Monday, December 31, 2007

Rorty, Richard. "The Fire of Life." POETRY (November 2007).

. . . I now wish that I had spent somewhat more of my life with verse. This is not because I fear having missed out on truths that are incapable of statement in prose. There are no such truths; there is nothing about death that Swinburne and Landor knew but Epicurus and Heidegger failed to grasp. Rather, it is because I would have lived more fully if I had been able to rattle off more old chestnuts — just as I would have if I had made more close friends. Cultures with richer vocabularies are more fully human — farther removed from the beasts — than those with poorer ones; individual men and women are more fully human when their memories are amply stocked with verses. Read one of Rorty's last and most poignant articles here:

Paparella, Emanuel L. Several Articles on Vico at THE GLOBAL SPIRAL (2007).

Emanuel Paparella is the author of Hermeneutics in the Philosophy of G. Vico. He holds a M Phil. and Ph.D. in Italian Humanism from Yale University, has studied Comparative Literature at New York University and has taught at various Universities. Click on any of the links below to access the articles:
  • Mytho-Poetic Wisdom as Origins of Self-knowledge—Part 2 Myth is a very concrete image of the world expressing in very rudimentary fashion the ethico-religious experience of primitive man; an experience rooted in fear and wonder and which is always at the origins of religion. For Vico, myth rather than logical thinking is the first form through which truth reveals itself.
  • Mytho-Poetic Wisdom as Origins of Self-knowledge—Part 1 Vico insists throughout his opus that in order for Man to understand himself and avoid the danger of scientific objectification, he needs to attempt a re-creation of the origins of humanity. This is achievable in as much as it was Man himself who created his own origins, and therefore he can return to them. By doing so he can hope to understand the destiny and meaning of his striving in space and time, which is to say, in history. In the beginning there is the end.
  • The Nexus between Language and Vico’s Historicism—Part 2 Man’s relationship to language and history cannot be one of ‘using’ them but rather, one of ‘participating’ in them. In the presentation of contemporary histories, the reader rarely gets an invitation to participate actively in language as another man standing within a world made by language...A whole semester may be spent on literary analysis while the text itself will go unread and thus the student rarely discerns that a great literary work is truly an historical experience in the sense that understanding stands in a specific place in time and space.
  • The Nexus between Language and Vico’s Historicism—Part 1 The very possibility of Vico’s science is related to the existence of universals of human nature reflected in linguistic universals formed by the human mind. There is a diachronic and a synchronic unity in language which is based on the unity of human nature. The failure to correlate spoken and written language produces in turn the failure to understand the origins of language.
  • The Encounter with History as Extension of the Self—Part 2 It does indeed take about half of one’s lifetime before one becomes aware that our existential condition is, to say it with Heidegger, of “being thrown into the world.” Youth, misguidedly perceiving itself as immortal is rather slow in perceiving this condition.
  • The Encounter with History as Extension of the Self—Part 1 For Vico, self-experience does not come by way of introspection, but rather by meeting others and their worlds, i.e., by way of history.
  • Vico’s Hermeneutical “understanding” of our Humanity—Part 3 Vico’s most important hermeneutical insight is that human beings cannot be explained objectively, they can only be “understood.”
  • A Revolutionary New View of History and Humanity—Part 2 Properly speaking, Vico is the grandfather of modern hermeneutics even if little or no credit is accorded to him in courses on mythology or history of religions.
  • A Revolutionary New View of History and Humanity—Part 1 Vico’s New Science (1725) is a watershed to modern historicism. He was however too far ahead of his contemporaries to have any direct impact on them. They had already embarked on a Cartesian paradigm of reality which now pervades modern culture. We modern men can hear Vico’s wake up bell much more clearly in the wake of what rampant rationalism has wrought on us.
  • "Man Is His Own History" leads to Self-knowledge -- Part III To briefly summarize Vico’s theory of knowledge we can say that history becomes science when Man orders and understands his deeds according to those eternal notions that Man finds in himself. The truth of history does not consist in mere facts produced by men, but also in the possibility that men have to recover the facts of history to the structure of their mind and to the eternal order that God reveals to the mind of men.
  • "Man Is His Own History" leads to self-knowledge--Part II Vico is the precursor of Martin Buber's basic insight that it is only in the world of I-Thou that true reality is to be found. The world of I-it is there to be analyzed, categorized, organized but it is not the total world.
  • “Man is his own History” leads to self-knowledge—Part 1I am not suggesting that the concept of history is a special privilege of Western Man. Non Westerns too have a history. However, it is only in 18th century Europe that Man becomes aware of the far reaching implications of that fact. While Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Muslims had chronicles and archives, they were not intellectually conscious of the astonishing fact peculiar to Western Man...
  • The Journey Continues The Enlightenment remains to be enlightened about itself. When it finally does it will come to the realization that if reason is made into a god of sort, then, far from taking us beyond ourselves it can degrade and dehumanize us; make us rationalists rationalizing what ought never be rationalized. Most of the Nazis who planned and rationalized the Holocaust in less than two hours and executed it in less than four years sported a Ph.D. after their name. That is modern nihilism at its worst.
  • The Journey Begins After a preparatory preamble on Providence and the historical consciousness, I’d like to begin the journey into Vico’s mind with a metaphor from my own intellectual life-experience: that of a long journey on a train and the reflections it engendered.
  • Man’s Freedom/God’s Providence: The Origins of the Historical Consciousness The idea of freedom is peculiar to the West. For the Western imagination this idea is nothing short of the underpinning for the historical consciousness. In fact, the consciousness of Man being his own history is one of the most striking characteristics of the Western world. It allows the self to turn back upon itself and judge itself ethically. This is possible because that same self conceives of itself as created in God’s own image and therefore essentially free, for this is a God that is free and creates freely. I dare say that there lies the theological genius of the West.
  • An Invitation to the Hermeneutics of the Self Like the ancients of antiquity, Vico insists that without self-knowledge there is no acquisition of wisdom. His was the question of the ancients re-discovered by the high medieval and Renaissance humanists: what does it mean to be human; how does one live humanly? And the question is addressed to each one of us.
  • The Idea of Providence within Vico’s Poetic Science of Humanity This is the crux of the problematic of providence vis-à-vis man’s freedom. Is providence wholly immanent within man’s social life? And if so, how is man free? On the other hand if providence is transcendent, how exactly does it operate in human history? Isn’t the very attempt to define God, even if only symbolically, an attempt at reducing his transcendence to the purely human?
  • The Uniqueness of Giambattista Vico’s Poetic Philosophy There are two dangerous extremes in modern Western philosophy: that of mythos without logos leading to a false transcendence and ushering in the Nietzschean charismatic Man; and that of logos without mythos leading to pure rationalism and ushering in technocratic Man. In between those dangerous extremes there is Vico’s poetic philosophy, humanistic, holistic and able to harmonize the two extremes.
Or see:

Guess, Andy. "Upgrading to Philosophy 2.0." INSIDE HIGHER ED December 31, 2007.

There was no theorizing about ghosts in the machine at an annual meeting of philosophers last Friday. Instead, they embraced technology’s implications for their field, both within the classroom and beyond. Two presentations outlined how computer software could change the way philosophy is both taught and disseminated. One professor discussed how artificial intelligence can help to improve individualized instruction, while another laid out a radical framework for online publication that would leave most of today’s academic press apparatus in the dust. . . . Read the rest here:

Jaschik, Scott. "God, Fashion, Affect." INSIDE HIGHER ED December 31, 2007.

For the past four days, Oprah has not been the only Chicago-based powerhouse in publishing. With more than 9,000 English and foreign language professors gathered for the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association, publishers had a key audience of serious readers (not to mention syllabus writers) to influence. The exhibit hall is a chance for publishers to sell books already getting buzz and to generate buzz for those works just coming out. Here’s a look at what was hot this year. . . . Read the rest here:

Jaschik, Scott. "A Moderate MLA." INSIDE HIGHER ED December 31, 2007.

The Modern Language Association frequently helps out its critics with provocative session titles and left-leaning political stands offered by its members. At this year’s annual meeting, in Chicago, some MLA members have worried that the association was poised to take stances that would have sent David Horowitz’s fund raising through the roof with resolutions that appeared to be anti-Israel and pro-Ward Churchill. But in moves that infuriated the MLA’s Radical Caucus, the association’s Delegate Assembly refused to pass those resolutions and instead adopted much narrower measures. The association acknowledged tensions over the Middle East on campus, but in a resolution that did not single out pro-Israel groups for criticism. And the association criticized the University of Colorado for the way it started its investigation of Ward Churchill, but took no stand on whether the outcome (his firing) was appropriate. . . . Read the rest here:

Wilson, Colin. "Foucault and History." SOCIALIST WORKER December 22, 2007.

There are serious political weaknesses in Foucault’s work. But many people are inspired by the radical side of his writing. He may not be easy to read – but what he does have to say is almost always thought provoking. . . .
Though at times simplistic and not fully acquainted with Foucault's work, the rest of the article may be read here:

Sunday, December 30, 2007

"The Promise of Reason: Perelman's THE NEW RHETORIC after 50 Years," University of Oregon, May 17-20, 2008.

Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca published La Nouvelle Rhétorique: Traité de l’Argumentation in 1958, a work that has since come to represent the revival of rhetoric and its reintegration with philosophy in the twentieth century. The influence of this work is felt in rhetoric, philosophy, jurisprudence, communication studies, critical theory, and the newer disciplines of argumentation and informal reasoning. To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the appearance of this work, plans are underway to host an international conference on The New Rhetoric. Faculty and Graduate Students are invited to submit proposals for papers and panels. Submissions are welcome dealing with any aspect of Perelman’s work and influence, or argumentation, informal reasoning, or modern rhetoric in general. Interdisciplinary work in rhetoric and/or argumentation theory is welcome. Of specific interest are proposals dealing with the following:
  • legal argument and justice
  • rhetoric and human rights
  • ethical rhetoric and communications
  • argumentation as a substitute for violence
  • international diplomacy and conflict resolution
  • rationality and reasonableness in international relations
  • negotiated assent in public debate
  • opposition and cooperation is conflict situations
  • argumentation across cultures
  • persuasion and leadership

For further information, please visit:

"The Responsibilities of Rhetoric," 13th Biennial Conference, Rhetoric Society of America, Seattle, May 23-26, 2008.

Seattle, the location of RSA 2008, by virtue of its identity and its imagery compels us to meditate together on the macroforces that are currently shaping our discipline and our democracy. Seattle means coffee and Boeing and the Port--all of them symbols of the international, globalized market economy and its attendant perils. Seattle means Microsoft and --megacorporations produced by and producing new (and sometimes vexing) communications technologies and practices. Seattle means "metronatural" life: REI (Recreation Equipment Inc.) and bicycles, eco-consciousness and the just-launched Puget Sound Partnership, urban spaces surrounded by Elliott Bay and Mt. Rainier--all of it a reminder of ecological challenges that must be negotiated through rhetoric. And Seattle means multiculturalism: the polyglot citizens who gather at Pike Place Market or Starbucks are African American and native American, Anglo and Asian, Latino and mestizo, native and immigrant. Let us come together in Seattle, therefore, to consider the Responsibilities of Rhetoric. How can the study and practice of rhetoric contribute to social progress? What does rhetoric offer as means of understanding and coping with globalization, particularly at a time when "global" is associated with "terror" and "exploitation"? What do rhetorical studies have to offer in a presidential election year when political discourses and popular fundamentalisms are polarizing, confrontational, divisive? How do new media affect civic participation and the conduct of argument half a century after The New Rhetoric, The Uses of Argument, and The Rhetoric of Motives? How can rhetorical studies contribute to scientific exchange, technology transfer, and risk management--all in the interest of public and disciplinary good, and particularly on environmental issues? In a nation suspicious of difference, concerned with security, and newly armed with snooping technologies, can rhetorical pedagogies nevertheless protect civil liberties, sustain civic cooperation, and promote understanding and identification? And how can our professional society be sure that our scholarly methodologies and assumptions are themselves highly ethical? While participants are invited to present their current research on all the topics that fall within the domain of rhetorical studies, the Program Committee will especially appreciate proposals that engage with the Responsibilities of Rhetoric. Plenary Speakers:
  • Charles Johnson One of the leading current American artists and public intellectuals, MacArthur Fellow Charles Johnson won the 1990 National Book Award for his novel Middle Passage. His most recent novel, Dreamer, and the title story of his short fiction collection Dr. King's Refrigerator both meditate on the career of Martin Luther King, Jr. Tentatively scheduled to speak at the spectacular Seattle Public Library, near the conference hotel.
  • David Zarefsky Owen L. Coon Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University, past president of the National Communication Association and current president of RSA, David Zarefsky is the author of five books and the editor of many more, including President Johnson's War on Poverty and Lincoln, Douglas, and Slavery: In the Crucible of Public Debate. Tentatively scheduled to speak at the traditional conference luncheon.
  • Marc van der Poel A leading and prolific classicist and expert on Renaissance rhetoric who served for many years as editor of the massive Erasmus project, Professor van der Poel is currently Professor of Latin and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. His plenary presentation will be followed by a reception.

Some Additional Special Features:

Seminar led by Professor van der Poel on the meaning, development, and persistence of the "loci communes"—the so-called commonplaces of argument and rhetorical construction—in reading, speaking, and writing from classical times through the early modern period, from Aristotle to Vossius. Offered in cooperation with the International Society for the History of Rhetoric.

Plenary session and reception at the spectacular new Seattle Public Library.

Featured sessions organized by scholars such as Dexter Gordon (on the rhetoric of civil rights movements), Jeanne Fahnestock (rhetoric of science), Martin Medhurst (rhetoric of the 2008 presidential race), Michael Hogan (social movements), Susan Wells (publics theory), Steven Mailloux and Michael Leff (on inter-disciplinary collaborations among rhetoricians in English and communication studies), Barbara Warnick (rhetoric and new media), and John Lucaites and Robert Hariman (visual rhetoric).

Especially for graduate students:workshops, professional development seminars, networking opportunities, and a chance to share work in progress with these senior scholars: James Aune, Don Bialostosky, Patricia Bizzell, Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, Gregory Clark, Sharon Crowley, David Holmes, Michael Leff, Andrea Lunsford, Alisse Portnoy, and Edward Schiappa.

For more information, please visit:

Friday, December 28, 2007

Lakoff, George. "The Functionalist's Dilemma [Review of Jackendorff's LANGUAGE, CONSCIOUSNESS, CULTURE]." AMERICAN SCIENTIST (January-February 2008).

Language, Consciousness, Culture: Essays on Mental Structure by Ray Jackendoff. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007. xxvi + 403 pp. $36. Science, as Thomas Kuhn famously observed, does not progress linearly. Old paradigms remain as new ones begin to supplant them. And science is very much a product of the times. The symbol-manipulation paradigm for the mind spread like wildfire in the late 1950s. Formal logic in the tradition of Bertrand Russell dominated Anglo-American philosophy, with W. V. O. Quine as the dominant figure in America. Formalism reigned in mathematics, fueled by the Bourbaki tradition in France. Great excitement was generated by the Church-Turing thesis that Turing machines, formal logic, recursive functions and Emil Post's formal languages are equivalent. The question naturally arose: Could thought be characterized as a symbol-manipulation system? The idea of artificial intelligence developed out of an attempt to answer that question, as did the information-processing approach to cognitive psychology of the 1960s. The mind was seen as computer software, with the brain as hardware. The software was what mattered. Any hardware would do: a digital computer or the brain, which was called wetware and seen (incorrectly) as a general-purpose processor. The corresponding philosophy of mind, called functionalism, claimed that you could adequately study the mind independently of the brain by focusing on the mind's functions as carried out by the manipulation of abstract symbols. The time was ripe for Noam Chomsky to adapt the symbol-manipulation paradigm to linguistics. Chomsky's metaphor was simple: A sentence was a string of symbols. A language was a set of such strings. A grammar was a set of recursive procedures for generating such sets. Language was syntacticized—placed mathematically within a Post system, with abstract symbols manipulated in algorithmic fashion by precise formal rules. Because the rules could not look outside the system, language had to be "autonomous"—independent of the rest of the mind. Meaning and communication could play no role in the structure of language. The brain was irrelevant. This approach was called generative linguistics, and it continues to have adherents in many linguistics departments in the United States. In the mid-1970s, another paradigm shift occurred. Neuroscience burst onto the intellectual stage. Cognitive science expanded beyond formalist cognitive psychology to include neural models. And cognitive linguistics emerged, whose proponents (including me) see language and thought not as an abstract symbol-manipulation system but as physically embodied and reflecting both the specific properties and the limitations of our brains and bodies. Cognitive linguistics has been steadily developing into a rigorously formulated neural theory of language based on neural-computation theory and actual developments in neuroscience. Ray Jackendoff's new book, Language, Consciousness, Culture, is set solidly within the old generative-linguistics paradigm. . . . Read the rest of the review here:

Lehrer, Jonah. "We Are What We Say." WASHINGTON POST December 23, 2007.

Pinker, Steven. The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. New York: Viking, 2007. In The Stuff of Thought, Pinker pitches himself as the broker of a scientific compromise between 'linguistic determinism' and 'extreme nativism.' The linguistic determinists argue that language is a prison for thought. The words we know define our knowledge of the world. Because Eskimos have more nouns for snow, they are able to perceive distinctions in snow that English speakers cannot. While Pinker deftly discredits extreme versions of this hypothesis, he admits that "boring versions" of linguistic determinism are probably accurate. It shouldn't be too surprising that our choice of words can frame events, or that our vocabulary reflects the kinds of things we encounter in our daily life. (Why do Eskimos have so many words for snow? Because they are always surrounded by snow.) The language we learn as children might not determine our thoughts, but it certainly influences them. Extreme nativism, on the other hand, argues that all of our mental concepts -- the 50,000 or so words in the typical vocabulary -- are innate. We are born knowing about carburetors and doorknobs and iPods. This bizarre theory, most closely identified with the philosopher Jerry Fodor, begins with the assumption that the meaning of words cannot be dissected into more basic parts. A doorknob is a doorknob is a doorknob. It only takes Pinker a few pages to prove the obvious, which is that each word is not an indivisible unit. The mind isn't a blank slate, but it isn't an overstuffed filing cabinet either. So what is Pinker's solution? He advocates the middle ground of 'conceptual semantics,' in which the meaning of our words depends on an underlying framework of basic cognitive concepts. (As Pinker admits, he owes a big debt to Kant.) The tenses of verbs, for example, are shaped by our innate sense of time. Nouns are constrained by our intuitive notions about matter, so that we naturally parcel things into two different categories, objects and substances (pebbles versus applesauce, for example, or, as Pinker puts it, "hunks and goo"). Each material category comes with a slightly different set of grammatical rules. By looking at language from the perspective of our thoughts, Pinker demonstrates that many seemingly arbitrary aspects of speech, like that hunk and goo distinction, aren't arbitrary at all: They are byproducts of our evolved mental machinery. Read the whole review here:

Dickstein, Morris. "Praising Not the Hedgehog but the Fox [Review of Hartman's A SCHOLAR'S TALE]." NEW YORK SUN December 26, 2007.

