Critical Antiquities Workshop | Semester 2 – School of Humanities Critical Antiquities Workshop | Semester 2 – School of Humanities

Critical Antiquities Workshop | Semester 2

“Thinking and Moral Considerations”
Dennis J. Schmidt – Western Sydney University


The title of these remarks repeats the title of an essay by Arendt that was published in 1971. In that essay Arendt asks whether thinking – understood in the broadest sense and not merely as a matter of knowledge – provides some sort of “guarantee”, some sort of compelling attachment to a moral sense. Here reflections are largely, but not exclusively, directed to Platonic texts.

My intention is to ask this question again by beginning with a closer look at Arendt’s text, but then moving to look at some key Platonic texts – including some that Arendt does not take up – that treat this issue. My special concern will be to ask what, if anything, binds us to the good? While the focus of my comments will be centered on Platonic texts and will take Arendt’s text as the guiding impulse for those comments, it will be necessary to refer to some issues in Aristotle, Kant, Heidegger, and Agamben in order to unfold some further possibilities.

Philosophy has tended to hold tight to the conviction that reason, thinking, truth, and the good matter. Bloch took this conviction as evidence for the importance of the principle of hope. Arendt echoes this in her essay, especially its final words: “The manifestation of the wind of thought is not knowledge; it is the ability to tell right from wrong, beautiful from ugly. And this indeed may prevent catastrophes, at least for myself, in the rare moments when the chips are down.” Since my own conviction in this matter has been badly shaken, this paper is an effort to understand more clearly how it might be renewed.

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Sydney: Friday, August 13, 10am – 11:30am

New York: Thursday, August 12, 8pm – 9:30pm


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Aug 13 2021


10:00 am - 11:30 am



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Classics and Ancient History

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