Saturday, 17 March 2012

Bentham, Satan and Sartre

It’s often surprising how one’s teaching commitments throw up unusual combinations of topics and thinkers during any given week.  The last week felt particularly odd with six hours of first year seminars on Bentham’s Utilitarianism, an introduction to modern Satanism for my second and third year New and Alternative Religions module and concluding with a two hour workshop on Sartre’s concept of nothingness with my third year Life and Meaning module.  Oh yes, and a two hour first year lecture on Kant and the categorical imperative too.  I find myself formulating strange connections between them and one can easily imagine some academic variant of the Kevin Bacon Six Degrees of Separation party game, although six certainly seems excessive for the purposes of linking figures of academic, philosophical and religious interest.  Rather worryingly I can use Ayn Rand as a bridging figure between most of these (Anton LaVey notably claiming that the Church of Satan was simply Ayn Rand’s philosophy with some ritual and ceremony bolted on).

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