Politicians, captains of industry, and media celebrities write memoirs — or talk them out to actual writers — in the belief, shared by publishers, that people are interested in the private lives of public figures, the story behind great success or notoriety. Others write therapeutic or voyeuristic memoirs that read like guided tours through hell, cautionary tales of failure, dysfunction, and, in some cases, stirring recovery, holding out hope for us all. As its title implies, Geoffrey Hartman's terse yet eloquent memoir, A Scholar's Tale: Intellectual Journey of a Displaced Child of Europe (Fordham University Press, 195 pages, $24.95), is neither of these staples. It takes us through the author's five decades as a widely influential literary scholar, adding spare biographical details to fill out the bare bones of his personal history. He only touches on the "shocks, regrets, moments of acute self-doubt and self-blame" in his life. Yet the book's scrupulous reconsideration of his literary and academic life marks it as a deeply personal work. . . . Read the rest here:

Donadio, Rachel. "Out of South Africa [Review of Coetzee's DIARY OF A BAD YEAR]." NEW YORK TIMES December 16, 2007.

This month, Viking will publish Diary of a Bad Year, the latest novel by J. M. Coetzee. With his spare prose and unsparing sense of the human condition, Coetzee is one of the most important novelists at work today. His biographical note mentions his 2003 Nobel Prize and 18 previously published books. It also presents, understatedly, a significant fact: “A native of South Africa, Coetzee now lives in Adelaide, Australia.” A host of questions lurk behind that simple sentence. Why would a novelist who has written so powerfully about the land of his birth pack up and leave? Were his 2002 move and his taking of Australian citizenship last year a betrayal of his homeland, or a rejoinder to a country whose new government had denounced one of his most important novels as racist? Was it just another example of the “white flight” that has sent hundreds of thousands of generally affluent South Africans to other Anglophone countries since the end of apartheid? Or was it a tacit acknowledgment that Coetzee had exhausted his South African material, that the next chapter in the country’s history was the rise of the black middle class, and what did an old resistance writer, with his aloof, middle-aged white narrators, know about that? . . . Read the rest here:

Jaschik, Scott. "Identity Studies for Everyone [Introducing Age Studies]." INSIDE HIGHER ED December 28, 2007.

Critics of the MLA love to mock the proliferation of identity-based studies while proponents see an embrace of diversity that has provided a fuller understanding of literature and art. As the MLA kicked off this year’s annual meeting Thursday night, a session on the schedule proposed a new way to analyze: age studies. While pediatrics and gerontology are established medical specialties, and sociologists and anthropologists have long looked at age and aging in different societies, humanities scholars have largely focused on other issues. The panelists at the MLA session and a growing number of other researchers are working to change that, publishing criticism that focuses on the age of characters and the meanings conveyed about age, aging, generations and identity. A major contention of age studies scholars is that age isn’t just about how the body changes as time passes, but about the way culture and society define people at various stages of life. These scholars say that they are applying the ideas of those who redefined the way gender and ethnicity are viewed. “I think it is like each of the previous revolutions,” says Margaret Morganroth Gullette, a scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center of Brandeis University. “We’re all saying the same thing and that thing is: What you think is nature is culture. Women got it that gender was culture and people of color got it that race was culture, but everyone ages, and they age under the sign of biology, and they think they are being aged in the body — innocently — as if anything that happens in a culture is totally innocent.” . . . Read the rest here:

McLemee, Scott. "Criticism, Character and Tenure." INSIDE HIGHER ED December 27, 2006.

The word 'criticism' shares the same root as 'crisis' — a bit of fortuitous etymology that everyone in literary studies remembers from time to time, whether in the context of sublime theoretical arguments (interpretation at the edge of the abyss!) or while dealing with the bottom-line obstacles to publishing one more monograph. Not to mention all the 'criticism/crisis' musing that goes on at this time of year as people finish their papers for MLA, sometimes with minutes to spare. Once this season of crisis management is past, I hope readers will turn their attention to Geoffrey Galt Harpham’s new book The Character of Criticism (Routledge). Harpham, who is president and director of the National Humanities Center, offers a meditation on what happens (in the best case, anyway) when a literary scholar encounters literary text. Most of the book consists of close examination of the work of four major figures — Elaine Scarry, Martha Nussbaum, Slavoj Žižek, and Edward Said – who bring very different methods and mores to the table when performing the critic’s task. The contrast between Nussbaum and Žižek, in particular, seems potentially combustible. But the book is not a study in the varieties of critical engagement possible now, given our capacious theoretical toolkits. Harpham’s argument is that literary criticism is a distinct type of act performed by (and embodying) a specific type of agent. We don’t read criticism just for information, or to see concepts refined or tested. Criticism is, at its best, a product of “cognitive freedom,” as Harpham puts it.
Interpretation represents a moment at which cognition is not absolutely bound by necessity to produce a particular result . . . and this moment serves as a portal through which character, an individual way of being in the world, enters the work. . . .
Read the rest here:

"Hermeneutics: Contemporary Prospects (Tradition, Transmission and Treason)," British Society for Phenomenology, Oxford University, April 4-6, 2008.

Hermeneutics lies at the centre of debates about method, and the status of interpretation within ethics, aesthetics, theology and philosophy in general. The conference brings together leading figures in the field to examine the nature and implications of current debate within hermeneutics and to assess the contribution that hermeneutics can make to methodological controversies in the humanities today. Programme

  • Günter Figal (University of Freiburg) "Hermeneutics as Phenomenology"
  • Gianni Vattimo (University of Turin) "The Cultural Relevance of Hermeneutics"
  • Istvan Fehrer (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest) "Hermeneutics and the Philosophical Tradition"
  • Jens Zimmerman (TW University, Canada) "Towards a Critique of the Theological Dimensions of Vattimo's Hermeneutics"
  • James Risser (University of Seattle) "The Incapacity of Language"
  • Annette Hilt (Ruprecht-Karls-University) "The Boundaries of Comprehensive Sense: Towards a Hermeneutics of Emotional Expressivity"
  • Sinead Murphy (University of Cork) "Is Philosophical Hermeneutics Constructive?"
  • Daniel Tate (Bonaventure University, New York) "Art as Cognitio Imaginativa: Gadamer on Intuition and Imagination in Kant's Aesthetic Theory"
  • Morny Joy (University of Calgary) "Paul Ricoeur and a Hermeneutics of Human Capability and Fragility"

All of the papers are on April 4 – 5. The final day of the conference is reserved for the AGM of the British Society for Phenomenology and other meetings. The aim of the BSP is to organize conferences at which rigorous debate can be carried out in a friendly and inclusive atmosphere. There are no parallel sessions and everyone is encouraged to participate fully. Student Bursaries: The British Society for Phenomenology is offering two bursaries, available to students wishing to attend the conference. Each bursary consists in two nights bed and breakfast accommodation at St Hilda’s College and the cost of the main dinner on Friday night. To apply for one of the bursaries, please prepare a statement of 400 – 600 words outlining the importance of the conference to your studies and send this to: David Webb, Faculty of Arts Media and Design, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 2XW: Applications must arrive by January 29th 2008.

For further information, please visit:

CFP: "History as Creative Writing," RETHINKING HISTORY 14 (2010).

The editors of Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice invite contributions to an issue entitled "History as Creative Writing," the first of several issues, to be published over several years, intended to highlight the journal's longstanding interest in experiments in the literary dimensions of historical writing. (See, for example, Alun Munslow and Robert A. Rosenstone, eds. 2004. Experiments in Rethinking History.) What we continue to look for-in narrative, interpretation, theory, or some combination of two or three--is evidence of a struggle not just with evidence or argument but also with language and with form. That struggle might lead to some unusual structure, or plot, or voice (or voices), or point of view (or points of view). It might lead to some uncommon (for academic history) use of metaphor, imagery, or rhythm. It might push a writer to the outer limits of the universe of non-fiction writing-or out of that universe altogether. It might produce, in the name of historical understanding, a memoir, poem, or piece of a play. We welcome contributions from writers at any stage in their careers, at work in any field, and engaged with the past in any imaginable way. Weexpect pieces of various lengths, but hope that none will be a word more or less than it needs to be. The deadline for contributions to the first issue of Volume 14 is December 1, 2009. Further details can be obtained from the US editor James Goodman.

"Multiculturalism and Feminism," 13th Symposium, International Association of Women Philosophers, Ewha Women's University, Seoul, July 27-29, 2008.

Organizers: International Association of Women Philosophers (IAPh), Korean Association of Feminist Philosophy (KAFP) Program: Plenary Sessions, Sections for Contributed Papers, Round Tables, Students Session, Society Meetings Official Languages: English, French, German, Korean (Host Country Language), Spanish The Thirteenth Symposium of International Association of Women Philosophers (IAPh) will be held in Seoul, Korea, just prior to the XXII. World Congress of Philosophy. The symposium seeks to bring philosophical analysis to bear on the complex relationship between feminist and multicultural theories and practices. It also seeks to explore questions concerning commonalities and differences among women, who often come from radically different social, cultural, and political contexts and yet who live in a world that is increasingly globally connected. Feminism has developed globally in accordance with the diversity of the demands of women who are often faced with divergent forms of inequality and discrimination. Its diversity thus reflects the different sources of gender inequity that originate from particular socio-cultural and political situations. However, the diversity of women's concerns does not deter women philosophers from collaborating and engaging in shared philosophical discourse. The Seoul symposium will examine proposed solutions to the inequality and discrimination that undermine women's living conditions and that deny women decency, while also attending to issues posed by differences among women. The Seoul Symposium especially invites contributions from women scholars who are interested in the intersections of 'multiculturalism and feminism,' as well as with the philosophical interrogation of the concepts of 'women,' 'feminism' and 'multiculturalism' as (for example) ontological, epistemological, or ethical questions.

