Departments of Religion, Philosophy, and Classics

Erik C. Banks Memorial Lecture in Philosophy

This lecture series aims to create an opportunity for members of the university community to join with residents of the broader Dayton region to consider a topic of current philosophical interest. It honors the memory of Dr. Erik Banks, past member of the philosophy faculty.

2018–2019 Erik C. Banks Memorial Lecture
Tuesday, March 26, 2019, 3:30-5 p.m.
163 Student Union (Discovery Room)

Speaker: Dr. Lydia Patton, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Virginia Polytechnic Institute

Topic: "Picturing Democracy: How Data Visualization Promoted the Free Exchange of Ideas"


Marie and Otto Neurath were a husband and wife team who incorporated graphic design and social interests into their intellectual work. They worked with artists including their friend Gerd Arntz to develop a pictorial language for statistics called Isotype. You have seen it before. For instance, Isotype is used in news articles to present budget statistics using small dollar sign icons, or population statistics using small icons of human beings. The picture language they developed was meant to explain features of life to the public, so that people would be able to understand current events in order to be able to react to them more effectively. The work of Marie and Otto Neurath was strongly democratic, in the sense that they thought the public should be able to reason accurately and effectively about problems that concern them, rather than reserving public decision-making to an elite class. The Neuraths were among the first defenders of public and open research, and of scholars communicating their research to the broadest audience possible. Their lives are strong examples of how universities and researchers can conceive of themselves as, as Otto Neurath put it, "trustees of the public". 

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact the Philosophy department at (937) 775-2274 or

History of the Lecture

Dr. Erik C. Banks, professor in the Department of Philosophy, joined the Wright State faculty in 2006. While at Wright State he made a major impact on both the university and his field, the history, and philosophy of science. A prolific scholar, he was the author of numerous journal articles and two important books, Ernst Mach's World Elements: A Study in Natural Philosophy (2003) and The Realistic Empiricism of Mach, James, and Russell: Neutral Monism, Reconceived (2014). Erik was also a creative and dedicated teacher, who taught demanding critical thinking and logic courses, and developed such innovative interdisciplinary classes as the Philosophy of Physics, team-taught with Physics professor, and Ancient Science, team-taught with a Classics professor. 

Following Erik's sudden death in 2017, his family generously endowed this lecture series as a lasting tribute to his memory.

Past Lectures

  • 2017–2018: Dr. Don Howard, Notre Dame, "Ernst Mach's Vienna: The Place of History and Philosophy in Science"


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