Professor Keith Peterson, Professor of Philosophy, gave an extremely interesting talk Tuesday night titled, “We Have Never Been Revolutionary”. As I interpreted his main hypothesis, I took it as he was kind of disproving the authenticity of revolutions. I was definitely taken aback by this idea, as revolutions were the theme of our entire semester thus far. Why would we suddenly be going back on those concepts of revolutions? Why had everyone else been so enthralled with revolutions except for Professor Peterson? Nonetheless, he explained his ideas in an extremely methodical and (appropriately) philosophical manner.
I found that a lot of Professor Peterson’s lecture was confusing for me, personally. Some of the terminology that he used, I was not familiar with. Additionally, everything that he was speaking of was contrary to what I had formerly grown accustomed to. This had completely shifted my frame of mind outside of the norm. I did, however, find the portion of his talk in which he spoke of what rendered something revolutionary extremely interesting. I had never truly considered that simply because something was deemed a revolution, had meant that it was inherently better (in one way or another) from what had come before it. Silently to myself, I found myself trying to think of examples to counteract this. But eventually came to the same conclusion as Professor Peterson had. In order for something to be deemed revolutionary, it simultaneously must be viewed as superior to what had come before it.
The transformation of this definition of “revolutionary” and what it entailed to embody that world was truly transformative for me as well. I had never before associated the word “revolutionary” with the ego that inherently came with it. Understanding the true meanings of what this word was implying within cultural and societal settings was somewhat disturbing for me to learn. However, I think this was my favorite takeaway from this lecture. It allowed me to truly appreciate what I was saying when I used the word “revolutionary”.
Philosophy is not something that I’d consider myself comfortable with. I’ve never taken a philosophy course and I haven’t truly had many philosophical conversations with professors or elsewhere. I truly enjoyed the opportunity to hear a philosopher’s perspective on revolutions and what they contributed to our society. However, I think I was left at somewhat of a disadvantage in the conversation, as I often found myself lost and confused. In particular, while I know it was included to clear up any confusion, the graphic diagram that Professor Peterson included was not something that I completely grasped the concept of.
All in all, I thought Professor Peterson gave a wonderful talk and I truly enjoyed listening to him speak. He definitely inspired me to question and to think about the norms that I realize I had blindly accepted. It was wonderful being able to hear an opinion that may be different from your own and it was eye-opening being forced to question the ideas that you had simply accepted before.