The symposium plans to focus its discussions around a number of substantive areas, or 'sites of inquiry.' These include:

  • examination of the self-understandings of women in diverse culture and societies today.
  • critical reflection on the role forms of the family play within women's lives;
  • examination of how the perpetuation of tradition and processes of modernization - and tensions between them -- affect women's lives within diverse social and historical contexts;
  • examination of processes of globalization, their intersections with particularistic forms of inequality for women, and the dilemmas thus faced by emergent global or trans-national feminist movements;
  • discussion of biomedical practices, and other uses of science and technology, that may threaten women's rights to bodily integrity and social autonomy;
  • analysis of the diversity of cultural norms that give rise to images of women in various forms of representation and self-expression, ranging from art, to religion, to the media.

We welcome the participation of women philosophers and other scholars in addressing the intersections of feminism and multiculturalism through an exploration of any of the above "sites of inquiry." Proposals that address the relations of feminism and multiculturalism through other "sites of inquiry" will also be considered.

For more information, please visit:

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bauerlein, Mark. "The Write Stuff: the Hunger for Literature Among Student Officers." WEEKLY STANDARD 13.15 (2007).

Cadets come from all regions, income groups, and ideologies--some carrying on a family tradition of service, some whose parents protested the Vietnam war. Most of all, belying the Rambo stereotype, they like novels and poems and plays. In class they read The Iliad, Beowulf, War and Peace, World War I poetry, and also Pope's "Essay on Man," Dickens's Bleak House, Matthew Arnold's "Literature and Science," the curious lyrics of Wallace Stevens, Diderot's plan for the Encyclopédie. Out of class, they keep at it. Lieutenants in Iraq who took her course three years earlier write back to ask about her current syllabus. Another stationed in Korea tells her, "Someone once told me that 'the most important book you will ever read is the first one after your graduation.' I wish I could remember what it was--I have done more reading since graduation than I would have ever thought possible." Still another writes from Mosul, "I have been rolling through books here at a pretty steady clip," and when he returns to the States, he reports, guiltily, that his reading has slipped. Samet attributes these young people's literary fervor precisely to their combat future. While freshmen down in Manhattan at Columbia and NYU think about jobs and paychecks they'll secure after graduation, and hook-ups they make before it, cadets have a rigorous regimented existence in class and out, and they know they will assume command of 30 men and women when it's over, probably in a hot zone. The prospect throws them into hard questions of life and death, duty and sacrifice, courage and leadership, and they probe great works to figure them out. Samet's chapters ramble from episode to episode, sprinkling reflections on the war on terror, Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, and her own frequent place as "the Only Woman in the Room" (a chapter title), but the plebe readers are what hold the book together. All of them, Samet included, "feel a palpable pressure to consider every moment's practical and moral weight." The pressure magnifies the import of Macbeth contemplating the murder of Duncan, Penelope waiting for her husband, Stevens's "Oh! Blessed rage for order"--Samet doesn't have to convince them to respect Shakespeare, Homer, and the rest. The war has done that already. To anyone who teaches English elsewhere, the enthusiasm is wondrous. . . . Read the rest here:

Fitzpatrick, Michael. "Was Jesus a Revolutionary? [Review of Eagleton on the Gospels]." SPIKED REVIEW OF BOOKS 8 (2007).

‘Was Jesus a revolutionary?’ asks Terry Eagleton in the opening sentence of his introduction to the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (1). Not according to Pope Benedict XVI. In his recent encyclical Spe Salvi Facti Sumus (‘In Hope We Are Saved’), he declares haughtily that ‘Jesus was not Spartacus’, whose ‘ill-fated’ struggle ‘led to so much bloodshed’ (the responsibility of the Roman authorities for the savage suppression of the legendary slave revolt is entirely ignored by Benedict). . . . Read the whole review here:

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

An Interesting Interview with Beatrice Longuenesse, THE DUALIST (2006).

Longuenesse's philosophical work, drawing on concepts from both 'analytic' and 'continental' traditions, has focused on Kant, Hegel, and the concepts of subject, self, and personal identity. She has most recently published Kant on the Human Standpoint (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005), and her Hegel’s Critique of Metaphysics is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. To read the interview, please visit:


Check out the reviews here: and here:;jsessionid=Q5RM3J0522HJ5QFIQMGSFGGAVCBQWIV0?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/arts/2007/12/20/boree116.xml.

Wasserstein, Bernard. "Oxford's Poetry Revolution." PROSPECT MAGAZINE 142 (January 2008).

Occasionally an event, in itself trivial, captures the essence of a historical moment: the Boston tea party, the first performance of The Rite of Spring, the incarceration of Paris Hilton. In England, such episodes often take place in Oxford: John Henry Newman’s passage from Anglicanism to Rome in the 1840s; the king and country debate at the Union in 1933; the dons’ rejection of Margaret Thatcher for an honorary degree in 1985. The non-election of Yevgeny Yevtushenko as professor of poetry in Oxford in 1968 was one such incident that somehow fused the cultural switchboard of its time. As I played a minor part in stage managing this mixture of opera buffo and grand guignol, it falls to me to act as—an admittedly prejudiced—recording angel. Yevtushenko’s candidacy was my idea. A history undergraduate at the time, I had read a little of his poetry in translation and also his Precocious Autobiography. He struck me as a raw, individualist voice speaking boldly from within the confines of a conformist society. Some of the lines buzzed in my head. But I confess that my main motive for initiating his candidacy was political, though at the time I strenuously denied it to my fellow campaigners, to the press—and to myself. . . . Read the rest here:

Jeffries, Stuart. "Enemies of Thought." GUARDIAN December 21, 2007.

Another academic spat or, so you thought Eagleton v. Amis was awful. . . .
It is probably the most negative book review ever written. Or if there is a worse one, do let me know. "This book runs the full gamut from the mediocre to the ludicrous to the merely bad," begins Colin McGinn's review of On Consciousness by Ted Honderich. "It is painful to read, poorly thought out, and uninformed. It is also radically inconsistent." The ending isn't much better: "Is there anything of merit in On Consciousness? Honderich does occasionally show glimmers of understanding that the problem of consciousness is difficult and that most of our ideas about it fall short of the mark. His instincts, at least, are not always wrong. It is a pity that his own efforts here are so shoddy, inept, and disastrous (to use a term he is fond of applying to the views of others)." And in the middle, there is nothing to cheer the book's author. Honderich's book is, according to McGinn, sly, woefully uninformed, preposterous, easily refuted, unsophisticated, uncomprehending, banal, pointless, excruciating. What does the man on the receiving end think of this review? "It is a cold, calculated attempt to murder a philosopher's reputation," says Honderich. The review has reignited a feud between the two philosophers that shows how bitter, unforgiving and (to outsiders) unwittingly hilarious academic disputes can be. It certainly makes the bear pit that is journalism seem like sunshine and lollipops by comparison. McGinn is unrepentant. When I ring him in Miami to find out if there is any chance of a rapprochement, he tells me: "It's not like you're hitting someone over the head with a hammer. Ted is not very good at philosophy. That's the problem." So probably not. . . .
Read the rest here:,,2230842,00.html. To read the cause of the hullaballoo (McGinn's review) and Honderich's response, please go to:

Friday, December 21, 2007


Analytic Philosophy:

Early Modern Philosophy:

Overbye, Dennis. "Laws of Nature, Source Unknown." NEW YORK TIMES December 18, 2007.

Yes, it’s a lawful universe. But what kind of laws are these, anyway, that might be inscribed on a T-shirt but apparently not on any stone tablet that we have ever been able to find? Are they merely fancy bookkeeping, a way of organizing facts about the world? Do they govern nature or just describe it? And does it matter that we don’t know and that most scientists don’t seem to know or care where they come from? Apparently it does matter, judging from the reaction to a recent article by Paul Davies, a cosmologist at Arizona State University and author of popular science books, on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times. Dr. Davies asserted in the article that science, not unlike religion, rested on faith, not in God but in the idea of an orderly universe. Without that presumption a scientist could not function. His argument provoked an avalanche of blog commentary, articles on and letters to The Times, pointing out that the order we perceive in nature has been explored and tested for more than 2,000 years by observation and experimentation. That order is precisely the hypothesis that the scientific enterprise is engaged in testing. David J. Gross, director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, Calif., and co-winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, told me in an e-mail message, “I have more confidence in the methods of science, based on the amazing record of science and its ability over the centuries to answer unanswerable questions, than I do in the methods of faith (what are they?).” Reached by e-mail, Dr. Davies acknowledged that his mailbox was “overflowing with vitriol,” but said he had been misunderstood. What he had wanted to challenge, he said, was not the existence of laws, but the conventional thinking about their source. There is in fact a kind of chicken-and-egg problem with the universe and its laws. Which “came” first — the laws or the universe? . . .

Tallis, Raymond. "Parmenides." PROSPECT MAGAZINE 142 (January 2008).

