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Public lecture "My Body, My Self?" by Heather Widdows

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University of Birmingham

Education Building (Pritchatts Road)

Birmingham

B15 2TT

United Kingdom

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Public lecture and conference:

The 2019 Public Lecture of the Centre for the Study of Global Ethics will be delivered by Heather Widdows on the topic of My Body, My Self?

Professor Heather Widdows in ‘My Body, My Self?’ will explore the move to bodies as selves under an ethical ideal and consider what this means. In locating the self in the body we do not simply objectify. The body is not passive. It is subject and object. The self is located in the body, but not just in the actual flawed body – the objectified body. It is also in the transforming body, a body of potential and possibility, and the imagined body, the perfect me.

The lecture starts at 17h00, but please join us for coffee and tea in the Education Building from 16h40 onwards. The talk will take about 50 minutes, and is followed by a Q&A session until 18h30.


Talk abstract:

My Body, My Self?

"That our bodies have become our very selves in a visual and virtual culture is one of the main arguments of Perfect Me. This is so widely believed that we often don’t recognise either that it is true (until it is pointed it out) or how surprising and transformative this is. To think that our selves are our bodies is new. We used to think of ourselves as our ‘inner selves’. Self-improvement was not improving the body but improving the mind or the soul. Being better was knowing more, having a better character or being able to do more. Success is becoming appearance-success, and recognising the moral element in this is crucial to understanding what is going on. Body work has become virtuous. If we work hard enough – stick religiously to our diet, pump iron, run, buff, smooth and firm – we will be rewarded. And the rewards will be significant. We will be better people, and, in the logic of the beauty ideal, we will be rewarded with the ‘goods of the good life’. Better relationships, better jobs, happiness, better lives."


This Public Lecture is a freestanding event related to the Fifth Annual Conference of the Centre for the Study of Global Ethics (30-31 May 2019, University of Birmingham) on Bodies and Embodiment. For more information, please visit the Conference Website.


Venue Information:

The event will take place in the Vaughan Jefferies Lecture Theatre in the Education Building on Pritchatts Road (Birmingham). This venue is accessible to people with a disability. Please download this document for more information about directions to, accessibility of, and facilities in the Education Building.


Heather's work on Beauty:

In her recent book Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal (Princeton University Press, 2018), Heather Widdows explores the radical transformation of the status of beauty, of the beauty ideal and of what this means for how we understand human beings.

For more information on Heather's research into Beauty as an ethical ideal, please visit the Perfect Me research page.

For the Beauty Demands blog and research network led by Heather, please visit the Beauty Demands website.


Heather in the Media:


Biography:

Heather Widdows is the John Ferguson Professor of Global Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor Research (Impact) at the University of Birmingham. Her books include Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal (Princeton University Press, 2018), Global Ethics: An Introduction (Acumen, 2011), The Connected Self: The Ethics and Governance of the Genetic Individual (CUP, 2013), and The Moral Vision of Iris Murdoch (Ashgate, 2005).

Heather is particularly committed to public engagement and work with policy makers. As such she has served as a member of the UK Biobank Ethics and Governance Council (2007-2013), the Philosophy REF-panel (2013-2014) and she is currently a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.


For any queries, please contact globalethicsevents@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

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University of Birmingham

Education Building (Pritchatts Road)

Birmingham

B15 2TT

United Kingdom

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