Episode 4: Margaret Cameron and Russell Goulbourne
The philosophy of a pandemic
Professor of Philosophy Margaret Cameron finds consolation in the knowledge that philosophical thinking is always there for us. And, at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives, forcing us to us to rethink our values and separating us from many of the things that gave meaning to the everyday, we all need ways to see the bigger picture and gain perspective. So where should we begin?
In this Dean’s Forum, Professor Russell Goulbourne sits down with Professor Cameron to talk about her recommendations for philosophical books that anyone can read to help them see the challenges of 2020 in a new light. They also discuss the differences between philosophy and faith, her journey to becoming the first female Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, and how history’s hidden female Philosophers are finally getting the recognition they deserve.
About Professor Margaret Cameron
Professor Margaret Cameron is the first-ever female Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, and is currently the Head of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies in the Faculty of Arts. Born in Canada and educated at the University of Toronto, Professor Cameron's education at university moved from the study of Gender Studies and English literature to Philosophy. After spending a semester abroad in Italy with friends from the Architecture program, she found the only English-language book in an Italian bookstore: it was Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy. While she would agree with nearly none of Russell’s explanations of the history of philosophy now, Professor Cameron has chosen to specialise in the history of philosophy, and principally on the legacy of the Aristotelian tradition.
After holding positions at the City of New York’s Hunter College in Manhattan and then Cambridge University, Professor Cameron moved back to Canada to take up a Canada Research Chair in the Aristotelian Tradition at the University of Victoria, on beautiful Vancouver Island. During her time there, she also became Associate Dean Research in the Faculty of Humanities. She also expanded her research profile, which was primarily focused on the philosophy of the twelfth century Peter Abelard (of Abelard and Heloise fame) to contemporary metaphysics, aesthetics, and the history of early modern philosophy. Professor Cameron is currently focusing on an entirely new area of research, namely, the ethics and politics of the true crime genre. (In truth, this is how she can justify reading true crime narratives for research purposes.)
About Professor Russell Goulbourne
Professor Russell Goulbourne is Dean, Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne and a noted French literature scholar. He was previously Professor of French Literature at King’s College London, where he also served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities from 2014 to 2018. Prior to this, he taught for more than a decade at the University of Leeds, after education at Keble College, Oxford. Professor Goulbourne has published and taught extensively on major figures in French intellectual culture of the 17th and 18th centuries including Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau. His research interests include the history of the book and textual editing, and reception of classical antiquity in early modern France.
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