Each year for three decades the department has sponsored the Belgum Lectures, which honor the memory of Eunice Belgum, who graduated from St. Olaf College in 1967. The lecture series was established in the hope that Eunice’s tragic death in 1977 would not end her impact on the profession, teaching, and scholarship she loved so much. While the lectures may be on any topic, the philosophy department makes a special effort to choose topics in areas of special interest to Eunice, namely ethics, philosophy of mind, and feminism. These lectures are supported by a fund established by Eunice’s family and friends.
April 4-5, 2016
Guest Speaker: John Cooper, Henry Putnam University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University
Series Title: Ancient Philosophies as a Way of Life
Monday, April 4, 4-5:30 pm, Viking Theater
Ancient Philosophy as a Way of Life: Socrates
Click here for the link to the stream of this lecture.
Tuesday, April 5, 3:30-5 pm., Viking Theater
Platonist Philosophy as a Way of Life
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John Cooper is the author of Reason and Human Good in Aristotle, which was awarded the American Philosophical Association’s Franklin Matchette Prize (1977), and two collections of essays, Reason and Emotion: Essays on Ancient Moral Psychology and Ethical Theory (1999) and Knowledge, Nature, and the Good: Essays on Ancient Philosophy (2004). To these was added in 2012 his comprehensive major work on ancient ethical theory, Pursuits of Wisdom: Six Ways of Life in Ancient Philosophy from Socrates to Plotinus (Princeton University Press). His work in ancient Greek philosophy spans the areas of metaphysics, moral psychology, philosophy of mind, ethics, and political theory. Cooper’s papers are published in many collected editions and in scholarly journals such as Philosophical Review, Journal of Philosophy, and Phronesis. He is co-editor of Seneca: Moral and Political Essays, and his edition of Plato: Complete Works came out in 1997. He was president of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division (1999-2000), and was vice-chair of the association’s national Board of Officers (2001-02). He has held research fellowships of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the American Council of Learned Societies, and is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge, Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He delivered the John Locke Lectures at Oxford University (Faculty of Philosophy) in 2011 and the Tanner Lectures in Human Values at Stanford in 2012. Before coming to Princeton, Cooper held positions at Harvard University and the University of Pittsburgh. He received his B.A. degree from Harvard College, his B. Phil. from Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and his Ph.D. from Harvard University.
Previous Belgum Lectures
1979 Kathryn Pyne Parsons, Not Judge, Not Victim, Nor Savior
1980 Dagfinn Føllesdal, Understanding and Rationality
1981 Gareth B. Matthews, Conceiving Childhood
1982 Martha Nussbaum, The Fragility of Goodness
1983 Georg Henrik Von Wright, Truth, Knowledge, and Freedom
1984 Naomi Scheman, Authority and Paranoia: The Social Construction of Gender
and the Philosophical Self
1985 Merold Westphal, The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism
1986 Kenneth Sayre, Myths for Our Technological Future
1987 Rosemarie Tong, Feminist Social Philosophy
1988 Laurence Thomas, Living Morally: A Psychology of Moral Character
1989 Keith Gunderson, The Aesthetic Robot
1990 Allan Gibbard, Moral Meanings
1991 Nancy Sherman, Virtue and Ethics
1992 Arthur Caplan, Ethics and the Genetic Revolution
1993 Amelie Rorty, The Many Faces of Morality
1994 Helen Longino, Scientific Knowledge and Feminist Theoretical Virtues
1995 Georges Rey, Superficialism about Mind and Meaning
1996 Gary Iseminger, Aestheticism: Defined and Defended
1997 Hilary Putnam, Mind, Matter, and Making Sense
1998 Jean Bethke Elshtain, How Far Have We Fallen?
1999 James Harris, After Relativism
2000 Stephen Darwall, Two Dogmas of Empiricism in Ethics
2001 Lydia Goehr, Listening, Laughing, and Learning
2002 Frederick Stoutland, How To Believe in Free Will
2003 Margaret Urban Walker, Forgiveness and Moral Repair
2004 Bas van Fraassen, Seeing and Measuring: Connecting Science to Experience
2005 Jonathan Lear, Ethics and the Collapse of Civilization
2006 Galen Strawson, Episodic Ethics
2007 Julia Annas, Virtue and Happiness
2008 Barbara Herman, Making Motives Matter
2009 Elliott Sober, Philosophical Reflections on Darwin
2010 Thomas Carson, Lincoln’s Ethics
2011 Rachel Cohon, Hume on Virtuous Action and Character
2012 Lynne Rudder Baker, Persons: What We Are and How We Persist in Time
2013 Daniel Robinson, Consciousness, Again and Character
2014 Eleonore Stump, The Nature of the Atonement, Atonement and Shame
Thomas Carson ’72, who was the Belgum Lecture speaker in 2010, has written a book entitled Lincoln’s Ethics, due to be published by Cambridge University Press by September 2015. He graciously mentions the St. Olaf Philosophy department, and the Belgum Lecture series, in his acknowledgements. Thomas is a Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University, Chicago.
Martha Nussbaum, in the acknowledgements of The Fragility of Goodness, indicates that her 1983 Belgum Lectures of the same title inspired several chapters of the book. She dedicates the relevant chapters to Belgum’s parents, Joe and Esther Belgum. Martha Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago.
Memories From A Fellow St. Olaf Student
The vivid impression I retain of Eunice Belgum was generated in a short period time, most of it over fifty years ago. My most salient memories arise from our joint participation in an intensive January term advanced philosophy seminar on The Idea of Freedom directed by Professor Fred Stoutland. Eunice quickly became a respected presence in that seminar, notwithstanding a certain Nordic reticence, perhaps amplified to some degree because she was a sophomore woman (though not the only woman) among primarily senior men. She came to be admired for her sparkling intelligence, for a maturity of judgment beyond her years, for her tenacity in trying to get at what was fundamental, and for being unwilling to be satisfied by what she pointed out were weak or unfinished arguments passing themselves off as “solutions” that would merely end discussion prematurely. This made her a formidable but, in the end, characteristically helpful interlocutor, as I discovered when she drew the straw to be a respondent to my presentation, as the seminar format required. In the end, several sections of my senior thesis were much improved because of her criticism. Regrettably, I talked with her only twice after St. Olaf, in the early 1970s, when she chanced to visit mutual acquaintances in New York and we chatted briefly about each other’s doctoral work. She was writing a Harvard doctoral thesis, a significant contribution to the ongoing discussion of the notoriously complicated concept of akrasia in moral philosophy. Her account apparently proved to be of considerable interest, though transmitted largely by word of mouth, among a number of her scholarly contemporaries. It did not see the light of day as a published work until 1990, over a decade after her death.
The annual Eunice Belgum Memorial lectures have been a particularly fitting tribute to the brilliance and relentless spirit of inquiry of her work as a scholar and teacher, and a meaningful way of partially assuaging the deep sadness that arises from contemplating her untimely death.
— Professor Warren Funk, Class of 1965