One of the world’s most popular modern philosophers recently spoke at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and made quite an impression.
Michael J. Sandel, a Harvard professor who has risen to great notoriety over the course of his career, delivered an address organized by the Research Centre for Human Values, which receives funding from the Philomathia Foundation.
Sandel is recognizable in academia as professor of Harvard University’s famous “Justice” class, which is regularly packed to capacity with 1,000 students or more. That class spawned a cottage industry: a bestselling book; an online version of the class which became a virtual sensation; and a BBC programme, all of which garnered international attention for their explorations of moral philosophy in a modern context.
His address at CUHK drew an overflow crowd of nearly 2,000 spectators, with tickets being snapped up in just a few hours and the appearance drawing significant news coverage in the local media.
Sandel’s speech carried the same focus as his 2014 New York Times bestselling book, What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets. In it, he explores the ethical questions of what roles that money should play in our society, bringing a philosophical approach to a number of real-world dilemmas in the same manner that have made his “Justice” class a rousing success.
Simon Haines, the Director of the Research Centre for Human Values, thanked Philomathia for its role in allowing such a high-profile showcase to take place.
“Above all, our thanks go to our sponsor, The Philomathia Foundation, whose mission it is to promote human values and science through education and research, through its programmes at UC Berkeley, Cambridge University, McMaster and CUHK,” Haines said.
He also made note of the presence of Leslie Chung, a Philomathia Director who was in attendance at the event.
“Here in Hong Kong, the Philomathia Foundation is represented by someone who is a good friend and supporter of the University as well as the Centre, someone without whom we could nothing that we do, including of course this evening’s event… I ask everyone to show their appreciation to the Hong Kong flagbearer of the Philomathia Foundation, Mr Leslie Chung.”
Since 2009, the Research Centre for Human Values has served to promote discussion and research around human values at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The program was founded with a donation from the Philomathia Foundation.
Michael Sandel photo via Harvard Ethics.