1. Internationally celebrated philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett is best known for his trenchant views that consciousness and free will are just physical processes of the brain. An influential proponent of Darwinian ideas about evolution, Dennett has recently argued that religion should be understood in terms of evolutionary biology and cognitive science.

    Do recent discoveries of neuroscience prove that we have no free will? Some neuroscientists claim that free will is an illusion. But according to Dennett, this claim rests on a mistaken understanding of free will and moral practices. He is the author of numerous books, including The Mind’s Eye, Consciousness Explained, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Kinds of Minds, Freedom Evolves, and Breaking the Spell.

    # vimeo.com/107008759 Uploaded 106 Plays 0 Comments
  2. We live in a revolutionary age of communicative abundance in which many media innovations - from satellite broadcasting to iPhones, e-books, tweets, blogs and cloud computing - have triggered great public fascination mixed with excitement. In the field of politics, hopeful talk of digital democracy, web 2.0, cybercitizens and wiki-government is flourishing. But so also are the troubling counter-trends that bode ill for democracy, decadent media developments that include clever new methods of government censorship, rumour storms, flat earth news and cyber-attacks.

    In this 2011 lecture, John Keane explores these conflicting trends and asks: when judged in terms of democratic principle of free and equal communication, does the age of Google, WikiLieaks and Facebook on balance proffer more democratic promise than risk? Or are contemporary media failures the harbingers of profoundly authoritarian trends that might ultimately result in the birth of 'post-democracy' - polities in which governments claim to represent majorities that in practice are artefacts of media spin, money, hidden power and force of arms?

    Born in South Australia and educated at the University of Adelaide, the University of Toronto and Cambridge University, John Keane is Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney and at the Wissenschaftszentrun Berlin (WZB). He is the Director of the recently founded Sydney Democracy Initiative (SDI). During his many years in Britain, The Times ranked him one of the countries leading political thinkers and recognised him as a writer whose work has 'world-wide importance'.

    # vimeo.com/107420931 Uploaded 193 Plays 0 Comments
  3. This 2011 Deans Lecture is presented by Professor Raimond Gaita, Professorial Fellow, Melbourne Law School & Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne and Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy, King’s College London.

    'In the early 1980s, Don Gunner, a philosopher at the University of Melbourne, proclaimed to me that the task of the university is to civilise the city. He said this to me at a time when most academics still believed that the very concept of a university entitled them to say that no institution could rightly call itself a university if it did not have a department of philosophy, or classics, or physics.

    I worked then (and have done until this year) at King’s College London, situated on the Strand. Many of the great cultural institutions of London are within fifteen minutes walking radius, so I did not take what he said to be generally true of universities. (I also thought it was a very Australian, possibly even Melbournian, thing to say.) And because managerial newspeak was already doing its corrosive work in universities, I then hoped that the city might arrest the university’s probable decline into philistinism.

    The concept of university to which Gunner appealed is now defunct. In most of the institutions that are called universities a narrow conception of research undermines the conditions that enable the kind of critical reflectiveness that is necessary if academics in the humanities are seriously to question the assumptions of their disciplines, and devalues teaching and engagement with cultural institutions outside of the university unless that engagement is narrowly professional – the provision of expertise of one kind or another.

    At the same time, writer’s festival, festivals of ideas and public lecture series are flourishing across the land, but with diminishing input from the universities. As a consequence a literary culture dominates our public cultural space with an emphasis on storytelling rather than the more discursive modes of reflection and on good Writing with a capital ‘W’, rather than hard thinking.

    These are, of course generalisations, true only for the most part. But ‘for the most part’ is bad enough.

    In this lecture I will plead for change in the universities so that they can again engage creatively with the public intellectual realm, an engagement that would benefit both.' - Raimond Gaita

    # vimeo.com/107559701 Uploaded 57 Plays 0 Comments
  4. The aim of History and Philosophy of Science is to understand science based on its works, its historical development and its function in modern society. History and Philosophy of Science integrates philosophical, historical and sociological approaches to the study of science. It provides students with an insight into scientific methods and objectives without actually having to do science. Students will gain analytical skills in evaluating scientific (and non-scientific) knowledge as well as a broad understanding of the historical development of science in its interactions with philosophy, religion and society.

    For more information see: shaps.unimelb.edu.au/history-philosophy-science
    or: handbook.unimelb.edu.au/view/current/!B-ARTS-MAJ+1020

    # vimeo.com/110098777 Uploaded 2,105 Plays 0 Comments
  5. "A mass of memories and records, of relics and replicas, of monuments and memorabilia, lives at the core of our being. And as we remake it, the past remakes us." (David Lowenthal)

    As the ancient Greeks and Romans were well aware, mnemosyne/memoria (memory) is a dynamic force in human life with enormous power to inform culture, society and politics. Many scholars have elucidated in rich detail the enduring influence of antiquity: its specific cultural and ‘memorial’ power to condition the present and precipitate the future.

    Modern sociologists, historians and theorists have also drawn attention to the ways in which cultivation and contestation of memory shape communal and personal identities. But much more remains to be learned from an exchange between classicists and those who seek to understand the workings of memory in other times and cultures, including our own.

    This lecture explores some of the ways memory in and of classical antiquity has shaped, and continues to shape, communal and personal possibilities.

    Associate Professor Parshia Lee-Stecum studied at the Universities of Tasmania and Cambridge and worked for three years at Trinity College, Dublin before joining the University of Melbourne in 1998. His main research and teaching interests include Roman poetry of the Augustan period (especially Roman elegy), Roman myth and ethnicity, and magic in the Roman world. Parshia is currently the Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) in the Faculty of Arts and Program Director of the Bachelor of Arts.

    # vimeo.com/114300764 Uploaded 60 Plays 0 Comments

School of Historical and Philosophical Studies

Arts Unimelb Business

The School of Historical and Philosophical Studies was formed in 2011 comprising the programs of History, History and Philosophy of Science, Philosophy, Classics and Archaeology, and The Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation and The Program in Jewish…


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The School of Historical and Philosophical Studies was formed in 2011 comprising the programs of History, History and Philosophy of Science, Philosophy, Classics and Archaeology, and The Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation and The Program in Jewish Culture and Society.

The School brings together a lively, engaging and vibrant programme of teaching and research which offers a wide variety of courses and subjects. The School offerings give you an opportunity to extend your knowledge and understanding of your historical interests in a range of diverse contexts, as well as to develop your capacity to analyse, think critically and communicate effectively. The School offers both breadth and depth - covering through its subjects a diversity of times, places and themes which reflect the latest developments in historical research and vocational practice. The School further explores multi-disciplinary perspectives on ancient Graeco-Roman, Aegean and Near Eastern civilisations including ancient languages. Our Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation investigates new areas and innovative practices in instrumentation and analysis, policy and programs in the area of the preservation of cultural materials.

Professor Trevor Burnard, Head of School

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