In 1971, in the Palisades district of west Los Angeles, 18-year-old Michael was holding a white gift box decorated with a beautiful bow as he walked towards a luxury residence on a cliff.
He has dark curly hair and a slender build. He is a student of Palisades High School, president of the school’s student body, and debater on the debate team. The white gift box contained a 6-pound bag of marshmallows and an invitation to then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan to come to his middle school for a public debate.
At the driveway entrance to the governor’s residence, he saw a guard post, with state troopers walking back and forth with several large German shepherds on a leash. It was during the Vietnam War, and the West Coast of the United States became the stronghold of the anti-Vietnam War movement. Reagan was an openly supporter of the Vietnam War, so he was often the target of protests and attacks by anti-war college students.
The state troopers looked suspiciously at the boy with a tender face and a clearly immature body, questioned his identity and purpose, repeatedly checked the gift box, and pressed the candy bag inside, up and down, left and right. After confirming that there is no problem, he was finally released.
Michael walked to the door, rang the doorbell, and politely introduced his purpose, leaving the white gift box that had been ravaged and deformed.
A few days later, Palisades High School received a call from the governor’s office — who told them that Governor Reagan had decided to accept an invitation to participate in a public debate, where he had a conversation with the middle school students on issues that were at odds with each other. The only condition was that the news wasn’t released in advance — because they feared that radical college students at the nearby UCLA would come to the scene to drop eggs and smash tomatoes.
Teenage Michael’s dream has come true!
The boy who wants to defeat the future president
The idea of inviting Governor Reagan to the middle school for a public debate stemmed from Michael Sandel’s enthusiasm for current affairs and debate at the time. At the time, he was a formidable debater in school, very confident in his opinions and debating skills.
Gov. Reagan, who also lived in Palisades, was a rising political star from the Republican right at the time. The students at Michael and Palisades, on the other hand, are almost exclusively left-wing, and disagree with their governor on all major issues: from the Vietnam War, to the United Nations, to whether 18-year-olds should have the right to vote, and so on.
”I was pretty sure I could argue and persuade him.” He boldly sent an invitation letter to the governor’s office, to the effect that middle school students in his community disagreed with him on many issues, and now There is an opportunity for public debate, and they are honored to listen to his thoughts and opinions, and to exchange and discuss these issues with him.
After the letter was sent, the stone fell into the sea.
One day, while reading a magazine, Michael’s mother read a report that Governor Reagan liked gummies. He suddenly had an idea, and immediately went to the candy store to buy a 6-pound bag of marmalade, put it in a white gift box, and tied it with a beautiful bow.
The story after that happened just like the beginning. On the day of the scheduled public debate, Reagan showed up in the auditorium at Palisades High School. In front of more than 2,300 high school students, Michael and the future White House host exchanged views.
Michael threw a well-prepared “bomb” at his opponent, question after question. However, he found that he didn’t hurt Reagan at all, not even “the boxing glove touched him.” To every aggressive question he threw, Reagan responded with grace, humour and method. The debate progressed to the open-ended question-and-answer session, and the same thing happened again: Although the students asked questions that were largely different from the governor’s, Reagan responded to each question in a startling, swift manner. The disarmament approach responded.
An 18-year-old high school student challenges a future White House owner, a famous hawk in American history, and a political figure who is about to have a major impact on the direction of the United States and the entire world.
For the future philosopher, it would be a prelude to many high-profile moments in his life.
Civic Traditions of Hometown Mingzhou
During middle school, Michael Sandel was a restrained and very active student. He was a top student in the school. He was keen to participate in the election of public office in the school, liked to debate, and served as the chairman of the class committee and the chairman of the student council. He later attributed the enthusiasm and concern for public affairs that began in his youth to the subtle influence of the civic traditions of his native Minneapolis.
In 1953, Michael was born in a Jewish family in the Midwestern state of Minnesota, and grew up in Hopkins, a suburb of Minneapolis, the largest city in the state. In the interview, he summed up to me one of the secrets of how to maintain humility: to count his luck, one of which is “from a good family background”. The faith tradition from the family provides an ethical framework for this young mind.