Alfred North Whitehead famously described the European philosophical tradition as "a series of footnotes to Plato." Whether or not this is fair to the thinkers that followed Plato, it is a gross injustice to those that preceded him. Pre-eminent among these was Parmenides. Elizabeth Anscombe's riposte that Plato might be regarded as "Parmenides's footnote" is not as perverse as it seems. While Plato's dialogues are among the supreme philosophical works of the western tradition, it was Parmenides who established the implicit framework of their debates.Plato acknowledged that Parmenides had "magnificent depths." But there is more to Parmenides than this: in his thought, human consciousness had a crucial encounter with itself. This was, I believe, a decisive moment in the long awakening of the human species to its own nature. From this self-encounter resulted the cognitive self-criticism, the profound critical sense that gave birth to the unfolding intellectual dramas of metaphysics and science that have in the last century or so approached an impasse. Compared with Socrates, through whom Plato ventriloquised his own thoughts in a series of dramatised dialogues, Parmenides remains a shadowy figure. Pretty well all we know of him is that he was a handsome patrician, born in Elea in southern Italy "of a rich and honourable race" (in Hegel's words), and that he flourished in the first part of the 5th century BC. It took another genius, Nietzsche, to make Parmenides live as a human being. . . . Read the entire article here:

"The Armchair Revolutionary: Tim Adams Interviews Terry Eagleton." GUARDIAN December 16, 2007.

Terry Eagleton, one of Britain's most abrasive public intellectuals, has added to that reputation of late through his ongoing feud with Martin Amis over Islam. And now he has written a book that sees Jesus as a Palestinian insurgent. But, after a lifetime of baiting the establishment, the academic world has had enough of him. Why would that be, asks Tim Adams. . . . Read the interview here:,,2228092,00.html.

Foucault Spring School, KU Leuven, March 17-21, 2008.

The work of Michel Foucault has gained an increasing popularity in a number of sub-disciplines of the social sciences and the humanities in general. Despite its popularity, a profound knowledge of this work often remains a weakness of many researches who focus mainly on the empirical application of this theory. To counter this issue, the Foucault Graduate School aims at creating a space which allows for an in-depth reading and discussion of a number of key texts of Michel Foucault. To accommodate this process, three leading Foucault-scholars will give a public lecture and a Master class. . . . More information here:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Kazin, Michael. "Confronting a Father's Legacy." CHRONICLE REVIEW December 21, 2007.

On Native Grounds: an Interpretation of Modern American Prose Literature made the 27-year-old Kazin a phenomenon in the English-speaking world of letters. The sprawling account of major writers from the Gilded Age through the Great Depression broke with the hermetic New Criticism then on the rise among literature professors. He framed each author's work within his or her particular environment of time, place, and sentiment while also narrating the tension between a Whitman-like ethos of democracy and a Menckenesque scorn of the foolish masses. The method, inspired by Vernon L. Parrington's Main Currents in American Thought, allowed him to evaluate Upton Sinclair and the anonymous authors of the Works Progress Administration guidebooks alongside Wharton, Dreiser, and Faulkner. The result was a saga of the national culture festooned with keen judgments and wit. Reviewers more than praised the book; they paid tribute. Trilling called it "not only a history but a moral history." Howard Mumford Jones considered it the best study ever written about the nation's literature. From Britain, Harold Laski declared that Kazin was "among the six best critical minds America has had since Emerson." . . . Read the rest here:

Crace, John. "Is Criticism Dying, or is That Just Your View?" GUARDIAN December 18, 2007.

It's tough being a serious critic in these relativist times and many thought John Carey, emeritus Merton professor of English literature at Oxford University and distinguished literary critic, who has twice chaired the Booker prize judging committee, had done for the profession completely with his 2005 book, What Good Are the Arts?, in which he argued that there are no objective aesthetic standards. Two years on, Carey stands by what he wrote. "There are only opinions," he says, "albeit some more informed than others. The idea of evaulation - what I like is better than what you like and my feelings are more important than yours - is just illogical. You cannot know the state of another person's consciousness, so you can't make those judgments. I also got taken to task for apparently suggesting that literature was different - that it responded to the rationality of criticism in a way that no other art form did. But I never said any such thing. I made it clear that my ideas on literature were mine alone, and that I was writing from a personal perspective." None of this went uncontested by other academics and one of the first out of the blocks was Justin O'Connor, chair of cultural industries at Leeds University, with a lengthy critique in the journal Critical Quarterly. "There is clearly a hierarchy of the good and not so good in the arts," he insists, "and it's established by the critics. People's everyday experience leads them to make judgments, and together we make collective judgments. Pure relativism is absurd; regardless of whether you like Ian McEwan's novels, you have to accept that his judgments on literature carry more weight, simply because he is a practitioner, engaging with writing every day. . . . Read the rest of the article here:,,2228866,00.html.

Bauerlein, Mark. "What We Owe the New Critics." CHRONICLE REVIEW December 21, 2007.

When Garrick Davis told me he had assembled an anthology of New Criticism, I reached across the table and shook his hand. Davis is the founder of the Contemporary Poetry Review (, an online magazine that covers the poetry scene inside academe and out, and he had wanted to compile a selection of essays by that loose cohort of academics from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s who had advanced a formalist study of literary language and tried to erect a discipline upon it. Davis came to literary study through Practical Criticism (I.A. Richards), Seven Types of Ambiguity (William Empson), The Well Wrought Urn (Cleanth Brooks), The Verbal Icon (W.K. Wimsatt Jr.), Language as Gesture (R.P. Blackmur), and other midcentury classics, and he remains a devotee. The New Critics taught him to focus on a poem's verbal detail -- not its historical context or political/psychological/philosophical ideas, but its metaphors, ironies, and ambiguities. In graduate school in the 90s, he never succumbed to the postmodernist insight on the impossibility of meaning and objectivity and closure, and the blandishments of various political criticisms left him cold. That makes him, of course, a throwback. For most graduate students interested in literary theory of any kind in the 80s and 90s, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, Jean-François Lyotard, Julia Kristeva, et al. were a passion. Students might have felt a thrill when they read Hegel on tragedy or Nietzsche on nihilism, but the latest thinkers had an added aura of the new. They bore the romantic air of radicalism, and if they were the revolutionaries, then their predecessors were the ancien régime, quaintly obsolete. As the literary theorist Peter Brooks put it a few years ago, "The coming to America of continental 'theory' in the 1970s created a new avant-garde of sorts — a genuine one, I think." It changed fields in the humanities so quickly and sweepingly that it joined the ranks of other great paradigm shifts in the career of thought, this one given momentous titles such as The Poststructuralist Turn. In a few short years, the whole vocabulary of criticism changed, and so did the idols. Students flocked to Cornell University, the Johns Hopkins University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Yale University to hear the most up-to-date purveyors. When the "theory turn" happened, those who didn't participate suddenly sounded old-fashioned and out of it, and younger scholars and students took the lead. They emulated the radical-reader pose, as in Wlad Godzich's introduction to the second edition of Paul de Man's Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism: "Caution! Reader at Work!" They savored the breathless, adventuresome phrasings of Derrida's Of Grammatology, absorbed the transvaluation of bourgeois values in Foucault's Discipline and Punish, and overlaid their own prose with melodrama and historic import (proclaiming about "criticism in crisis," "ideological unmasking," "the posthuman," etc.). And the more disciples credited grand theorists with breakthrough insight and radical rethinking, the more the New Critics faded into the past. . . . Read the entire review here:

Hauerwas, Stanley. "The Virtues of Alasdair MacIntyre." FIRST THINGS (October 2007).

Born in Scotland in 1929, MacIntyre began teaching at Manchester University in 1951. He came to the United States in 1969 to teach at Brandeis University, and he has held in the years since a large number of academic appointments, including stints at Boston University, Wellesley, Vanderbilt, Yale, Duke, and Notre Dame. His books began with Marxism: An Interpretation in 1953 and have continued in a steady flow, including The Unconscious: A Conceptual Analysis in 1958, A Short History of Ethics in 1966, Herbert Marcuse: An Exposition and a Polemic in 1970, After Virtue in 1981, Whose Justice? Which Rationality? in 1988, Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry in 1990, and Edith Stein in 2005. After Virtue remains MacIntyre’s most widely discussed book, and a third edition has just been published in celebration of its twenty-fifth anniversary. We are also fortunate to have two recent volumes of his selected articles published by Cambridge University Press: The Tasks of Philosophy and Ethics and Politics. These essays are crucial for any assessment of MacIntyre’s position: Arguments and observations he makes in his books were often first developed in articles, and defended later in other articles, not widely available. The constructive character of MacIntyre’s work is apparent in his understanding of the philosophical task. A philosopher, he insists, should try to express the concepts embedded in the practices of our lives in order to help us live morally worthy lives. The professionalization of philosophy into a technical field—what might be called the academic captivity of philosophy—reflects (and serves to legitimate) the compartmentalization of the advanced capitalistic social orders that produce our culture of experts, those strange creatures of authority in modernity. General dismissals of MacIntyre too often rest on a fundamental failure to understand the interconnected character of his work. His criticisms of modernity are often thought to reflect a nostalgic and unjustified preference for the Middle Ages. MacIntyre sometimes cannot resist wickedly confirming his critics’ prejudices about his work, but those who refuse to take MacIntyre seriously because they think him antimodern fail to understand the fundamental philosophical arguments that shape his position. A focus on his accounts of action and practical reason reveals that his fundamental perspective has been remarkably consistent. . . . Read the whole article here:

Vargas Llosa, Mario. "The Paradoxes of Latin America." AMERICAN INTEREST 3.3 (2008).

