Jan 20, 2015

Understanding Anger - A New Lecture Series

Last year we (that is, ReasonIO) partnered with our local library -- the historic Kingston Library (a lot in this town is historic, given its age and earlier importance, but the library really does deserve that epithet!) -- to offer a lecture series, about Philosophy but suited for the general public, spanning the entire twelve months of 2014.  It focused on eleven Existentialist writers, and was called, aptly enough, Glimpses into Existence (here's the playlist of sessions).

It turned out to be quite a draw -- a growing group of regulars from local communities would show up, hear what I had to say, and then get into some quite interesting discussions (and at times digressions).  I got to spiel out some ideas I'd been mulling over about classic Existentialist thinkers, texts, and ideas with a well-educated, interested, and responsive audience.  The Library got some decent events for adult programming.  A win-win all around.  So they asked me back to do another series -- and I'd already been thinking about what I might do.

A good portion of my current (and past, and likely future!) work centers around the emotion of anger, and related topics such as revenge, retribution, self-control, punishment, affect, and rationality.  One of my current research projects is in fact a book I'm writing on Aristotle and his theory of anger.  So, it seemed to me, this might offer a great opportunity for me to present some of the work I've been doing over the years examining discussions of anger in the works of various philosophers and theologians -- and to do a bit more reading around in literary works as well.

So, I proposed a year-long series on ancient and medieval depictions and discussions bearing on anger, and the Library accepted.  We've already had the first session (you can watch video of it here), which focused on Greek epic and tragedy.  The second will be coming up in February.  In fact, here's the full itinerary for our march through the classics:
  • January - The Wrath of Achilles and the Rage of Medea: Anger in Greek Poetry and Drama 
  • February - And Why Is Your Face Fallen? Jewish Scriptures on Anger 
  • March - Don’t Get Mad, Socrates! Anger in Plato’s Dialogues 
  • April - The First Scientific Examination: Aristotle on Anger 
  • May - Emperors and Slaves Above the Passions: Stoic Philosophers on Anger 
  • June - Empty Pleasures and Unnecessary Pains: Epicureans on Anger 
  • July - Another Platonic View: Plutarch on Controlling Anger 
  • August - Whoever Is Angry with His Brother: Early Christian Discussions About Anger 
  • September - Medieval Heroes Riled Up: Anger in Beowulf and in the Song of Roland 
  • October - A Medieval Synthesis: Thomas Aquinas’ Analyses of Anger 
  • November - Anger in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales 
  •  December - The Fifth Circle and The Third Terrace: Anger in Dante’s Divine Comedy 
If you're in the Hudson Valley of New York -- or really, in the tri-state area (I'm starting to get some people coming from as far away as Connecticut to attend these talks), consider stopping by.  And introduce yourself to me after the talk -- I usually have some time to chat with participants after these events.  But if you can't make it, and you'd like to be involved, well, we record all the sessions and post them in YouTube, so you'll want to keep an eye on the Understanding Anger playlist.  It should be quite an enjoyable series of talks!