In July 2021 I gave a remote keynote lecture at the Australasian Association of Philosophy‘s annual conference.
The talk was called “The Development and Plausibility of Materialism.” It looked at the recent history of materialist (/physicalist) philosophies, from 1950 or so to the present, and spent some time on developments at the University of Sydney. At the end of the talk I move from the history of these ideas to a consideration of why it’s reasonable to believe a view of this kind.
I was an undergraduate student at Sydney during the 1980s. That was just after the period (1970s) when Sydney was especially important in the development of materialist ideas, but significant events were still underway. As the opening of the talk says, I’d planned to give this lecture at Sydney, in person, at the 2020 AAP conference. I’d wanted to use that opportunity to reflect on the importance of local interaction, physical settings, and the atmosphere of individual departments within the culture of philosophy, especially in relation to trends towards globalization in intellectual life. That 2020 conference was cancelled entirely, due to Covid, and the 2021 event was online only. So there’s some irony in my discussion – brief, but very significant to me – of the importance of places and face-to-face interaction in philosophy.
Here is the audio:
And here are the slides (not very many) as a pdf. The file should open in a new tab, so it won’t stop the audio.
The talk was followed by a very interesting discussion, but I didn’t record that.
Thanks to Eliza Goddard, Joe Ulatowski, Nick Munn, Samuel Barron, and the other AAP organizers for putting this event together. For an online event [see above…], it was a very good one. Thanks also to Justine Kingsbury for chairing my talk.