In 1971, 18-year-old Sandel and Reagan debated. Figure/respondent provided
Minnesota, one of the first colonies of the New World in North America, has long had a “quirky and active” passion for politics. Statistics show that in the 2004 US election, the voter turnout rate of Minnesota voters was as high as 77.3%, ranking first in the United States. As the political and cultural center of the state, Minneapolis has a strong tradition of civic participation, and has produced a large number of benchmarks who are active in American politics and public life, and at the same time stand out.
Little Michael likes to play baseball and is a member of the community junior baseball team. He enjoys the time he spends on and off the field cheering for the team’s wonderful performance with his partners, neighbors, and citizens. As a result, he has been conscious of being part of the core members of the community since he was a child. This later became the underpinning of his philosophical thinking – emphasizing the connection with the community and community, believing that “common good” takes precedence over individual freedom and rights.
When Sandel was 13, the family moved to Los Angeles on the West Coast. It was a bustling, bustling, mobile metropolis that Michael would later describe as culturally “personally atomized and rootless”, unlike Minneapolis. But at the time, the 13-year-old’s biggest grief was that he had to support his beloved hometown baseball team, the Minneapolis Twins, from afar.
The Sandel family lives in the Palisades district in the west of Los Angeles, which faces the Pacific Ocean and has a pleasant view. Since 1920, it has been a famous wealthy area, and many doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, politicians and celebrities have chosen to live here. Michael attended the local public schools, Palisades Middle and High School.
In Palisades High School, where elite children gather, the school adheres to the teaching philosophy of “excellence first”, closely tracks and classifies students’ academic performance. Children in AP classes (similar to fast classes or skip classes in China, where students take advanced courses and can earn credits for college-level courses) are arranged to attend classes together most of the time. The fierce competition among classmates, later described by Sandel as “to the point of being unhealthy and undesirable,” became the driving force behind his critique of “the tyranny of merit” years later, revealing its harm to winners and losers. one.
During middle school, Michael found himself interested in politics and history. After graduating from Palisades High School, he went to Brandeis University on the east coast to major in political science. Brandeis University is a small research university featuring the humanities, with a Jewish background and one of the top five schools in the Boston area, especially for its undergraduate education.
The pinnacle experience of a trainee reporter
At Brandeis, Sandel had a great time. The school implements a small class system, so students have a lot of opportunities to communicate and discuss with teachers. He mainly studied political systems, history, economics and other humanities. His undergraduate thesis was on the decline of American political parties.
At this time, the charm of philosophy had not yet appeared to young Michael. In his freshman year, he took a political theory course, and the teachers gave him a long list of works by famous thinkers in the past, including Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, and so on. The books left him dull, obscure, abstract, and far removed from topics of interest to him. “So I thought that political philosophy was not for me at the time, and I was more interested in concrete, realistic things.”
Political activities in the real world probably don’t make a political science student more than the ongoing U.S. presidential election. Excited thing.
As a freshman, Sandel was the head of the university radio station. The station’s channel signal was terrible, but it gave the young man a media pass. With this interview certificate, he began to swagger as a reporter to experience the political hotspot event he was most interested in at the time – the 1972 US presidential election.
In 1974, the summer after his junior year, Sandel sent out internship applications to every newspaper he could think of. Eventually, a Houston newspaper offered him an internship at the Washington bureau. It was a dream come true—that summer, the House Judiciary Committee was holding hearings on the Nixon impeachment!
Sandel’s speech at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, UK, 2012 / Courtesy of the interviewee
Fortunately, the newspaper’s Washington bureau is relatively small, with only about five reporters, and the staff is quite tight. That allowed the intern to sit in on the impeachment hearings in Congress, as well as access hearings hosted by the Supreme Court.
