Pennsylvania State Professor of Philosophy shares his work on human ignorance at the 2017 Ian Moor Memorial Lecture at Towson University (Photo By: Nicole Damico.)

A Pennsylvania State Professor of Philosophy spoke the problems of racism and slavery and the aftermath of the institutions in his speech about white ignorance at Towson University Wednesday night.

Penn State’s Professor of philosophy and international affairs, Dr. Eduardo Mendieta shared his his philosophical view on human ignorance Wednesday, March 8 at 7 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building. Prof. Mendieta was chosen to speak for the 2017 Ian Moore Memorial Lecture at Towson University to an audience of about 40 people, both students, faculty and guests.

As a Professor of Philosophy, Prof. Mendieta has written philosophical books, published journal articles, book chapters, encyclopedia entries, translations and review articles. In his lecture, Prof. Mendieta focused on the writing of American author Herman Melville, who is best known for his novel “Moby-Dick”. Prof. Mendieta focused on Melville’s work “Beneito Cereno” to talk about the human privilege, white privilege and the problem of racism.

“I wanted my audience to really think about ways in which they are privileged and how that privilege enables a certain kind of ignorance,” Prof. Mendieta said about his lecture. “I specifically wanted to talk about white ignorance that flows, emanates from white privilege and so that is another thing that I wanted people to think about.”

In his lecture, Prof. Mendieta took quotes from both his essay and Herman Melville’s “Benito Cereno” and described in depth how racism and white privilege is prominent in both Melville’s novel and the world today. Prof. Mendieta explained how he does not believe that there is just white privilege in the world today, but how, for example being a man, he will never understand what it is like to struggle as a woman in the world. Prof. Mendieta focused on how male privilege is something that happens everyday with out even realizing it.

Although Prof. Mendieta did not get through every quote from “Benito Cereno” that he had prepared, he opened the floor for the audience to ask questions. Many of the audience members understood the lecture he was giving and compared to the election of 2017.

“I am just always blown away anew by people’s way of making it clear that whiteness is not a property of a body, it is a thing in our heads,” a member of the Towson University faculty and religious and philosophy department, Prof. Emily Parker said. “We talk about it all the time like it’s a fact, that it’s just a descriptive thing, but it’s like a kind of story that we carry around, but it is a story about physicality, this very concrete stuff that we kind of see and don’t see at the same time. So I am very interested in all of that.”

When asked about Prof. Mendieta’s lecture a student from Towson University, Amanda Long said  “I only disliked the fact that he was reading more than engaging with the audience.”


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