MRU Centre for Aristotelian Studies and Critical Theory’s International Conference

Flourishing Lives, Alienation and AI

Thursday, 4th of April 2024

MRU, Ateities st. 20, CR I-414, Vilnius

The rapid development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation is changing human lives and our societies dramatically. It is estimated that nearly half of all jobs in technologically advanced societies are susceptible to automation and will affect unemployment greatly. The proliferation of a variety of self-moving tools has also paved the way for theorizing the future human condition in terms of post-work. The most recent defenders of this thesis are Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams and their celebrated Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World without Work (2015). There is also theoretical debate surrounding so-called good or meaningful work and its role in a well-functioning society. The distinction between alienated labor and non-alienated labor is essential for the discussion on the role of work for human flourishing.

The aim of this conference is therefore to reflect on these dramatic technological changes. The key premise of our reflections is that they should be judged from the point of view of human flourishing broadly understood. One of the most fundamental questions is: how can technology, including AI, contribute to human flourishing and what role, in the current socio-economic regime of capitalist modernity, does it play in keeping alienation intact?

International speakers will join via Zoom (to join press “Zoom”)

Conference Programme:

9:30-10:00 Welcome: Giedrė Valūnaitė Oleškevičienė (Vice-Dean For Research, Mykolas Romeris University) and Andrius Bielskis (MRU)

Session 1: Chaired by Henrikas Žukauskas

10:00-10:30 Egidijus Mardosas (Mykolas Romeris University): Human Flourishing and Alternative Technology

10:30-11:00 Andrius Bielskis (Mykolas Romeris University): On Sheep and Self-Moving Tools: Material Conditions for Human Flourishing and Non-Alienated Labour

11:00-11:15 Discussion

Session 2: Chaired by Andrius Bielskis

11:15-11:45 Anthony Burns (University of Nottingham, MRU): Marxism and the Idea of a Fully Automated Machine Society

11:45-12:15 Vaidotas Valantiejus (Vilnius University of Applied Sciences; Vilnius University): The Welfare State in Today’s Automated World: Is It Really an Outdated and Impossible Concept?

12:15-12:30 Discussion

12:30-13:30 Lunch

Session 3: Chaired by Egidijus Mardoas

13:30-14:00 Jeff Noonan (University of Windsor): Artificial Intelligence, Alienation, and the Existential Conditions of Human Flourishing

14:00-14:30 Kelvin Knight and Joe Simpson (London Metropolitan University): Technē in the Conflicts of Modernity: A MacIntyrean Approach to Technology

14:30-14:45 Discussion

Session 4: Chaired by Andrius Bielskis

14:45-15:15 Ruth Groff (Saint Louis University): Marx, Alienation and Technology

15:15-15:45 Henrikas Žukauskas (Mykolas Romeris University): New Machines, Old Ghosts, and Bigger Soul: Opening up for an Eschatological Event

15:45- 16:15 Final Discussion

The conference concludes a three-year research project “Human Flourishing and Non-Alienated in the Age of Automation” funded by the Lithuanian Research Council.

Everyone is welcome!


MRU’s Centre for Aristotelian Studies and Critical Theory cordially invites you to a Public Lecture “Defending Democracy from Its Christian Enemies”

by Dr David P. Gushee

Monday, 30th of October 2023, 5 pm at Mykolas Romeris University, LAB Building, Room 101, Didlaukio st. 55, Vilnius

Comparing several different historical settings, Prof. Gushee will discuss his newly published book Defending Democracy from Its Christian Enemies (Eerdmans, 2023). He will argue that there is a sadly consistent pattern in which practicing Christians have adopted an ideology he calls authoritarian reactionary Christianity. They then also make an anti-democratic turn that contributes to democratic backsliding. Two countries near to Lithuania described as demonstrating this pattern are Russia under Putin and Hungary under Orban. US developments in relation to Trump are described as strikingly parallel. Prof. Gushee will also attempt to retrieve pro-democratic resources and paradigms embraced within the Christian theology and practice of some believers, including democratic congregationalism, covenantal theology/ethics/politics, and the US Black Christian abolitionist/social justice tradition. In a time when the stability of the political order of the USA, one of the world’s oldest democracies, is very much in question, Prof. Gushee seeks to “defend democracy from its Christian enemies.”

The lecture will be chaired by Prof. Andrius Bielskis, the director of MRU’s Centre for Aristotelian Studies and Critical Theory, with a short introduction by Dr Henrikas Žukauskas, a member of the Centre.

Defending Democracy from Its Christian Enemies will be available to buy during the event.

The lecture will be hybrid, accessible via Zoom to the international members of the Centre for Aristotelian Studies and Critical Theory and anyone interested in this important topic.

Dr David P. Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, Mercer University, Atlanta, USA, and Chair in Christian Social Ethics, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He is also Senior Research Fellow at International Baptist Theological Study Centre, Amsterdam and former President at American Academy of Religion, Society of Christian Ethics. David P. Gushee is also a notable and well-known public intellectual in the USA and Europe.


Centre for Aristotelian Studies and Critical Theory is conducting a research project “Human Flourishing and Alienated Work in an Era of Automation“.

Rapidly increasing levels of automation pose important challenges for contemporary societies. It creates conditions for freedom from laborious and unsatisfying forms of work but the promise of freedom from work also creates important ethical and social challenges which require renewed philosophical reflection. In order to do so the proposed research offers an original philosophical perspective that unites contemporary Aristotelian philosophy and critical theory. Our methodological and philosophical premise is that Aristotelian notions of practice (as meaningful activity) and of human flourishing, combined with the critique of alienation of labour under capitalism, provide the best resources to reflect on the ethical and social challenges of rapidly growing automation.

