Dignity Workshop – Co-sponsored by ACJC, the Nation Globe Empire Research Cluster and Sydney Intellectual History Network (SIHN)

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Date(s) - 01/09/2016
10:00 am - 3:30 pm

The University of Sydney


Dignity Workshop

Dignity imageThursday 1 September 2016
10am-12pm and 12:30-3:30pm
Seminar Room Level 2 Fisher Library
The University of Sydney
Co-sponsored by the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation (ACJC), the Nation Globe Empire Research Cluster and Sydney Intellectual History Network (SIHN)

This workshop forms part of a general project concerning the ‘recovery’ of dignity. The centrality of the term dignity can be located in the work of Hannah Arendt. She argues in The Origins of Totalitarianism that as a result of the ‘totalitarian’ what has been ‘demonstrated’ is that ‘human dignity needs a new guarantee’. The overall project is premised on the position that the conceptions of dignity that we have are inadequate for the task demanded of them. The contention is that within the philosophical and religious traditions there are the resources for such an undertaking. As such, once distinct elements are reworked and re-examined – in sum the project of recovery – fundamental elements comprising that guarantee can be found. Its presence as ‘new’ involves recovery. In sum, dignity is neither an invented term nor an invented concept. It is already at work. Hence it is there to be recovered and transformed. Both aspects are fundamental. Each of the papers is a contribution to this general project.


Danielle Celermajer, University of Sydney Francesco Borghesi, University of Sydney
Human Dignity and the Image of God Starting from Gen 1:26-28 (“et ait faciamus hominem ad imaginem et similitudinem”; Vulgate translation), this paper will look at the ways in which some Patristic, Hermetic, and Humanistic sources have interpreted human nature as mirroring God’s divinity in its ability to actualise the unique qualities with which mankind has been endowed.

Nathan Wolski, Monash University
From the Divine Image to Human Dignity: Intimations of Piconian Dignity in Zoharic Literature The centrality of kabbalistic thought in Pico’s oeuvre is well established. Less clear is the role that kabbalistic anthropology may have played in his novel conception of human dignity. Examining the earliest composition of the zoharic corpus, this paper highlights intimations of Piconian dignity, both with a view to shedding light on a potential source of his thought, and as a way of continuing his project of concord.

Andrew Benjamin, Monash University Redressing the Metaphysics of Nudity: Notes on Seneca, Arendt and Dignity Arendt famously wrote that the ‘world found nothing sacred in the abstract nakedness of human being’. In Seneca’s De beneficiis it is this very nudity that is evoked in order to ground the universality of virtue. If there is a link between virtue and dignity then it has to re-engage the question of universality that is both opened and closed by the evocation of ‘abstract nakedness’.