Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Last night I gave a talk for the college's social sciences society, just a very brief look at how politics and psychology are intertwined in Plato's Republic. It was a bit of a last-minute job, I'm afraid, but I was glad to do it because, first of all, a friend asked me to and also because the society is named after a colleague who died recently and who was for me an excellent guide (although I'm pretty sure he certainly did not set out to be) to what it is to be a good and effective fellow of a Cambridge college.

Anyway, I quite enjoyed it. It's always interesting to see what someone's initial reaction might be to the kinds of ideas I have now spent a lot of time thinking about: so much time, in fact, that perhaps I have lost sight of how novel or odd or surprising they might sound on first meeting them. The audience had some interesting reactions too. And it reminded me what is good about being an undergraduate: you can be introduced to some Freud in the morning at a lecture, spend the afternoon reading new things for a challenging essay, have dinner with friends and talk about what you and they are doing and then go along to something like this event in the evening. Not everything will be fun, but it will all be new. And more than that, this novelty is being packaged in a rich and vibrant social atmosphere that challenges them in all sorts of other ways too. I remember it being absolutely exhausting and sometimes very frustrating, but giddying and exhilarating nevertheless.

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