What does it mean to feel you are Latin American? It means being aware that the territorial boundaries dividing our nations are artificial, imposed arbitrarily during the colonial years. And neither our leaders during the emancipation period nor the republican governments that followed bothered to correct that situation. In fact, they often worsened things by further separating and isolating societies whose commonalities were deeper than their petty differences. This balkanization of Latin America, unlike what took place in North America, where the Thirteen Colonies became the United States, has been one of the conspicuous factors in our underdevelopment. It has engendered nationalism, war and conflict, bleeding our nations and wasting natural resources that could have been used for modernization and progress. Only in the cultural arena was Latin American integration a reality, the result of experience and necessity—everyone who writes, composes, paints or practices any creative endeavor discovers that what unites us is more important than what separates us. In other areas—politics and economics, especially—attempts to unify governmental actions and markets have always been thwarted by the nationalist reflexes ingrained in the continent. That is why all of the plans conceived to unite the region have failed. . . . Read the rest here:

Kirsch, Adam. "Between Liberalism and Leftism: a Review of Michael Walzer's THINKING POLITICALLY." NEW YORK SUN December 12, 2007.

"I don't think that I ever managed real philosophy," Michael Walzer says in the interview that forms the last chapter of Thinking Politically (Yale University Press, 333 pages, $30), the stimulating new collection of his essays. This may sound like false modesty coming from Mr. Walzer, who is one of America's leading political philosophers. But in fact, by forswearing the name of philosopher, he is merely trying to give a more precise definition of the kind of thinking he does. "I couldn't breathe easily at the high level of abstraction that philosophy seemed to require," he explains. "I quickly got impatient with the playful extension of hypothetical cases, moving farther and farther away from the world we all lived in." Mr. Walzer's essays take exactly the opposite approach: They set up camp in the midst of the world we all live in bringing the rigor of political theory to the messiness of political debate. It makes sense that Mr. Walzer is both a professor at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study and an editor of Dissent, the left-liberal journal: His theories are always also interventions. This is true of his major works — books such as Just and Unjust Wars (1977), which sought to redefine just-war theory for the post-Vietnam age, and Spheres of Justice (1983), which argues from liberal principles for a social-democratic politics. It is all the more obviously true of the essays in Thinking Politically, most of which began life as lectures and journal articles. The book offers an informal survey of the major themes of Mr. Walzer's thought, as applied to some of the major issues of the last 25 years. It is thus a good opportunity to come to grips with the strengths and the limitations of both Mr. Walzer's political principles and his way of practicing political philosophy. . . . Read the rest here:

Weiss, Michael. "The Bertrand Russell of Islam: a Review of Warraq's DEFENDING THE WEST [on ORIENTALISM]." NEW YORK SUN December 12, 2007.

. . . "Orientalism," Mr. Warraq writes, "taught an entire generation of Arabs the art of self-pity . . . encouraged the Islamic fundamentalist generation of the 1980s, and bludgeoned into silence any criticism of Islam." Though it's Mr. Warraq's plaint that the book "stopped dead the research of eminent Islamologists who felt their findings might offend Muslims' sensibilities," it is not merely an abstract charge, but personally felt. "Ibn Warraq" is an Arabic pseudonym, meaning "son of a stationer, book-seller, paper-seller," which this Indian-born writer assumed after witnessing the critical reception Islamists gave Salman Rushdie, all the while claiming themselves as victims. Said, Mr. Warraq argues, contributed to the Islamic ideology of victimization, practically inviting offense by writing, "every European, in what he could say about the Orient, was consequently a racist, an imperialist, and almost totally ethnocentric." This sentence is repeated multiple times throughout Defending the West, which otherwise might have been titled "Not In My Name." Applying the cool, thin steel of Occam to these and other follies of logic and critical analysis, Mr. Warraq asks, "If Orientalists have produced a false picture of the Orient, Orientals, Islam, Arabs, and Arabic society . . . then how could this false or pseudo-knowledge have helped European imperialists to dominate three-quarters of the globe?" . . . Read the rest here:

Howard, Jennifer. "The Literary Anthology, Revised and Excised." CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION December 21, 2007.

The first edition of the Norton Anthology of English Literature appeared in 1962. Since then, the mighty tome has gone through eight editions and introduced generations of undergraduates to the joys (or sorrows) of Chaucer, Milton, and Keats. For many, the memory of staples like "Ode on a Grecian Urn" cannot be separated from the physical fact of the Norton, its hundreds of tissue-thin pages adding up to serious canonical heft. Forty-five years later, the Norton remains the 800-pound gorilla in the classroom. But it faces vigorous and growing competition from other anthologies, notably the Longman Anthology of British Literature and the Broadview Anthology of British Literature. And, like its younger rivals, it has to figure out how to stay relevant — and marketable — in what's been called the postcanonical age, when the old literary lions fight for space with hordes of once-neglected writers. Today's anthologies must appeal to instructors faced with increasingly tough decisions — about what students in survey courses should read, how much they're willing or able to read, and what background they need to understand it in the first place. Behind all of that looms a bigger, theoretical concern. The study of world literatures in English is on the rise. How close is the day when anthologies centered on the literary output of the British Isles will have outlived their usefulness? . . .

Read the rest here:

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Summer School in Social Cognition and Social Narrative, University of San Marino, July 7-13, 2008.

A one-week interdisciplinary collegium/summer school sponsored by the European Science Foundation, on contemporary research in the area of social cognition, theory of mind, and narrative theory. This collegium is designed to bring CNCC researchers and major figures in the area of social cognition together with younger scholars, graduate students, and postdocs to discuss the role of narrative and embodied intersubjectivity. Within the framework of a week-long summer school, research presentations, discussions, and tutorial sessions will allow researchers and students to share knowledge and interact. Researchers from outside the CNCC projects, together with researchers from CNCC projects will be participating. For further information, go here:

Thursday, December 13, 2007


The Phenomenological Mind is the first book to properly introduce fundamental questions about the mind from the perspective of phenomenology. Key questions and topics covered include:
  • What is phenomenology?
  • Naturalizing phenomenology and the empirical cognitive sciences
  • Phenomenology and consciousness
  • Consciousness and self-consciousness, including perception and action
  • Time and consciousness, including William James
  • Intentionality
  • The embodied mind
  • Action
  • Knowledge of other minds
  • Situated and extended minds
  • Phenomenology and personal identity

Interesting and important examples are used throughout, including phantom limb syndrome, blindsight and self-disorders in schizophrenia, making The Phenomenological Mind an ideal introduction to key concepts in phenomenology, cognitive science and philosophy of mind.

Shaun Gallagher is Professor and Chair of Philosophy and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Central Florida and Research Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at the University of Hertfordshire. He is the author of How the Body Shapes the Mind and co-editor of Does Consciousness Cause Behavior? An Investigation of the Nature of Volition.

Dan Zahavi is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Subjectivity Research at the University of Copenhagen. He is the author of Subjectivity and Selfhood and Husserl's Phenomenology.

They jointly edit the journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences.

For further information, go to

Sawicki, Jana. "Review of Michel Foucault's ABNORMAL: LECTURES AT THE COLLEGE DE FRANCE, 1974-1975." NDPR January 3, 2005.

Foucault, Michel. Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1974-1975. Trans. Graham Burchell. London: Verso, 2003. Abnormal is the second of Foucault's lectures at the Collège de France to appear in this new series of English translations. (The French volume was published by Editions de Seuil/Gallimard in 1999 under the general editorship of Francois Ewald and Allesandro Fontana. Arnold Davidson is the general editor of the series of English translations. The first in the series is Foucault's course in 1975-1976, Society Must Be Defended.) Reading these lectures one is ever mindful of the immense archival labor and the intensity of the discipline that Foucault mustered in his counter-disciplinary work. Here again Foucault exhibits his talent for unearthing startling documents and bringing to life the figures represented in them. While many of the analyses of these documents are more suggestive and exploratory than definitive, they are suggestive enough that they are likely to stimulate further genealogical research. Indeed, this was one of their principle purposes. Furthermore, situated as they are between the publication of Discipline and Punish (February 1975) and History of Sexuality, Volume 1 (October 1976), the lectures deepen our appreciation of the books insofar as they contain more developed analyses of some of their central themes. Foucault expands on themes such as confession, the repressive hypothesis, the medicalization of the family, the emergence of psychiatry, and the sexual pervert. Moreover, the lectures also explore themes and figures that are either less central to or absent from the books--the human monster, incest, cannibalism, witchcraft, possession, and the discovery of "instinct" as pivotal to the emergence of the "abnormal individual." And although the "Foreword" by Ewald and Fontana warns against reading the lectures as "sketches for the books," it is tempting, at the very least, to read them as a preliminary formulations of ideas that would have formed the basis of the unwritten volumes that Foucault, while he was writing the first volume of the history of sexuality, imagined he would write. (A, xiii) Readers who are disappointed that Foucault never wrote the promised volumes on confessions of the flesh, hysteria, the Malthusian couple, and onanism will find that these lectures offer some compensation. . . . Read the rest of the review here:

Hearn, Mark. "Review of Foucault's SOCIETY MUST BE DEFENDED." LABOUR HISTORY 86 (2004).

