Dean’s Lecture and Concert Series

2021–22 Academic Year Lectures

Lectures are free and available to the public and are followed by a question-and-answer period.

Recordings and transcripts of lectures are available on the SJC Digital Archives site.

2021 Fall Semester

Lecture Schedule for 2021 Fall Semester
Date Speaker/Event Topic
Friday
August 27, 2021
7 p.m. MT
Meem Placita
J. Walter Sterling
St. John’s College, Santa Fe
Dean’s Opening Lecture
“On Beginning Your Education Yesterday and Beginning in Wonder”
We will reflect on some of the paradoxes of learning, with attention to beginnings and to how the events and times around us—such as the pandemic—shape, enable, or constrain our learning. We will then turn to wonder, and its generative power, with reference to the joined wonder of Priam and Achilles, as they gaze at one another in Book 24 of the Iliad. What kind of wonder does the voice and face of the other elicit? How does such wonder inform the wonder that is the beginning of philosophy? All are welcome. The talk will be relatively brief, then we will join in conversation.
Friday
September 3
7 p.m. MT
Meem Placita
Tutor Panel featuring Seth Appelbaum, Judith Adam, and Michael Golluber
St. John’s College, Santa Fe
“The Beginning Seems to Be More Than Half the Whole: A Conversation about the First Eleven Chapters of the Book of Genesis”
Please join us for a tutor panel on Genesis featuring St. John’s College, Santa Fe tutors: Michael Golluber, Judith Adam, and Seth Appelbaum. In case of inclement weather, the panel will be held in the Great Hall.
Friday
September 17
12:15 p.m. MT
Meem Placita
Tutor Panel featuring Grant Franks, Martha Franks, Ahmed Siddiqi, and Ned Walpin
St. John’s College, Santa Fe
“Was the Bill of Rights a good idea?” Constitution Day Tutor Panel
Join the panel for a discussion of the arguments pro and contra, and the potential and actual tradeoffs of, the first ten ammendments of the U.S. Constitution.
Friday
September 17
7 p.m. MT
Meem Placita
Saul Bitrán, Arón Birtán, Javier Montiel, Álvaro Bitrán, Thomas Gallant, Sam Brown Cuarteto Latinoamericano Concert
Cuarteto Latinoamericano is one of the world’s most renowned string quartets and, for almost 40 years, the leading proponent of Latin American music for the genre. Founded in Mexico in 1982, the Cuarteto has toured extensively throughout Europe, North and South America, Israel, China, Japan and New Zealand. They have premiered over a hundred works written for them, and they continue to introduce new and neglected composers to the genre. Winners of two Latin Grammys for Best Classical Recordings, they have also been awarded with the prestigious Diapason D’Or, have been recognized with the Mexican Music Critics Association Award, and have received three “Most Adventurous Programming” Awards from Chamber Music America/ASCAP.
Wednesday
September 22
3:15 p.m. MT
Meem Placita
Topi Heikkerö “Mastery of Nature in Descartes’ Discourse on Method
René Descartes’ Discourse on Method (1637) prefaces three of its author’s scientific studies (Dioptrics, Geometry, and Meteorology). These studies present and make use of the novel analytic mathematical and scientific methods Descartes had created. Yet the Discourse is strikingly self-described as “a history, or if you prefer, a fable.” Why do revolutionary mathematics and science need to be introduced by a narrative that admittedly verges on fiction? Furthermore, in the sixth part of the Discourse Descartes articulates the promise that his new scientific ideas can enable a practical philosophy in terms of making the human beings “the masters and possessors of nature.” In this lecture I aim to offer a reading of this promise in its context of the Discourse, Descartes’ scientific project, and his interactions with his peers and surroundings. How does Descartes weave fiction and exact quantitative inquiry together so that they result in a project of mastering nature—the power of which we have witnessed?
Friday
September 24
7 p.m. MT
Meem Placita
Tutor Panel featuring David Levine, Kit Slover, and Raoni Padui
St. John’s College, Santa Fe
“Reading Hegel: a tutor panel with David Levine, Kit Slover, and Raoni Padui”
Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit is arguably one of the most difficult and ambitious books we read in Senior Seminar. In this panel, we will present brief reflections on different aspects of Hegel’s work in order to open up ways of thinking about his distinctive contributions to philosophy. Mr. Levine’s paper will focus on the origin of universal knowing in Kant and Hegel, and on the ways in which Kant can be of help in understanding Hegel’s grand project. Mr. Slover’s paper will address the experience of error in the “Introduction” to the Phenomenology, revealing error as an essential part of the process of coming to know. Mr. Padui’s paper will be a meditation on Hegel’s claim that “self-consciousness is desire,” showing how it may help us unify the Kantian dichotomy between the domains of theoretical and practical reason.
Friday
October 8
Marsaura Shukla, Tutor
St. John’s College, Santa Fe
“Thinking a Lonelier Thing: The Consolation of Poetry in Emily Dickinson”
Friday
October 22
4:45 p.m.
Russel Winslow, Tutor
St. John’s College, Santa Fe
“Deleuze’s Idiotic Modesty”
Friday
October 29
Shannon Chamberlain, Tutor
St. John’s College, Santa Fe
“Against Stoicism: Adam Smith’s Literary Answer to Epictetus”
Friday
November 5
Bill Donahue, Tutor
St. John’s College, Santa Fe
“What would Kepler say to Einstein?”
Einstein once wrote that there is little value, other than the satisfaction of intellectual curiosity, in studying scientific works of the past. Kepler would not agree, and were he alive today he would criticize Einstein for repeating errors of early science. This lecture will begin by exploring some of Kepler’s views on past failures, and then will apply Kepler’s criticism to Einstein’s views, especially his rejection of the ether. The inquiry will then consider the alternative account proposed by H. A. Lorentz, showing how the contraction of bodies at high velocities was deduced from Maxwell’s electrodynamics without abandoning the ether. The lecture then concludes by considering remarks of more recent physicists, most notably John Bell, on the possibility of reviving the ether to solve the local reality problem in quantum physics.
Friday
November 12
4:45 p.m.
Zoom
Natalie Elliot “Is a short story like a mathematical proof?”
Friday
November 19
David Bolotin and Christine Chen “20th Century Russian Composers”
Wednesday
November 27
Nizam Ahmad “The Philosopher-King, Between Islam and the West”
Friday
December 10
Gabriel Pihas, RILA “Michelangelo’s Renewal of All Things”