34th Selfridge Lecture April 25


34th Annual Selfridge Lecture

Richard Campbell AM, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at The Australian National University, delivered the 34th annual Selfridge Lecture in Philosophy, on "What it is to Exist" on April 25, 2018. Professor Campbell's description of his talk is as follows:

In modern times, we generally think that something either exists, or it does not.  There is no third possibility.  I call this the ‘binary’ conception.  But there is not only one way of thinking about existence.  The ancient Greek philosophers thought that what is real could be more or less real, that there are different levels of being.  That view was profoundly influential for at least two millennia.  This lecture will explore these two different conceptions of existence.  I will then argue that certain developments in modern science suggest that the idea that some things have a stronger ‘hold’ on existence than others could be a more fruitful way of thinking than the very ‘flat’ view currently prevalent.

Richard Campbell is an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the Australian National University, Canberra.  Educated at the Universities of Sydney and Oxford, he was appointed to the Department of Philosophy at the ANU in 1967 and was engaged in teaching, research and administration until he retired in 2003.  During that time, he served five years as Dean of the Faculty of Arts, followed by four years as Pro Vice-Chancellor at the ANU.  Also, for 15 years he was involved in restructuring the system of public education in the Australian Capital Territory, including six years as Chairman of the ACT Schools Authority.  In recognition of those services he was installed in 1986 by Queen Elizabeth as a Member of the Order of Australia.  He is the author of Secondary Education for Canberra (1973), From Belief to Understanding (1976), Truth and Historicity (1992), The Concept of Truth (2011), The Metaphysics of Emergence (2015), and Rethinking Anselm’s Arguments (forthcoming 2018), and numerous articles.

On April 24, Professor Campbell also lectured on “That Anselm’s God exists and Gaunilo’s Island is lost forever,” in the Humanities Center.