Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dickstein, Morris. "Fiction and Political Fact." BOOKFORUM.COM (June-August 2008).

The political novel has always been an odd hybrid of fact and fiction. One of the genre’s originators, Benjamin Disraeli, the author of Coningsby (1844), was also one of the few writers who had genuine inside knowledge of the political world. But political novels usually deal with more than the intrigues of cabinet ministers and young men on the make. The boundaries of this genre are very hard to delimit. For some critics, the political novel is precisely the kind of book Disraeli, Trollope, and Henry Adams passed on to a few modern writers like Gore Vidal in Washington, D.C., Burr, Lincoln, and 1876: a novel focused, often satirically, sometimes historically, on the machinations of the political class—the men, usually men, with their hands on the levers of power. At the other extreme, postmodern theorists like Fredric Jameson in The Political Unconscious (1981) insist that the genre has no meaning, since “everything is ‘in the last analysis’ political.” To suggest that some works are political while others are not, Jameson says, is “a symptom and a reinforcement of the reification and privatization of contemporary life.” . . . Read the rest here:

Nayar, Radhakrishnan. "A Writer's People: Ways of Looking and Feeling." TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION March 13, 2008.

Great writers can be impatient, quirky, rudely iconoclastic literary critics. It is almost a professional deformity. They achieve greatness through a stern commitment to sharply individual visions of the world and methods of description and narrative. It leads easily to the idea that those who see and describe differently have nothing to offer. With many literary lions, the thought that it takes many sorts of books to make a rich literature doesn't sit easily. No eminent writer has indulged in the favourite sport of his tribe as savagely as V. S. Naipaul. He has opined that Jane Austen's novels are little more than gossip, that E. M. Forster was just a pederast touting empty riddles, and that there was nothing to be got from the writings about Dublin of that blind man living in Trieste, James Joyce. But Naipaul is also, when he wants to be, a careful literary critic, full of startling insights. His sovereign contempt for authorities and schools is deeply refreshing. In this book of essays he is commenting on other writers - Flaubert, Anthony Powell, Evelyn Waugh, Derek Walcott, among others - but he is really telling us how he got the language and the ways of seeing that have made his books the most provocative and cruel literary analysis we have of the post-colonial situation. . . . Read the rest here:

Flatt, Molly. "Criticism's Vocabulary of Cruelty." GUARDIAN BOOKS BLOG May 19, 2008.

Literary criticism is famously red in tooth and claw. Terry Eagleton, Mary McCarthy and Dale Peck are just a few reviewers who have made their names with funny and often frankly showy cruelty. With the book market more crowded than ever before, a bracing and briny critique can be just the thing to cut through the prettily packaged chaff. As Eaves pointed out, critics are brokers, advising readers where to invest their time and money with a duty to the often less-than-lenient truth - an image that is especially appealing to bloggers, avowedly fearless mouthpieces for the common man. Moreover, in his article this week on the notoriously prickly VS Naipaul's new work of criticism, A Writer's People, Radhakrishan Nayar reminds us that a clever tongue-lash can be a defining symptom of uncompromising and idiosyncratic literary brilliance. "Great writers can be impatient, quirky, rudely iconoclastic literary critics," he says. "It is almost a professional deformity. They achieve greatness through a stern commitment to sharply individual visions of the world." . . . The likes of Eagleton and Naipaul may well be motivated by their "stern commitment" to truth. But in a society that relishes sensationalism, flippancy and, most of all, the vicious culling of tall poppies, I suspect that our funny negatives are too often motivated by laziness, egotism and commercial appeal. . . . Read the rest here:

Angier, Natalie. "New Curriculum Designed to Unite Art and Science." NEW YORK TIMES May 27, 2008.