At this point, a heavy ticking time bomb exploded. The Watergate investigation committee has a new situation: Nixon ordered the installation of a wiretapping system in the White House office since early 1971 to record the content of conversations and phone calls with his staff. He also keeps recordings of these conversations. The special prosecutor in charge of the Watergate investigation issued a subpoena for the president to hand over the recording. The Supreme Court had to rule on whether Nixon had to turn over the tapes.
At that time, almost all the media in the United States flocked to Capitol Hill in Washington, and most media had to share a hearing seat every two. Sandel had to rotate every half hour with a reporter from a Detroit newspaper, then rush to report the latest on the development of the news event.
During the hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, the committee began to gradually release the contents of these audio recordings as evidence, publishing two to four volumes at a time, a total of dozens of volumes. These are all very crucial factual evidences, revealing who was when, to whom, what was said, how much the president himself knew about the hush money paid to the participants in the wiretapping case, and so on.
Sandel then volunteered to organize and filter the important information in these recordings for the newspaper. Every day, he went to Capitol Hill to pick up the material that belonged to his newspaper, and scoured the pile of material for new and exciting material.
As August approached, Sandel began to worry that he would have to rush back to school before he could watch how this major historical event unfolded, developed and wrapped up.
On the evening of August 8, 1974, Nixon delivered a televised speech to the United States, announcing his resignation from the presidency, becoming the first and only president in American history to step down due to a scandal. Meanwhile, his vice president, Ford, was sworn in as president before both houses of Congress.
Standing in the hallway of the House of Representatives, Sandel watched as Ford was sworn in as president. Before rushing back to Boston at the end of August, he finally drew a happy ending to his story.
Sandel went back to campus, taking classes, reading, and writing a dissertation.
One day, one of his professors suddenly suggested to this young man who seemed to be able to toss: the application date for the Rhodes Scholarship is about to end, “Why don’t you apply?”
By the British politician and businessman Sisi The Rhodes Scholarship, founded by Err Rhodes in 1903, is one of the oldest and most prestigious international scholarship programs, and is known as the “Global Youth Nobel Prize”. Each year, the Scholarship Committee selects more than 100 Rhodes Scholars from around the world and sponsors them to study at Oxford University in the UK. So far, Rhodes Scholars have produced more than 40 national leaders with global influence, more than 30 famous military strategists and more than 10 Nobel Prize winners.
He was chosen by luck.
In the end, fell in love with political philosophy
In his first year at Oxford, Sandel began to have his core concerns—social fairness, justice.
In the first semester, he began to do a welfare economics project, trying to solve a problem with a paper – how to put equality concerns into the social welfare mechanism. At the same time, he also took a philosophical tutoring course, the purpose of which is to build a theoretical framework for the specific and practical problems he is concerned about.
His economics advisor applauded his idea and thought it could be developed into an original doctoral dissertation. But to Alan Montefiore, the philosophy professor he had mentored the most and with whom he had the closest relationship: “No, if you’re really interested in questions of fairness, you have to read Kant, you have to take philosophy seriously.”
December 1975, Sandel’s first six-week holiday in Oxford arrives. He and a group of graduate students went to the south of Spain on a study sabbatical. Among his friends was a mathematical economist, and the two wanted to work together to develop this small paper on welfare economics into an article. In addition, Sandel carried four philosophical books with him: Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition, John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, and Robert Nozick Anarchy, State and Utopia.
At that time, The Theory of Justice, known as the “Green Devil”, was published in the fourth year. It originated from Harvard University, and then swept the entire Western intellectual and academic circles, becoming the most sensational masterpiece in the field of political philosophy at that time. Rawls’ Harvard colleague Robert Nozick subsequently wrote “Anarchy, State, and Utopia,” which, from a classical, radical liberal standpoint, opposed Rawls’s “excessive preference” for equality, which became a A major response to The Theory of Justice.
In the evening in southern Spain, Sandel and friends discussed and revised the “promising” economics essay. In the morning, when the friend who likes to study and work all night was sound asleep, he read philosophy books by himself.
Returning to campus after his sabbatical, he finally followed the advice of Alan Montefiore and took an instructive course in Kant’s philosophy, followed by political philosophers Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel, early Marx, Aristotle, and Speen Nosa’s course. He found himself gradually falling, completely in love with philosophy, “there is no way to escape”.
