Friday, February 09, 2007

Two talks: Autonomy and positive sets

I went this week to the Moral Sciences Club for the first time in a while. I don't entirely know why, but I don't find the format or atmosphere of MSC meetings at all congenial. But the speaker this week was one of our own grad students, Ben Colburn, who put up a terrific performance talking about the value of autonomy and the role of the state in promoting the autonomy of its citizens. And that's a theme that mattered rather a lot to one of my heroes, Alexander Herzen. As it happens, at the moment my late-night (re)reading is his great My Life and Thoughts. (I have the four-volume translation of the whole thing, all 1800 pages of it. It is indeed a loose and baggy monster, but a wonderful read. I see there is a more sensible sized abridged version available these days, which looks a bargain.)

Then today Thierry Libert gave an informal talk at CUSPOMMS on positive set theory. I confess this was all news to me. I'm not sure I have a real grasp on what the resulting 'filled out' universe of sets is like, but I got intriguing glimpses. Something else, then, to add to list of things to chase up, given world enough and time ...

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