Fermi Society of Philosophy

Leo Michelotti: It Was about Time

by alexeyburov

November 9 and December 7, Leo Michelotti presented his 1st and 2nd parts of what he called a book report of Jimena Canales’ The Physicist & the Philosopher. The book is devoted to discussion on the problem of time; in the center are figures of A. Einstein and H. Bergson. Both times our room was as full as it rarely happened. Below, the abstracts and links to the slides are given for both parts. The part 3 is scheduled on Friday, January 4th, same time and place.

Part 1.

In the first of these sessions, Alexey Burov lamented the modern rupture between physics and philosophy, with special reference to the differences in overlap and attitude before and after World War II. It can be argued that the process of separation began in the 19th century, perhaps starting in 1833, when the word “scientist” was first used to distinguish a specific subset of philosophers from the rest. But it was in the decades preceding World War II that the split entered its “exponential growth” phase, gaining strength from international arguments between physicists and philosophers on the nature of time. The book “The Physicist and The Philosopher,” by Jimena Canales, recounts that era: the people involved, the ideas they defended or attacked, and how they were influenced by the time in which they lived. It identifies April 6, 1922 as the date on which this great debate was catalyzed. On that day Albert Einstein and Henri Bergson met in Paris to discuss time. In the author’s words, “The meeting had been planned as a cordial and scholarly event. It was anything but that.”

Slides to part 1


Part 2

“The Physicist and The Philosopher,” by Jimena Canales (2015), tells the story of scientists and philosophers engaged in international debates on the nature of time during the interbellum years between two World Wars. In my first talk, I quickly overviewed the book’s style and content, summarized the competing positions of Albert Einstein and Henri Bergson, and emphasized the roles played in sparking the controversy by Paul Langevin’s introduction of the twin paradox in 1911 and Einstein’s “incendiary” statement, made in the public debate of 1922, that “there is no philosopher’s time,” that time is nothing but what is measured by clocks. In this second talk, we shall examine some of the more prominent disputants highlighted in the book and their legacies. If the clock permits, we also shall touch upon the effect of quantum theory on these debates; if not, that discussion will be part of a third and final session.

Slides to part 2

Many thanks for all those who participated in these meetings and see you all at the 3rd part in the new year, Jan 4th.

Everybody is welcome.


C. Klemaier on “Courage to Be” by P. Tillich

by alexeyburov

Carl Klemaier gave a book review on the “Courage to Be” in our first meeting after the summer break, Sep. 28. Many thanks, Carl!

Our next meeting, Oct. 12, same place and time, will be devoted to an open discussion of this material. Everybody is welcome.

Carl’s quotations from this book and some other sources are here.


Marxian System and its Mythos, the final part

by alexeyburov

Slides of the entire series of 7 talks are here.

A Russian version of the article, “Марксова система и ее мифос“, was published by “Другой Взгляд” online journal. Though this talk, which contains my analysis of Marxian mythos, is the final one of the series, it should make sense on its own.

Schumpeter, Popper, Fromm, Kolakowski on attractiveness of Marxism

by alexeyburov

This was my 6th talk on “Marxian System and its Mythos”.

The slides are here.

Our last meeting before the Fall will be Friday, June 22, 12:00, Req Room (WH4NW), i.e. same place and time.

I will finish my long series of talks on Marx, suggesting my vision of the real core of his teaching — his extremely powerful mythos.

Everybody is welcome.

Marxian System & Mythos, talk 5: Critics

by alexeyburov

Critics of Marx are discussed, from Bakunin to Popper.

Slides of this talk are here.

The next talk, the lust but one, will be Friday, June 8, 12:00, Req Room (WH4NW). We’ll discuss ideas about attractiveness of Marxism, why does this teaching continues to possess masses, especially masses of intellectuals. Everybody is welcome.

Marxian System & Mythos, IV: Implications and Consequences.

by alexeyburov

Dear all,

The slides of I-IV parts are here.

The next meeting will be in two weeks, May 11, same place and time. We’ll talk about some critics of Marx, from Mikhail Bakunin to Karl Popper and Antony Flew.

Many thanks for your interest, questions and comments!


Marxian System & Mythos, III: The First Principles

by alexeyburov

What constitutes the core of Marxian DoctrineWhich principles of the Manifesto and later works played the major role for those Marxist groups that seized power to implement them? My answer to these questions was suggested at this talk. 

The next meeting, Friday, Apr 27, will be devoted to the implications and consequences of the Marxian principles. If time permits, we’ll start discussing criticism of the doctrine by Bakunin, von Bawerk and other thinkers.

Slides of 1st, 2nd and 3rd talks are here.

Marxian System & Mythos, II: The Manifesto

by alexeyburov

At the second talk I quoted and commented the most extensively published and widely read text in the history of political thought: The Communist Manifesto.

Slides for the 1st & 2nd talks are here.

Marxian System and Its Mythos; 1st talk: popularity

by alexeyburov

At my 1st talk, I demonstrated current popularity of Marxism and gave very short review of some of my favorite books. Many thanks for all who came.

The next meeting is Friday, March 16th, same place and time: WH4NW, 12:00. We’ll discuss the main ideas and the spirit of the most extensively published and widely read text in the history of political thought: The Communist Manifesto.

Everybody is welcome; feel free to come with your lunch.

Slides of the 1st talk are here.

Announcement: Marxian System and Its Mythos, 5 talks starting March 2nd.

by alexeyburov

The previous year was the 100th anniversary of the Russian Bolshevik revolution and 150th anniversary of “The Capital”, while this one is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx. The series of 5 talks I am going to give at our regular meetings is associated with the man, who, alas, turned the world upside down. During my first talk at March 2nd, I will demonstrate current popularity of Marx and briefly review the most interesting books and articles on his doctrine. The next talks will be devoted to two questions: first, the relation between the Marxian doctrine and Marxist dictatorships and, second, a reason to suspect that Marxism may be eternal. This series of talks mostly will be based on my article published in the Russian political and sociological journal “A Different View”, edited by an eminent historian and world religions scholar Andrei Zubov.

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