Sandel later recalled that his involvement in political philosophy from the outset was not purely out of a passion for abstract philosophy. As for how I ended up falling in love, “it was only when I started seeing how they touched on the issues that I cared about”, “I realized that only by studying philosophy would I be able to really get to those issues.” — that’s fairness , justice and the “common good”.
During his time at Oxford, the most far-reaching influence on the young Sandel’s thought was the Canadian philosopher Charles Margrave Taylor.
Charles Taylor is a leading thinker and a leader of communitarianism in the West, especially in British and American moral philosophy. Since the 1970s, with his reinterpretation of Hegel’s philosophy, his criticism of atomistic negative freedom, and his criticism of community. The emphasis on values, the sorting out of the development of the concept of self-identity in Western culture, the study of the politics of recognition, and the demonstration of cultural pluralism have strongly influenced Western thought.
Under Taylor’s tutelage, Sandel continued to study political philosophy systematically, completing his doctoral dissertation in his fourth year. This is a critique of the liberal political philosophy that originated from Kant and matured by Rawls. In 1982, he continued to improve and develop on the basis of this doctoral dissertation, and published his first academic book – “Liberalism and the Limits of Justice”.
After the book came out, it can be described as a “blockbuster” to describe the attention and theoretical shock it has caused in the academic world. The young Ph.D. quickly established himself in contemporary political philosophy, and one young scholar even described Sandel’s success as “the pinnacle of his debut”.
Justice, rights, the common good, or virtue?
Political philosophy has three important questions: Should government exist? If government should exist, how should a good government be formed? If a good government should consist of democracy, how should the society function, or what guiding principles should it have?
For the third question, from the 1980s to the 1990s, one of the main debates in Western political philosophy took place between liberalism and communitarianism. The focus of the dispute between the two sides is: as the basis of human relations, as the starting point for considering political and social institutional arrangements, should it be justice, common good, or virtue?
John Rawls’ “Theory of Justice” is recognized as a great contribution and breakthrough of liberalism in the field of Western political philosophy. Sandel’s “Liberalism and the Limits of Justice” is considered to be one of the main representative works of communitarian groups to criticize Rawls.
In 1971, at the age of 50, Rawls, a 50-year-old professor of political philosophy at Harvard, completed the first book of his academic career, A Theory of Justice. This green-covered, more than 600-page book, once published, immediately swept the Harvard campus and was acclaimed as a masterpiece of revival of Western political philosophy. At that time, Robert Nozick predicted: “From now on, political philosophy will either do within Rawls’s theory, or it must explain why it doesn’t.”
Everything that happened after that confirmed Nozick’s prediction 100%— —For half a century after that, in the global intellectual and academic circles with surging trends of thought and bright stars, whether it is Nozick, Ronald Dworkin, a legal scholar, or Jurgen Dworkin, who is famous for his “Theory of Public Communication” Habermas and other heavyweight ideological figures have closely discussed Rawls’s issues, raising questions and challenges. Sandel’s critique of Rawls is considered to be the most important and pointed response of the communitarian camp to The Theory of Justice.
It can be said that Sandel’s main academic thoughts are closely related to Rawls’s “Theory of Justice”. Anyone who has attended Harvard’s public class “Justice”, or read Sandel’s popular books on political philosophy “Justice,” “Money Can’t Buy,” and “The Pride of the Elite” will hear this frequently mentioned by him. name.
Rawls’s “Theory of Justice” is grand, profound, and rigorous in argumentation, while Sandel’s critical argumentation process is also extremely delicate and complicated. In interviews, many doctoral students majoring in political philosophy admitted that it was quite difficult to study these two works, and so far they are not fully confident that they have really digested the thoughts of the two “great gods”.
Simply put, Rawls’s core theory of political philosophy wants to solve a problem: in a pluralistic society like the United States or most western countries, when people have different views on what is “the good life”, the constitution or the law A particular idea of ”good life” should not be described. In seeking to build a just society, one should look for a framework of rights that is neutral to the particular moral and spiritual beliefs people hold.
