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Dean's Lecture, 9/12: “Cosmic Craftsmanship in Plato and Stoicism”

Originally Posted on admin, September 12, 2008

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Dean's Lecture, 9/12: “Cosmic Craftsmanship in Plato and Stoicism”

WHO:   Dr. Tony Long, University of California Berkeley

WHAT: Fall 2008 Dean’s Lecture and Concert Series, St. John’s College

TITLE:  “Cosmic Craftsmanship in Plato and Stoicism”

WHERE:  Great Hall, Peterson Student Center, St. John’s College

WHEN: Friday, September 12, 8 p.m.

CONTACT: 984-6000 (St. John’s College switchboard)

DETAILS:  This lecture is free of charge, open to the public, and followed by a question and answer period.

The Stoic philosophers followed Plato in treating the world as the product of intelligent design. Plato called his creative divinity “demiurge” or “craftsman,” and the Stoics also appropriated this description. In this lecture Dr. Long will first explore the philosophical background to these ideas, and then compare the way they are treated by Plato and the Stoics respectively. What motivates the Platonic and Stoic divinities to craft the world?  How do these divinities differ in their ontological and personal relation to the world?  What does their craftsmanship betoken concerning human beings’ place in the world and what does it tell us about the ends of human life?

After holding various university positions in Britain, Dr. Long joined the University of California Berkeley as a professor of classics in 1982. He is the first person at UCB to hold the Irving Stone Chair of Literature, and has ancillary appointments in the departments of Philosophy and Rhetoric. His research straddles Greek literature and ancient philosophy, especially the Hellenistic philosophies Stoicism, Scepticism and Epicureanism. Books published include most recently Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life (OUP 2002) and From Epicurus to Epictetus: Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (OUP 2006). He is currently working on early Greek ideas of rationality and the Moral Letters of Seneca. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the British Academy.