It’s been some 50 years since the physicist-turned-novelist C.P. Snow delivered his famous “Two Cultures” lecture at the University of Cambridge, in which he decried the “gulf of mutual incomprehension,” the “hostility and dislike” that divided the world’s “natural scientists,” its chemists, engineers, physicists and biologists, from its “literary intellectuals,” a group that, by Snow’s reckoning, included pretty much everyone who wasn’t a scientist. His critique set off a frenzy of hand-wringing that continues to this day, particularly in the United States, as educators, policymakers and other observers bemoan the Balkanization of knowledge, the scientific illiteracy of the general public and the chronic academic turf wars that are all too easily lampooned. Yet a few scholars of thick dermis and pep-rally vigor believe that the cultural chasm can be bridged and the sciences and the humanities united into a powerful new discipline that would apply the strengths of both mindsets, the quantitative and qualitative, to a wide array of problems. Among the most ambitious of these exercises in fusion thinking is a program under development at Binghamton University in New York called the New Humanities Initiative. Jointly conceived by David Sloan Wilson, a professor of biology, and Leslie Heywood, a professor of English, the program is intended to build on some of the themes explored in Dr. Wilson’s evolutionary studies program, which has proved enormously popular with science and nonscience majors alike, and which he describes in the recently published Evolution for Everyone. In Dr. Wilson’s view, evolutionary biology is a discipline that, to be done right, demands a crossover approach, the capacity to think in narrative and abstract terms simultaneously, so why not use it as a template for emulsifying the two cultures generally? “There are more similarities than differences between the humanities and the sciences, and some of the stereotypes have to be altered,” Dr. Wilson said. “Darwin, for example, established his entire evolutionary theory on the basis of his observations of natural history, and most of that information was qualitative, not quantitative.” As he and Dr. Heywood envision the program, courses under the New Humanities rubric would be offered campuswide, in any number of departments, including history, literature, philosophy, sociology, law and business. The students would be introduced to basic scientific tools like statistics and experimental design and to liberal arts staples like the importance of analyzing specific texts or documents closely, identifying their animating ideas and comparing them with the texts of other times or other immortal minds. . . . Read the rest here:

Hare, David. "I am of my Tribe." GUARDIAN May 24, 2008.

Smith, Dai. Raymond Williams: a Warrior's Tale. Carmarthen: Parthian, 2008. The author of Culture and Society and The Long Revolution is now the object, it seems, more Google hits than all other New Left writers added together. But a combination of extreme personal privacy in his character and an ill-defined posthumous celebrity have conferred on him something pretty close to complete unknowability. The groups that gather in his name to discuss his ideas invoke his spirit without ever quite managing to identify his cause. A compulsive evader and non-joiner during his life - "Hello, I must be going" would have been as good a biographic title for Williams as for Groucho Marx - he has become, 20 years after his death, a fascinating spectre haunting the decline of the organised left. There is a strong feeling, in the present atmosphere of debauched intellectual panic, that if Raymond were still here, there would be somebody around who could make sense of all this. You may say, of course, that it is in the essence of all the most lasting legacies of influence that the charismatic teacher should be always more than a little evasive. Nothing dilutes influence more quickly than clarity. But Williams's case is particularly acute. With hindsight, it seems quite extraordinary that British radicals of the 1960s should have sought to answer their need for direction and leadership by turning to, of all things, a literary critic - and, what's more, one who made no claim to be notably expert in the more conventional fields of economics or history. Dai Smith's new biography concentrates exclusively on the first 40 years of his subject's life. Its special intention is to prove by the daunting extensiveness of its family research, and by its unique access to Williams's own archive, that Williams never even thought of himself as a critic, least of all one mired in the occupational spite and nastiness of the English faculty at Cambridge University. No, Raymond Williams wanted to be a playwright. He wanted to be a novelist. . . . Read the rest here:,,2281946,00.html.

Gottlieb, Anthony. "The Reach of an Ancient Greek." WALL STREET JOURNAL May 17, 2008.

Poor old Pythagoras is slipping away from us. He was always a shadowy figure in Western thought -- his followers were secretive and he himself wrote nothing, as far as we know. Even in his own time and place, the Greek cities of southern Italy in the seventh century B.C., Pythagoras was a kind of myth-magnet. Over time a large body of thought about him developed, though it was based on precious little evidence. Then, in the second half of the 20th century, Pythagoras became yet more mysterious. In 1962, the Swiss scholar Walter Burkert -- using a close reading of earliest written accounts of what Pythagoras was supposed to have said to his followers -- published a monumental debunking of the Pythagorean tradition. Fellow scholars were persuaded that what little they thought they knew about Pythagoras was probably wrong. . . .

