Bishop Hurst Philosophy Lecture

The Bishop John Fletcher Hurst Philosophy Lecture, offered annually in the spring, brings some of the most distinguished thinkers who are working on the frontiers of contemporary thought, and who are relevant to many disciplines.

The Bishop John Fletcher Hurst Philosophy Lecture was initiated by the Department of Philosophy and Religion and named for the founder of American University, who was himself a philosopher. Offered annually in the spring, it brings to the American University campus some of the most distinguished thinkers from this country and abroad. As a result, our students have immediate contact with those shaping philosophical theory in many fields. The department has consistently invited lecturers who are working on the frontiers of contemporary thought and who are relevant to many other disciplines, including aesthetics, the social and natural sciences, history, literature, ethics and the philosophy of religion.

The 64rd Annual Hurst Lecture, Spring 2023
The “Anthropocene” Through the Lens of a Modern Japanese philosopher

Tuesday, April 11, 2023, 6:00 p.m.
Venue: Constitution Hall
A pre-event reception with refreshments begins at 5:30 pm.

John C. MaraldoCould it be that the ecological crisis named by the “Anthropocene” is only inflamed by our tendency to divide a human world from the world of nature? “Anthropocene” refers (unofficially) to the current geological era in which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment. The endangerment of earthly life it portends also points to an entanglement of ideas and actions with what we often refer to as “nature.” The philosophy of  Nishida Kitarō, the most significant Japanese philosopher of the 20th-century, helps us both to unravel and to re-conjoin the implicated entanglements: to untangle the puzzling implications of a human-caused geological epoch, and to reconnect humans conceptually with the world. Nishida’s alternative conception of a world awakening through humans (and other sentient beings) offers a novel way to connect metaphysics to “real-world” problems. Nishida helps us understand the era we are co-creating, and the “Anthropocene” shows us the relevance of his philosophy.

Speaker: John C. Maraldo (Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of North Florida). 

Maraldo's current work articulates alternatives that challenge traditional conceptions and categories and open us to embodied ways of understanding ourselves and the environment. He earned a Dr.phil. from the University of Munich with a dissertation published as Der hermeneutische Zirkel: Untersuchungen zu Schleiermacher, Dilthey und Heidegger (1974), and then spent several years in Japan studying Japanese philosophy and Zen Buddhism. He has been guest professor at Kyoto University in Japan and the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium, and in 2008–2009 he held the Roche Chair in Interreligious Research at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan. His books include Japanese Philosophy in the Making, 3 vols. (2017, 2019, & 2023), The Saga of Zen History & the Power of Legend (2021), and the coedited Japanese Philosophy: A Sourcebook (2011) and Rude Awakenings: Zen, the Kyoto School and the Question of Nationalism (1994). In 2021 he received the Compass Award for lifetime achievement in comparative philosophy from the Comparative and Continental Philosophy Circle.

Battelle-Tompkins Memorial Building in the 1960s

Philosophy Lectures Archive

Find recordings from selected Bishop Hurst and other lectures.

