[SydPhil] Critical Antiquities Workshop - Brooke Holmes

Tristan Bradshaw tristan.bradshaw at sydney.edu.au
Mon May 31 09:42:57 AEST 2021

Dear all,

Ben Brown and I are pleased to announce that at the final Critical Antiquities Workshop for this semester we will be hosting Professor Brooke Holmes (Princeton University) for her paper, ‘Canguilhem and the Greeks: Vitalism between History and Philosophy.’

The event will be held on Friday, June 11 11am-12:30pm (Sydney time). That translates to the following times elsewhere:
Tokyo: Friday 10am-11:30am
Singapore: Friday 9am-10:30am
Western US: Thursday, June 10 6-7:30pm
Mexico City: Thursday, June 10 8-9:30pm
Eastern US: Thursday, June 10 9-10:30pm

To receive a Zoom link, please sign up for Critical Antiquities Network announcements here<https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/IAX2COMKzVTplpkLgSE0c_W?domain=signup.e2ma.net>. Please note, if you have already subscribed to the mailing list, you will receive the Zoom link and need not sign up again.

Here is the abstract:

In this talk, I examine the role of ancient Greek medicine and philosophy in Georges Canguilhem’s analysis of vitalism at the intersection of history and philosophy in his essay “Aspects of Vitalism” (1946) in light of larger questions about the historicity of “life” as a concept in the history and philosophy of science and contemporary biopolitical theory.  Vitalism, for Canguilhem, is not a proper object of the history of science.  But nor is it a philosophy that exists outside of historical time.  I show how Canguilhem embeds vitalism both historically and trans-historically by threading each of its three “aspects” in the essay through ancient Greece.  Canguilhem distinguishes his own understanding of both life and vitalism from that of the “classical” vitalists of the eighteenth century by refusing to read ancient Greece as romantically naïve or pre-technological.  He instead locates a dialectic between vitalism and mechanism already in antiquity.  I argue for a critical re-reading of Canguilhem’s own conjunction of vitalism and Hellenism that resists its figuration of ancient Greece as the place where the human qua species first comes to take itself as an object of knowledge.  I instead propose reading ancient Greek medical and philosophical texts that are read and reread in debates about the nature of human life and the life of Nature over millennia as part of a milieu that shapes how contemporary thinkers theorize life in the interest of human flourishing.

We hope to see you there for what promises to be a great talk,


Tristan Bradshaw
Postdoctoral Research Fellow | Co-director, Critical Antiquities Network
The University of Sydney
Department of Classics and Ancient History
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Office: H606, Main Quadrangle | The University of Sydney | NSW | 2006
 +61 406 747 955
tristan.bradshaw at sydney.edu.au<mailto:tristan.bradshaw at sydney.edu.au>  | fass.can at sydney.edu.au<mailto:fass.can at sydney.edu.au>

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