Read the rest here:

Rasmussen, Will. "Review of David Wolfsdorf's TRIALS OF REASON." NDPR May 18, 2008.

Wolfsdorf, David. Trials of Reason: Plato and the Crafting of Philosophy. Oxford: OUP, 2008. Trials of Reason is the fruition of a decade of research and publication that Wolfsdorf draws upon to demonstrate how the fourteen 'early' or 'Socratic' dialogues that he examines are unified by a common purpose. The dialogues are the Apology, Charmides, Crito, Euthydemus, Euthyphro, Gorgias, Hippias Major, Hippias Minor, Ion, Laches, Lysis, Meno, Protagoras, and Republic I. The common purpose is Plato's 'legitimizing' portrayal of the motivation, practice and goal of philosophy in opposition to the enervating and pernicious influence of 'antiphilosophy', viz. the thoughtless and sometimes self-serving acceptance of conventional views (15). Two virtues of this book continually strike the reader. The first is Wolfsdorf 's frequent references to the texts as he builds his case. The second is his discussion of and argument over so wide a range of issues that have attracted scholarly interest and debate in regard to these dialogues. . . . Read the rest here:

Rehmeyer, Julie. "Still Debating with Plato." SCIENCE NEWS April 25, 2008.

Think too hard about it, and mathematics starts to seem like a mighty queer business. For example, are new mathematical truths discovered or invented? Seems like a simple enough question, but for millennia, it has provided fodder for arguments among mathematicians and philosophers.Those who espouse discovery note that mathematical statements are true or false regardless of personal beliefs, suggesting that they have some external reality. But this leads to some odd notions. Where, exactly, do these mathematical truths exist? Can a mathematical truth really exist before anyone has ever imagined it? On the other hand, if math is invented, then why can’t a mathematician legitimately invent that 2 + 2 = 5? . . . Plato is the standard-bearer for the believers in discovery. The Platonic notion is that mathematics is the imperturbable structure that underlies the very architecture of the universe. By following the internal logic of mathematics, a mathematician discovers timeless truths independent of human observation and free of the transient nature of physical reality. . . . But if the mathematical ideas are out there, waiting to be found, then somehow a purely abstract notion has to have existence even when no human being has ever conceived of it. Because of this, Mazur describes the Platonic view as “a full-fledged theistic position.” It doesn’t require a God in any traditional sense, but it does require “structures of pure idea and pure being,” he says. Defending such a position requires “abandoning the arsenal of rationality and relying on the resources of the prophets.” . . .

Read the whole article here:

PUB: James, Michael. "Race." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY May 28, 2008.

