Stephanie Dick, University of Pennsylvania
Michael Della Rocca (Yale University)
Title: Tamers, Deniers, and Me
This paper critically examines a prominent and perennial strategy — found in thinkers as diverse as Kant and Shamik Dasgupta — of simultaneously embracing the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) and also limiting it so as to avoid certain apparently negative consequences of an unrestricted PSR. I will argue that this strategy of taming the PSR faces significant challenges and may even be incoherent. I will develop these criticisms through detailed, direct engagement with both Kant and Dasgupta. And for my (nefarious) purposes, I will enlist a generally derided argument by Leibniz for the PSR which will help us to see the connections between the PSR and a radical form of monism.
Futures of the Ancient Past
Sulla’s Worms and the Roman Body Politic
A lecture by Brian Walters, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
One of the most memorable details of Sulla’s life certainly never happened. According to our ancient sources, the dictator best known for ordering the proscription of his political enemies died in retirement after the flesh of his lower abdomen erupted into a mass of spawning insects or, as commonly described in the Latin tradition, worms. Medical truth in this episode has been subsumed by an entirely moralizing affliction, yet there are elements of the story that rise above mere fiction. Indeed, as this talk suggests, the tradition of Sulla’s worm-ridden demise renders visible significant currents of late-republican and early-imperial discourse about Sulla’s legacy of degeneracy and violence and, just as importantly, Rome’s ailing body politic, with surface fabrications opening vistas onto deeper biographical realities. In the case of the monstrous Sulla, accounts of his monstrous demise resonate – and were told, repeated, and believed – because they are reflective of Sulla’s life as presented by our sources, including, at times, by Sulla himself. They are also true to the imagined life of the Roman republic, with which the dictator’s body and sickness are, by these same sources, inextricably entwined.
Futures of the Ancient Past looks in two directions: forward, to new and emerging trends in Classics, and backward, across centuries of other efforts to promote, contest, or redirect antiquity’s continuing influence. It thus aims to illuminate an unfamiliar history of what Classics has been, as well as to generate a new vision of what it might become.
Lecture open to the public.
The next Race in America Series focuses on “The Role of Women in the Civil Rights Movement” and will feature artistic performances and presentations in honor of Mrs. Edwina Moss, personal assistant and confidante of Martin Luther King.