The aim of this research, therefore, is to reflect on the challenges of automation to work as a creative activity from the point of view of human flourishing. To achieve it three objectives are set. 1. Philosophical analysis of automation: critical evaluation of the key achievements in automation in different spheres of production and human life thus far. 2. The theorical conceptualization of non-alienated work (as a meaningful and productive activity) vis-a-vis human flourishing in the context of contemporary capitalism using an Aristotelian perspective. 3. Identification and critical analysis of the ethical and social challenges generated by automation.

The following group of researchers will conduct this research: project leader dr. Andrius Bielskis and two main researchers: dr. Anthony Burns (University of Nottingham) and dr. Egidijus Mardosas (MRU, Centre for Aristotelian Studies and Critical Theory (ASCT)). The research team will cooperate with dr. Henrikas Žukauskas, also a member of MRU Centre for ASCT.


We have renewed our online study of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics again and now we meet via Zoom on Wednesdays at 11 am Vilnius time.


Our “Aristotelian Practical Philosophy” reading meetings to study Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics has resumed on the 19th of September 2019. We meet every Thursdays at 4 pm (Vilnius time). The readings take place at Mykolas Romeris University, LAB Building, in 101 (Didlaukio st. 55, Vilnius). The international members of the Centre connect via Skype. Anyone interested is welcome to join!


First Annual Conference of Centre for Aristotelian Studies and Critical Theory (ASCT), Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, May 24th-25th 2019

Aristotle and Critical Theory

Friday, May 24th

MRU, Ateities st. 20, CR I-414

9.45-10.15 Registration

10.15-10.30 Welcome: Saulius Spurga (MRU Deputy Rector) & Andrius Bielskis (Director of ASCT)

10.30 –12.00 Session I (chaired by Povilas Aleksandravičius)

Tony Burns (University of Nottingham, UK): “Aristotle’s Ethics and the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School”

Andrius Bielskis (Mykolas Romeris University, ASCT, Lithuania): “Aristotle, Normativity and Critical Theory”

12.00-13.00 Lunch

13.00-14.30Session II (chaired by Dario Martinelli)

Tom Angier (University of Cape Town, South Africa): “A Paradox in Aristotle’s Hierarchical Taxonomy of Living Things”

Henrikas Žukauskas (Mykolas Romeris University, ASCT, Lithuania): “Social Movements Confront Theology of Action: the Heritage of Aristotle in the Baptism of Fire”

14.30- 15.00 Coffee Break  

15.00-16.30 Session III (chaired by Egidijus Mardosas)

Joseph Dunne (Dublin City University, Ireland): “Paulo Freire Then – and Now? Re-reading Pedagogy of the Oppressed After Fifty Years”

Kelvin Knight (London Metropolitan University, UK): “MacIntyre, Political and Practical Philosophy, and Critique”

16.30-17.00 Coffee Break

17.00-18.00 Session IV (chaired by Joseph Dunne)

Ruth Groff (Saint Louis University, USA): “What Can We Learn From Marx That Aristotle Didn’t Already Say?”

Saturday, May 25th

MRU, Didlaukio st. 55, LAB 102

10.00-11.30 Session V (chaired by Kelvin Knight)

Eleni Leontsini (University of Ioannina, Greece): “A Critique of the Neo-Marxist Interpretation of Aristotle’s “Political Organicism””

Jeffrey Nicholas (Providence College, USA): “What is Critical Theory Anyway? Preliminary Considerations”

11.30-12.00 Coffee Break

12.00-13.30 Session VI (chaired by Andrius Bielskis)

Giedrė Plepytė (Lithuanian Social Research Centre): “Sociological Approach to Happiness and Eudaimonian Ethics“

Egidijus Mardosas (Mykolas Romeris University, ASCT, Lithuania) “Work and the Working Classes in Aristotle’s Ideal Polis”

13.30-24.00 Enjoying summery Vilnius

Click here to see abstracts


Our meeting time to read Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics has changed. From the 10th of January 2019 we will meet every Thursdays at 4 pm (Vilnius time).


Every Wednesday (from 31st of October 2018 on) at 6 pm the Members of the Centre (and everyone interested and able to join us in Vilnius) meet to read Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. We use David Ross’s translation comparing it to the original as well as to other translations (including the Lithuanian translation of Jonas Dumčius). The readings take place at Mykolas Romeris Uuniversity, LAB Building, in 101 (Didlaukio st. 55, Vilnius). The international members of the Centre connect via Skype. Lithuanian scholars interested in Aristotle are especially welcome!


Launch of the Centre for Aristotelian Studies and Critical Theory will be held on Thursday, 22nd of March 2018 in Room 102, LAB MRU, Didlaukio st. 55, Vilnius


16.00-16.15 Dr Vassiliki Dicopoulou, Ambassador of Greece: On the Greek-Lithuanian Cooperation

16.15-16.30 Dr Algirdas Monkevičius, Rector of Mykolas Romeris University: Welcome

16.30-16.45 Dr Giedrius Viliūnas, Vice-Minister of Education and Science, Welcome and Greetings

16.45-17.00 Dr Andrius Bielskis, Director of the Centre: On the Mission of the Centre for Aristotelian Studies and Critical Theory

17.00-17.15 Dr Eleni Leontsini, International Research Fellow: Why are Aristotelian Studies Important?

17.15-17.30 Prof. Dr. Tatjana Aleknienė, Guest Scholar, The Relevance of Plato and Aristotle Today

17.30 Wine Reception