All posts by Patrick Stokes

The Lost Boys of Daylesford

A/Prof. Patrick Stokes has just written, produced and presented a radio documentary, ‘The Lost Boys of Daylesford,’ for ABC Radio National’s ‘The History Listen’ program: 

On a clear, cold Sunday in June 1867, three little boys wandered away from their home near the town of Daylesford, on Dja Dja Wurrung country in central Victoria. Over the next six weeks the boys’ story gripped the colony, and made newspaper headlines around the world. Over a century later, the case continues to capture the imagination of locals and visitors to the region. Philosopher Patrick Stokes heads to Daylesford to find out why the lost children story has such enduring and haunting resonance.

The program can be downloaded here.

Matt Sharpe on ‘Lucian (or Lycinus) on how (not) to choose (a) Philosophy’

A/Prof Matthew Sharpe will be presenting a University of Sydney Critical Antiquities Workshop on ‘Lucian (or Lycinus) on how (not) to choose (a) Philosophy’,  Friday 5 March 11am-12:30pm AEDST:
Lucian’s Hermotimus has attracted comparatively little critical attention. Yet it is one of Lucian’s longer texts, and of all of his texts, the closest in form to a Platonic, Socratic dialogue. Hermotimus, an aspiring Stoic, converses with the more sceptical Lycinus, who affects concern to understand how Hermotimus came to choose this philosophical way of life, and not others. Why did Hermotimus become a Stoic, rather than an Epicurean, or Platonist, etc.? If he knew enough to choose a philosophy wisely, wouldn’t that only be possible if he were already wise? He would then not need a philosophy at all. But if he didn’t know enough to be sure the Stoic path was the true way to wisdom, won’t his decision to become a Stoic have been little more than a stab in the dark? Philosophy will hence not be meaningfully different from a religion or superstition. By posing this dilemma, I will contend, this artful dialogue asks questions which remain relevant for young students today, as they are confronted with competing philosophical and theoretical perspectives which bid for their allegiance. In this way, it echoes and aims to complement Plato’s educational reflections, as certain signs in the text flag. The dialogue in addition poses dilemmas also for us as teachers, in differentiating between philosophical training and indoctrination to one or other sectarian perspective. If there is no good reason to become a Platonist rather than a Bourdieuian, a Camusian rather than a Agambenian, etc., or if any such reasons can only emerge having studied for many years in one perspective or another, aren’t we forced to admit that the love of wisdom is groundless, founded on an arbitrary leap of faith, perhaps nudged along by charismatic teachers? I argue that at several moments, Lucian’s dialogue suggests a different possibility, but one which turns upon a self-reflective turn from content to form: to learn to philosophise in a way which is distinguishable from what we would call ‘blind faith’ is to learn to be able to ask questions, and above all, to learn to question the epistemic bases of one’s own beliefs, and even to be courageous enough to retract them in the face of rebuttal. But this is uncomfortable, unglamorous, and social factors also push against it. So, it is telling that Hermotimus ends the dialogue by wishing to leave philosophising behind altogether.

To register, sign up for the Critical Antiquities Network mailing list and you will receive CAN announcements and Zoom links

Cathy Legg on Pierce and semiotics, 1 March 2021

Dr Cathy Legg will be giving a talk on 1st March 2021 to the International Centre for Enactivism and Cognitive Semiotics.

Discursive Habits: Peirce and Cognitive Semiotics
ABSTRACT: Enactivism has greatly benefitted contemporary philosophy by demonstrating that the traditional intellectualist ‘act-content’ model of intentionality is simply insufficient, and showing how minds may be built from world-involving bodily habits. Many enactivists have assumed that this must entail non-representationalism concerning at least basic minds. Here I argue that such anti-intellectualism is overly constraining, and not necessary. I sketch an alternative enactivism which draws on Peirce’s pragmatic semiotics, and understands signs as habits whose connections with rich schemas of possible experience render them subject to increasing degrees of self-control. The talk’s key innovation is to align this cyclical process of habit cultivation with Peirce’s representationalist icon-index-symbol distinction, in a manner which I will explain.
Click here to register to attend. 

NTU Singapore Phenomenology Workshop

Prof. Jack Reynolds will be speaking as part of an online seminar on phenomenology hosted by NTU Singapore:

Date and Time: 

12 March 2021, 10.00–13.20 SGT. 


10.00-11.00:   ‘Dufrenne, Kant, and Aesthetic Intentionality’, Dimitris Apostolopoulos (NTU)

11.10-12.10:   ‘Merleau-Ponty and the Expressiveness of Language’, Andrew Inkpin (University of Melbourne)

12.20-13.20    ‘Perception and Phenomenal Experience’, Jack Reynolds (Deakin University)

Registration on Zoom is required:


Dimitris Apostolopoulos ([email protected]

Sponsored by the NTU Philosophy Programme

New Book: Digital Souls

A/Prof. Patrick Stokes has just published Digital Souls: A Philosophy of Online Death (Bloomsbury, 2021):

Social media is full of dead people. Untold millions of dead users haunt the online world where we increasingly live our lives. What do we do with all these digital souls? Can we simply delete them, or do tehy have a right to persist?… This provocative book explores a range of questions about the nature of death, identity, grief, immortality, the moral status of digital remains and the threat posed by AI-driven avatars of the dead. In the digital era, it seems we must all re-learn how to live with the dead. 

Matt Sharpe on ‘Marketization of Higher Education and Crisis Tendencies’, 3 February 2021

A/Prof. Matthew Sharpe will be giving a Zoom lecture on Wednesday 3rd February (3:00-4:30pm): 

Marketization of Higher Education and Crisis Tendencies: Australia & Germany Compared

Marketization of Higher Education, although presented as a neutral means to achieve ‘efficiencies’, inescapably produces “problem tendencies” (cf. Habermas, 1992; Crioni et al, 2015) within teaching, between casualisation and reduction of teaching staff and quality of instruction; within research, between free inquiry and applied, quantifiable research; and within institutional culture, between the uncommodifiable, collegial dimensions of academic work and the culture of auditing and compliance promoted by neoliberalism, as well as its attendant costs (Power, 1997; Craig et al, 2014). In this talk, I contextualise and examine figures from Germany and Australia, and try to explain why the Australian experience has been so much worse, as the responses to COVID-19 since March 2020 have highlighted.

Click here to register to attend

Nietzsche: Aristocratic Rebel, 24-26 February 2021

Nietzsche: Aristocratic Rebel

Responses to Dominic Losurdo’s Nietzsche

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.

For further information, pls contact [email protected]


Wed 24 Feb 2021, 9 am EST

  • Robert Holub (Columbia)
  • Ronald Beiner (Toronto)
  • Harrison Fluss (New York)

Thu 25 Feb, 7 pm EST

  • Nicholas Martin (Birmingham)
  • Martin Ruehl (Cambridge)
  • Ishay Landa (Open U. of Israel)

Fri 26 Feb, 7 am EST

  • Vanessa Lemm (Deakin)
  • Ruth Abbey (Swinburne)
  • Michael Ure (Monash)