Last 2008/9 Royal Institute of Philosophy Invited Lecture

The next Royal Institute of the Philosophy lecture is:

31 March 2009


Chancellor’s Building, Room CBA 0.060

Professor Sebastian Gardner
University College London

“Nietzsche’s Theory of Aesthetic Justification”
Abstract: In The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche introduces the beguiling but opaque notion of ‘aesthetic justification’. Commentators have puzzled over the exact sense of this phrase, while noting that the general conception of the aesthetic as in some fashion taking the place of reason is a recurring theme in Nietzsche’s writings philosophical and central to his philosophical project. In this paper I offer a reconstruction of the role of the aesthetic in Nietzsche’s philosophy which − in contrast with the radical anti-realist postmodern interpretation of Nietzsche − understands his conception of the aesthetic state in terms of the conflict of theoretical and practical reason, thus referring Nietzsche’s conception of the aesthetic back to Schiller and the early German romantics.

This is the last lecture in the series (no more until October/November). So please make it a good turn out, and help us to USE UP ALL THE WINE WE HAVE LEFT OVER.

The lecture is particularly useful for 1st-year students (who will have a lecture on Existentialism and Nihilism this week), for 2nd years planning to take “Philosophy of Art” next year and for all 3rd years. All students and staff are encouraged to attend – everyone is welcome to attend!


Rationality and the structure of the self

A few years ago, while doing some research on Rawls, I came across a book entitled Reclaiming the History of Ethics. Essays for John Rawls (Cambridge University Press, 1997).

Among the interesting essays in the book, I found one extremely interesting by an author of whom I had not heard before: Adrian M. S. Piper. The article was entitled “Kant and the Objectivity of the Moral Law” and clearly displayed an approach to Kant’s texts that I could not easily find elsewhere.  The starting point was a serious consideration of the systematic character of Kant’s philosophy. The method was that of drawing on all relevant elements of the Kantian corpus.30humeanphilosophers

There was not much information about the author in that book. All contributors to the volume had been former students of Rawls. So I knew at least that. It was also mentioned that Adrian M. S. Piper is Professor of Philosophy at Wellesley College. Moreover, by reading the article, one could learn that it was part of an unpublished manuscript, “Rationality and the Structure of the Self, Volume II: Kant’s Metaethics”.

I then heard that the manuscript was a very ambitious project, on which the author had already worked for over 20 years. I became apprehensive that perhaps it would not be completed very soon…

Last year, the book was finally published under the title Rationality and the Structure of the Self. A Two-volume Study in Kantian Metaethics (2008). Moreover, the book is free to  download!

The author’s life is not that of the standard academic philosopher. You can read more about her here and access her website by clicking here.

The picture refers to the philosophical aim of the first volume of the book. As the author describes it,  “Volume I: The Humean Conception is very critical of a model of the self that virtually everyone (not only in philosophy but also in the social sciences) takes for granted”.

Next Royal Institute of Philosophy Lecture

One of the final Royal Institute of Philosophy lectures of this series will be next week:

Tuesday, 17 March 200939297316stur_20010809_00012.jpg
6:00-7:30 PM
Chancellor’s Building, Room CBA 0.060

Dr Rowland Stout
University College Dublin


Actions are causings, but of what sort of thing? I criticise the idea that in every action the agent is causing some event, and in particular that in raising your arm you are causing the event of your arm’s rising. This view depends on all actions being intitiations or sustainings of further processes, which they are not. In the process of raising your arm you do not cause some intransitive bodily process of your arm’s rising, but just cause your arm to rise. The phrase, “your arm to rise” does not pick out an identifiable entity at all. Adopting an Aristotelian instead of a Humean approach to causal processes allows one to make sense of this.


The paper is particularly relevant for those interested in philosophy of action, philosophy of mind, metaethics, history of philosophy, and so all students are encouraged to attend. All welcome! Wine!

next RIP lecture: 10 March 2009

Our next RIP lecture is on Tuesday:

10 March 2009
6:00-7:30 PM
Chancellor’s Building, Room CBA 0.060

Dr Nafsika Athanassoulis
University of Keele


Despite its prominent place in everyday use, hope has received very little philosophical attention. This paper will attempt to remedy this by asking what hope is and why we might think it is a good thing. To do this, the discussion will consider how we use the term ‘hope’, use these ideas to explain what hope is and then apply Aristotle’s doctrine of the mean to give an account of when it might be appropriate to be hopeful.


Hope to see you there! Wine will be served, as usual.