Rawls creatively proposed the “veil of ignorance” methodology to address how people should think and achieve the principles of justice. He argues that people should imagine themselves standing behind a “veil of ignorance” — not knowing who they are, strong or weak, healthy or sick, rich or poor, not knowing their race, religion and gender, What kind of concept does “goodness” hold, and what kind of value order does it have. In such a situation, what set of principles would people choose to govern our common life?
”Thinking about justice in this way respects each individual as a free, independent individual, capable of choosing our own values and goals, undefined or influenced by identities brought about by history, tradition, or inherited status …that’s a very strong theory for Rawls,” Sandel noted.
In his 1980 book of fame, the young Sandel’s critique was that Rawls, while understandable in his ambitions, had to remain completely neutral among the competing notions of what defines “good life.” , and then derive the principles of justice and right, it is impossible.
In 2011, Sandel gave a speech at Fudan University.
Sandel later described his core idea this way: When people enter the “public square” to debate the meaning of justice and rights, if they are asked to, they should first mask their personal beliefs about their history, tradition, culture, morals, and religious allegiance. If you lose it, you will lose something important about ethics and citizenship. “So, I propose: When we as citizens together reason and think about the meaning of justice and rights, we should not set aside our ethical, spiritual traditions, beliefs, ideas. Instead, we should use They, using these, accompany our notion of the ‘good life.'”
Sandel argues that Rawls places an inappropriate priority on the individuality and rights of the individual, ignoring the collectiveness and commonality of people. The starting point of its theory is the solitary person whose only pursuit and consideration is his own rights. He argues that Rawls places right before “good” and presupposes a metaphysical view of human nature and the self, that is, in Rawls’s eyes, man is a detachment from The existence of the environment without the characteristics of experience, dedicated to defending its legitimate rights, only considers “what is mine” from a personal point of view, and does not care about “what I am”.
This is a tit-for-tat proposition with Rawls, who advocates replacing the “politics of rights” centered on individual liberties and rights with “politics of the common good.”
Rawls, known for his humble virtues, noticed the sharp attack on him by the junior. In his important book “Political Liberalism” published in 1993, he further revised and developed his “theory of justice”, and made a thoughtful response to some important criticisms including Sandel. He revised the philosophical basis of his argument, acknowledging “plural goodness” instead of “homogeneous goodness” in The Theory of Justice, and put forward the idea of ”overlapping consensus”, that is, people with different worldviews. The one common part where people share consensus on political justice. But he still insists on the principle that right takes precedence over “good”.
Sandel is often classified as a “communitarian” camp because of his emphasis on “common good” and responsibilities and obligations to the community. The main representatives of this camp include his Oxford mentors Charles Taylor, Michael Walzer, Alasdair Macintyre, Amitai Etzioni). But Sandel himself has had reservations about the “communitarian” label. He later explained that the label implies that when the majority of a community considers what justice is, what justice is defined as. This leads to pure majorityism. He cites the American South during the segregation period as an example, when the majority of the community subscribed to the idea of apartheid, but this did not “justify” the idea.
”Justice must be able to criticize prevailing practices and ideas, and it should not uphold any one value just because it happens to be dominant in a community at some point. That’s my rejection of ‘socialism’. The reason for the ‘groupism’ label.”
In 2009, Zhu Huiling, a Ph.D. student at Tsinghua University, visited Harvard University. She was doing her doctoral dissertation on Sandel’s political philosophy at the time, and she had an appointment to meet and discuss with Sandel. When meeting for the first time, she said that his thinking should be more focused on “civil republicanism,” a political philosophy that emphasizes self-governance, public participation, and civic virtue.
”His eyes lit up and asked me if you really think so. I agree with your statement very much.” Zhu Huiling said with a smile. After that, she went to Sandel’s office every two weeks to discuss issues and conduct academic dialogues, and gradually established a very close relationship with the Sandel family. Later, she translated many of his books under Sandel’s recommendation. At the end of the year, he served as the host of the “Justice” open class in China.
