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NOV 8 - Last Lecture

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November 8, 2017 - Last Lecture

The Two Greatest Ideas

George Lynn Cross Research Professor
Kingfisher College Chair of the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics
The University of Oklahoma

November 8, 2017 | 4:00 - 5:00 PM | Zarrow Hall, Room 145
700 Elm Ave, Norman, OK 73019

Photos of this event are now posted on the Institute's Flickr page


I will argue that there have been two ideas in human history that underlie almost all of the intellectual and cultural achievements of human civilization. The first is the idea that the human mind can grasp the universe. The second is the idea that the human mind can grasp itself. I will tell a story about the origin of these two ideas and how their relationship eventually changed, leading to a battle for dominance between them that has never been resolved. The way we think of religion, science, art, literature, morals and politics, and many philosophical problems can be traced to the way we think about these two ideas and the kind of mind that could have both of them.

About Dr. Zagzebski

Dr. Linda Zagzebski is George Lynn Cross Research Professor, and Kingfisher College Chair of the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics, at the University of Oklahoma. Her research has garnered international acclaim in three different fields in philosophy: ethics, epistemology and philosophy of religion.

She has given numerous distinguished lectures, including the Wilde Lectures in Natural Theology at Oxford University (2010), the Kaminski Lectures at the Catholic University of Lublin (2011), The Aquinas Lecture at Marquette University (2013), and most recently the prestigious Dewey Lecture at the meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division (2016), and the Presidential Address at the meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Central Division (2016). Upcoming lectures include the Cardinal Mercier Chair at University of Leuven in Belgium (October 2017) and the Soochow Lectures at Soochow University in Taiwan (March 2018). In November 2017 she will receive the prestigious Aquinas Medal at the meeting of the American Catholic Philosophical Association.

Dr. Zagzebski has served as President of the American Catholic Philosophical Association (1996-7), the Society of Christian Philosophers (2004-7), and the American Philosophical Association, Central Division (2015-16). She has also published numerous books and scholarly articles. Her most recent book, Exemplarist Moral Theory (Oxford University Press, 2017), presents a form of virtue ethics based on direct reference to moral exemplars. This book incorporates empirical literature on the emotion of admiration, on emulation, and work on the neuroscience of exemplars. It was supported by grants from the Templeton Foundation and from the Character Project at Wake Forest University. It was also the topic of her Gifford Lectures at the University of St. Andrews in October 2015. Listen to her interview on New Books in Philosophy.

Her other books include Epistemic Authority: A Theory of Trust, Authority, and Autonomy in Belief (Oxford University Press, 2012), The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge, (Oxford University Press, 1991), Virtues of the Mind (Cambridge University Press, 1996), Divine Motivation Theory (Cambridge University Press, 2004), Philosophy of Religion: An Historical Introduction (Blackwell, 2007), and On Epistemology (Wadsworth, 2008), as well as many edited books and over a hundred articles reprinted many times and translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Swedish, Turkish, German, Chinese, Russian, Farsi, and Korean.

What is a "Last Lecture"?

If you could give one last lecture before you die, what would you say? This is the premise of a "Last Lecture."

The idea gained international attention in 2007 when Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon who had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, gave a lecture entitled "The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." The YouTube video of his lecture has been viewed by millions, and the published version of the lecture became a New York Times best seller.

Since then, many universities have hosted "Last Lectures" from people who, while in good health, take the opportunity to reflect deeply about what matters most to them, and to share those reflections with the broader community. The Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing's "Last Lecture" series follows this pattern.

To date, Institute-sponsored "Last Lectures" have been given by Dr. Kelly Damphousse, Dr. Tom Boyd and OU Women's Basket Ball Head Coach, Sherri Coale. Videos are available 3-4 weeks after the lecture on our YouTube page, and photos are available on our Flickr page.


Visitor parking is available on the first floor ramp in the Elm Avenue Parking Facility located between Boyd Street and Brooks St. View on Google Maps

For visitor parking fees, and other parking options, please see the OU Parking Services website.