Catherine Malabou, "Expansion as Gift: On Peter Singer's The Expanding Circle"

Tuesday, February 11, 2020, 7 - 8:30pm

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As part of the Spring 2020 Intra-Disciplinary Seminar series, Catherine Malabou will examine the claims of Effective Altruism, a movement of which the Australian Philosopher Peter Singer is the most prominent representative. Effective Altruism claims that by "earning to give", and giving as much as you can to strangers, therefore expanding your circle, you can do the most good possible, and contradict economic capitalistic expansion. To what extent is this affirmation convincing?

Catherine Malabou is one of today's leading philosophers. Her work on the brain, plasticity, and neuroscience has paved the way for new thinking about what it is to be embodied and conscious, challenging notions of the self as well as social and political relations. She is a professor of philosophy at Kingston University, London, and of comparative literature at the University of California, Irvine. Her many books include What Should We Do with Our Brain (2008); Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing (2009); Before Tomorrow: Epigenesis and Rationality (2016); and  Morphing Intelligence: from IQ Measurement to Artificial Brains (2019).

The Spring 2020 IDS Lecture Series at The Cooper Union is organized by Leslie Hewitt and Omar Berrada. The IDS Public Lecture Series is part of the Robert Lehman Visiting Artist Program at The Cooper Union. We are grateful for major funding and support from the Robert Lehman Foundation for the series.


Located in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, at 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.