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On Ethics and Contemplation

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Abbotsford Convent

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1 Saint Heliers Street

Abbotsford, VIC 3067

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The place of contemplation in the ethical life, and the place of ethics in the contemplative life, has been a point of tension in the Western philosophical tradition since Aristotle. It is also a question that has been addressed in various ways and with various answers in the world’s major religious traditions. The relationship between these two domains plays itself out in how we think about a number of age-old binaries: body vs. soul; the mundane vs. the divine; political engagement vs. contemplative retreat; justice vs. wisdom. Likewise, some of the major fault lines in modern politics – the rule of law vs. individual liberty; economics vs. politics – can also be traced to the idea of an original rift between the ends of ethics and contemplation.

The Contemplary is proud to be hosting a discussion with three speakers rooted in different philosophical and religious traditions in order to examine this complicated relationship between ethics and contemplation, and to defend or challenge this notion of a ‘rift’. Ultimately, the speakers will be exploring the place of contemplation amidst the ever increasing sense of urgency and crisis that characterise the new millennium.

The Speakers:

Brennan McDavid is the Seymour Reader in Ancient History and Philosophy at Ormond College. She is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne and teaches subjects in ancient philosophy and Latin. Her research investigates the workings of Aristotle's theory of knowledge, spanning from scientific knowledge to craft know-how to practical wisdom.

Simon Moyle lives in the Merri Merri watershed with his wife and four children. He is the elder at GraceTree, a small Christian community who practise hospitality, contemplation, and work with their hands. He is a nonviolence trainer and an activist who has been involved in the antiwar, climate, and refugee movements.

Edwin Ng is a cultural theorist and teaches media and communication at a university in Melbourne. He describes himself as a postcolonial “Western Buddhist” convert and researches into the colonial legacy of contemporary Buddhism and the ethics and politics of mindfulness. He is co-organising a think tank for the Mind & Life Institute addressing “Socially-Engaged Mindfulness Interventions (SEMI) and the Promise of Making Refuge”. Of late, Edwin has become more curious about meowfulness than mindfulness.

Tom Hardman (moderator) is a student at the University of Melbourne and a volunteer at The Contemplary.


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Abbotsford Convent

Community Room

1 Saint Heliers Street

Abbotsford, VIC 3067

Australia

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