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  • 63. 2022 Lewis Gordon, University of Connecticut-Storr, "A Black Existential Philosophical Analysis of Race and Racism"
  • 62. 2021 Dr. Peter Hershock, University of Hawaii, "Caring not Counting: A Relational Reimagining of Diversity, Equity and Just Inclusion"
  • 61. 2020 Nkiru Nzegwu, Binghamton University, "Ọkụ Extenders: Women, Sacrality, and Transformative Art" (cancelled due to COVID 19)
  • 60. 2019 Carl Elliott, University of Minnesota, "Exploitation, Degradation, and Clinical Trials or, Fear and Loathing in Medical Research" 
  • 59. 2018 Jacqueline Scott, Loyola University, "A Dream Deferred: African-American Meta-Oppression, Nietzsche, and the Path Towards a Pessimistic Health"
  • 58. 2017 Gail Weiss, George Washington University, "Shamelessness and Second-Hand Shame"
  • 57. 2016 Mary Beth Mader, University of Memphis, "Being Genealogical: Contemporary Philosophical Reflections on Kinship"
  • 56. 2015 Michele M. Moody-Adams, Columbia University, "Civic Art of Remembrance and the Democratic Imagination"
  • 55. 2014 Roger T. Ames, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, "Confucian Role Ethics: A Challenge to the Ideology of Individualism"
  • 54. 2013 Beate Roessler, University of Amsterdam, "Changing Norms of Friendship: Social Relations in the Age of Social Network Sites"
  • 53. 2012 Susan Brison, Dartmouth College,"The Embodied Self: Trauma, Narrative, and Personal Identity"
  • 52. 2011 Ladelle McWhorter, University of Richmond, "Savages and Throwbacks: A Foucauldian Genealogy of Racism in the 20th Century"
  • 51. 2010 Claudia Card, University of Wisconsin, Madison, "Evils and Inexcusable Wrongs"
  • 50. 2009 Simon Critchley, New School for Social Research, "To Philosophize Is to Learn How to Die"
  • 49. 2008 Robert Bernasconi, University of Memphis, "The Policing of Race Mixing and the Birth of Biopower"
  • 48. 2007 Nancy Tuana, Pennsylvania State University, "Witnessing Katrina: Feminist Contributions to Socially Responsible Science"
  • 47. 2006 Alison M. Jaggar, University of Colorado, "The Poorest of the Poor: Justice and the Feminization of Global Poverty"
  • 46. 2005 Debra B. Bergoffen, Professor of Philosophy, George Mason University, "From Genocide to Jusstice: Women's Bodies as a Legal Writing Pad"
  • 45. 2004 John J. McDermott, University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Texas A & M University, "Living Without a Canopy of Ultimate Explanation"
  • 44. 2003 Nancy Sherman, University Professor at Georgetown University and Former Distinguished Chair in Ethics, United States Naval Academy, "Stoicism and a Warrior's Anger"
  • 43. 2002 Herman J Saatkamp, Indiana University, Purdue,"The New Genetics and Human Values"
  • 42. 2001 Shaun Casey, Wesley Theological Seminary,"The Just War Ethic, Human Rights, and Humanitarian Intervention"
  • 41. 2000 Petr Kolar, Charles IV University, Prague, "Academic Freedom in Times of Turmoil"
  • 40. 1999 Lucius Outlaw, Haverford University, "On Race and Philosophy"
  • 39. 1998 Hugo Adam Bedau, Tufts University, "Anarchical Fallacies or Utilitarian Fantasies: Bentham's Critique of Human Rights"
  • 38. 1997 Wesley Robbins, Indiana University, "Pragmatism and Religious Freedom"
  • 37. 1996 Rom Harré, University of Oxford, "Varieties of Relativism"
  • 36. 1995 Amelie Rorty, Mount Holyoke College, "Rights: Educational Not Cultural"
  • 35. 1994 David Crocker, Colorado State University, "Consumption, Well-Being and Virtue"
  • 34. 1993 Robert Sokolowski, Catholic University of America, "What is Philosophical Thinking?"
  • 33. 1992 Thelma Lavine, George Mason University, "American Philosophy and the Contradictions of Modernity"
  • 32. 1991 Tom Beauchamp, Georgetown University, "Why is the Topic of Animal Rights So Ticklish?"
  • 31. 1989 Anthony Quinton, University of Oxford, "Alien Intelligences: Reflections on the Separation of Anglo-Saxon from Continental European Philosophies"
  • 30. 1989 Joseph Margolis, Temple University,"Explanation in the Human and Natural Sciences"
  • 29. 1988 Antony Flew, University of Reading, "The Logic of Mortality"
  • 28. 1987 G.E.M. Anscombe, Cambridge University, "A Reputation Ruined by a Comma"
  • 27. 1986 Basil Mitchell, University of Oxford, "The Enforcement of Morals"
  • 26. 1985 Jacques Taminiaux, Catholic University of Leuven, "Art and Truth in Schopenhaur and Nietzsche"
  • 25. 1982 John Lachs, Vanderbilt University, "Mediation and Psychic Distance: Alienation Reconsidered"
  • 24. 1981 Stanley Rosen, Pennsylvania State University, "Philosophy and Revolution: Pre-Socratic Origins"
  • 23. 1980 Michael Novak, Syracuse University, "The Philosophy of Democratic Capitalism"
  • 22. 1978 Albert Hofstadter, The New School for Social Research, "The Courage for Truth"
  • 21. 1976 Basil Mitchell, University of Oxford,"The Philosophical and Religious Dimensions of Ethics" and "Is Religious Ethics Necessary or Possible?"
  • 20. 1974 R.M. Hare, University of Oxford, "Abortion"
  • 19. 1974 Dieter Henrich, Columbia University, "Autonomous Negation: A Key to Hegel's Science of Logic"
  • 18. 1972 Stephan Körner, Yale University, "The Structure and Function of Metaphysical Propositions"
  • 17. 1972 Alasdair MacIntyre, Brandeis University, "The Sources of Unpredictability in Human Affairs"
  • 16. 1971 J.N. Findlay, Yale University, "The Critical Predicament"
  • 15. 1970 W.H. Walsh, The University of Edinburgh, "Social and Personal Factors in Morality"
  • 14. 1968 P.F. Strawson, University of Oxford, "Imagination and Perception"
  • 13. 1968 Norman Malcolm, Cornell University, Title Unknown
  • 12. 1967 William Muehl, Yale University, "Politics of the New Left"
  • 11. 1966 Isaiah Berlin, University of Oxford, "Is Philosophy a Province of Knowledge?"
  • 10. 1966 Willfred Sellars, University of Pittsburgh, "Science and Ethics: A Study in First Principles"
  • 9. 1965 Paul Weiss, Yale University, "Philosophy of Art and the Modern Machine Age"
  • 8. 1964 Ernst Nagel, Columbia University, "Determinism and Human Action"
  • 7. 1963 Brand Blanchard, Yale University, "The Sane and the Eccentric in Present-Day Thought"
  • 6. 1962 Justus Buchler, Columbia University,"Reflections on a Theory of Meaning"
  • 5. 1961 A.J. Ayer, University of Oxford, "The Concept of a Person"
  • 4. 1961 George Schrader, Yale University, "Ethics and Existence"
  • 3. 1960 Maurice Mandelbaum, Johns Hopkins University, "Historicism: A Key to the Nineteenth Century"
  • 2. 1959 Richard Brandt, Swarthmore College, "Ethical Relativism"
  • 1. 1958 Walter Kaufmann, Princeton University, "The Significance of Martin Buber"