On Thursday, Nov. 16, students, faculty and philosophy fiends came to the Hannon Library, and made their way upstairs to the Meese Meeting Room. By 7:00 P.M. the room had all but reached its 115 person max capacity, and the term’s final Campus Theme Truth Series, a panel on the nature of truth, kicked off.
That evening, sniffling and wrapped in a blue winter jacket, Dr. Prakash Chenjeri of the philosophy department and Co-Director of the Campus Theme, took the podium and announced that he was sick and his panel co-hosts, Devora Shapiro and Justin Harmon would be presenting “Whatever they say will make me look really good, probably better than if I had said it myself,” said Chenjeri.
The Campus Theme Series brings a series of presentations with a shared theme to Southern Oregon University throughout the year with the goal of promoting student dialogue. “This year’s theme is truth,” said the philosopher. “I think it’s a timely and timeless topic. Truth, is something that human beings have struggled with for millennia, and I think it’s much more pertinent [at] this time.”
Pacing the floor, Shapiro delivered the concluding segment, pausing between statements to let their weight fill the room. “We’re thinking about the media, the authority, the institutions,” she said. “How fragile it is, and how it’s all falling down around us. Truth is not the concept we are looking for, what we need is trust.” She concluded, “We have forgotten how to formulate good reasons to trust institutions and to trust other people.”
Lucia Houser, an SOU student who self-admittedly only attended the panel for extra-credit, remarked, “The whole idea that [Shapiro] was talking about, truth as trust, was super interesting,” she said. “That one really blew my mind.”
Chenjeri– with the help of Dr. Daniel Morris, the Chair of the Department of Foreign Language and Literature– first proposed the presentation series nearly ten years ago. Since its inception, there have been themes of race, exploring happiness, and revolution. According to Chenjeri, “Philosophy is not just for the students; it is for the entire citizen.”