Course Code: 2XFP10C19
Start Date: 28/04/2020Day of the Week:
Length in weeks: 10
Time: 10.00am - 12.00noon
Enforced confinement is challenging but also makes space for us to think about some fundamental issues both in our personal lives and, collectively, in the wider society. ‘After’ will be not be just more of ‘Before’, they say. All four thinkers lived like us, in ‘interesting times.’
Charles Péguy 1873-1914
Utopian Socialist, Democrat who detested ‘parties’, an Internationalist patriot (!), an anti -clerical Catholic, a prophet who foresaw only a wasteland if money and market became King. ‘When everything is going wrong, read Péguy’ (Alain Finkelkraut)
Simone Weil 1909-1943
‘The greatest spirit of our times’ (Albert Camus). ´Crazy’ (Charles de Gaulle)
A brilliant academic who worked in a car factory to understand ‘work’. In dark times (the 1930s) she was a militant for justice and truth against the claims of political ideologues. Jewish by birth, she moved towards a mystical form of Christianity; ‘Waiting on God’ was her most accessible work. She waited, but he never came. She died in London as a ‘Free French’ resistance fighter
Albert Camus 1913-1960
Known best as a novelist (‘The Outsider’), he was also a philosopher, a public intellectual,a journalist, a Resistance hero, a fierce critic of all ideologies and all that was politically correct. He sought to locate value in a meaningless world. At present he is widely acclaimed as one of the most important political philosophers of his age.
Augustine of Hippo 354-430
Not Augustine, the great theologian and churchman, but rather Augustine, ‘the cartographer of the human heart’ (Hannah Arendt). In The ‘Confessions’ he left us an unrivalled portrayal of the puzzle of human selfhood. It is strikingly contemporary. In the ‘City of God’ he explained the collapse of the Roman Empire to the perplexed, addressing the central questions of political philosophy. He died in 430 with the Vandals at the gates of his city.
All four defended the primacy of human lives and values threatened by political fantasies.