The concept of race signifies the grouping of individual humans by some set of perceived physical characteristics, often called “phenotypes,” which are thought to be inherited through some blood-born factor. Which specific set of perceived, shared physical characteristics constitute a race varies historically, geographically, socially, and politically. Indeed, there is no biological or genetic foundation for the grouping of individual humans into a racial group. Instead, humans themselves choose (consciously or unconsciously) which physical characteristics constitute a racial group. Consequently, racial groups are presently thought to be social constructions, or a category created not by biological nature but by human invention. However, from its origins in the early modern era until the twentieth century, race was not considered a social construction but a real, biological distinction transmitted from one generation to the next. Thus, racial identity was thought to be something fixed and imposed genetically. As a result of this biological conception, racial groupings are typically thought of as discrete, meaning that the boundaries between them are determinate. Where one racial group ends, a distinct other racial group begins. If human phenotypes are simply considered to be gradual variations in things like skin color, hair texture, or bone structure, then one cannot really speak of distinct human races. Rather, such differences would simply reflect variations in physical traits, such as the variation between very straight versus very curly hair. To speak of race, then, requires classifying humans into discrete groupings based upon a set of putatively inherited physical characteristics. Note that the discrete character of racial groups holds even when we speak of “mixed race” people, since this term implies that a “mixed” individual has ancestry from two or more discrete racial groups. Determining the boundaries of discrete races has proven to be the most vexing problems for those thinkers who sought to classify humans according to race, and led to great variations in the number of human races believed to be in existence. Thus, some thinkers categorized humans into only four distinct races (typically white or Caucasian, black or African, yellow or Asian, and red or Native American), and downplayed any phenotypical distinctions within racial groups (such as those between Scandavians and Spaniards within the white or Caucasian race). Other thinkers, drawing boundaries around different physical traits, classified humans into many more racial categories, for instance arguing that those humans “indigenous” to Europe could be distinguished into discrete Nordic, Alpine, and Mediterranean races. The ambiguities and confusion associated with determining the boundaries of discrete racial categories has over time provoked a widespread scholarly consensus that that race is socially constructed, while advances in the understanding of human genetics has undermined scholarly belief in the biological foundations of discrete races. However, significant scholarly debate persists regarding the relationship between racial groupings and social or political processes. For instance, some scholars suggest that race is inconceivable without racialized social hierarchies, such that racial identities are always organized so that some races are portrayed as superior while others are inferior. In addition, scholars dispute whether racial categories are defined only by members of superior racialized groups or whether subordinate groups themselves contribute to and maintain racial categorization. Finally, there is some controversy as to whether some real genetic differences may validly be used to categorize individual humans into breeding populations, even though these categorizations do not fit the socially constructed racial groups that may be recognized within any given society. . . . Read the rest here:

First Nordic Pragmatism Conference in Science, Religion and Politics, Nordic Pragmatism Network, University of Helsinki, July 2-4, 2008.

Philosophical pragmatism has aroused renewed interest among philosophers over the past few decades. Its philosophical outlook, which for a long time was regarded either as methodologically weaker than analytic philosophy or as less interesting than various post-structuralist and 'postmodern' approaches, is now an almost natural starting point for researchers in the humanities and social sciences. Pragmatism has in recent years attracted a number of Nordic philosophers who are currently working in different fields within philosophy and related subjects. The first Nordic Pragmatism Conference will, for the first time, bring these Nordic philosophers together with both one another and prominent American and European scholars of pragmatism. Its aim is to create a context for further contacts and cooperation among philosophers working on pragmatism both in the Nordic countries and elsewhere. The theme of the conference is the general question concerning both the critical and constructive influence of pragmatism in science, religion, and politics. This allows for a broad and diverse philosophical questioning and discussion between philosophers from different backgrounds and fields of investigation. In addition, attention will be given to the influence of pragmatist philosophy in the Nordic countries. Further information is here:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

PUB: HISTORY AND THEORY February and May (2008).

The February issue ( contains an article by Kevin Thompson entitled "Historicity and Transcendality: Foucault, Cavaillès, and the Phenomenology of the Concept." One would have thought that there was not much new to say about Foucault’s historical methodology but Thompson disabuses us of this thought by exploring a neglected inspiration for Foucault—phenomenology—and by showing how this gave Foucault a way to articulate a method that is at once transcendental and historical. If you’re interested in Foucault you’ll learn something important from this well-written essay. The issue also contains two Forums: one on Historical Explanation, edited by David Carr, and the second on Dipesh Chakrabarty’s important book, Provincializing Europe. Forum on Historical Explanation:
  • David Carr, "Narrative Explanation and Its Malcontents"
  • Karsten R. Stueber, "Reasons, Generalizations, Empathy, and Narratives: The Epistemic Structure of Action Explanation"
  • Tor Egil Førland, "Mentality as a Social Emergent: Can the Zeitgeist Have Explanatory Power?"
  • Paul A. Roth, "Three Dogmas (More or Less) of Explanation"

Forum on Provincializing Europe:

  • Carola Dietze, "Toward a History on Equal Terms: a Discussion of Provincializing Europe"
  • Dipesh Chakrabarty, In Defense of Provincializing Europe: a Response to Carola Dietze"

