Lectures For Lifelong Learners!

Carol Gould

Carol Gould

Carol Gould

Philosophical Practitioner & Philosophy Professor

Philosophy, Classics, Art Studies

Available for in-person lectures in:
South Florida

Available via Zoom?

To book Carol, e-mail:

Carol Steinberg Gould is Emerita Professor of Philosophy at Florida Atlantic University and Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Center for Future Mind in the FAU Brain Center. She is a Philosophical Practitioner certified to work with individuals and organizations. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, The American Philosophical Association, The American Society for Aesthetics, and American Philosophical Practitioners Association, among other societies. She is Associate Editor of the leading international journal in the field of Philosophical Practice (sometimes called ‘philosophical counseling.’). She spearheaded the founding of both the Jewish Studies and Classical Studies Program at FAU and has twice won the FAU University Award for Teaching Excellence. She has lectured in the community on many topics ranging from the trial of Adolph Eichmann to Plato on love, and the ethics of women in ground combat.

Lectures include:

What Makes a Person Evil, and Should We Ever Forgive Them?

Hannah Arendt, refugee from Nazi Germany, famously defined evil as banality and argued that Eichmann, the architect of the Final Solution, was not a monster but simply an ordinary man following orders. Could he have been so unimaginative as not to have seen the horror of the world he helped create? Or, consider Hannah, the pivotal character in The Reader, Bernhard Schlink’s famous novel adapted to film. Hannah is a thirty-five-year-old woman who seduces a fifteen-year-old boy, a woman, we come to learn, who was a former Nazi war criminal. She seems to find redemption at the end. Does that vindicate her? She was cruel to her prisoners during the War, and she was cruel to her young lover. He finds excuses that make her sympathetic to many of Schlink’s readers and members of the film’s audience. Should we ever excuse or forgive evil?

Platonic Love: It’s Pretty Sexy

We think of Platonic lovers as close “friends with no benefits.” But Plato saw love as deeply erotic, a joint quest for the good life that had to include sexual passion. But, as we say today, “it’s complicated” because without carnal attraction, the relationship would never get off the ground. We must become intrigued by someone if we are going to pursue even a conversation, let alone a close connection. Why one person rather than another? Plato was endlessly fascinated by love and wrote about it throughout his long creative life.

We can learn much about the human condition by exploring Plato’s views on love and sex.

The Elusiveness of Glamour

Can Flawless Diamonds and a couture Balenciaga dress give a woman glamour, or a Bugatti and impeccable grooming, a man? Somehow, we know that’s not enough. Those may be accoutrements, but hardly necessary for glamour. What is glamour? Why is glamour so hard to define, so hard to pin down? Social media sites make us think that anyone can cultivate it, if they wear the expensive-looking attire, drive an interesting car, or create an enviable lifestyle. But we know it’s something else. Maybe we find it so elusive because it could be more than an exterior quality of a person. In this lecture, we explore two different types of glamour: superficial and internal.

Marc Chagall and Chaim Soutine: From Shtetl to Paris

Marc Chagall and Chaim Soutine were both original, influential modern artists who were born in shtetels of Belarus and ultimately found their way to Paris: Soutine (1893-1943), Chagall (1887-1985) both came from poor, Jewish families and each went on to be canonical artists of the twentieth century. As visual artists, they each challenged a tenet of Judaism. Yet their artistic styles and contributions were vastly different. Chagall’s shows a Jewish influence, Soutine’s a rejection. In this lecture, we shall explore their artwork and its relation to Judaism.

Psychoanalysis & Judaism

Each session should be scheduled as a separate lecture.

Psychoanalysis & Judaism Session One: Is Psychoanalysis a “Jewish Science?”

Psychoanalysis has had a powerful influence on Western culture, so powerful that people sometimes refer to modernity as a post-Freudian era. We know that Sigmund Freud was Jewish, read Hebrew fluently, had a deep knowledge of Jewish theology, and that he was the founder of psychoanalysis. Why, though, has it been called a “Jewish Science?” In this talk, we focus on what psychoanalysis is, how it led to a new paradigm of understanding the human psyche, and how Freud’s Judaism led to his developing this mode of therapy.