Sandel’s “Justice” class at Harvard. Figure/respondent provided
In 1982, Sandel, who received a Ph.D. from Cambridge, returned to the United States to teach political philosophy in the Department of Government at Harvard University. At that time, it was very rare for a young scholar with absolutely no Harvard background to get a Harvard faculty position. He was able to get this teaching position because of his famous book criticizing Rawls.
In this top academic hall, the young lecturer’s desk is arranged in the basement of the Littauer Center.
One day, the phone in the basement office rang. Sandel picked up the phone, and a voice on the other end said, “Is that Michael Sandel?” Sandel said, “Yes. You are?” The other replied, “I’m John Rawls, R- A-W-L-S, as if I’m afraid I’ve never heard the name! Then he said he learned I was at Harvard, so he called to see if I’d like to have lunch with him.”
”Let’s go together . He was very generous and attentive to me throughout lunch, even though I criticized his theories,” Sandel later recalled.
“Socrates at Sanders Playhouse”
The Sanders Theater is probably the most well-known Harvard venue in the world – through the Internet, tens of millions of learners who have never had the opportunity to visit the Harvard campus seem to be in the theater, learning together with young and proud Harvard students in “Justice Class” , thinking, while accepting Socratic questions and challenges from Sandel.
It is also one of the oldest theaters in the history of the United States, known for its unique design style and acoustic conditions, with 1,166 seats, and the entire theater is semicircular, maintaining the intimacy between the audience and the stage. From the 19th century to the 20th century, many academic giants, international dignitaries and literary giants have set foot on the stage of the Sanders Theater, including Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, etc.
In the mid-1990s, Sandel gave “Lessons on Justice” at the Sanders Theater. This is an introductory course on political philosophy for undergraduates. “Justice Class” later became one of the most popular and influential undergraduate courses in Harvard University’s history, with the number of enrollments setting a Harvard record, and Sandel was awarded Harvard’s “Excellence in Teaching Award”.
In the classroom, Sandel pioneered and innovated pedagogy: by setting up a series of moral choice dilemmas such as train crashes and saving lives, organ transplants, surrogacy, etc., he adopted Socratic questioning to challenge and guide students to participate in public dialogue and Debate, which in turn makes them reflect on the values and beliefs behind their choices, which leads them to the ideas of philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Bentham, Locke, and Rawls.
Regarding his unique pedagogy, Sandel explained: “I have always wanted to connect philosophy with the real world as a way of enlightening and understanding the debates and dilemmas we encounter, whether in political life or from our The specific life of each day. The interest in linking philosophy and the real world motivates me to not adopt the method of standing on the lectern in teaching, but to throw questions, provocations, challenges to students during the teaching process, and invite them to Respond on your own as you learn.”
Sandel believes that once students become critically aware of the ethical dimensions of their lives, they are not the same as they were in the past. “It doesn’t point in any particular career or career direction, but it points in the direction of life, the world. If the course is mastered well, students will never see the world and their place in the same way as they used to be. Whatever their occupation, What to pursue, they are aware of moral, civic possibilities and dilemmas that they may have overlooked in the past.”
Turning the world into “Sander’s Global Public Debate Square”
Globally, Sandel was the first to use new technology to extend philosophy beyond the ivory tower.
Around 2008, he collaborated with Harvard University and Public Television (PBC) to edit and produce a live recording of his teaching “Justice” at the Sanders Theater, which was broadcast across the United States, bringing the popular classes of top schools to the public. open. On September 4, 2009, he put a total of 12 episodes of “Justice” online and made it free to everyone in the world, becoming the first online open course in the history of Harvard University.
The “Justice” open class then quickly spread and spread around the world. Under Sandel’s guidance, interesting choices of moral dilemmas, novel Socratic questioning, and reflections on the values, concepts and philosophies behind unthinking choices attracted me and almost all my classmates and friends. of college students around the world watch and learn. According to statistics provided by Harvard University, tens of millions of people around the world have watched the course.
