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Friday, March 18, 2005

Philosophy Spring Symposium Celebrates Silver Anniversary

SALISBURY, MD--It all started around 25 years ago, when some earnest philosophy students approached Dr. Jerome Miller with a request. They liked the fact that the department had been bringing in lecturers for them to hear but they were disappointed that they could only spend an hour or so with each one. “Couldn’t we have something more than just a one night stand?” they asked. Dr. Miller’s quintessential reply: “Yes; but you’ll have to make a commitment. Are you willing to come for an all-day symposium starting on Saturday morning? The students took up the challenge and thus was born the annual Philosophy Spring Symposium. On Saturday, April 2, in Henson Science Hall, Room 243, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., SU faculty, students, alumni and interested community folks will gather for the 25th time to have this year’s conversation on the issue of whether balance or passion is more conducive to the good life. The topic of the silver anniversary symposium: “The Mean versus the Extreme: The Roles of Moderation and Excess in the Good Life” promises to continue the tradition of lively discussion and yet offers a different twist. At the request of the alumni who come back year after year in significant numbers, the speakers will be the philosophy department members who will team up and take sides on the issue. “Many of our alumni look forward to this event every year; they say it keeps them mentally alive,” said Dr. James Hatley. “They want to hear again, just this one time, the professors they so fondly remember.” Drs. Miller, Hatley and Joerg Tuske defend living in excess, while Drs. Francis Kane, Grace Clement and Richard England take the stance in favor of virtuous moderation. Dr. Susan Cabral, member of SU’s Department of Accounting and Legal Studies and former member of the Philosophy Department, is moderator. Miller has been first to lay down the gauntlet by claiming the “extreme team,” as they call themselves, will offer “an antidote to the humdrum existence” of his opponents. Those opponents, ironically enough, known as the “Mean Team,” will try, according to Kane, to bring “some measure of sanity to the discussion.”  “More important than ‘winning’ this debate will be showing audience members how helpful philosophy can be to questions we all have about how to live a good life,” says Clement, Philosophy Department chair. “Audience members will be invited to ask questions and take part in the discussion, so we hope it will be an enlightening experience for all involved.” The program begins with continental breakfast at 9 a.m. Lunch is served in the Commons, followed by an afternoon session (again in Henson Room 243) in which a panel of former students respond to their old professors. Alumni also are invited to a reception at the Philosophy House immediately after the program. The presentation is free and the public is invited. For more information call 410-677-5070 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.

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