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  December 1, December 5, and December 7, 2005

Ethics, Reading, and the Creative Imagination - three lectures



Brian Stock

University of Toronto

1. The Reader's Dilemma
Thursday, December 1, 2006, 5.30 p.m., Popper Room

2. The Ascetic reader
Monday, December 5, 2006, 5.00 p.m., Room 006 N11 (TIGy)

3. The Creative Imagination
Wednesday, December 7, 2006, 5.00 p.m., Popper Room

“…In these lectures I propose that Western traditions of reading since the Hellenistic period can be divided roughly into two types, namely ‘ ascetic’ and ‘aesthetic’. By ascetic reading, I refer to reading exercises that are intended to promote withdrawal, self-examination, and virtuous conduct. By aesthetic reading, I have in mind reading for pleasure, sensory stimulation, or emotional gratification. In my first lecture, I trace the rise of these two types of reading down to Montaigne, arguing that they are rarely if ever found in isolation in Western Tradition but instead operate interdependently over time. In the second lecture, I take up a variety of secular and religious forms of ascetic readership down to Descartes’ Meditations. In the third lecture I talk about the development of the conception of the creative imagination in Western thought from its beginnings in the ancient philosophical debate over the meaning of the term phantasiai down to the reintroduction of the idea of ‘fancy’. In this lecture I do not restrict myself to ‘reading’ but discuss a variety of approaches to ethics and aesthetics.”

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