For Argument's Sake

Back in November 1998, I stood in line outside the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford University to hear Amartya Sen—who had just won the Nobel Prize in economics—talk on "Reason Before Identity." A long queue of students were waiting for admission; and I had to cram into one of the uncomfortable seats upstairs. Sen, in his heavy academic robes, began brilliantly, with a joke about how he had just been pestered by a dim-witted immigration official at Heathrow Airport who couldn't grasp the notion that an Indian like Sen could be the Master of Trinity College at Cambridge University. From then on,...

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