The tone of collective discourse has rapidly degenerated, damaging the forms and rituals that give coherence to our lives, cultures and professional disciplines contributing to a sense of communal and global unrest. In these intimate Saturday morning seminars our desire is to nourish a spirit of reflection rather than repeating the sounds of panic and alarm, or pretend hopes. Stepping back from the present situation, we will reflect on the current moment through trans-disciplinary lenses including philosophy, theology, history, psychoanalysis, neuroscience, and anthropology. Together we will seek new perspectives that may help us move into an open future.
Seminar 1: November 10, 2018
Exploring the Neurobiology of Relationship – The Roots of Security and Trauma
Seminar Leader: Tony Stanton
The Trump administration’s recent policy of forced separation of asylum-seeking parents and children provoked feelings of horror and disbelief across the ideological spectrum. Intuitively, caring individuals could feel the trauma inherent in wrenching babies from mothers, sons from fathers. This seminar will present a brief history of developmental theories and their neurobiological correlates that will help us place this aberrant policy into a thoughtful context. We will also discuss successful and unsuccessful developmental pathways that can lead to ethical relationships as well as consider how these pathways can go awry.
Seminar 2: December 8, 2018
The Revenge of the Golem: Psychology, Ethics and Technology
Seminar Leader: Eric Severson
Human beings have a long and tumultuous relationship with technology. We invent and refine tools, and then find we are changed by wielding them, and live in a world that has been reshaped by our tools in ways we did not anticipate. This presentation plays with a variety of works of fiction (Frankenstein, the Jewish legend of the Golem, various contemporary television shows and movies) and historical events to inspire conversation about our modern struggles with technology. Every generation faces its own crisis – technologically, the 21st century is being rattled by the ubiquity of smart phones, social media and the rampant digital mediation of human relationships. There are obvious and irrevocable benefits of these technological advances. However, the backside of these rapid developments includes uncharted ethical and psychological aftershocks. Smart phones are remarkably invasive and addictive, and present a tangible personal struggle for many people today.
This presentation will focus on the way the moral and psychological formation of a person is impacted by these forces. Philosophically, this conversation will be shaped by the work of Martin Heidegger and Emmanuel Levinas. The presentation will consist of a series of discussion starters; participants should be prepared to share their own experiences and expertise, both personal and professional, in dealing with the modern forces of digital technology.
Seminar 3: January 12, 2019
Militarization and Identity
Seminar Leaders: Nicole Torres and Mylor Treneer
How do we maintain our sense of self in a political climate that often uses our identity for war and state making? Identity can be militarized – that is – strategically utilized to enforce the needs of the nation-state. In this day and age, the militarization of identity includes an ever-expanding list of concerns and grievances that include racism, war, crime, illegality, citizenship and belonging, arguments of indigeneity, class divisions, ethnoracial categories, and political affiliations. The hardening of these identities can effectively change an individual’s sense of self, one’s state of mind, and the communities in which we live. How do we live ethically in a social and political climate that encroaches upon our states of being in increasingly unethical ways? In this seminar we will discuss the ethical challenges associated with identity and militarization.
Seminar 4: February 9, 2019
Nihilism and the Affirmation of Life
Living the Death of God in Trump America
Seminar Leaders: Elizabeth Sikes and Tony Stanton
Nietzsche’s Zarathustra walked into the marketplace and proclaimed the death of God. Thus spoke Zarathustra one of the most shocking truths of modernity: the reign of nihilism. This truth still reverberates today on Wall Street, in the White House and body politic, across the depopulated monocultured fields of rural America, in the physical and virtual temples of consumer culture, on urban streets, in classrooms, in the clinic. We begin our look at the history of the concept of nihilism with Nietzsche and how nihilism figures as the existential problem par excellence for the affirmation of life, that is, for the question of what makes life worth living. We’ll look to literary and other artistic forms for examples of this struggle with nihilism, show how it has been amplified today by the forces of global technocapitalism, and think together the ways in which this death drive shows up in our patients’ struggles, especially as a response to our volatile political time.
Click here for seminar leaders' biographies and learning objectives for Ethics CEUs being offered.