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Tue, 11 Apr


University of Malta Valletta Campus

To Philosophize is to Learn to Die: Notes on an Ancient Idea by Dr Kurt Borg

One of the problems of humanity lies in its unacceptance of death and search for immortality. We must learn to die to safeguard the future of humanity.

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To Philosophize is to Learn to Die: Notes on an Ancient Idea by Dr Kurt Borg
To Philosophize is to Learn to Die: Notes on an Ancient Idea by Dr Kurt Borg

Time & Location

11 Apr 2023, 18:00 – 19:30

University of Malta Valletta Campus, Valletta, Malta


About the event

The Talk

This talk will explore an idea that comes down to us from ancient times: that to do philosophy is to learn to die. This characterisation considers philosophy as something to do, rather than a solely intellectual matter; philosophy is conceived as a way of life, a meditation, a spiritual exercise. Among the principal experiences that occupies the philosopher in antiquity is death. This is an idea that colours Socrates’ conversations with his friends on his death bed. It is also an idea that resurfaces in later Roman writers such as Cicero, Seneca and Boethius as they faced death or encountered the death of their loved ones. In Christian philosophy, too, the meditation on death features prominently in works such as the spiritual exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. Even Montaigne, the 16th century inventor of the modern essay, was inspired to dedicate one of his texts to the ancient idea that regarded philosophy as learning to die. The concern with death and dying also features as a central theme in the work of existentialist thinkers in the 20th century who define the human as a being-towards-death. In some way, to learn to die also implies learning to live, or learning how loss and grief shape life. This talk will further unpack the idea of learning to die, and consider how this idea can still speak to us in contemporary times and in light ofour current ethical and political predicaments.

The Speaker

Kurt Borg is a Lecturer in the Department of Public Policy at the University of Malta. His doctoral research, completed at Staffordshire University, focused on the philosophy, ethics and politics of narrating trauma in institutional contexts. Kurt’s inter-disciplinary research interests revolve around continental thought, particularly that of Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, whose work he uses to study phenomena such as identity, power and resistance. Kurt’s work on Foucault, Butler, and the politics of trauma and disability was published in a number of peer-reviewed publications. His forthcoming publications, both in Maltese, include a co-edited book of inter-disciplinary conversations on the question of ‘what does it mean to be human?’ and a collection of philosophical personal essays.


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