Talbot Brewer is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of Virginia. He specializes in ethics and political philosophy, with particular attention to moral psychology and Aristotelian ethics. He is the author of numerous essays, including “Virtues We Can Share: A Reading of Aristotle’s Ethics” (Ethics 115, 2005), “Savoring Time: Desire, Pleasure and Wholehearted Activity” (Ethical Theory and Moral 6, 2003), “Two Kinds of Commitments (And Two Kinds of Social Groups)” (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66, 2003), and “Maxims and Virtues” (The Philosophical Review 3, 2002). He has been a visiting professor in the Harvard University Philosophy Department and has authored two books, the most recent of which is The Retrieval of Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2009).



Proselytism without True Believers

This talk will focus on a global cultural phenomenon that I take to mark off our moment in history from all prior moments. The phenomenon in question is that the main mechanisms of culture-formation no longer have need of true believers, and indeed for the most part go forward without true believers. This lack of ardent belief does not mean that prevailing mechanisms of mass culture-formation lack potency; on the contrary, contemporary forms of “automatic” proselytism exceed any prior modes of proselytism in their reach and in their capacity to seize attention and give shape to pre-reflective tastes and desires. In this talk Brewer will briefly explain this unprecedented phenomenon and explore a few of its more interesting implications.

Time: 10 pm
Cultural Services of the French Embassy / Ballroom