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Dean's Lecture, 9/19

Originally Posted on admin, September 19, 2008

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Dean's Lecture, 9/19: “The Hidden Harmony, The Hidden Logos:  What Prometheus and Pythagoras Gave to Us Humans”

WHO:  Heidi Northwood, Professor and Chair of Philosophy, Nazareth College of Rochester, New York

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

TITLE: “The Hidden Harmony, The Hidden Logos:  What Prometheus and Pythagoras Gave to Us Humans”

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

WHEN: Friday, September 19, 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.

In Aeschylus’ version of the Promethean myth, before Prometheus gave humans the gift of fire, “men and women looking saw nothing, they listened and did not hear, but like shapes in a dream dragging out their long lives bewildered, they made hodgepodge of everything, they knew nothing…” (639-644). Fire and the arts, the gifts that changed all this, gave humans the ability to make shelters out of bricks, to work with wood, to know the passing seasons, and so on. But according to Socrates in Plato’s Philebus, while this itself “is easy to point out…[it is] very difficult to follow” (16B).  What Socrates seems to be getting at is that while it is easy enough to say that humans were given fire and the arts, what it means to have been given the arts—and so what it means to see or hear something when one looks and listens, what it means to understand, to name, and to know—is much more difficult. This lecture endeavors to make the connection between Prometheus and Pythagoras—between the arts and number—clearer by looking at what Socrates says about them in the Philebus and the Protagoras.

Heidi Northwood is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Nazareth College of Rochester, New York, where she has taught for over twelve years. She studied music and philosophy at the University of Western Ontario and completed her Ph.D. (University of Alberta) on the influence of Pythagorean music theory on ancient Greek conceptions of stability in nature. She has published articles on Aristotle’s embryology, Sophocles’ Ajax, and Plato’s conception of philosophy, and is currently studying the interrelations between geometry, ethics, and politics in ancient Greek thought.