11 October 2007

Recitations of Immortality

I'm still puzzling over that passage from yesterday: I see for instance that Grant, in his annotated text of the Ethics, gives the same reading as the OCT; he doesn't obelize any line, or the passage; and he renders b21 as "Now to the brave man courage is something morally beautiful." Apparently Grant wouldn't agree with Taylor that b21 is ungrammatical. But to be continued ...

Today my thoughts are turning momentarily to immortality, as I am teaching the Phaedo in an introductory class.

While unpacking books, I came across William Ernest Hocking's 1957, The Meaning of Immortality in Human Experience. You may know that Hocking's earlier, The Meaning of God in Human Experience, was something of a philosophical blockbuster when it appeared in 1912. The much later immortality book was a repackaging of Hocking's earlier, Thoughts on Life and Death (1937), perhaps with the idea that, if the title were similar, this book too would prove to be a bestseller.

Hocking in his time was a high-profile professor at Harvard, whose lectures on immortality were originally given at:

Harvard, the Ingersoll Lecture on Immortality, 1936
Chicago, the Hiram W. Thomas Lecture, 1936
Berkeley, the Foerster Lecture on Immortality, 1942
The lecture series at Harvard was instituted by President Eliot and still persists in the Divinity School. The Berkeley series, I gather, also continues, although in both cases, I believe, the connection with philosophical discussions of immortality is slight. For instance, a recent Foerster lecture (2004) is described on the Berkeley website:
This year’s Foerster Lecturer, Carlo Ginzburg, is professor of Italian Renaissance studies at UCLA. His interests range from cultural and intellectual history to art history and methodology, though his special expertise is in the Inquisition. Ginzburg “is not only one of the world’s leading social historians,” says Foerster Lecture Committee Chair Anthony Long, professor of classics, but “a riveting author and lecturer, with a special gift for reminding us how much we have still to learn about the peculiarities of our species.” Ginzburg’s lecture is entitled “The Soul of Brutes: A 16th Century Debate.”
I wonder, especially given the mention of Anthony Long's presence on the committee, whether ancient philosophers discussing Platonic or Aristotelian arguments ever hold the Foerster lectureship? (I haven't a clue -- never heard of the lecture series before I encountered it in Hocking.)