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Scientific Monsters: Natural History, Teratology & Extraordinary Biologies

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In this lecture Dr. Asma will explore some of the dominant types of monsters in ancient Western literature, natural history, and philosophy

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Philosophy of Monsters Series

Prof. Stephen Asma

Course Description

The category “monster” disrupts the borders and boundaries of what we consider natural, normal, and even intelligible. Our rational systems of order are upended by the monstrous. In this lecture series Dr. Asma will examine the role of monsters in cognition and knowledge, the ethical and political uses of monstrosity, the relation to personal identity, and the problem of evil. A philosophical “monsterology” is committed to the idea that we can better understand the human condition by examining what scares us–what makes us vulnerable.

Ancient Monsters: Greek and Roman Traditions

Septmeber 28th

In this illustrated lecture Dr. Asma will explore some of the dominant types of monsters in ancient Western literature, natural history, and philosophy. We will learn about classic beasties like Cyclopes, but also lesser-known topics like Plato’s monster, and Aristotle’s theory of monstrosity.

Medieval Monsters, and the Problem of Evil

November 15tth

In this illustrated lecture Dr. Asma will examine the major kinds of medieval monsters that were feared but also “cavorted with” during the Middle Ages. Some natural monsters of the ancient period continued in the medieval, but also many demons and theological monsters emerged with unprecedented terror.

Scientific Monsters: Natural History, Teratology, and Extraordinary Biologies

January 9th

In this illustrated lecture Dr. Asma will explore the monsters of the modern era, specifically the natural history traditions from the Late Renaissance through the Victorian period. Focusing on the development of teratology, we will look at the medicalization of monsters and the reframing of monstrosity in evolution.

Speaker: Stephen Asma is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia College Chicago, where he is a Senior Fellow of the Research Group in Mind, Science and Culture. Asma is the author of ten books, including The Emotional Mind: Affective Roots of Culture and Cognition (Harvard Univ. Press, April 2019), Why We Need Religion (Oxford Univ. Press, 2018), The Evolution of Imagination (Univ. of Chicago, 2017), On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears (Oxford Univ. Press, 2009) and The Gods Drink Whiskey (HarperOne, 2005). He writes regularly for the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Aeon magazine.

Tickets are for this lecture only - please book the rest in the series seperately

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Organizer The Viktor Wynd Museum & The Last Tuesday Society

Organizer of Scientific Monsters: Natural History, Teratology & Extraordinary Biologies

The Last Tuesday Society is a 'pataphysical organisation founded by William James at Harvard in the 1870s, currently headquartered at The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & UnNatural History in London. For the last twenty years we have put on Lectures, Balls, Workshops, Masterclasses, Balls, Seances, Expeditions to Papua New Guinea & West Africa, all from our East London Museum and it's infamous cocktail bar.

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