Kautzer’s presentation had perfect timing because Occupy has come into existence very recently and has not been able to be addressed before in a Zimmerman Lecture.
“I’m interested in Occupy,” Emmer said. “I can’t claim to be an activist in any serious sense of the word, but I’m very interested… I thought that he really gave it a really solid theoretical foundation. You’re talking about what it is when people get together in a certain way, they actually create something that doesn’t exist when they’re not together, and that’s crucial.”
Kautzer said he hoped students who came to the lecture for different reasons would each come away with something relevant for themselves.
“I just want to key them in to something really important happening in their lives, and maybe they’ll pay attention to it from here on out,” Kautzer said.
Kautzer is currently working on a book titled “Radical Philosophy: An Introduction.” The book’s purpose, according to Kautzer, is to introduce people to different methods and topics that are considered radical in the philosophical tradition.