Friday, January 15, 2010


I made it to Oxford. It's beautiful, tiny, intriguing. If cities were subject to Photoshop tools, you'd have to slide the time scale back a few centuries and set the color saturation to 50%. Oh, and then slosh on some sort of melting-snow filter. Although it's neither possible or meaningful, I can't help but compare Oxford to the last foreign city I spent time in. Barcelona is still so much in my mind that it makes for some rather extreme comparisons (size-scale, weather, language).  Let's just say that even if I wasn't exactly looking for a contrast, I sure got one!

Monday I officially start my "short-term student visit" at the Center for Practical Ethics. This involves a visitor card, some desk space, and free reign to the plethora of events, lectures, and seminars at Oxford. First on the list is a seminar called "Evolution and Ethics", which lands smack in the middle of that very interesting cross section of science, morality, and religion:
"Can we, drawing upon our evolutionary history, find within our pre-human ancestors the basic ingredients of human morality? This seminar will examine the prospects and promise of evolutionary theory and some of its implications for religious belief. The participants will first consider the nature of morality and then various ways that evolutionary ethicists have sought to explain human morality." 
Amazing. If I can just manage to get a library card to the Bodleian Library, I can start delving into titles like Darwinian Natural Right and Primates and Philosophers. So much to do – I can barely wait to start! My goal is to post something each day of the seminar, and I'll try to continue that pattern for the rest of my visit (perhaps a bit ambitious, but it's 2010 and I'm aiming high). I'll try to explore some of the ideas I'm reading/learning about – mostly as a way to explain them to myself and work through questions. Of course, I'll also be making some comments on this funny little town where the friendly cashiers call you "love", the coin-sizing system is an utter mystery, and my sense of left and right is called into question every time I cross the street. Cheers.

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