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Comparative Literature pres.

Comparative Literature Lecture Series 2019-20: Phronesis and Materialism

Dimitris Vardoulakis (Western Sydney University)

Speaker Speaker
It is a commonplace to turn to Book 6 of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics to find out what the ancient Greeks thought about practical judgment or phronesis. There is good reason for this: Aristotle’s is the lengthiest account of phronesis. We regularly fail to note, however, the importance of phronesis in epicureanism. He will explore how Epicurus’s conception of phronesis differs from Aristotle’s. He will also indicate how Epicurus’s conception influences political discourse in early modernity in materialists such as Machiavelli and Spinoza. Finally, he will indicate how the exclusion of Epicurus’s conception of phronesis in early twentieth century, for instance by Heidegger, resulted in the invention of a politics beyond instrumentality and calculation as a way of repressing the materialism of practical judgment.

Dimitris Vardoulakis is the deputy chair of Philosophy at Western Sydney University. He is the author of The Doppelgänger: Literature’s Philosophy (2010), Sovereignty and its Other: Toward the Dejustification of Violence (2013), Freedom from the Free Will: On Kafka’s Laughter (2016), Stasis Before the State: Nine Theses on Agonistic Democracy (2018), and Authority and Utility: On Spinoza’s Epicureanism (forthcoming in 2020). He is the director of “Thinking Out Loud: The Sydney Lectures in Philosophy and Society,” and the co-editor of the book series “Incitements” (Edinburgh University Press).
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