the-ethics-of-desire
SERIES

BEING HUMAN Conversation

DATE & TIME

19 June 2019

LOCATION

The Ethics Centre 

Level 1, Legion House, 161 Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW 2000

PRICE

TICKETS $39

"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 it operates at the deep level of our unconscious minds, revealing its true self in our behaviours, dreams and slips of the tongue. Kant argued we’d reach a state of bliss without it.

Philosophical and religious systems like Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism suggest it be tamed or repressed. But as Man Booker Prize winner DBC Pierre notes, “Ambition as a positive trait” is “a recent idea”.

This shift in thinking seems to be 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.

Today we are encouraged to openly fight for what we yearn for in pursuit of some sort authentic self and moral path. This is the new bliss, Kant.

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 those dangerous things we really want time after time, despite 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 desires, 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 delves into the minds of various experts to examine the experiences, hopes and challenges that make us truly human.

Speakers

Tim Dean

Tim Dean (Host)

Dr Tim Dean is your host for ‘The Ethics of Desire’. And you are in good hands. The talented ethicist and award winning science writer has a PhD in philosophy from the University of NSW which focused on the evolution of morality. He is also an Honorary Associate in the philosophy department at the University of Sydney. Tim shines showing us how philosophical and ethical theories are usefully applied to our everyday lives. His contribution to public philosophy was awarded the 2015 Australasian Association of Philosophy Media Professionals’ Award.

MICHAEL LEUNIG

Michael Leunig

Michael Leunig is an Australian cartoonist, writer, painter, philosopher and poet. His commentary on political, cultural and emotional life spans more than forty years. It often explores the innocent and sacred personal world, full of it’s competing desires, and the fragile ecosystem of human nature and its relationship to the wider natural world. Michael’s work appears regularly in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. He describes his approach as regressive, humorous, messy, mystical, primal and vaudevillian. It has been widely adapted in education, music, theatre, psychotherapy and spiritual life.

DR JUDITH PICKERING

Dr Judith Pickering

Dr. Judith Pickering is a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Jungian Training Analyst and Couple therapist working in private practice in Sydney. She holds tertiary degrees in Religious Studies, Asian Studies, Music Education, Musicology, Psychotherapy, Analytical Psychology and a Phd in Psychology. She is the author of Being in Love: Therapeutic Pathways Through Psychological Obstacles to Love (Routledge, 2008), The Search for Meaning in Psychotherapy: Spiritual Practice, the Apophatic Way and Bion, Routledge, 2019), and Transformations in Love: Bion and the Couple (Routledge, forthcoming). She also has had over forty years’ experience in Buddhist meditation and contemplation.

MARTHA MARLOW

Martha Marlow

Writing and performing on the guitar, Martha Marlow’s open tunings, intricate arrangements and pure voice are trademarks of her unique sound. At 25, she has performed alongside the likes of Katie Noonan, Clare Bowditch, and more. Leading a very private life behind her music, her songs are a mysterious opening, a brief window into a poetic mind. Most recently, Martha has performed her original compositions with the Australian Youth Orchestra touring nationally. She will be releasing her debut album with Orchestra in 2019.

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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Big Thinker: Buddha

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Ethics Explainer: Anarchy