Ignorance and Wisdom-books and flowers

Campus Theme: Ignorance and Wisdom presentations this month

The 11th year of SOU’s Campus Theme continues with a pair of presentations this month, beginning at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20, with “To not know: Is It Ignorance or Wisdom?” by Fred Grewe, chaplain at Providence Medford Medical Center.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be in Room 319 of the Stevenson Union. It will be followed on Thursday, Feb. 28, by “Wisdom and Compassion: Awakening Human Capacities to Build Resilient Communities,” by Paul Condon, an assistant professor of psychology at SOU. That presentation will be at 7 p.m. in Room 323 of the Stevenson Union.

Both events are part of SOU’s campus theme for the 2018-19 academic year, “Ignorance and Wisdom.” This year’s campus theme presentations all explore those two concepts and their relationships.

The university adopts a theme each year for a series of lectures and discussions. Last year’s was “Truth,” and the previous year was “Shapes of Curiosity.” The series, presented by SOU’s Arts and Humanities Council, creates opportunities for students, faculty, staff and community members to engage in intellectually stimulating conversations.

In this week’s talk, “To Not Know,” Grewe will explore the teachings of various religious thinkers – Christian, Buddhist, Taoist and Jewish – and what each has contributed to the understanding of what constitutes both wisdom and ignorance. A promotional flyer for the event cites the words of the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, when asked in a pornography case to define the threshold for obscenity: “I know it when I see it.”

Grewe has served as chaplain for the Providence Hospice in Medford since 2012, and served previously as a hospice chaplain at Asante Ashland Community Hospital and at St. Louis University Hospital in Missouri. He has published several articles and books about dying and the clergy’s role in end-of-life preparations.

The Feb. 28 presentation, “Wisdom and Compassion,” will look at the conflict and divisiveness that increasingly characterizes today’s political world. The talk will draw on Buddhist philosophy and cognitive science, and suggest that a fundamental problem is the mind’s tendency to portray others in limited ways that deny their full humanity.

Condon will explore a potential solution: current research on addressing relational and societal challenges through meditation and the human capacities for wisdom and compassion.

Condon’s research lab at SOU examines the social and relational processes that contribute to mental and physical wellness – particularly, through compassion and meditation.

SOU faculty members are asked to encourage their students to attend and participate in the Campus Theme presentations.