Foucault, Michel. 'Society Must Be Defended': Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-1976. Trans. David Macey. London: Verso, 2003. Given his tendency to opaque deliberation, and alleged scorn, at least in the eyes of his critics, for the serious study of the past, Michel Foucault would surely have felt ambiguous about the preservation of his January–March 1976 Collège de France lecture series, Society Must Be Defended, as an historical artefact. Or perhaps not? Society Must Be Defended indicates that Foucault approached his lectures thoughtfully, and with attention to detail; he fretted over their reception. Addressed, like all lectures from the professors of the prestigious Collège, to an audience of anyone who wandered off the Paris streets and cared to hear them, Foucault's lectures presented findings from research conducted in the previous year. As reprinted in this Penguin edition (the first in a series of his annual lecture programs to be published in coming years), Foucault sought to clarify his aims in a carefully argued course summary written some months after the conclusion of the program; this displays a comforting concern to be understood from an intellectual so identified with a disturbingly radical break with traditional knowledge and methodology. . . . Foucault had in common with Isaiah Berlin an ability to draw from history obscure actors and thinkers whose experience or thought illuminates past and present in new or neglected ways (hands up all those familiar with Boulainvilliers, Sieyes, Montlosier, Buat-Nancay). With Berlin he shared a horror of totalising power and an instinctive scepticism for 'totalizing explanations'. Berlin would surely have applauded Foucault's observation that 'whether one wants it to be or not, [ideology] is always in virtual opposition to something like the truth'. Foucault, however, lacked Berlin's clarity and consistency. Foucault often seems torn between his ambitions: to provide a discrete, probing analysis of the breakdown of the totalising explanations — Marxism, psychoanalysis, the whole notion of western enlightenment — which, as he tells his audience, have been 'crumbling beneath our feet' since the 1960s; to give voice, through 'discursive critique' to the 'abnormals', the 'buried and disqualified', whose stories have been denied by those who have controlled the prevailing discourse of power and the instruments of government. Yet in the lectures and books that poured from him from the 1960s until his death in 1984 Foucault seemed determined to try to explain everything: sexuality, governmentality, the very 'order of things', the nature of knowledge and how it may be reconfigured. Society Must Be Defended records this intensely creative and frustrated process. . . . Read the rest here:

Butler, Nick. "The Management of Populations: Review of Foucault's SECURITY, TERRITORY, POPULATION." EPHEMERA 7.3 (2007): 475-480.

Foucault, Michel. Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977-78. Trans. G. Burchell. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. The ongoing publication of the entire set of lecture courses which Foucault gave between 1971 and 1984 at the Collège de France have so far proved to be essential companions to his better known works. Security, Territory, Population – the fifth installment in a total series of thirteen, covering the period from January to April 1978 – is no exception. It provides a compelling glimpse into Foucault’s research at a time when his intellectual interests were shifting in dramatic ways. One of the most significant changes to his work concerns the long-planned History of Sexuality project, which was put on indefinite hold after the publication of the first volume (The Will to Knowledge) in 1976. The project underwent successive revisions before volume two (The Use of Pleasure) and volume three (The Care of the Self) eventually emerged together in 1984. These adjustments to the direction of Foucault’s research are very much apparent in the present lecture series, and for this reason Security, Territory, Population – as a work-in-progress – sheds a great deal of light on the development of his thought during this period. . . . For the rest of the review, please go to:

Godelek, Kamuran. "Review of Michel Foucault's PSYCHIATRIC POWER." METAPSYCHOLOGY ONLINE REVIEWS November 27, 2007.

Foucault, Michel. Psychiatric Power: Lectures at the College de France, 1973-1974. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. Michel Foucault taught seminars at the College de France from January 1971 until his death in June 1984 under the title "The History of Systems of Thought". This edition based on the words delivered in public by Foucault covers the period between November 1973 and February 1974. Even though both his books and courses share certain themes, the lectures arise from a specific discursive regime within the set of Foucault's philosophical activities. In these lectures he sets out the program for a genealogy of psychiatry, of its characteristic knowledge/power relations. Thus, Psychiatric Power pursues the history started with Madness and Civilization which undertook the archaeology of the division between the insane and the sane in Western society. In order to give an account of this form of psychiatric and medical knowledge about madness, one must start with an analysis of the apparatuses and the techniques of power that organized the treatment of the mad in the period that spans from Philippe Pinel to Jean-Martin Charcot. Psychiatry is not born as a consequence of progress in the knowledge of madness but from the disciplinary apparatuses within which the regime imposed on madness is organized. From this point of view, Psychiatric Power continues the project of a history of human sciences. . . . Read the entire review here:

Gladwell, Malcolm. "None of the Above: What IQ doesn't Tell You about Race." NEW YORKER December 17, 2007.

One Saturday in November of 1984, James Flynn, a social scientist at the University of Otago, in New Zealand, received a large package in the mail. It was from a colleague in Utrecht, and it contained the results of I.Q. tests given to two generations of Dutch eighteen-year-olds. When Flynn looked through the data, he found something puzzling. The Dutch eighteen-year-olds from the nineteen-eighties scored better than those who took the same tests in the nineteen-fifties—and not just slightly better, much better. Curious, Flynn sent out some letters. He collected intelligence-test results from Europe, from North America, from Asia, and from the developing world, until he had data for almost thirty countries. In every case, the story was pretty much the same. I.Q.s around the world appeared to be rising by 0.3 points per year, or three points per decade, for as far back as the tests had been administered. For some reason, human beings seemed to be getting smarter. Flynn has been writing about the implications of his findings—now known as the Flynn effect—for almost twenty-five years. His books consist of a series of plainly stated statistical observations, in support of deceptively modest conclusions, and the evidence in support of his original observation is now so overwhelming that the Flynn effect has moved from theory to fact. What remains uncertain is how to make sense of the Flynn effect. If an American born in the nineteen-thirties has an I.Q. of 100, the Flynn effect says that his children will have I.Q.s of 108, and his grandchildren I.Q.s of close to 120—more than a standard deviation higher. If we work in the opposite direction, the typical teen-ager of today, with an I.Q. of 100, would have had grandparents with average I.Q.s of 82—seemingly below the threshold necessary to graduate from high school. And, if we go back even farther, the Flynn effect puts the average I.Q.s of the schoolchildren of 1900 at around 70, which is to suggest, bizarrely, that a century ago the United States was populated largely by people who today would be considered mentally retarded. . . . Read the whole article here: (Thanks to Egberto Almenas for this and related links.)

McWhorter, Ladelle. "Review of Cressida J. Heyes' SELF-STRANSFORMATIONS: FOUCAULT, ETHICS, AND NORMALISED BODIES." NDPR December 8, 2007.

Heyes, Cressida J. Self-Transformations: Foucault, Ethics, and Normalized Bodies. Oxford: OUP, 2007. Deeply informed by both contemporary feminist theory and Michel Foucault's genealogical method and analytics of power, Cressida Heyes' Self-Transformations presents an extended consideration of a set of bodily practices that are increasingly common in North America, namely, sex reassignment surgeries and related sex-transformational regimes, dieting for the purpose of weight-loss, and cosmetic surgeries such as face-lift, liposuction, gastric bypass, and rhinoplasty. The book's discussion of these practices is interesting, nuanced, and politically sensitive. Heyes does an excellent job of reviewing the academic debates surrounding them and explicating the objections that many feminist social critics have made to them. But she doesn't stop there. She also critically, yet sympathetically, examines the claims and reports of those who take up these techniques and technologies and use them in their own projects of self-transformation. And she even goes so far as to take up one such practice herself, enrolling for a ten-month stint in Weight Watchers. Her descriptions in every case are vivid and compelling, and her prose is clear and honest, as well as often quietly amusing. Despite the book's straightforward tone, concrete examples, and relatively simple style, however, its thesis and themes are importantly complex. Its central issue is not whether these various techniques for altering the human body are repressive or, on the contrary, self-expressive; the central issue is not whether feminists should endorse these practices or condemn them and have them outlawed. In this book, detached moral judgment is displaced, and a different kind of ethical discourse comes to the fore. Heyes is concerned about normalization and the foreclosure of freedom it portends, and she is clear and adamant that these practices are normalizing, sometimes in the extreme. But as a student of Foucault she rejects both a sovereign account of selfhood and the notion that power is external to selves and primarily prohibitive, and thus she resists the feminist temptation to see trans men and women, recidivist dieters, and candidates for cosmetic surgery as mere dupes or victims of the normalizing sexist ideologies and institutions that they at times recite and inhabit. . . . Read the rest here:

CFP: "Literature and Law: a Celebration," John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, April 11, 2008.

This conference aims to bring scholars of literature and law into an interdisciplinary setting to share the fruits of their research and scholarship. The conference celebrates the restoration of John Jay's English major with its unique literature and law emphasis. The conference's keynote speaker is Brook Thomas, a noted literature and law scholar and Chancellor's Professor at the University of California Irvine. His most recent book, just published by UNC Press, is Civic Myths: A Law-and-Literature Approach to Citizenship. We are in negotiations with the journal Law and Literature to publish full versions of the best of the papers presented atthe conference in a special symposium issue.We invite papers dealing with any aspect of literature and law, including papers which might address some of the following:

  • Convict narratives
  • Treason
  • Mercy and equity
  • The reasonable man/person standard
  • Natural, divine, and positive law
  • Legal standards and presumptions
  • Fictional evidence
  • Proportionality and punishment
  • Fairness versus equality
  • Reasonable Doubt
  • Lady Justice
  • Blasphemy and censorship
  • The legal fiction of an era

Please submit abstracts (250 words or less) to Andrew Majeske,, by Friday, January 18, 2008.

Further information may be found here:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Gillespie, Nick. "Who's Afraid of the MLA?" TCS DAILY December 27, 2007.

