Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tommy Douglas

Thomas Clement "Tommy" Douglas, PC, CC, SOM (20 October 1904 – 24 February 1986) was a Scottish-born Baptist minister who became a prominent Canadian social democratic politician. As leader of the Saskatchewan Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) from 1942 and the seventh Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961, he led the first socialist government in North America and introduced universal public healthcare to Canada. When the CCF united with the Canadian Labour Congress to form the New Democratic Party, he was elected as its first federal leader and served in that post from 1961 to 1971. (bio taken here)

George Grant: Canadian Identity, Technology, Nietzsche

George Parkin Grant OC, D.Phil., FRSC (Toronto, November 13, 1918 - Halifax, Nova Scotia, September 27, 1988) was a Canadian philosopher, teacher and political commentator, whose popular appeal peaked in the late 1960s and 1970s. He is best known for his nationalism, political conservatism, comments on technology, pacifism, Christian faith, and conservative views regarding abortion and is credited as one of Canada's most original thinkers.

Academically, his writings express a complex meditation on the great books, and confrontation with the great thinkers, of Western Civilization. His influences include the "ancients" such as Plato, Aristotle, and Augustine of Hippo, as well as "moderns" like Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Leo Strauss, Simone Weil, and Jacques Ellul. (bio taken here)

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jacques Rancière: Revisiting Nights of Labor

Jacques Rancière (born Algiers, 1940) is a French philosopher and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris (St. Denis) who came to prominence when he co-authored Reading Capital (1968), with the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser. Rancière has departed from the path set by his teacher and published a series of works probing the concepts that make up our understanding of political discourse. What is ideology? What is the proletariat? Is there a working class? And how do these masses of workers that thinkers like Althusser referred to continuously enter into a relationship with knowledge? We talk about them but what do we know? An example of this line of thinking is Rancière's book entitled Le philosophe et ses pauvres (The Philosopher and His Poor, 1983), a book about the role of the poor in the intellectual lives of philosophers.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mark Kingwell vs. Malcolm Gladwell: Awareness

A thought-provoking discussion featuring two of the world’s leading popular thinkers / theorists / speakers: Malcolm Gladwell and Mark Kingwell. The evening will encourage thought and dialogue about social change.

Malcolm Gladwell is a staff writer for The New Yorker. He is best known as the author of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Mark Kingwell is Professor of Philosophy at UofT, a contributing editor of Harper's Magazine, and a former columnist for both The National Post and The Globe and Mail. Among his award-winning books are the bestsellers Better Living and The World We Want.

Conversion of St. Paul, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Thursday, October 15, 2009

William R. Catton

William R. Catton graduated from Oberlin College with an A.B. degree in 1950, whereupon he entered the graduate program in sociology at the University of Washington. He earned his M.A. there in 1952 and his Ph.D. in 1954. He is now Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Washington State University. Catton served as President of the Pacific Sociological Association 1984-85 and as the first chair of the American Sociological Association Section on Environmental Sociology. (bio taken here)

Jacques Ellul

Jacques Ellul (January 6, 1912 – May 19, 1994) was a French philosopher, law professor, sociologist, lay theologian, and Christian. He wrote several books about the "technological society" and the intersection between Christianity and politics.

A philosopher who approached technology from a deterministic viewpoint, Ellul, professor at the University of Bordeaux, authored 58 books and more than a thousand articles over his lifetime. (bio taken here)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Antonio Damasio

Antonio Damasio is an internationally recognized leader in neuroscience. His research has helped to elucidate the neural basis for the emotions and has shown that emotions play a central role in social cognition and decision-making. His work has also had a major influence on current understanding of the neural systems, which underlie memory, language and consciousness. Damasio directs the newly created USC Brain and Creativity Institute. (bio taken here)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Shelly Kagan: A Course on Death

Shelly Kagan is the Clark Professor of Philosophy at Yale University and the former Henry R. Luce Professor of Social Thought and Ethics. Originally a native of Skokie, Illinois, he received his B.A. from Wesleyan University and his Ph.D. from Princeton University under the supervision of Thomas Nagel in 1982. He taught at the University of Pittsburgh and at the University of Illinois at Chicago before arriving at Yale. (bio taken here)

There is one thing I can be sure of: I am going to die. But what am I to make of that fact? This course will examine a number of issues that arise once we begin to reflect on our mortality. The possibility that death may not actually be the end is considered. Are we, in some sense, immortal? Would immortality be desirable? Also a clearer notion of what it is to die is examined. What does it mean to say that a person has died? What kind of fact is that? And, finally, different attitudes to death are evaluated. Is death an evil? How? Why? Is suicide morally permissible? Is it rational? How should the knowledge that I am going to die affect the way I live my life?

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