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Philosophy Colloquium Series - Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, Georgtown University - "On Material Security"

When: Friday, December 11, 2020
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM Central

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Emily Berry   847.491.3656

Group: Philosophy Colloquium Series

Category: Academic


On Material Security

In Quarto de Despejo, Carolina Maria de Jesus, the first Afro-Brazilian woman to write a best-selling novel in Brazil, describes the realities of slum poverty as "slavery", which she ties specifically to hunger and other forms of material insecurity. Characterizing the difference between de Jesus and Berlin comes down to a subtle difference in subject matter: while the kind of distinction luminary figures in contemporary philosophy like Isaiah Berlin makes (between "negative" and "positive" freedom) focus on the political and ethical subject herself for determining freedom's presence or absence, de Jesus prefers to focus on the circumstances in which the subject finds herself.  I take de Jesus’ thought about freedom to be in good company with a wider history of a particular genre of philosophical thought known as “materialism”. In this talk, I argue that materialists have good reason to take security as seriously as de Jesus does: especially those aspects of social and economic life that concern our basic needs - material security. 

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