A Forum for and the Background of the Mediation of Dialogue in Ancient and Modern Academies

Saturday, 30 January 2016

A Workshop Dedicated to Professor Catherine Malabou

There are many reasons for someone to be in London Ontario around this winter time, a Canadian city which will remain interesting until the end of March (more about the later attractions will follow later)... Next week, thanks to Steve Lofts and Tony Calcagno's undertaking, King's University College hosts a workshop devoted to the work of Catherine Malabou, a continental philosopher and rising star in the philosophy of neuroscience. See http://www.carep.ca for more.

In the paper I am currently working on, which has being inspired by Prof. Malabou's work "What Should We Do With Our Brains?", I invite Marcus Aurelius on plasticity of the mind regarding the following two aspects: his non-reductive materialism, from which neuroscientists could learn (if they have not been persuaded by Gilbert Ryle); acceptance (and love) of whatever may happen to us, from which cognitive behavioural therapists of various approaches can learn an awful lot, who are very right to hotly debate this topic for the sake of the cure of depression, among other mental diseases.

After dealing with the mind's power to shape, act upon and transform whatever it encounters, I will suggest that we start re-appreciating passivity as a power. In an era that “measures” everything in accordance to what one does, makes and produces, should we not decide, instead, to appreciate the power of the mind to receive and be affected and shaped as an essential part of what makes an individual and a culture “plastic”? The final appeal has learnt from Plato's recognition of the power to be acted upon, beside the power to act upon, an appreciation that got lost in the following philosophers.

PS: The WT  has started, and we are just about to put utilitarianism on the "couch" with one class. To do this with concepts or dead people, I find acceptable and sometimes very fruitful: thinking of Jung's Also Sprach Zarathustra Seminar (unfortunately not including the discussion of fourth part of the work).
PPS: I am looking forward to the coming Aristotle Birthday Party at the University of Rice, at which I present a paper on the Aristotelian pleasures.
PPPS: In the middle of Canadian winter, though not that heavy as last year's, and while listening to some intoxicating blues: greetings to my dear Ithaca.

Footnote after the workshop: We are how we write: incredibly strikingly simple, but true. In this philosophical tradition, I had not been inspired that much by a work since reading Derrida's Chora. Catherine's work What Should We Do With Our Mind? did inspire me toward many different directions at once. And there she was, with us, as inspiring as her written word. Delighted to experience what liberal arts education can be, on this side of the ocean.
PS after the workshop: Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle is on the to reread list, especially thanks to the notion of sinking, not progressing time. Apropos repetition (one topic of this work of Freud): it was interesting to compare the two identical sentences "I am nothing", in one case the automatic thought that supposedly necessitates depressed moods, in the other Marcus Aurelius' repeated reflection, in order to shed light on their differences.