Helen Ngo on language education

In a context where non-white migrant communities are perennially held in suspicion and at the margins — that is, until our cultures and cuisines become trendy enough to consume — to “be” or “dwell” in our language becomes a lot more fraught.

Dr Helen Ngo has written in the Conversation about the importance of first languages, in the context of Footscray Primary School’s controversial decision to drop bilingual Vietnamese teaching in favour of Italian.

Online seminar with Donald Robinson, ‘Stoicism and Anger’

The Stoics considered anger to be the main focus of their therapy of the soul.  We’re lucky enough to have an entire text by Seneca, On Anger, but Marcus Aurelius also talks extensively about anger in The Meditations.  In one key passage, he lists ten distinct cognitive strategies for coping with anger, which can be compared to strategies employed in modern cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).  In this paper, I will examine the Stoic conception of anger, and how we might manage anger, as these subjects are treated in Seneca, Marcus, and the other extant texts.

Donald Robertson (MA Aberdeen, MA Sheffield) is the author of six books including How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius (2019) and Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy (2010).  He is a cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist, writer, and trainer, specializing in the relationship between philosophy, psychology, and self-improvement. He’s particularly known for his work on Stoic philosophy and cognitive-behavioural therapy. Donald is a founding member of the Modern Stoicism group, an interdisciplinary non-profit organisation dedicated to the teaching and practice of Stoic philosophy, including the annual ‘Live like a Stoic’ weeks and global Stoicon and Stoicon-X events. 

Online Seminar: “Re-thinking Empathy: From Simulation to Reception”

Tuesday 18 August 2020, 4-5:30pm via Zoom. All welcome, for Zoom login details please contact patrick.stokes@deakin.edu.au

Katsunori Miyahara (Center for Human Nature, Artificial Intelligence, and Neuroscience (CHAIN), Hokkaido University, Japan), “Re-thinking Empathy: From Simulation to Reception”

On one common sense of the term, empathy refers to a form of mental act in which one understands another by sharing in her perspective on the world. Simulation accounts of empathy conceive of this in terms of imaginative perspective-taking: that is, the act of imagining what it would be like for the other to be in a specific situation. In this talk, I challenge this view of empathy in three steps. First, I illustrate that empathy in practice sometimes depends heavily on the act of listening to the other. Four distinctive features of this type of empathy will be identified. Second, I argue that this form of empathy depends on the capacity to engage receptively with the other in question. Third, I show that these cases of empathy cannot be adequately explained within the simulationist framework. In sum, I advance a novel conception of empathy, which envisions it not so much as a matter of internal simulation, but rather as an embodied practice of engaging with the other while paying her due epistemic respect.


Deakin philosophers on consolation and COVID-19

The Conversation has just run two pieces by Deakin philosophers on seeking guidance and finding consolation during the COVID-19 pandemic: 

A/Prof Matthew Sharpe: “Guide to the Classics: How Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations Can Help Us In a Time of Pandemic”

All of these things may come to pass. Or they may not. But, just now, we cannot immediately avert them. What depends on us right now, always, is what we think and do. And there is, for the Stoic, a comfort in this.

A/Prof Patrick Stokes “Art for Trying Times: How a Philosopher Found Solace Playing Red Dead Redemption 2

Perhaps Red Dead Redemption 2’s most fundamental message is not about redemption at all, but something even more universal: the past is always there. All must die, but nothing can take away the fact of having lived.

New Book: The Selected Writings of Pierre Hadot

Deakin’s A/Prof Matthew Sharpe and Dr Federico Testa (postdoctoral fellow at the University of Warwick) have just released The Selected Works of Pierre Hadot: Philosophy as Practice (Bloomsbury, 2020), a new selection of Hadot’s work including material never before translated:

As a passionate proponent of philosophy as a ‘way of life’ (most powerfully communicated in the life of Socrates), Pierre Hadot rejuvenated interest in the ancient philosophers and developed a philosophy based on their work which is peculiarly contemporary. His radical recasting of philosophy in the West was both provocative and substantial. Indeed, Michel Foucault cites Pierre Hadot as a major influence on his work.


Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy statement on the Humanities

The Australian Society for Continental Philosophy (ASCP) has put out a statement on the recently announced changes to the funding of humanities degrees.

In the years ahead, the importance of humanities degrees in educating citizens how to read, interpret, and think for themselves, and to intelligently question the reliability of the information new media floods them with, will be paramount for the continuing health of Australia as a democracy in which informed discussions about a good life holds sway over demagogic pandering.

You can read the full statement here

New Philosopher’s Zone episode: ‘Dangerous Minds’

Last November, A/Prof. Matthew Sharpe ran a successful workshop on Philosophy and the Far Right: From Weimar to Charlottesville.

This week (15 March 2020, 5:30pm AEST), ABC Radio National’s Philosopher’s Zone program will broadcast Prof. Ronald Beiner‘s presentation from the event:

A lot of interpretative energy has gone into rescuing the reputations of Nietzsche and Heidegger from the clutches of their fascist acolytes. But sometimes, when considering these philosophers, it’s hard to ignore the facts in front of you. Heidegger was an unrepentant Nazi. Nietzsche’s later texts contain passages which openly advocated slavery and genocide. Today, with far-right extremism on the rise around the world, how worried should we be when reading – and teaching – the work of these canonical figures?

You can listen online anytime or download the program here.