Schedule for the Late Winter and Spring 2007 Season:
JANUARY 9, 2007: What Are The Problems With Evolution?
Zachary Moore, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Department of Biophysics and Molecular Genetics and Host of the Evolution 101 Podcast
Although the evidence supporting evolutionary theory is not controversial, there are several philosophical problems that should be addressed when considering it. This discussion will cover some common philosophical issues related to evolutionary theory, including the problems of tautology, species, teleology, and morality. In addition, common philosophical criticisms will be examined, including the charge that evolutionary theory is tantamount to its own metaphysical system, is unable to make predictions, is prejudiced against the supernatural, and does not even qualify as science.
JANUARY 23, 2007: Wilderness and the Construction of Places.
Michael Harrington, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Dallas
Wilderness, at least as defined in the 1964 Wilderness Act, has been the source of a number of conceptual problems. We will focus on the problem of wilderness as a place, or as containing places. Much work has been done to show how places are socially constructed, so that the very phrase "natural place" has come to seem like an oxymoron. But if we look at the historical development of the concept of place, especially in the Platonic tradition, we see that it includes an element of "wildness," which may help us redefine or perhaps reinvent wilderness on a firmer conceptual footing.
FEBRUARY 13, 2007: Misprints and Malapropisms: Early Modern French Law and the Public.
Nadine D. Pederson, University Fellow, School of Arts & Humanities, University of Texas at Dallas
In Early Modern France, laws were disseminated through a group of officials known as the criers. They stood in the town squares and declaimed with fanfare - including trumpets and elaborate costumes - the texts provided by the courts, and posted a written or printed version as well. What could possibly go wrong? Complaints of the criers causing "confusion" and "disorder" abound. The nature of these complaints and their effect on the public's reception of the law will be our topic.
FEBRUARY 27, 2007:
MARCH 13, 2007: Romanian Universities, Romanian Intellectuals and the Rise of Religious Fascism.
Reid Heller, J.D., Attorney
Romania was more than a Nazi ally. It was the only nation in WWII, other than Germany, to have independently planned and implemented a holocaust. The existence of Romania's holocaust was only officially acknowledged by the Romanian government in 2004. The transformation of Romania's political system from liberal democracy to Nazi ally requires an examination of two often ignored aspects of WWII: Religious Fascism and the youth movements. In particular this lecture will examine their intellectual leaders and the professorial class. Romania's political transformation in connection with the careers of various Romanian intellectual and polical leaders. It will reflect on Eliade and Cioran's post-war fame as examples of the enduring popularity of fascist intellectual themes in the democratic West.
MARCH 27, 2007: Intersubjectivity and the Possibility of Neurophilosophical Thinking.
Tony Roberts, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Tarrant County CollegeNorthwest
What is the role of empathy in my everyday being-in-the-world? And what, if anything, might this manner of being contribute to the quest for minds, mental contents, and external worlds? In this forum, I offer an overview of the current neurophilosophical landscape--from modularity to networks, from biochemical processes to cybernetics--and the quest for self-understanding. A unitive theory may not be forthcoming. But in the dialogue between philosophy and neuroscience, an ancient wisdom seems to be emerging (again, for the first time)namely, that our situatedness in the world and with others forms the nexus of conscious experience as well as the “science” that seeks to grasp the same.
APRIL 10, 2007: Aristotle on Beauty and Goodenss in Nature.
Christopher Mirus, Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Dallas
We have all, at one time or another, experienced the natural world as something extraordinarily beautiful. Does this experience correspond to something objective in nature, or is it just a matter of our own subjective response? According to Aristotle, both beauty and goodness are objective features of reality; in fact, he identifies them with being itself. Beauty is related to the essentially positive character of what exists--its non-nothingness, so to speak--and the concept of goodness is closely related. In this lecture we will discuss Aristotle's approach to these issues, and begin to consider some objections.
APRIL 24, 2007: How Good Do We Have To Be?
Jean Kazez, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Southern Methodist University
Millions of people around the world suffer from poverty, disease, and injustice. Meanwhile, we spend our time and money on fine food, great vacations, and the latest electronic gadgets, not to mention clothing for our pets and botox treatments. We could all stand to do better….but just how good do we have to be? We will be discussing this and other topics from the speaker's upcoming book The Weight of Things: Philosophy and the Good Life to be published by Blackwell, in March 2007.
MAY 8, 2007: TBA
MAY 22, 2007: Confucianism and America's Future.
Robert Canright, Educator and author of "Achieve Lasting Happiness".
Confucianism could be the key to America's future. Confucianism is a living, vibrant tradition, adaptable to American culture. It is a philosophy, not a religion, so it can serve as a system of universal ethics to bridge diverse cultures and religions. Confucianism is not well understood in America, so this talk will begin with an overview of the Confucian tradition, also known as the Ru Jia. Then we will examine the personal and social applications of Confucianism. We will consider how the Confucian tradition of self-cultivation can enrich your life. Then we will consider how Confucianism can contribute to solving a number of America's social issues. Finally, we will discuss the international influence of Confucianism.
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