Dr. Jennifer L. McMahon, professor of English and Languages, will deliver East Central University’s 18th Annual Hedgehog and Fox Faculty Lecture, “The Philosopher’s Stone,” at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 29, at the Raymond J. Estep Multimedia Center in the Bill S. Cole University Center.
The lecture is free and open to the public.
“Throughout the ages, people have sought the elixir of life due to the fear of death,” McMahon said. “Though philosophy is the love of wisdom, and philosophers are lovers and seekers of truth, very few western philosophies deal at length with the topic of death.”
Existential philosophy is the exception, according to McMahon, who says that existentialism’s explicit concern with mortality has led it to be characterized as morbid and pessimistic.
“However, the fact that prominent existential philosophers have offered sustained analyses of mortality makes their work uniquely able to help understand humanity’s perennial preoccupation with the achievement of immortality,” said McMahon. “This achievement, which would amount to the defeat of death, finds expression in traditional religion and classical literature and in a wide variety of popular contexts, including cinema and television.”
She refers to examples such as Google’s Calico project, futuristic fantasy such as the recent film “Transcendence”, vampire fiction, or the “Harry Potter” saga, and argues that existential philosophies serve as ways of helping people to understand their ongoing, preoccupation with death and the consequences that might follow from trying to elude it.
For more information on the lecture contact the ECU Office of Academic Affairs at 580-559-5204.