In the interview, Sandel recalled to me that the “Justice” open class was initially just an experiment, because online open classes had not yet caught on. “Our starting point for this experiment is to see if we can use new technology to open up Harvard’s classrooms to the society, so that students from all over the world, not just students, but the public anywhere, as long as they have a computer and a mobile phone, can watch to our study and discussion of ethical dilemmas in Harvard classrooms.”
”My original wish was that the opportunity to learn should not only belong to the privileged few, but that it should also be a ‘public common’, not a A personal privilege. Initially, I estimated that there would be a few hundred people interested. So, when tens of millions of people around the world watched a philosophy class, it really took me by surprise. .”
It also opened up a gorgeous door for Sandel to bring philosophy to the public space.
He then co-produced the series “Public Philosophers” with the BBC. In this feature, he moderates the philosophical and ethical issues behind hot news events around the world: one issue is about violence against women, following the notorious rape incident in New Delhi, India. At the Palace of Westminster, where the British Parliament is located, he chaired a debate on democracy between the public and MPs. In Brazil, he led a public debate on corruption and the ethics of everyday life, watched by a television audience of 19 million. In Japan, he collaborated with NHK TV to bring together students from China, Japan and South Korea to discuss the issue of moral responsibility for historic wrongs.
Since 2016, he has collaborated with the BBC on a second new project, using real-time image connection technology to enable global public discussion. In the project, “Global Philosophers,” Sandel leads and moderates some of today’s toughest global public discussions on topics such as immigration and borders, climate change, the ethics of success, and more, with “present” participants from three more than ten different countries.
The star Harvard professor finally stepped out of the Sanders Theater to turn the world into his “global public debate square.”
For over a decade, he has traveled, lectured, and moderated various public conversations around the world. In an open-air stadium in Seoul, he spoke to an audience of 14,000. In Tokyo, tickets to his speeches were being fired on the black market for $500 — which, ironically, is exactly what he criticized in his book “What Money Can’t Buy” and related lectures.
He has also visited China many times. Every time he goes to a college, the venue is densely packed with young fans, and there are dark crowds crowding the door and window sill. He was described by an English newspaper as “usually only Hollywood stars and NBA players can enjoy.” Popularity”.
In an interview with Harvard Campus Magazine in 2016, Sandel said he planned to use a combination of research, teaching and new technologies to drive public discourse on a global scale and to build a platform for civic education and public dialogue that transcends borders and cultures. . “I think it’s exciting to have the opportunity to use technology to create a true global citizenship education, for Harvard students, but also for students and learners anywhere else, no matter where they are and where they live.”
How would Sandel explain his enduring rock-star influence on a global scale?
What he really saw, he said, was a huge hunger that was widespread, from America to Europe, from South America to East Asia.
“[People] are eager to engage in rational public debate on ethical, spiritual issues. In many places, this reflects a certain void in public Passive learning.” And his way of teaching and encouraging public dialogue and discussion is very novel, “It seems very novel in East Asia, and it is also very novel in many Western democracies. Today in the United States, public discussion is either Talk on a narrow technocratic level, either on the radio talk shows, on the clamoring competitions on cable, the food wars between parties in Congress.
“People want politics to be about what really matters, including ethics. , spiritual problems. People want to make public life more meaningful than political partisan, ratings-driven commercial media can provide. ”
In some philosophical professional forums, there are also several young scholars who have criticized Sandel’s failure to continue the theoretical and academic peaks achieved by his “Liberalism and the Limits of Justice” and “Democracy’s Dissatisfaction” in the middle and later stages of his academic career. Wasting too much time being a star scholar.
It just seems like an old-fashioned question – should academic intellectuals intervene in the world? And, in what way? After all, political philosophy is inherently a practical philosophy – from Socrates, Plato, Aristotle in ancient Greece, and Locke and others in modern times, in addition to writing books and writing their own books, they instructed monarchs, cultivated disciples, debated with citizens of city-states in the square, and even directly Participate in political action.