Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Wisdom and Redemption

In class we explored some of the similarities and differences between Socrates and Jesus. In much Christian theology, Socrates is seen as an early proto-type of the Christ figure, as he in some sense embodies the good in the way that he lives his life and because is prepared to die for a higher human ideal. However, Socrates does not present himself as a redeemer. He does not claim to be the 'highest good incarnate; (this is not possible for Socrates, as the good can only be grasped partially and 'for the most part' in his view). This raises an important question - what is the relationship between wisdom and redemption? Can knowledge alone transform human life for the better, or is something else required? More specifically, is a spiritual or supernatural supplement required in addition to knowledge in order to put individual and collective lives on the right track or is rational knowledge alone sufficient? Neil Turnbull

Philosophy Visiting Speaker Series - 2014-15

Time Wednesdays 3-5 19th of November – Dr Will Large, University of Gloucestershire Title: “The Impossible Possibility of Human Capital: Kierkegaard, Foucault and Biopolitics” 3rd of December – Dr Kathleen Stock, University of Sussex. Title TBA: ‘Imagination and Fiction’ January 7th – Matt Barnard, Manchester Metropolitan University Title: Freedom Beyond the Will: Heidegger on Finite Liberty January 14th – Dr Adam Kelly – University of York Title: In Quest of American Sincerity: Stanley Cavell and David Foster Wallace This talk will examine how Wallace's widely noted obsession with questions around sincerity - an obsession shared by many American writers of his generation - led him to a deep engagement with the work of Cavell. After an introduction to the general issues involved, the main part of the talk will be taken up with exploring Wallace's annotations to books by Cavell in his personal library, held at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas. I'll end by reading a chapter of Wallace's final unfinished novel The Pale King (2011) through the notion of "good posture," an idea Wallace gets from Cavell who in turn takes it from Emerson. It is this idea, I'll argue, that offers the key to understanding the particular brand of American sincerity that Emerson, Cavell and Wallace were all in quest of. January 21st – Prof Stephen Mumford –University of Nottingham Title: New Meditions on First Philosophy We can doubt the existence of many things. They might be a social or linguistic construction. But nothing is socially constructed unless causation is real for society is said to construct something. And a society is not a mere plurality but one that must involve causally interacting parts. Societas ergo causalitas. Once established, causation can be understood as that which makes the world regular and comprehendible. Without it there is no life. It provides for us. What thing better deserves the name God? For note that God could not have created anything unless causation was already real; and this includes causation itself. He could not have created it unless it already was. But what is causation? Hume thought of it in terms of constant conjunctions and counterfactuals. But just as neither society nor God can have made causation, the individual alone cannot either, as the private language argument shows. Causation is then to be taken as the criterion of existence and is the thing from which everything else is constructed. Matter is power, as are properties, and all events and processes are manifestations of that causal power. January 28th – Dr Garry Young – Nottingham Trent University Title: Should there be virtually no limit to the things we are permitted to do in video games? A moral examination of symbolic taboo activity within single-player gamespace.