Professor of Philosophy
King's College London
What is it like to experience rapture? For philosopher Christopher Hamilton, it is a loss of self that is also a return to self—an overflowing and emptying out of the self. In this inviting conversation, he reflects on the nature of rapture and its crucial yet unacknowledged place in our lives.
Hamilton explores moments of rapture in everyday existence and aesthetic experience, tracing its disruptive power and illuminating its philosophical significance. Rapture is found in sexual love and other forms of intense physical experience, such as Philippe Petit’s nerve-defying wire walk between the Twin Towers. Hamilton also locates it in quieter but equally joyous moments, such as contemplating a work of art or the natural world. He considers a range of examples in philosophy and culture—Nietzsche and Weil, Woolf and Chekhov, the extremes of experience in Werner Herzog’s films—as well as aspects of ordinary life, from illness to gardening. In a conversational and evocative style, he calls on us to ask how we might make ourselves more open to experiences of rapturous joy and freedom.
Time will be allocated for Q&A.
"This book deserves to be widely read because it is so openly and concretely engaged in how we live our lives. It offers a rare combination of a brilliant mind devoted to the interests of people with a capacity to avoid pomposity and self-importance. Hamilton’s writing is crisp and clear, with exquisite taste and exemplary concision." Charles F. Altieri, author of Literature, Education, and Society: Bridging the Gap
This program is part of the ColumbiaDC CUP series.
Christopher Hamilton is Professor of Philosophy at King's College London. He works mainly in philosophy from an interdisciplinary perspective, exploring philosophical problems in the context of literature, autobiography, biography, and film. He has published work in these areas and in ethics, philosophy of religion and on Nietzsche, Simone Weil, Walter Benjamin and other thinkers. His most recent book was Philosophy and Autobiography: Reflections on Truth, Self-Knowledge and Knowledge of Others (2021). At present he is working on questions of human vulnerability and woundedness, taking the writings of Primo Levi as a starting point.
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