Gregory Smith (Department of History, Central Michigan Univeristy)
"Demons, Dualism, and Descartes: Material Paradigms From Augustine to Einstein"
Wednesday, Septmeber 30
Meeter Center Lecture Hall
Synopsis: How thin is your mind? And is it more or less dense than the moon? If you think these are silly questions (and you do) you can thank René Descartes. Even though he didn’t, Descartes should have thanked Augustine of Hippo, who invented not just Descartes’ most famous argument, the cogito (“I think, therefore I am”) but also the idea that we have an “inner self” in the first place. By way of Descartes, we have all inherited from Augustine the concept of a radically immaterial soul or mind, a private inner place more or less mysteriously connected to—or emerging from—our physical bodies, and especially the brain. Even when we try to avoid it, we take this model for granted all the time. But it wasn’t always so.
In pursuit of the history of what we now call substance dualism, scholars have naturally focused on the philosophy of mind as it appears in Augustine, Descartes, and other seminal thinkers. This lecture will change the subject, so to speak, by focusing on the “body” part of the infamous mind-body problem. It sketches the little-known history of fine-material or “pneumatic” mechanics in the ancient world, and shows how difficult it was even for Platonists to think in non-material ways about soul or mind—or at least to think in the Cartesian sort of non-material ways that most of us take for granted. Finally, it offers new conclusions about some of Augustine’s most radical and far-reaching innovations, especially as evident in his developing thought on demons’ bodies.
Laura Marshall (Graduate Fellow at The Ohio State University)
"Gadfly or Spur? The meaning of μύωψ in Plato's Apology of Socrates"
Thursday, April 2
Laura Marshall is finishing her PhD in Classics at The Ohio State University, and she is writing her dissertation on the connections between philosophy and Apollonius Rhodius’ Greek epic, the Argonautica. She is interested in the connections between philosophy and literature in general, and she has a special interest in Greek epic.
Book Launch Celebration for Professor David Noe
Tuesday, February 24
Join the Classics Department in celebrating the publication of David Noe's translation of Franciscus Junius' highly influential work,
A Treatise on True Theology
Franciscus Junius was a skilled linguist, biblical exegete, and theologian, and as such shaped the Reformed tradition in profound ways. Junius' Treatise on True Theology is a scholastic introduction to the discipline of theology. He reflects on the definition of theology, where it comes from, and the variety of modes it takes. This is the first time this work has been translated into English.
Join the Classics Department for an informal Q&A with poet, author and translator Dr. Sarah Ruden.
Thursday, April 10
Hiemenga Hall 336
Dr. Ruden has a Ph.D. in Classical Philology from Harvard University, and is currently a visiting scholar at Brown University. She has taught English, Latin and writing, and has been a tutor for the South African Education and Environment project. She is a poet, translator and essayist. Her scholarship concentrates on literary translation of Greek and Roman classics. She has published translations of the Satyricon of Petronius, Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, the Homeric Hymns, and Vergil’s Aeneid. Her collection of poems, Other Places, won South Africa’s leading book prize, the Central News Agency Literary Award.
Fall 2013 Public Lecture
Dr. Michael Fontaine (Cornell University)
"On Being Sane in an Insane Place: The Rosenhan Experiment in the Laboratory of Plautus' Epidamnus"
Thursday, September 26
Commons Annex Lecture Hall
Synopsis: Plautus’ Roman comedy Menaechmi (The Two Menaechmuses) of c. 200 BC anticipates in fictional form the famous Rosenhan experiment of 1973, a landmark critique of psychiatric diagnosis. An analysis of the scenes of feigned madness and psychiatric examination suggests that the play (and the earlier Greek play from which it was adapted) offers two related ethical reflections, one on the validity of psychiatric diagnoses, the other on the validity of the entire medical model of insanity—that is, of the popular notion and political truth that mental illness is a (bodily) disease ‘like any other’. The paper is thus offered as a contribution to the interpretation of the play as well as to the history of Psychiatry.
Free of charge. All are welcome. A reception will follow.