for Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance, 45th Session, March 19, 2010, 6 to 8pm in Room 516, Regent Street Campus
1. “A feeling cannot be abstracted from the actual entity entertaining it. This actual entity is termed the ‘subject’ of the feeling. It is in virtue of its subject that the feeling is one thing. If we abstract the subject from the feeling we are left with many things. Thus a feeling is a particular in the same sense in which each actual entity is a particular. It is one aspect of its own subject.” [Alfred North Whitehead (1978) Process and Reality, p. 221.]
2. In the 45th session of the Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance, we will focus on the concept of Feelings. We will continue to pursue the dynamic tension between the certainty of faith beyond any possibility of systematisation (Kierkegaard) and the pursuit of absolute certainty through formal methods (e.g. the algebraicisation of symmetry through Group Theory). The former is the dynamic of what we feel must be (e.g. the truth of what must be right, what must be love, what is certainly death) and the latter is the static formality of non-feeling or what is immune to any and all change (e.g. formal methods of logic, axiomatic, austere and stand-offishly eternal).
3. As an antidote to the lyric ironic spiritual pounding of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling in the previous two sessions, we will begin reading Spinoza’s Ethics, which is subtitled, “Demonstrated in Geometric Order". With Spinoza we have a general theoretical framework of Ethics that stretches across: (I) God; (II) the Nature and Origin of the Mind; (III) Origin and Nature of the Affects; (IV) Human Bondage or the Powers of the Affects; and (V) the Power of the Intellect or Human Freedom. A current neuroscientist, Dimasio, in his book Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain, says of Spinoza’s formal description of conatus (affects, feelings) is an accurate model of how the latest neuroscientific models conceive of emotions and feelings. So much for the uselessness of rationalist theories!
4. We will also discuss an interesting article spotted by Omar Khan: see, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/19/opinion/19brooks.html.
5. Finally, for a cool rendition of Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, please see Prof. Stuart Toddington's spot of Bob Dylan's interpretation of Abraham and Issac: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndm58RunNUs