Next Talk: 'Utopias and Medical Futures' A Royal Institute of Philosophy Talk by Prof Richard Ashcroft Tuesday 09 October 2018

Dr Barbara Underwood, Chair

“One of the interesting things about contemporary politics and social thought is that imagining better ways to live through the invention of utopias seems to have nearly disappeared. Social transformation guided by images of an ideal, well-ordered community or city is out of fashion. By way of contrast, we are overwhelmed by invitations to improve ourselves through diet, exercise, cognitive therapies, education and technology. Apps, fitbits, “smart” devices surround us, and we are encouraged to see this as a good thing, more “evidence-based” and more effective. Contemporary social critics try to push back and question this image of permanent, continuous self-improvement, but seemingly to little effect. I would like us to reflect on the disappearance of Utopia and the dominion of personalised technologies, and think of them as counterparts. Instead of making ideal societies for humans to live in, we are creating idealised humans to live in society. Either way we hold one variable constant and transform the other in the name of achieving the Good and the Just. In this talk I will explore these ideas, and concentrate on ideas of improving human beings through medical technologies, but we can range more widely in discussion.”

1 comment:

  1. For this month's talk there were enough chairs and space -- somehow the good folk of the Coach & Horses managed to fit 55 chairs in the room.

    A very big thank you to Professor Richard Ashcroft for coming to speak to us - you know these guys are so busy at work, but they are also so passionate about what they do and so willing to share it with us - and for free ! Part of the reason must be of course their commitment and desire to share ideas.

    Thank you too for coming and bringing your ideas with you. They are so important for what Richard was saying about sharing in community. His is a very tricky job; the breadth it covers is amazing.

    24 October 2018 at 18:08


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