Summer Lecture Series
Join us for a series of informal lectures, sponsored by the college’s Graduate Institute. Beginning on Wednesday, June 19, the series continues for six consecutive Wednesday afternoons, concluding July 31. Free and open to the public, each lecture is followed by a question-and-answer period.
A common version of naturalism holds that higher-level theories, such as those of the biological and social sciences, describe the relationships between coarse-grainings of more fundamental theories. The laws of the higher-level theories must be consistent with the laws relating the fine-grained quantities. Using the tools of formal language theory, Simon DeDeo will present a toy model under which this account is strictly true, with a separation of theories into a single, ordered hierarchy of levels. He then will show how, for theories of reasonable sophistication, this hierarchy-of-levels picture not only collapses, but the reducibility of one theory to another becomes undecidable (in the Godelian sense). He will provide an example from recent empirical work that suggests this does indeed take place and examine the natural consequences that (1) the practice of the higher sciences is at least partially independent of physics, and (2) philosophy of science is itself an independent enterprise.
Simon DeDeo is a research fellow at the Santa Fe Institute, where he works on information processing and computation in social and biological systems. Since 2011, he has been the principal investigator on an Emerging Frontiers grant from the National Science Foundation, and his research has been covered in the New Scientist and Scientific American and on National Public Radio. He studied physics, cosmology, and applied mathematics at Harvard University, Cambridge University, and Princeton, where he received his Ph.D. in 2006.
“Humanity Exists in a State of Rupture from the World”: Hegel, the Fall, and Spirit’s Alienation from Nature
Raoni Padui, tutor, St. John’s College, Santa Fe
Wednesday, June 26, 3:15 p.m.
Junior Common Room, Peterson Student Center
The story of the Fall, especially in the Christian version that interprets it in terms of original sin, is a constant theme in Hegel’s writings. His interpretation of the Fall and of evil is not only interesting and original in its own right, but influences the manner in which Hegel comes to think of humanity’s alienation from nature. In this lecture, Raoni Padui will first attempt to explore Hegel’s reading as it appears in his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, with special attention to the necessity of our natural alienation. He then hopes to show how it is used and repeated in surprising places throughout Hegel’s work, including the Phenomenology, the Logic, and the Philosophy of History.
A visiting tutor at St. John’s College since spring 2012, Raoni Padui received a bachelor of arts degree from Vassar College in 2003 and a master of arts degree and doctorate in philosophy from Villanova University in 2005 and 2012, respectively. Before coming to St. John’s, Raoni Padui was an adjunct instructor at Villanova and on the part-time faculty of the University of New Mexico.
The Tolstoy Family Story Contest
Michael Katz, professor emeritus, Middlebury College
Tuesday, June 25, 7 p.m.
Coffee Shop, Peterson Student Center
Michael Katz will speak about his current project, “The Tolstoy Family Story Contest.” He retranslates Tolstoy's notorious and controversial story, “The Kreutzer Sonata” and translates into English for the first time two “counter-stories” by Tolstoy’s wife and one by their son, all of which disagree with Tolstoy’s tale. His wife's stories, recently published in Moscow, lay hidden for almost 100 years in an attempt to avoid compromising her reputation as Tolstoy's faithful wife and the mother of his many children.
Michael Katz is C. V. Starr Professor Emeritus of Russian and East European Studies at Middlebury College. The author of The Literary Ballad in Early Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature and Dreams and the Unconscious in Nineteenth-Century Russian Fiction, he has translated and edited the Norton Critical Editions of Fyodor Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground and Ivan Turgenev's Fathers and Sons. Professor Katz also has translated, among other works, Dostoevsky's Devils, Alexander Herzen's Who Is to Blame?, and N. G. Chernyshevsky's What Is to Be Done?