2016–2017 Lecture Series: HOPE AND DESPAIR

Welcome to the Boston University Institute for Philosophy & Religion!

The 2016-2017 academic year brings us a new lecture series, with a great program that we are very excited to present. This year’s topic is the second in our series on the theological virtues, and tackles the virtue of hope and its opposite, despair. We expect these lectures to challenge our understanding of what it means to hope and to enrich our understanding of how and why we sometimes despair. Please like our Facebook Page for convenient updates and notifications of upcoming lectures, and view the complete program for a list of the fall semester’s events!

Peter Hawkins delivered our final lecture of the year, on Dante’s Divine Comedy, with a beautiful explication of the steps along Dante Pilgrim’s journey from the depths of the Inferno, to the heights of Paradiso.

Video of Professor Hawkins’s lecture is available here.

Our symposium with Brita Heimarck, Jason McCool, Victor Coelho, and Joseph Winters was a big hit, bringing the blues, jazz, and hip-hop into our philosophical discourse about hope and despair in some very interesting ways.

Video of Professor Winters’s lecture is available here.

We had a great panel discussion with Jamel Velji, David Frankfurter, April Hughes, and Michael Pregill, on the wide variety of apocalyptic thoughts and movements, along with some–sometimes disturbing–similarities between them.

Video will be available soon.

We thoroughly enjoyed Professor Jordan’s talk on the Dionysian nature of beauty, especially as it appears in Plato’s Symposium and the works of Nietzsche (two thinkers who might not be so incompatible in this regard, after all).

There will not be any video of this lecture.

Professor Coyne offered us a look at the changing understanding of the relationship between hope and despair by tracing a path through the thought of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Levinas, and Derrida.

Video of Professor Coyne’s lecture is available here.

Professor Marasco’s lecture on critical theory after Hegel, and especially on the notion of dialectical despair and its strong motivational power for “the ruthless critique of everything existing,” challenged us to think in a radically different direction about what despair is and how it acts in our lives.

Video of Professor Marasco’s lecture is available here.

We received Professor Chignell’s Kantian approach to the question of why we ought to be hopeful, even in this modern era of climate change and global strife. What we saw was a picture of the world in which every opportunity to make a difference, no matter how small, is cause for hope and action.

Video of Professor Chignell’s lecture is available here.

Professor Schilbrack gave us a glimpse into a more inclusive and expansive philosophy of religion as he envisions it for the future of the discipline, and Professors Lewis and Pritchard gave sharp, insightful responses. Much food for thought was generated in a wonderful start to our series this year!

Video of Professor Schilbrack’s lecture is available here.

Our full schedule of this past year is here

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