Regius Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Aberdeen
‘Animality and Equality: Civilisations critique before (and in) Marx and Engels’
NOTE ROOM CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS POSTING OF THIS EVENT
Dante Building Room 006
Marx and Engels insisted that there was a “necessary connection” between the philosophical materialism of the 17th and 18th century and socialism and communism. But what exactly was the connection? Materialists like Hobbes and (arguably) Locke were assuredly not socialists or communists. The paper will discuss 18th century ideas about anthropology, the domestication of animals, and animal industriousness that enabled Marx and Engels to think in a new way about alienation and exploitation and to build this conceptual bridge.
‘The Importance of the Past’
A bias against the past appears to be a feature of our Zeitgeist, having a number of manifestations. One of these is the dominant model of rational agency as geared towards producing effects, a model which cannot make sense of the cogency of backward-looking reasons for action. I discuss the nature of such reasons, and the way of perceiving and understanding the past which goes with them. This mode of understanding the past is one of the things that gives substance to the idea that the past has a reality lacked by the future, a reality which among other things makes the past a possible object of contemplation (as in the study of history). I take such contemplation to be a crucial component of eudaimonia, and argue that a society which undervalues it is liable to various travails.