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The Benefits of Failure: From the Gnostics to Cioran

September 18, 2017 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Portrait image of Costica Bradatan wearing a grey and black suit and speaking into a microphone with his hand held up

Monday Seminar:

Costica Bradatan

Solmsen Fellow (2017-2018)

Humanities, Texas Tech University


Because of our culture’s obsession with success, we miss something important about what it means to be human and deny ourselves access to a deeper, more meaningful layer of our humanity. A sense of what we are in the grand scheme of things, an openness towards the unknown and the mysterious, humility and reverence towards that which transcends and overwhelms us, the wisdom that comes from knowledge of one’s limits, the sense of personal redefining and self-fashioning that results from an encounter with a major obstacle – these are some of the rewards that a proper grasp of failure could bring about. In my talk, I will sketch a phenomenology of failure, with a focus on a few prominent moments in the history of thinking about failure such as Gnosticism and Existentialism (especially E.M. Cioran).


Costica Bradatan is a Professor of Humanities at Texas Tech University. He has also held faculty appointments at Cornell University, University of Notre Dame, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as at several universities in Europe and Asia. He is the author or editor of ten books, most recently Dying for Ideas: The Dangerous Lives of the Philosophers (Bloomsbury, 2015), and has written for The New York TimesWashington PostThe New StatesmanAeonDissent, and Times Literary Supplement, among other places.


September 18, 2017
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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University Club, Room 212
432 East Campus Mall
Madison, Wisconsin 53703 United States