Monday, September 6, 2010

Charles Wolfe public lecture on La Mettrie

Dr Charles Wolfe, History and Philosophy of Science, Faculty of Science


Julien Offray de La Mettrie, a medical doctor and philosopher was born in Saint-Malo (Brittany) in 1709, and died in 1751 in Berlin, where he was an intellectual-in-residence at Frederick II’s court ... of indigestion, food poisoning, or acute peritonitis after having consumed a whole pheasant pasty with truffles. He had been forced to flee from France and then even from Holland because of his writings, and was one of the most scandalous figures of the Enlightenment. I will focus especially on his best-known work, L’Homme-Machine or Man a Machine (1748), one of the greatest examples of materialist philosophy ever written - in which mind and body are explained as belonging to one material substance, which medical and physiological knowledge sheds light on. How is it that a philosopher admired today by all manner of ‘brain scientists’ was also the hero of the Marquis de Sade? Addressing this sort of question gets us to the heart of Enlightenment materialism.

All are welcome to attend this free series.

Venue: Lecture Theatre 101, Sydney Law School Building, Eastern Avenue, Camperdown Campus
Time: 6.00pm to 7.30 (includes Q & A)
Bookings: Free events, no registration or booking required

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Evolving the Future: An exploration of how evolutionary thinking can inform public policy

Tuesday 28 September 2010, University of Sydney

Evolution is an essential theory for understanding the living world–including our own species. With understanding comes the capacity for improvement. This workshop examines three fields in which the understanding offered by contemporary evolutionary theory may offer practical guidance: conservation, public health, and the urban environment.

The workshop will be led by evolutionary biologist Prof. David Sloan Wilson, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University. Prof. Wilson’s recent books include: Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society and Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives

Attendance at the workshop is limited to 50, to ensure that all participants are able to participate in a meaningful way in our discussions. Amongst the key questions to be addressed are:
• Is evolutionary theory genuinely mature enough to guide practical policy formulation on any or all of these three topics?
• What are the steps that evolutionary scientists can take to get their ideas onto the policy agenda?
• What are the potential pitfalls facing evolutionary scientists as they begin to take their ideas out of the academy and into the policy arena?

To lead the discussion alongside Prof Wilson we have four distinguished Australasian scientists, each with expertise on one of our focal topics:
• Rick Shine, Professor of Evolutionary Biology and ARC Federation Fellow, University of Sydney
• Sir Peter Gluckman, Head, Centre for Human Evolution, Adaptation and Disease, Liggins Institute, University of Auckland and New Zealand Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor
• Stephen Simpson, Professor of Biology and ARC Laureate Fellow, University of Sydney
• Roland Fletcher, Professor of Theoretical and World Archaeology, University of Sydney

For more information and to register, visit the conference website.

Organised by the Centre on the Human Aspects of Science and Technology & the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science, University of Sydney