The release in translation of Dominic Losurdo’s Nietzsche: The Aristocratic Rebel (2020) comes as Nietzsche is again being claimed by leaders of the global antiliberal Right as a spiritual inspiration. Losurdo’s work, which uses the methodologies of intellectual history, challenges Nietzsche’s widespread reception as an apolitical, untimely, individualistic thinker. It claims we can only coherently read all of Nietzsche, without omissions and elisions, once we acknowledge his metapolitical project of overthrowing the egalitarian ideals and legatees of 1789, and the societies of the “last men” he claims they birthed.
This global convocation, conducted by Zoom, brings together N. American, European, and Australian experts to debate, critique, and weigh Losurdo’s book, and the different subjects it raises.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.