The Catholic University of America

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WHAT: October Talks: Fall Philosophy Lectures Series on “The Modern Turn”
WHERE: The Catholic University of America
Aquinas Hall Auditorium
620 Michigan Ave., N.E.
Washington, D.C.
DETAILS: Catholic University’s Fall Philosophy Lecture series, this year titled The Modern Turn, celebrates its 43rd year. It is one of the longest continuously running major philosophy lecture series in the country.

“In the School of Philosophy we have always recognized the unique philosophical insight gained by examining pre-modern and modern philosophy in the face of each other,” said Rev. Kurt Pritzl, O.P., dean of the School of Philosophy. “The Fall 2010 Lecture Series, The Modern Turn, presents 12 highly distinguished scholars on the chief thinkers and most compelling topics of modern philosophy.”

On Friday, Oct. 1, at 2 p.m., Thomas Merrill, assistant professor of government, American University, delivers the fourth lecture in the series, “Slave of the Passions: Science and Philosophy in Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature.”

On Friday, Oct. 8, at 2 p.m., Harvey Mansfield, William R. Kenan Jr., Professor of Government at Harvard University, delivers the fifth lecture in the series, “Tocqueville’s Alliance of Religion and Liberty.”

On Friday, Oct. 15, at 2 p.m., Paul Guyer, Murray Professor in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, delivers the sixth lecture in the series, “Kant, Autonomy and Modernity.”

“Kant’s conception of autonomy as the fundamental aim of morality may seem distinctively modern, but in fact numerous aspects are already found in ancient philosophy, especially in Plato and the Stoics,” Guyer says. “But Kant’s conception of autonomy as not just the freedom from domination by our own desires but as the freedom to set our own ends is novel and distinctively modern.”

On Friday, Oct. 22, at 2 p.m., Nicholas Jolley, professor of philosophy at the University of California, Irvine, delivers the seventh lecture in the series, “Liebniz: Modern or Pre-Modern Philosopher?”

“In a number of autobiographical passages in his writings Leibniz describes his discovery of the ‘modern’ philosophers as one of the most important events in his life,” Jolley says. “Since Leibniz and his contemporaries contrast modern and pre-modern philosophers, the debate over how he should be classified is not anachronistic, but it does run the risk of equivocation.”

On Friday, Oct. 29, at 2 p. m., Steven Nadler, William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, delivers the eighth lecture in the series, “Spinoza and Toleration.”

“The 17th-century Dutch-Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza is usually (and rightly) regarded as one of history’s earliest and greatest defenders of a liberal, tolerant, secular, democratic society,” Nadler says. “In this lecture, we will consider the nature of Spinoza’s views on toleration, and especially the extent to which he is a proponent of two central pillars of the modern doctrines of toleration and civil liberties: freedom of religion (or the separation of church and state) and freedom of expression.”

The other lectures in the series are scheduled for Nov. 12, Nov. 19, Dec. 3 and Dec. 10.

All the lectures are free and open to the public. For more information, go to, contact the Office of the Dean, School of Philosophy, at 202-319-5259, or e-mail
SPONSORS: School of Philosophy
Franklin J. Matchette Foundation
Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation
George Dougherty Foundation


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