Lectures start promptly at 7:30PM and are held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month September through May

1-9-2018: How Much of What We Call Art Would Nietsche Deem Creative?

MIchael O'Keefe, MFA

Various works of art will be examined as a means to fully understand the immense wisdom in the above Nietzsche quote – “How much of what we can art would Nietzsche deem creative?  Mr. O’Keefe will demonstrate how current understanding in the field of Neuroscience affirms  Nietzsche’s postulate that the artist (most artists) “likes what he can paint” and “paints what he likes”. And I will explain how, as a means to avoid the perils described in Nietzsche’s quote, I have built into my own artistic practice behaviors that mandate amplified creativity. Finally, I will suggest that the great minority of so called art makers actually take the plunge into the abyss of creativity, and I will suggest why it is that I believe the greatest of artists do.

1-23-2018: Memory, Self, and Person: Who are We, Anyway?

Frederick Kreuziger

Writing a memoir some years back made clear to me how doing so completely changes one's appreciation of memory. We make memories, and then they make us.  But the greater revelation is that memory is central to our concept of self and person.  Add all these together, and then throw in thoughts on brain, mind and consciousness, and "Voila!, we appear.

2-13-2018: Environmental Ethics and the Culture War

Dr. Eugene Hargrove

Although environmental ethics and environmental philosophy have been a part of philosophy for nearly forty years, it is not very well established either in public affairs or in public education. There are two primary reasons: modern economics which encourages the social sciences to think exclusively in terms of the instrumental values of Deweyan pragmatism and the Culture War at the primary and secondary school levels going back to the beginning of the nineteenth century. When Ronald Reagan became president, there was an effort to extend the Culture War up to the university level with the NEH abandoning ethics and values for the most part and only the NSF providing some support for it. The emergence of environmental philosophy coincided with and has been inhibited by this extension of the Culture War. Currently students entering colleges and universities have learned ethics as emotivism, as a form of tacit knowledge. As a result, they think ethics is just personal values that they happen to feel individually. For environmental ethics education to be effective, at an early age children need to be taught that ethics involves social values that have evolved as part of their cultural history and that these values are as important as the instrumental values of economics and the social sciences. 

2-27-2018: Why Dallas? Untangling the Mystery of Dallas' Rise to Prominence

Paul Benson, Mountain View College

Paul Benson. Professor of Humanities, Mountain View College, will discuss how it has always been a mystery as to why Dallas has risen to become one of America's most important cities.  He will argue that Dallas is not on a main body of water like Chicago or L.A., nor was it a capital, and it did not have a major State university.  Paul also points out that Dallas weather is not particularly temperate, it has no dominant industry, and it is not blessed with any abundance of natural resources.  He raises the question:  "What did Dallas have that made it better than say Denison, Denton, or Decatur?"  Paul will conclude unraveling this puzzle to bring to light a peculiar alignment of special people, groups, coincidences and luck!

3-13-2018: AI and Medicine

David  Alkek, M.D.

Artificial intelligence is already decoupling intelligence from consciousness. Computers don’t have to be self-aware to perform supercomputing, gathering and dispensing information and making micro-second decisions. Would you rather have your diagnosis and treatment made by a computer approaching 100% accuracy or a warm-blooded person who is tired, over-worked and possibly emotionally distraught – with a 10% possibility that he or she is wrong?  What is happening today to the practice of medicine is only the beginning. What will become of medical practice in the future if AI continues on its present course we can only guess. The supercomputer of the future will know a patient’s complete genome, detailed medical history, all medications ever taken, family and social history, and even where he has travelled. It will have in its databank information on every known disease and therapy and update this instantaneously with new research and medical statistics from every linked-in clinic and hospital in the world. And it will never get tired or sleepy or hungry or rude.  With such a super-Watson, what use will we have for a new Sir William Osler?

3-27-2018: Foucalt on Courage, Truth, and Democracy

Taylor Norwood, University of Dallas

Near the end of his life, Michel Foucault embarked on an extended exploration of the Ancient Greek concept of parrēsia, or courageous truth-telling. As he conducts a genealogy of the concept over the course of his last several lecture series at the Collège de France, Foucault makes it clear that parrēsia is central to the development of philosophy in the West and is key to developing a true political ethics. In this presentation, I will outline the central features of Foucault’s understanding of parrēsia before considering the place of parrēsia in the modern democratic political order.  

4-10-2018: Technology and Beauty

Dr. Andy Amato, UTD

What is technology? What is beauty? What is the relation of one to the other? Technology pervades our existence, but do we really understand what it is? And though we regularly use the designation "beauty" to describe all manner of things we find appealing, is it something we can still discuss in a substantive and meaningful way? Can we still seek universal criteria for beauty? Or, in our contemporary age, ought we to consider such pursuits passé and no longer intellectually tenable? I will attempt a criticism of modern technology and technological systematizing as complicit elements in the reduction of humankind to mass-minded consumers and inauthentic identities. I will additionally take up a defense of beauty as a counteracting force capable of acting as a foundation upon which authentic selves might be established and undertake meaningful action.

4-24-2018: Integrity and Ambiguity in Scientific Research

Fred Grinnell, Ph.D., University of Texas Southwestern Medical School

Science traditionally is taught as a linear process based on logic and carried out by objective researchers following the scientific method. Practice of science is a far more nuanced enterprise, one in which intuition and passion become just as important as objectivity and logic. Whether the activity is committing to study a particular research problem, drawing conclusions about a hypothesis under investigation, choosing whether to count results as data or experimental noise, or deciding what information to present in a research paper, ethical challenges inevitably will arise because of the ambiguities inherent in practice. Unless these ambiguities are acknowledged and their sources understood explicitly, responsible conduct of science education will not adequately prepare the individuals receiving the training for the kinds of decisions essential to research integrity that they will have to make as scientists.

5-8-2018: Ways of Knowing What There Is To Be Known: A Reconsideration of Science and Religion

Robert Hunt, Ph.D., Southern Methodist University

This talk will explore how science and religion came to be understood as mutually exclusive domains of knowledge, and whether they in might in fact share common concerns that lead to fruitful dialogue.