Tag Archives: Institute for Advanced Study

Danielle Allen: canceled — but — wait!

The Princeton chamber lunch on Thursday with Danielle Allen has been cancelled, due to weather — but you have another chance to hear her.  She will speak at Labyrinth bookstore on Tuesday, March 10,  at 6 p.m. With Melissa Lane she will discuss Lane’s new book the “The Birth of Politics: Eight Greek and Roman Political Ideas and Why They Matter.”

Here is Diccon Hyatt’s interview with Allen in the current issue of U.S. 1  This interview focused on her reading of the Declaration of Independence, whereas I was more interested in her direct declaration of how she advocates for bridging cultural divides, as reported by Not in Our Town Princeton here.

The chamber lunch will not be rescheduled, but Allen will stay in Princeton till June. Perhaps she be persuaded to talk about intercultural dialogue here, before she goes to Harvard.


Danielle Allen: ‘interracial distrust’ vs ‘racism’


Ask yourself, when you interact with a stranger from another race or background, whether you have treated them as you would a friend.

So said Danielle Allen, the luncheon speaker at the Princeton Regional Chamber on Thursday, March 5, at 11:30 p.m. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, she explained the difference between the termInterracial distrust” and “racism.” As below:

“Interracial distrust does capture something missed by the word “racism.” Most of us use the word “racism” to denote the antipathy of white people to people of color. Though the word can equally well denote negative feelings that flow in other directions, we tend to restrict it to the attention “white” people pay to “colored” people.

“Interracial distrust,” in contrast, captures the fact that negative feelings flow all ways across multiple racial and ethnic lines. The world is too full to focus only on how one group of people perceives another group. I am interested in how each of us, individually, interacts with people who are different from us and whom we fear.”

Danielle Allen, a renowned author and co-editor, is currently at the Institute for Advanced Study but will soon leave Princeton for Harvard to be a professor and direct the Edmond. J. Safra Center for Ethics.  aiming to guide the center in a post-Ferguson direction.

She is chair of the Pulitzer Prize board, among other honors. Her topic for Thursday: Pursuing Happiness: What the Declaration of Independence Has to Teach Us About Human Flourishing.

The exact same kind of intercultural conversation that Allen espouses — it takes place in Princeton on first Mondays at the Princeton Public Library. Continuing Conversations on Race is March 2 and April 6 at 7 p.m.



Robert Taub, a pianist, used to be artist in residence (1994-2001) at the Institute for Advanced Study. Now, as told in U.S. 1, he is helping to launch Hook’d, a music app that aims to be the musical equivalent of the photo sharing app Instagram. This new company, MuseAmi, is at 20 Nassau Street.

Taub decries “private music,” listening to tunes on your headphones. “What Hook’d does is make you sound good with pitch correction, reverb, and echo, and allow you to interact with a song that you know and love in less than 30 seconds,” he says.

The current artist in residence is Sebastian Currier.

Rejected by the IAS: Sociology of Religion

I’m a big fan of the Institute for Advanced Study — funded by department store moguls, home of Albert Einstein, headed now by a Dutchman of formidable talent.

But it made my blood boil to read the obituary written by Margalit Fox (no relation) of Robert Bellah, “Sociologist of Religion Who Mapped the American Soul,” in the New York Times today.

When the IAS named him to a professorship, according to the obit, “many of the institute’s faculty — whose members were overwhelmingly scientist and mathematicians — called his scholarly credentials into question.” Sociologists, I would suggest, have traditionally been the Cinderellas of the sciences. Further, according to his colleagues, “in the ardently secular canon of the hard sciences, religion was deemed an insufficiently rigorous subject for scholarly scrutiny.”

Amid the hullabaloo, Bellah rejected the appointment and remained at Berkeley.

Let’s be fair, that was 1973 and this is 30 years later. Few of those voting faculty members are still there, and times have changed. But we in Princeton missed having, in our midst, the author of The Broken Covenant: American Civil Religion in the Time of Trial (1975), Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American life” (1985) and Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age” (2011).

He was called “the greatest living sociologist of religion.” Had he been at IAS, I would have found out about him before. But I’m glad to know now.