The Catholic University of America

Sept. 19, 2014

Fall Philosophy Lecture Series

The Catholic University of America School of Philosophy presents its 47th annual Fall Lecture Series, which this year explores the theme Music and Philosophy.

“Music is of anything but marginal interest for philosophy,” says John McCarthy, dean of the philosophy school. “According to tradition, Pythagoras, one of the very first philosophers in the Western world, made the remarkable discovery that the intervals in a musical scale are governed by mathematical ratios, which suggested to him that there is a rational order underlying the audible and visible world.”

“And the two greatest philosophers of the ancient world, Plato and Aristotle, thought that a knowledge of music was indispensable for a philosophical understanding of political life. Philosophers have always recognized that there’s more to music than meets the ear, so to say.”

“Besides, who isn’t interested in music? Human life would be unthinkable without it, which is to say that philosophy comes by its interest in music naturally,” McCarthy adds.

Catholic University’s program is among the longest continuously running major philosophy lecture series in the country. The seven lectures will be delivered by scholars from the United States and abroad, and are free and open to the public.

All the lectures will be held Fridays at 2 p.m. in the Aquinas Hall Auditorium located on CUA’s campus at 620 Michigan Ave., N.E. The dates, names of the speakers, and the titles of their lectures follow.

• Sept. 19, Anton Barba-Kay, assistant professor of philosophy, The Catholic University of America, “Kierkegaard’s Don Giovanni and the Seductions of the Inner Ear”
• Sept. 26, Peter Pesic, tutor, St. John’s College Santa Fe, “The Polyphonic Mind.” In addition, Pesic will perform Bach’s Goldberg Variations on piano at noon that day in the Ward Recital Hall.
• Oct. 17, Michael Davis, professor of philosophy, Sarah Lawrence College, “The Logos of Plato’s Laches: A Grace Note”
• Oct. 24, Anselm Ramelow, associate professor and chair of philosophy, Dominican School of Philosophy, “How does Music Imitate Nature?”
• Nov. 7, Peter Kalkavage, tutor, St. John’s College Annapolis, “Music and the Idea of a World: On Plato and Schopenhauer”
• Nov. 21, Jerrold Levinson, professor of philosophy, University of Maryland, “Values of Music”
• Dec. 5, Robert Reilly, senior fellow, American Foreign Policy Council, “Is There a Music of the Spheres?”

The lecture series, offered each year since 1967, is made possible by a grant from the Franklin J. Matchette Foundation and with support from the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation and the George Dougherty Foundation.

For additional information, contact the Office of the Dean, School of Philosophy, at 202-319-5259, email, or go to To request disability accommodations, contact Alex Crockett at or 202-319-5260 at least a week prior to the event.

MEDIA: For details about covering the lectures, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy Hines in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.




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