the-ethics-of-desire
SERIES

BEING HUMAN Conversation

DATE & TIME

19 JUNE 2019
6:30 – 8pm

LOCATION

THE ETHICS CENTRE
Lvl 1, Legion House
161 Castlereagh St, Sydney

"Have the courage of your desire." - George Gissing

Put simply, desire is the strong feeling of wanting or wishing for something. We desire people, objects, experiences and outcomes. It motivates, inspires and drives.

Freudian thought holds that desire operates at the deep level of our unconscious minds, revealing its true self in our behaviours, dreams and slips of the tongue.

Many of the great philosophical and religious systems such as Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism have all suggested desire be tamed or repressed. Immanuel Kant argued we could reach a stage of bliss if we overcame it.

These days, we are encouraged to embrace and chase our desires. This shift in thinking is reflected in our stories. They no longer centre on tragic heroes like Macbeth with his vaulting ambition. Look around a bookstore and note the abundant biographies on characters with virtuous, tenacious desires to succeed at a dream or overcome adversity. As Man Booker Prize winner DBC Pierre notes, “Ambition as a positive trait” is “a recent idea”. We are now encouraged to openly fight for what we yearn for in pursuit of some sort authentic self and moral path.

Yet we know the kind hearted aren’t immune to wishing misfortune fall upon others. And we watch the best among us give in to the dangerous and dark things we want, time after time, despite being fully aware of the dire consequences.

If the psychoanalysts are right, how do we commandeer deep, driving desires we are not even aware of? Can we flex our ethical muscles and restrain dark wishes, or are we destined to be hopeless victims of what we really want?

About ‘The Ethics Of…’ Series

‘The Ethics of…’ is an intimate event series that examines the experiences, hopes and challenges that make us truly human. Diverse thinkers, philosophers, experts and performers come together to explore everyday, personal ethics.

Speakers

Tim Dean

Dr Tim Dean (Host)

Tim Dean is a doctor of moral philosophy and host of ‘The Ethics of Desire’. You’re in good hands! He will show us how some of the great philosophical thinking on desire, from Buddhism to Immanuel Kant and David Hume, relate to our everyday lives, wants and wishes. Tim is really good at translating abstract ideas so they’re engaging and useful – so good he has been recognised with awards for his science writing and contributions to public philosophy.

MICHAEL LEUNIG

Michael Leunig

Michael Leunig is an Australian cartoonist, writer, painter and poet. Like many artists, his work explores human desire, with its all competing contradictions. Michael’s drawn characters and philosophical musings reflecting our own inner lives and drives and can be found in the The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. They present the fragile ecosystem of human nature and its relationship to the wider natural world. Michael’s commentary on political, cultural and emotional life spans more than forty years.

DR JUDITH PICKERING

Dr Judith Pickering

Judith Pickering is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, meaning she is expert in helping people bring the unconscious desires that motivate our behavior into conscious awareness. The doctor of psychology has a private practice in Sydney’s Camperdown and specialises in couple therapy. She has a rich spiritual and academic background, being highly experienced in Buddhist meditation and having studied music education, musicology, religious and Asian studies. Judith has authored several books covering those big areas of human desire – love, spirituality and psychoanalysis.

MARTHA MARLOW

Martha Marlow

Martha Marlow knows the heart of great music pulses with the feelings and lyrics of human desire – longing, lust, love… She will perform on her guitar for you, with the intricate arrangements and pure voice that are trademarks of her unique sound. At 25, Martha has performed alongside Katie Noonan, Clare Bowditch, and more. She leads a private life but lets us into her mysterious and poetic mind through her musical performances. Martha’s debut album featuring the Australian Youth Orchestra is out soon.

Thanks to our wine sponsor

cake wines

Who is it for?


  • THE CURIOUS
  • THE HEDONIST
  • THE PROVOCATEUR
  • THE ROMANTIC

What you'll take away


  • 01A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHERE YOUR BOUNDARIES LIE
  • 02CHALLENGING AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING IDEAS
  • 03WHICH VOICES TO PRIORITISE

Things to think about


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