Great Books Symposium 2023

Apr 14, 2023 | Announcements, News & Media

Friday 14 April 2023: Do philosophy and novels teach us in different ways about moral sentiments and the pursuit of happiness? What does it matter what people think of us in the conduct of our daily lives? Do we need the approbation of an impartial spectator? Do we aspire to praise or praiseworthiness?

This week the Ramsay Centre hosted its third Great Books Symposium, an event where the Centre examines two great works to uncover what lessons they still hold for us, both as individual texts, and when read together.

This year’s symposium focused on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments in a lively and critical discussion.

The event was hosted by Ramsay Centre CEO Professor Simon Haines and attended by a roundtable of guests, predominately drawn from academia and education.

The full-day symposium was split into three sessions, enabling discussion of each title individually, followed by a combined discussion of the texts.

Discussion starters were given for each session by:

  • Ramsay Board Director, Professor Ann Brewer, who offered introductory remarks on Pride and Prejudice
  • Campion College philosophy lecturer, Dr Amitavo Islam, who kicked off discussion of The Theory of Moral Sentiments
  • Ramsay Academic Consultant and Campion College Director of the Centre for the Study of the Western Tradition, Dr Stephen McInerney who suggested how we might begin to approach comparisons of the two works.

Professor Haines commented that “these two works of the Enlightenment and Romantic periods when read together have a great deal to teach us about character, virtue and how we should live together”.

The Ramsay Centre’s 2022 Great Books Symposium examined Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Plato’s The Symposium. Our 2019 symposium looked at ‘Morality in Public Affairs’ through examination of four great works: Machiavelli’s The Prince, Hobbes’s Leviathan, Shakespeare’s Richard II, and Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 098/

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