No academic conference draws more smirks and bitch-slaps than the annual Modern Language Association convention. Held every December 27-30, the MLA convention pulls together upwards of 10,000 literary scholars ranging in status from rock-star professors feeling the love of their intellectual acolytes to starving, hysterical grad students desperate for any position in a perennially tight job market. This year's meeting, which is taking place in Washington, D.C., features almost 800 panels and presentations, ranging from Tuesday's "Women and Devotional Writing in Early Middle English" (the first literature panel listed in a program as thick as a phone book) to Friday's finale, "Gypsies in European Literature, Culture, and the Arts." In between are meetings of groups devoted to Andre Gide, Margaret Fuller, William Carlos Williams, and seemingly every other author with more than a haiku to his name; endless job interviews in which those nervous grad students throw off more flop sweat than Thomas Jefferson contemplating a just god; and, not uncoincidentally, more cash bars than there are in heaven (or at least Brooklyn). Despite its preeminence within academic literary and cultural studies, the MLA convention is the Rodney Dangerfield of such confabs, getting little or no respect not just from right-wingers who reliably scoff at the unmistakable left-wing bent to the proceedings but from liberal mainstream media who eye the jargon-choked pronouncements of the professoriate with equal helpings of disdain, derision, and dismissiveness. . . . To read the rest of this article, go to; For part 2, go to; For part 3, go to

Dowling, William C. "Literary Studies versus Cultural Studies." CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION September 17, 1999.

The essential distinction is very simple. Literary studies takes the literary work as its object of inquiry. Whatever is not literary studies does not. Thus, a literary-studies teacher takes Hamlet to be a self-contained world of motive and action whose immense complexity is the subject of discussion with students. Many other things may be discussed in elucidating this world -- Renaissance cosmology, social history, theology, alchemy, etc. -- but they exist for the purpose of understanding Hamlet, not the other way around. Cultural studies, on the other hand . . . does not take Hamlet, or any other literary work, as its object of inquiry. [Cultural studies scholars like] Ms. Felski clearly thinks she's making a decisive point when she talks admiringly about "the multileveled meanings of black hairstyles" as a shining example of the sort of thing about which American critics of cultural studies need to be more aware. But she's missing the point. The point is that American universities are so structured that they already have departments -- anthropology, sociology, history, communications -- that study the sort of thing she's interested in. The problem with cultural studies is that, like a parasite flourishing at the expense of its host, it has left the study of literary works and literary tradition in a desperately enfeebled condition, with most younger English-department faculty members incompetent to do so much as help students learn how to read a lyric by Donne or Wyatt, let alone Hamlet or Paradise Lost. . . . Read the rest here:

Delblanco, Andrew. "The Decline and Fall of Literature." NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS November 4, 1999.

Although the following, somewhat dated article targets 'English' per se, Delblanco really seems to have in mind what many call today 'Cultural Studies' which, admittedly, has in many cases come to dominate literature departments:
A couple of years ago, in an article explaining how funds for faculty positions are allocated in American universities, the provost of the University of California at Berkeley offered some frank advice to department chairs, whose job partly consists of lobbying for a share of the budget. "On every campus," she wrote, "there is one department whose name need only be mentioned to make people laugh; you don't want that department to be yours." The provost, Carol Christ (who retains her faculty position as a literature professor), does not name the offender—but everyone knows that if you want to locate the laughingstock on your local campus these days, your best bet is to stop by the English department. The laughter, moreover, is not confined to campuses. It has become a holiday ritual for The New York Times to run a derisory article in deadpan Times style about the annual convention of the Modern Language Association, where thousands of English professors assemble just before the new year. Lately it has become impossible to say with confidence whether such topics as "Eat Me; Captain Cook and the Ingestion of the Other" or "The Semiotics of Sinatra" are parodies of what goes on there or serious presentations by credentialed scholars. At one recent English lecture, the speaker discussed a pornographic "performance artist" who, for a small surcharge to the price of admission to her stage show, distributes flashlights to anyone in the audience wishing to give her a speculum exam. By looking down at the mirror at just the right angle, she is able, she says, to see her own cervix reflected in the pupil of the beholder, and thereby (according to the lecturer) to fulfill the old Romantic dream of eradicating the distinction between perceiver and perceived. The lecturer had a winning phrase—"the invaginated eyeball"—for this accomplishment. During the discussion that followed, a consensus emerged that, in light of the optical trick, standard accounts (Erwin Panofsky's was mentioned) of perspective as a constitutive element in Western visual consciousness need to be revised. . . .
Thanks to Ed Brandon for sending the link (

Metcalf, Stephen. "Dissecting the IQ Debate: a Response to Liberal Creationism." SLATE December 3, 2007.

In response to James Watson's remarks concerning the intelligence of blacks, Slate's William Saletan wrote a series of pieces on race, IQ, and genetics. In his first post, Saletan wrote: "It's time to prepare for the possibility that equality of intelligence, in the sense of racial averages on tests, will turn out not to be true." One's to-do list reflects a balance of perceived likelihoods. Is preparing for the congenital mental inferiority of blacks more like budgeting for retirement, or buying asteroid insurance? Caveats and wiggle words aside, the impression left by Saletan's piece is that it's more like, say, a prudent response to rising sea levels. To drive the point home, Saletan suggested a historical parallel: Liberals made angry or defensive by the possibility that blacks (as a group) score lower on IQ tests than whites (as a group) for genetic reasons are like Christians made angry or defensive by the theory of evolution. Thus the headline "Liberal Creationism." Saletan's analogy implies that the conflict over race, intelligence, and genetics is a conflict between science and superstition. It's not; it's a conflict between science and science. Worse, even when Saletan shades his rhetoric carefully, the reader is left with the impression that science—hard, empirical disinterested science—is trending to a hereditarian explanation for the IQ gap, and that bad or weak science—really a kind of wishful, mushy, quasi-superstitious scientism—is on the side of an environmental or cultural explanation. If you explore the subject in any depth, or even just click through to some of Saletan's own links, you find the opposite is closer to the truth. . . . Read the rest here:

Hannay, Alastair. "Review of Mooney, Edward F. ON SOREN KIERKEGAARD: DIALOGUE, POLEMICS, LOST INTIMACY, AND TIME." NDPR December 7, 2007.

In his Preface Edward Mooney defines the space of On Søren Kierkegaard as one where 'theology and philosophy, literature and ethics, poetry and sculpture, artistry and sacrament can mingle, affording mutual attractions and inter-animations'. When so much Kierkegaard commentary and discussion is generated by partial and divided interests, this catch-all signals a refreshing return to square one. We are ushered back to a Kierkegaard in all his authorial multiplicity, but also to where Mooney thinks philosophy should begin. His book is a skillfully and richly presented case in defense of what Kierkegaard came to believe himself: that Socrates was the thinker with whom he should be most closely associated. The book is divided into three parts, the second two including revisions of previously published essays. . . . Read the full review here:

Kant Attack Ad on You Tube -- Nietzsche for President!

From The Mole, the blog of the Friedrich Nietzsche Society: (Or here:

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"The Guattari Effect: the Life and Work of Felix Guattari, 1930-1992," CRMEP, Middlesex University, April 17-18, 2008.

This 2-day international conference, organized by the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Middlesex University, will be the first devoted to the work of the French psychoanalyst, philosopher, and political activist Felix Guattari. Its primary aim will be to gauge the contemporary significance of a theorist whose status as an ‘extraordinary philosopher’ was proclaimed by his collaborator Gilles Deleuze. To that end, it will bring together 3 internationally renowned experts on Guattari (Gary Genosko, Brian Massumi, Peter Pal Pelbart) along with 7 other philosophers, psychoanalysts, historians, sociologists, anthropologists and artists, all of whom have been profoundly influenced by Guattari. The goal will be to explore the full spectrum of Guattari’s work, from his early political engagement as an activist in the French mental health system, through to his critique of Freudian-Lacanian psychoanalysis and his conception of a ‘micro-politics of desire’ (which challenged the then dominant theoretical paradigm of ‘structure’ with the concept of ‘machine’), finally considering his later elaboration of a ‘new ethico-aesthetic paradigm’, where ‘subjectivity’ was to be considered ‘from the point of view of its production’. While acknowledging the importance of Guattari’s influential collaborations with Gilles Deleuze (Anti-Oedipus, Kafka, A Thousand Plateaus, What is Philosophy?), one of the primary purposes of the conference will be to give due weight to Guattari’s own independent and highly innovative contributions to a variety of fields, including linguistics, pragmatics, aesthetics, ecology, architecture and media theory. Among the questions the conference seeks to explore are:
  • Why did Guattari turn his attention to these fields, and what did he produce in them?
  • What forms did his activism take in the 1970s and 80s, and of what relevance are they today?

Rare archival film and audio footage from these periods will be screened to accompany discussions of Guattari’s adventures in media activism.

The conference will be chaired by Professor Eric Alliez and Dr. Christian Kerslake, both of the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University. Speakers include:

  • Franco Berardi, Academy of Fine Arts, Milan 'Chaosmotic Sensibility and Ethics’
  • Dr. Gary Genosko, Lakehead University ‘Banking on Félix: Refashioning Low Threshold Semiosis Through A-Signifying Particle-Signs’
  • Professor Barbara Glowczewski, Écoles des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales ‘Passion According to Guattari: Attractors and Detractors in Anthropology’
  • Professor Monique David Ménard, Université de Paris VII Denis-Diderot ‘Guattari and “Collective Assemblages of Enunciation”’
  • Dr. Anne Querrien, Université de Paris XV-Evry Val d'Essonne ‘Mapping in an N-Dimensional Plane’
  • Professor Brian Massumi, University of Montreal ‘Always Having Been, For the First Time: Emergence and Eternality in the Work of Guattari’
  • Professor Peter Pal Pelbart, Catholic University of Sao Paolo ‘Re-founding the Unconscious upon Deterritorialization’
  • Dr. Anne Sauvagnargues, École Normale Supérieure ‘Politics of the Face’
  • Dr. Stephen Zepke, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna ‘To Remake the Readymade: Guattari and Duchamp’
  • Professor François Dosse, History, Institut Universitaire de Formations des Maitres de l’Académie de Créteil 'Guattari with Deleuze’

Further information is available here: