2012 Keynote Speaker
David Livingstone Smith
Director of the New England Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Studies and author of Less Than Human
Less Than Human? Civility in an Age of Discontent
6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012
Stotler Lounge, Memorial Union (North)
Free and open to the public
One of the most acclaimed and far-reaching philosophers today, David Livingstone Smith dispenses universal truths from science and philosophy, particularly ones dealing with why humans—who are capable of incredible acts of kindness—often lie, demean and become violent. A unique thinker, much quoted in the media, Smith strives to appeal to a wide audience without leaving out anything substantial: "My aim is to speak in a manner that is engaging and accessible to the general listener while also having something meaty to offer the specialist."
Smith's newest book, Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others, delves into our darker side, specifically why we do the bad things we do, by drawing from psychology, philosophy, biology and other branches of learning for its conclusions. "[It] makes for an interesting and unusually lucid book about an under-studied subject," says The New York Times. The book fits neatly on the shelf with Smith's previous works, Why We Lie, and The Most Dangerous Animal, and they make him the go-to expert on human nature's darkest impulses and what understanding them can teach us.
Smith is co-founder and director of the New England Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Studies. He earned a PhD in philosophy at the University of London (Kings College), and is currently a professor of philosophy at the University of New England.
Smith recently received the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, a literary award dedicated to honoring written works that make important contributions to the understanding of racism and the appreciation of the rich diversity of human culture. The award was established in 1935 by Cleveland poet and philanthropist Edith Anisfield Wolf and originally administered by the Saturday Review, the awards have been administered by the Cleveland Foundation since 1963.