Theology and Philosophy

Simone Weil Lecture 2005

Moral Clarity by Professor Susan Neiman

Sydney: Monday 1 August 2005

Melbourne: Thursday 4 August 2005

Lecture Abstract

Susan Neiman Poster

George W. Bush has repeatedly insisted that people long for moral clarity. What his administration has offered, however, is moral simplicity instead, while most exercises in academic ethics offer neither. This lecture explores how stories and examples - rather than abstract arguments - can be used to show that moral action is possible. Such examples underline the need for dignity which is the basis for uniting many secular and religious concerns. Rather than dividing us along religious and non-religious lines, I argue, a reinvigorated Enlightenment can challenge both fundamentalism and nihilism.

About the speaker

Susan Neiman is one of Europe's most distinguished public intellectuals and is a member of the Berlin-Brandenberg Academy of Sciences. Previously at Harvard, Yale and Tel Aviv Universities, Professor Neiman is now director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, an institution dedicated to giving the general public the opportunity to engage with major thinkers at work, and to encourage those thinkers to overcome traditional academic boundaries. She is the author of Slow Fire: Jewish Notes from Berlin, and The Unity of Reason: Rereading Kant. Her most recent book, Evil in Modern Thought, has earned the following praise:

"Even--or especially--to a nonphilosopher like myself, Susan Neiman's Evil in Modern Thought offers intellectual adventure of a high order. The audacity of her recasting of Western philosophy is matched by its profundity--and frequent wit. Its challenges are as bracing as they are essential. Her intellectual fearlessness deserves the closest and widest attention." --Todd Gitlin, Columbia University