Friday, 1 October 2010
Celebrating 50 Years
While we have moved pretty much everything onto the internet, a relic of older print days survives in the monthly calendar we circulate locally. It's become such a familiar thing that we dare not replace it entirely with an email.
When the calendar arrived on my desk for this month of October, I was a little startled to see just how much we have scheduled. Of course I knew about each event individually. However putting it all together, we seem to have wall to wall activities. There's a conference mid-month; a visit from Huw Price at the end of the month; and all the cracks are filled with lunchtime talks.
An event at the start of the month marks a special moment in Center history--today as I write these words. It is the fiftieth anniversary of our Annual Lecture Series. The first lecture was given almost exactly fifty years ago, to the day. It was September 29th, 1960.
"Open to the Public; Admission Free" the original flyer had announced.
click for larger image
These were heroic days. The speakers in that first year are a roster of philosophical greatness. In reverse time order, the philosophers who spoke were Paul Feyerabend, Ernest Nagel, Wilfid Sellars, Michael Scriven, Carl Hempel and, the philosopher who initiated the series on September 29th, Adolf Grünbaum.
Today the first in the new year's series of lectures celebrates fifty years of the tradition initiated by Adolf's talk. Even though it is fifty years later, Adolf himself will be sitting in the audience. I'm trying to imagine just what must be going through his mind as he watches this anniversary. Could he possibly have foreseen what his venture of 1960 would become?
To mark the event, it seemed fitting to invite a speaker who had himself participated in the heroic days of the Lecture Series. Peter Achinstein has been thinking and writing in philosophy of science for as long as I can remember. He has spoken four times in the Series: 1966, 1970, 1973 and 1977. And now he will speak for a fifth time. (Photos)
Peter was a part of the heroic age of the Series. To describe it that way is not to say that greatness is merely a remembrance of things now past and gone. Quite the contrary: with each year, philosophy of science at the Center gets busier, smarter and stronger. Each year I think that it cannot get any better. But each year it does.
So we invited Peter not merely to reminisce about ages past. We invited him to hear his latest thoughts. For philosophy of science is growing in strength and Peter's latest thoughts are part that growth.
The best is yet to come.
John D. Norton