Humanities Forum - Lisa Dolling, "What's so 'Liberal' About the Liberal Arts?"

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 ( 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm )

Location: Morton 324, Stevens Institute of Technology

Contact: 
gdobbins@stevens.edu

What’s so “Liberal” About the Liberal Arts?
By Lisa M. Dolling
Associate Professor, Philosophy and Dean, College of Arts and Letters

ABSTRACT
In this talk Professor Dolling will examine the history of the liberal arts, paying special attention to how and why they were given the name. While the first designation and identification of the disciplines comprising the liberal arts did not occur until the 1st century B.C. with the Roman scholar Varro, Dolling will show how the seeds for their intention and spirit were embodied in the tradition of Ancient Greece, particularly in the thought of Plato and Aristotle. A key goal of the talk is to refocus our attention on the original meaning of “liberal” and show how a renewed appreciation of what that entails may assist in some of the current debates regarding the relevance of the liberal arts. To make her case, Dolling will consider some of the contributions of the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca, the medieval philosopher Augustine, and the 19th century English philosopher John Stuart Mill, thereby indicating the timeless nature of the discussions regarding the importance of a truly “liberal” liberal arts education.

BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Lisa M. Dolling earned a Ph.D. and M.Phil. from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, an M.A. from Fordham University, and a B.A. from Manhattanville College, all in philosophy. She also holds a Certificate of Completion from the Higher Institute of Philosophy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). Her areas of expertise are the philosophy of science—particularly quantum theory—and philosophical hermeneutics, with special attention to the relationship between science and the humanities. She currently serves as Associate Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Stevens. Before coming to Stevens, Dolling was Associate Professor of Philosophy and Executive Director of the University Honors Program at St. John’s University (NYC) where she also directed the programs in Women’s Studies and Science and Religion. She is the editor/co-editor of five books including Tests of Time: Readings in the Development of Physical Theory (Princeton University Press) and the author of articles on topics including scientific theory, epistemology, and the philosophy of education.