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Principles of Global Thinking

A Lecture by Choi Chatterjee, Professor of History, California State University, Los Angeles:

“Leo Tolstoy and Rabindranath Tagore: Principles of Global Thinking”

Thursday, October 5, 2017 7:00 p.m.

Knight Library Browsing Room

Leo Tolstoy and Rabindranath Tagore’s political ideas are considered to be embarrassing episodes that distract us from their otherwise brilliant literary careers. But Tolstoy and Tagore’s life practices and unorthodox approach to nationalism, imperialism, and modernity are not simply marks of their eccentricity. To the contrary, their counter-modern ideas have enormous emancipatory potential in the face of accelerating climate change, intensifying national and racial competition, and the dilemma of modern selfhood that defines itself only through accumulation and violence.

The novelist and the poet argued that the world needed a new model of elite behavior, or what I call intentional selflessness. Intentional selflessness links the needs of the self, the community, and ecology in a seamless continuum, and expands our contemporary understanding of selfhood. Finally, their powerful vision of a shared humanity is based on an intimate and profound understanding of the natural world. Tolstoy and Tagore’s principles of global thinking have the power to move us beyond contemporary debates between the Right and the Left, economic development and environmentalism, and the nation and the world.

Free and open to the public.