The Challenge of Barbarianism - Public Lecture


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Presenter:  Distinguished Visting Professor of Philosophy - Professor John Haldane

Date: Apr 07, 2016

Time: 5:00pm to 7:00pm

Contact person:  Ms Ashlee Brown
T: 08 8946 7404
E: Ashlee.Brown@cdu.edu.au

Location:  CDU, Casuarina Campus, Blue 5 1.01

Target audience:  Open to the public. RSVP required.

The Challenge of Barbarianism.

The word ‘barbarian’ derives from the ancient Greek term ‘barbaros’ which in its original cultural meaning contrasted with that citizen. Whereas a citizen enjoyed certain rights and privileges as well as corresponding civic duties and liabilities and spoke the common language of the state, a barbarian, was an outsider. This lecture will explore the idea of barbarianism in an extended sense as referring to those whom one finds so morally and culturally alien that what they say seems incomprehensible. In this usage the status of ‘barbarian’ may be assigned in mutual accusation between members of one and the same society, as well as between members of very different societies. Taking account of recent Islamist atrocities across the world and of the attempt to establish by force an Islamic Caliphate I want to explore the idea that we now face serious challenges of barbarianism and we need to consider strategies for dealing with these challenges. I will approach the issues through historical, literary and philosophical avenues touching on ideas of the poets Cavafy and Yeats but developing a philosophical argument for the idea of common values that can bridge the seeming gulf between ideas and cultures.

John Haldane was educated in Scotland, at John Ogilvie Hall and St Aloysius College Glasgow, and in London at the University of the Arts where he took a BA (1st Class) degree in Fine Art, and at the University of London where he gained a PGCE in Education and a BA (1st Class) and a PhD in Philosophy.

While in London he taught art for three years at St Joseph’s Convent Grammar School in Abbey Wood and was a visiting lecturer in the Architecture School of the University of Westminster, before taking up a position in the University of St Andrews in 1983.

He has been Professor of Moral Philosophy at St Andrews University for 25 years and directed its Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and Chairman of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, London.

In 2015 he was appointed J Newton Rayzor Sr, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University in Texas. He is also Visiting Professor in Philosophy and Education in the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at Birmingham University, and in 2016 is Visiting Distinguished Professor at University of Notre Dame Australia in Sydney.

He has held the Royden Davis Chair in Humanities at Georgetown University (2001-2002), and been Stanton Lecturer in Cambridge University (1999-2002), Gifford Lecturer at Aberdeen University (2004-2005), Joseph Lecturer at Rome’s Gregorian University (2005), MacDonald Lecturer in Oxford University (2011), and Kaminsky lecturer at the University of Lublin (2013). He has also held fellowships at the universities of Pittsburgh, Edinburgh and Oxford and been visiting professor at several US institutions. He is a Fellow in the Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, and Senior Fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, Princeton.

John Haldane has published 200 academic papers, and is co-author of Atheism and Theism in Blackwell’s ‘Tomorrow’s Classics’ list, and author of An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Religion (2003), Faithful Reason (2006) Practical Philosophy (2009), and Reasonable Faith (2010). He also has collections intended for general readers: Seeking Meaning and Making Sense (2008), The Church and the World (2008) and Arts and Minds (in preparation). He has also edited many books and is founding and general editor of St Andrews Studies in Philosophy and Public Affairs.

In addition to academic work, John Haldane also writes for papers and periodicals and appears on radio and television.  He has contributed a monthly column to the (London) Times, as well as publishing in the Herald, the Sunday Herald and the Scotsman. He has written for Art Book, Art Monthly, Burlington Magazine, Modern Painters, and other international art journals, and is a former fellow of the Henry Moore Institute (1998-1999) researching 20th century British sculpture. He is a frequent contributor to BBC radio and television, including the much praised history of ideas series ‘In our Time’.

Dr Haldane has served on several national committees of enquiry including the UK Victim Support Working Party on Victim Compensation; the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Party on Genetics and Mental Disorder, and a Scottish Working Party on Taking Difficult Decisions in Health Care. He has been a member of the Philosophy, Law and Religious Studies panel of the UK National Arts and Humanities and Research Board.

He has an honorary LL.D. (1997) from St Anselm College, New Hampshire, and an honorary D.Litt (2008) from the University of Glasgow in recognition of his 'outstanding contribution to moral philosophy'.  In 2005 Dr Haldane was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Culture. He is also a member of the Pontifical Academy of Thomas Aquinas, and the Pontifical Academy for Life.