Anthropology Seminar Series - James Laidlaw, Cambridge University

Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 16:00 to 17:30
Anthropology Seminar Room, RH2.20 Rowan House

The Virtue of Reality

Professor James Laidlaw
Cambridge University

Philosophers have recognised a problem in the understanding of virtue that goes all the way back to Aristotle, the so-called ‘priority problem’. If acting virtuously is defined as acting of the basis of a virtuous disposition (it is not virtuous if you do the right thing by mistake or in order to seem virtuous, for example) then what is the relation between disposition and action? Are properly performed virtuous actions the precondition for acquiring virtuous dispositions, or is having a good disposition a prerequisite for performing such actions? This paper suggests that if we look to the anthropology of ritual, we can find ways of thinking our way out of this problem, and that doing so also illuminates why projects of ethical self-cultivation and ethical pedagogy so often have recourse, but also an ambivalent attitude, to ritual practice. 

Thursday 7th February 2019
Anthropology Seminar Room
4.00 - 5.30pm