Raimond Gaita joins MLS

Volume 7 Number 6 June 5 - July 10 2011

Philosopher, academic and much-loved author, Professor Raimond Gaita has recently joined the University of Melbourne as a Professorial Fellow of Melbourne Law School and the Faculty of Arts. Fiona Simpson reports.

For the past ten years Professor Gaita has been Foundation Professor of Philosophy at the Australian Catholic University and is also Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy at King’s College London.

Born in Germany in 1946 to a Romanian father (Romulus Gaita) and a German mother (Christine Anna Dörr), he arrived in Australia in 1950 at the age of four. His childhood and the lives of his family members and close friends are heavily detailed in his award winning memoir “Romulus, My Father” which was made into an award winning film starring Eric Bana.

It was the experiences of his childhood that led him to pursue moral philosophy as a way of developing greater understanding of human life. As a result, Gaita has for many years been a strong contributor to debates on reconciliation, collective responsibility, the role of moral considerations in politics, genocide and the alleged uniqueness of the Holocaust, education (the nature of teaching as a vocation, the role of love in learning) and the plight of the universities.

“It is my belief that it is generally a good thing if academics can speak without condescension and without compromising the integrity of their subject matter to an educated lay audience that is serious and prepared to think hard,” he says.

It was this belief that motivated Professor Gaita to create “The Wednesday Lectures”. For the past ten years each June, philosophers, political theorists, lawyers, Aboriginal leaders, poets and others have spoken to often packed lecture theatres about reconciliation, the invasion of Iraq, torture, the environment, multiculturalism, the invasion of Gaza, the relations between morality, law and politics and, most recently, international law.

“The success of the Wednesday Lectures is due largely to the fact that almost always the invited speakers rose to that challenge,” he says.

The Wednesday Lectures have given rise to three books: “Why the War was Wrong” (Text Publishing 2003); “Gaza: Morality, Law and Politics” (UWA Publishing 2010); and, last month, “Essays on Muslims and Multiculturalism” (Text Publishing 2011).

This year The Wednesday Lectures are themed “Secrecy, Power and Democracy” and will be presented at Melbourne Law School over five Wednesday evenings in June and July. Each lecture is a free and members of the public are warmly invited to come and hear the thoughts and insights of fascinating writers, academics and commentators.

The lectures are launched on 8 June with author, editor and writer Guy Rundle presenting “From Cold War to Cyberwar: Power, the State and the Wikileaks Effect”.

15 June     Raimond Gaita – “Power and Consent”
22 June     Robert Manne, Guy Rundle, Gerry Simpson, Raimond Gaita: Panel Discussion on “Secrecy, Power and Democracy”
29 June     Kevin Heller – “Prosecuting WikiLeaks for Espionage”
6 July     Helen Pringle – “Secrecy and Power in Democracy”

Further information and bookings: