This Life: Why Mortality Makes Us Free
Free Public Lecture
Glyn Davis Building (Melbourne School of Design)
The philosopher Martin Hägglund will talk about his groundbreaking book This Life, which challenges our received notions of faith and freedom. The faith we need to cultivate, he argues, is not a religious faith in eternity but a secular faith devoted to our finite life together. He shows that all spiritual questions of freedom are inseparable from economic and material conditions. What ultimately matters is how we treat one another in this life, and what we do with our time together.
Hägglund develops new existential and political principles while transforming our understanding of spiritual life. His critique of religion takes us to the heart of what it means to mourn our loved ones, be committed, and care about a sustainable world. His critique of capitalism demonstrates that we fail to sustain our democratic values because our lives depend on wage labor. In clear and pathbreaking terms, Hägglund explains why capitalism is inimical to our freedom, and why we should instead pursue a novel form of democratic socialism.
In developing his vision of an emancipated secular life, Hägglund engages with great philosophers from Aristotle to Hegel and Marx, literary writers from Dante to Proust and Knausgaard, political economists from Mill to Keynes and Hayek, and religious thinkers from Augustine to Kierkegaard and Martin Luther King, Jr. This Life gives us new access to our past – for the sake of a different future.
This public lecture is organised in conjunction with the 2019 annual conference of the Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy.
Professor Martin Hägglund, Yale University
Professor Martin Hägglund
Born and raised in Sweden, Martin Hägglund specializes in continental philosophy, critical theory, and modernist literature—ranging across French, German, English, and Scandinavian languages. Professor Hägglund is the author of four highly acclaimed books, which engage with philosophers of time (from Kant to Derrida), theorists of desire (from Augustine to Lacan), modern writers (Proust, Woolf, Nabokov), and the legacy of German idealism (from Hegel to Marx and beyond). His work is the subject of a special issue of CR: The New Centennial Review, Living On: Of Martin Hägglund, and a special issue of The Philosopher, the longestrunning public philosophy journal in the UK. His books have also been the subject of conferences and colloquia at Harvard, Yale, NYU, Cornell, and Oxford. He has received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Fulbright Commission, and the Bogliasco Foundation. He was elected to the Harvard Society of Fellows in 2009, awarded The Schück Prize by the Swedish Academy in 2014, and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2018.