March 1, 6:45 PM Lecture – “Free Will and Determinism: Kant's Philosophical Take" by Irmgard Scherer, Professor Emerita, Loyola University Baltimore. In English.
Abstract: The apparent conflict between free will and scientific determinism is arguably the most intractable conundrum in all of philosophy. This conflict calls into question not only human authenticity and dignity, but also the very quality of human life itself. Moreover, at various points in history, both classical physics and modern science in general have challenged the possibility of freedom of choice. This not only puts into question our autonomy in making choices, good or bad, but also casts doubt on the legitimacy of demanding moral responsibility. Tailored to a general audience, this talk will present the highlights of this problem, examining what is at stake and looking at some famous philosophical attempts to "save" freedom. Specifically, we will look at Kant (1724-1804) with a focus on his moral philosophy which exalts human freedom, insisting on the triumph of the human will over deterministic nature. The talk will also compare Kant’s ideas with Spinoza’s Ethics (1677), a work that has been rediscovered by contemporary thinkers and neuroscientists for its insights into human emotions and hailed as a mature “science of psychology” (Antonio Damasio).
Information about Irmgard Scherer's life and work can be found on her homepage: www.irmgardscherer.com The event will be held at the Goethe Institute, Washington D.C., which is located at: 1990 K Street NW, Suite 03, Washington, DC 20006. (The entrance is located on 20th St. NW, lower level) .