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April 24 lecture to discuss science and sense of wonder

March  05, 2014

Dr. Carl A. Rubino, professor of classics at Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y., will give the lecture, "Articulating Wonder in a Secular Age."

He will discuss claims that science has robbed the universe of its mystery and the power to inspire wonder and awe, and propose that recent developments in science itself can help restore this sense of wonder.

The presentation will begin with a brief discussion of Aristotle's analysis of causality, prompted by Sherlock Holmes, Italo Calvino, and the medieval writer Gervase of Tilbury, and will then go on to explore some passages from the Bible, Kant, Darwin, and others to show how explanations that abstain from recourse to the supernatural can enhance the sense of wonder.

The talk will conclude by examining how writers as disparate as the Roman poet Vergil, the American novelist Willa Cather, the French ethnologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, and the Belgian physicist Ilya Prigogine have articulated a sense of wonder without appealing to conventional notions of deity.

Dr. Rubino, who joined the Hamilton faculty in 1989, received his Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo. He has published and lectured on ancient Greek and Roman literature, comparative literature and literary theory. He is also known for his work on the connections between science and the humanities, where he has focused on complexity theory, the problem of time, and the impact of the theory of evolution upon ethics.

At Hamilton he has been the originator of College 100, “The Unity of Knowledge,” a cross-disciplinary seminar for entering students. His recent publications include “Long Ago, But Not So Far Away: Another Look at Star Wars and the Ancient World,” (The Classical Outlook, 2011), “It Was Their Destiny: Roman Power and Imperial Self-Esteem” (Amphora, 2007), and “The Consolations of Uncertainty: Time, Change, and Complexity” (in Reframing Complexity: Perspectives from the North and South, 2007).

Dr. Rubino has served as president of the Classical Association of the Atlantic States. He has appeared on CNBC in a discussion of the rationale for keeping Alexander Hamilton's portrait on the $10 bill, on C-SPAN in a re-enactment of the 1804 Hamilton-Burr duel, and on the History Channel in a Lucasfilm documentary “Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed,” in which he discussed the films’ roots in mythology.

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833