Psychoanalysis & Judaism Session Two: Do Psychoanalysts Really Believe in the Oedipus Complex?

This class will concentrate on psychoanalysis as a mode of healing by interpretating a person’s gestures, speech, and dreams as expressions of the unconscious. In what sense can the “talking cure” heal a patient? We explore the terrain of Jewish theology and texts that influenced Freud as he developed his system and uttered his final statement in Moses and Monotheism.

Philosophy of Aging

Now, more than ever, we need philosophy of aging. In the U.S., Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964) number 78 million and are the fastest growing age segment of the population. As they became a larger share of the workforce, they acquired more economic, social, and political power. They continue to transform fashion, the arts, and politics. Their lives created the world in a way no one could have imagined. It is because of them, the “grey panthers” that age, gender, and racial discrimination became illegal, that PTSD entered the DSM, and sexuality shed its taboo. And now as they are aging, we can no longer ignore either the problems or rewards in the later stages of life.

What follows are four lectures that cover the topic from a variety of perspectives:

Successful Aging Is Not New: Wisdom from the Ancient Philosophers

Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Cicero, and others addressed the issue on how to age well. What role do physical health, family, and success play in happiness as we approach our later years? What gives life meaning? Socrates, on trial at age seventy, had three young children, one a mere infant (this, before there were little blue pills). A vigorous man, he enjoyed erotic pleasures, but insisted that introspection and learning were necessary for a meaningful, happy life. Aristotle disagreed. They and other ancients have fascinating insights and formulate seminal questions. In this session, we shall explore their ideas and debates.

Sex, Love, and Romance

Everyone of course wants love, but the pessimists among us fail to find it. A recent Wall Street Journal article, “The Secret to Finding Love After 60,” lays out at length the problems and challenges of late life relationships. The popular reality tv show, “The Bachelor” now has a spinoff called “The Golden Bachelor,” with its star a 70-something widower who is looking for a new love. All of the contenders are at least 65. Seniors are not just holding hands at the movies on dates; they also fall in love, find romance, look for companions, and—yes, hook up. Many seniors view love as a powerful element in a meaningful life, as even a brief glance at The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal will show us. Seniors are having more sex and sex partners, and many are quite open about it. We also see a phenomenon colloquially called “grey divorce.” What does all this signify about human self-identity in later life? We shall consider how the 20th-century philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Bertrand Russell anticipated the late-life sexual revolution, as did psychoanalysts such as Freud and Jung.

Art, the Body, Gender, and Aging

Many artists depict their aging selves in their self-portraiture, others in film or dance. They give us a glimpse into their life reviews, which may include their anxieties about their bodies and status. In a culture that still values youth, we are in the midst of a paradigm shift. On the one hand, we see more older fashion models and depictions of older persons in positions of power. On the other hand, beauty standards still favor the young and powerful, leaving many seniors feeling perplexed and anxious about their self-worth. Some theorists in both psychology and philosophy argue that men experience the aging body differently than women. Yet, we are starting to see artists, such as Joan Semmel, portray themselves in nude self-portraits, which show a confidence in their sexuality that equals that of some men. This would have been unthinkable thirty years ago. In this session, we shall inspect the portrayal of the aging self in the arts so that we may better understand the internal experience of aging.

Finding Purpose and Meaning in Later Life

To age successfully is to feel visible and important to others. For much of our lives, we find our purpose in school, then work or caring for families. We socialize with neighbors, friends, or co-workers. Aristotle tells us that there are three types of friendships: those of pleasure, those of utility, and true friends. After we retire or find ourselves in an empty nest, our true friends may die, the other types move away, or simply move on. One’s circle constricts and one no longer has the satisfaction of achievements in work or family, what is one’s identity? Where does one find a sense of satisfaction and achievement? How do we construct a meaningful life? In this session, we shall explore the ideas offered by philosopher and gerontologist Harry Moody and psychoanalysts such as Victor Frankl, Erik Erikson, and Carl Jung.

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