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Posts Tagged ‘Pascal’

galvinism

Image from: Giovanni Aldini, Essai théorique et expérimental sur le galvanisme (Paris, 1804)

The conference program for Life and Death in Early Modern Philosophy, to be held in London on April 14–16 this year, has been announced. And it’s looking good.

 

Thursday 14th April 2016

The Great Hall, King’s College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS

2.30–4.00 Tea and Registration in the Foyer of the Great Hall
4.00–4.30 Susan James, Welcome and Introduction
4.30–6.00 Michael Moriarty, The thought of death changes all our ideas and condemns our plans

 

Friday 15th April 2016

Birkbeck College, Clore Management Centre, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7JL

9.30–11.00 Ursula Renz, Our Consciousness of Being Alive as a Source of Knowledge
 11.15–12.45 Session 1 Session 2 Session 3
Meghan Robison

But a Movement of Limbs: On the Movement of life in Hobbes’ Leviathan

Steph Marston

Affects and Effects: Spinoza on Life

John Callanan

The Historical Context of Kant’s Opposition to Suicide

Barnaby Hutchins

Descartes’s ‘Vitalism’

Julie Klein

Life and Death in Spinoza: Power and Reconfiguration

Jonas Jervell Indregard

Kant on Beauty and the Promotion of Life

12.45–2.00 Lunch, coinciding with meeting of agreed and likely contributors to research network
2.00–3.30 Martine Pécharman, The Moral Import of Afterlife Arguments in Pascal and Locke
3.45–5.15 Session 1 Session 2 Session 3
Hannah Laurens

An Eternal Part of the Body? Spinoza on Human Existence Beyond Life and Death

Andreas Scheib

Johannes Clauberg and the Development of Anthropology after Descartes

Sarah Tropper

When the Manner of Death Disagrees with the Status of Life. The Intricate Question of Suicide in Early Modern Philosophy

Filip Buyse

Spinoza on conatus, inertia and the impossibility of self-destruction

Andrea Strazzoni

Particles, Medicaments and Method. The Medical Cartesianism of Henricius Regius

Teresa Tato Lima

Suicide and Hume’s Perspective about Human Life

5.30–7.00 Mariafranca Spallanzani, ‘Tota philosophorum vita commentatio mortis est’. Death of philosophers

 

Saturday 16th April 2016

Birkbeck College, Clore Management Centre, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7JL

9.30–11.00 Session 1 Session 2 Session 3
Kate Abramson

Living well, well-being and ethical normativity in Hume’s ethics

Dolores Iorizzo

Francis Bacon’s Natural and Experimental History of Life and Death (1623): A Lacuna in Accounts of the Scientific Revolution

Oliver Istvan Toth

Do we really need to die? Spinoza on the Necessity of Death in the Ethics

Giuliana di Biase

Human’s life as a “state of mediocrity” in John Locke’s Essay and in his other works

Gianni Paganini

Life, Mind and Body. Campanella and Descartes’ Connections

Piet Steenbakkers

Living Well, Dying Well: Life and Death in Spinoza’s Philosophy and Biography

11.15–12.45 Charles Wolfe, How I learned to love Vitalism
12.45–2.00 Lunch
2.00–3.30 Session 1 Session 2 Session 3
Sean Winkler

The Persistence of Identity in Spinoza’s Account of Individuals

Piero Schiavo

Controlling Death. Democritus and the myth of a death en philosophe

Matteo Favaretti

Camposampiero, The Ban of Death: Leibniz’s Scandalous Immortalism

  Mogens Laerke

The Living God. On Spinoza’s Hebrew Grammar and Cogitata Metaphysica II,6

Michael Jaworzyn

Clauberg, Geulincx, and philosophy as meditatio mortis after Descartes

Audrey Borowski,

Leibniz’s natural Mechanism. Life and Death Revisited

3.45–4.15 Meetings of learned societies
4.15–5.45 Lisa Shapiro, Learning to Live a Fully Human Life
5.45–6.00 Conclusion and Farewell
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Margaret D. Wilson

Margaret D. Wilson

Jeff McDonough has retrieved a crisp general audience talk by Margaret Wilson on Pascal and Spinoza, titled “Pascal and Spinoza on Salvation:  Two Views on the Thinking Reed”. The lecture was published in the Harvard Graduate Society Newsletter (Fall 1992: 8-13). Framing her lecture as addressing ‘a central humanistic issue’, Wilson surveys Pascal’s and Spinoza’s views on reason, passion and how to achieve salvation.

Some excerpts:

‘Both Pascal and Spinoza express in their writings a strong sense of urgency about finding the correct values and commitment in life, about being saved, together with an implicit conviction that there is a unique and universal right answer to be found.’ (p. 9)

‘At the heart of both Pascal’s and Spinoza’s conceptions of the situation of man in nature is the contrast between man as a finite being with strong egoistic drives, but brief duration and limited powers, and nature as vast, all powerful, limitless, infinite, and completely incommensurable with human purposes.’ (p. 10)

‘Both philosophers also stress that as finite and dependent beings, we are subject to endless external emotional influences and disturbances. These perturb our reason and constantly affect our state of mind, our sense of pleasure and misery, in ways we may be powerless to control or even to understand. To this extent, it is part of human nature to be “wretched”, as Pascal often puts it, or to be subject to the “bondage” of the emotions and of inadequate understanding, in the terminology favored by Spinoza.’ (p. 10)

Wilson observes three key differences between Pascal and Spinoza’s attitudes. These concern: (1) their view on reason’s power (or lack of it) to ‘remove us from the state of wretchedness or bondage’; (2) their respective conceptions of happiness or salvation; and (3) their account of the role and appropriateness of fear—in particular the fear of death. Wilson states:

‘Pascal believes that a correct and reasonable perception of our position in the universe naturally and appropriately produces terror. (…) Spinoza would regard Pascal’s outlook as unenlightened, morbid, and weak.’ (p. 12)

The talk ends with a number of evaluations, including the following:

‘The central problem for Spinoza’s position is that he does not provide a clear or persuasive account of the notion of absolute rational insight on which it depends. (…) In some respects, Pascal’s position seems the more accessible and believable. True, Pascal may have exaggerated the impossibility of human beings fathoming by sense and reason the infinities of nature. Our powers of extending our knowledge have not proved so easily daunted or radically hedged as Pascal apparently imagined. But it seems to me, he still looks to be more nearly right than Spinoza and some other seventeenth-century rationalists in his claims about reason.’ (p. 13)

Read the full lecture here.

 

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