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Vol 38  No 4
October 13, 2005


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Harvey lecturer examines the moral life

By Tracey Mills

The most important consideration of ethical discussion is what ought we to do, according to Henrietta Harvey Distinguished Lecturer Dr. Robert Pippin, University of Chicago. He kicks off the lecture series this fall with a lecture titled Hegel on Agency and Self-Knowledge, an in-depth examination of the moral question from the perspective of the nineteenth-century philosopher, Hegel.

According to Dr. Pippin, as moral and practical beings in society we hold people responsible for various actions and we demand reasons from them for these actions. Hegel’s practical philosophy takes up this issue, but his highly unusual answers have been severely criticized as politically dangerous, anti-individualist and illiberal. Dr. Pippin, however, defends Hegel’s unusual answers to these crucial moral questions.

What he wants to do is integrate the concerns of moral autonomy and freedom with the moral subject’s concrete historical community. He said, “After all, publicity and sociality without self-consciousness are blind; self-consciousness and purposiveness without sociality are empty.”

Contemporary philosopher, Richard Rorty calls Robert Pippin one of the most original and imaginative philosophers now at work.

Dr. Suma Rajiva, Department of Philosophy, at Memorial could not agree more. She is delighted to have someone of Dr. Pippin’s calibre and reputation coming to Memorial to lecture and interact with students and faculty.

“Robert Pippin is one of those philosophers who started off as a very specific scholar, wrote two very well known books on Kant and Hegel, but he has since branched out to look at modernity in light of the history of philosophy. He has a broad interdisciplinary interest that appeals to a wide audience and can relate what he is doing philosophically to a lot of other areas. That is very appealing.”

While at Memorial, Dr. Pippin will also deliver the keynote address at the Atlantic Region Philosophical Association Regional Meeting being held at Memorial on October 28 and 29, 2005. He will also meet with graduate students in the M.Phil. (Humanities) program for seminars on Hegel and history and Kant and subjectivity, and give a lecture in the Department of Philosophy on Thursday, October 27 from 2-3:30 p.m. on Henry James. The lecture titled On Maisie’s Knowing her own Mind: The Problem of Self-knowledge in James’ What Maisie Knew will be held in the chemistry building, room C-3053.

The Henrietta Harvey Distinguished lecture, Hegel on Agency and Self-Knowledge will be held in Arts and Administration Building, room AA-1046 starting at 4 p.m. A reception will be held following the lecture in the arts atrium.

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