The issue also contains four review essays:

  • David D. Roberts on Donald R. Kelley, Frontiers of History: Historical Inquiry in the Twentieth Century
  • Virginia H. Aksan on Gabriel Piterberg, An Ottoman Tragedy: History and Historiography at Play
  • Daniel P. Tompkins on Mohammad Nafissi, Ancient Athens and Modern Ideology: Value, Theory and Evidence in Historical Sciences: Max Weber, Karl Polanyi and Moses Finley
  • Tyler Stovall on Peter Fritzsche, Stranded in the Present: Modern Time and the Melancholy of History

The May 2008 issue ( contains four articles: Berber Bevernage, "Time, Presence, and Historical Injustice," examines the metaphysics of time with an eye to undermining the dichotomy of present/absent in both historiography and in questions regarding historical justice. This essay is a definite mind-expander that certainly got me to rethink some fundamental categories of my thought. Two articles about explanation in history, both of which mine the pragmatic tradition, follow. The first is Jeroen Van Bouwel and Erik Weber, "A Pragmatist Defense of Non-Relativistic Explanatory Pluralism in History and Social Science," a rigorously argued essay in favor of what it calls "non-relativistic explanatory pluralism" in history and the social sciences, a pluralism that allows for a continuing role for structural, functional, and intentional explanations in these disciplines. The second is by Carl Hammer, "Explication, Explanation, and History," an innovative approach that relies on what it calls "pragmatic explication" as a way to understand what it means to explain events in history—and in a way that shows just how explanation in history relates to explanation in the natural sciences. The last article is by Eileen Ka-May Cheng; it is entitled "Exceptional History? The Origins of Historiography in the United States." This very well-written essay offers a different reading of the emergence of historiography in the U. S during the period from 1890 to the 1930s than is standard—a reading that is far more nuanced and persuasive than anything to date. But the essay is of particular interest to readers of H&T because it shows how historical writing can be both the product of its context, while still insisting on a commitment to objectivity. It turns out that the tension between the ideal of objectivity and the recognition of the perspectival nature of history was something that historians were aware of early on, and that their reflections about this tension were more sophisticated than heretofore thought. The issue also contains a long review article by Gregory S. Brown, "Am ‘I’ a ‘Post-Revolutionary Self’? Historiography of the Self in the Age of Enlightenment and Revolution," which discusses the following books: The Post-Revolutionary Self: Politics and Psyche in France, 1750– 1850, by Jan Goldstein; The Idea of the Self: Thought and Experience in Western Europe since the Seventeenth Century, by Jerrold Seigel; The Making of the Modern Self: Identity and Culture in Eighteenth- Century England, by Dror Wahrman; The New Biography: Performing Femininity in Nineteenth-Century France, edited by Jo Burr Margadant; and Sexing la Mode: Gender, Fashion and Commercial Culture in Old Regime France, by Jennifer Jones. The issue also includes these review essays:

  • Irmline Veit-Brause on David Carr, Thomas R. Flynn, and Rudolf A. Makkreel, eds., The Ethics of History
  • Jörn Rüsen on Finn Fuglestad, The Ambiguities of History: the Problem of Ethnocentrism in Historical Writing
  • Sanford Shieh on Michael Dummett, Truth and the Past
  • Joan W. Scott on Judith M. Bennett, History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism
  • Richard Biernacki on Charles Tilly, Why?
  • Warren Schmaus on Michel Bourdeau, Les Trois États: Science, théologie, et métaphysique chez Auguste Comte
  • William H. McNeill on Cynthia Stokes Brown, Big History: From the Big Bang to the Present

Wolin, Richard. "Geist Busted." BOOKFORUM.COM (June-August 2008).

Claussen, Detlev. Theodor W. Adorno: One Last Genius. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2008. During the 2003 Adorno centenary, something remarkable happened in Germany. The entire nation reached out to embrace this renegade Marxist philosopher in ways that were truly surprising. Throughout the country, Adorno “festivals” took place—apotheoses of the public celebrations advocated in Rousseauesque “civil religion.” In Frankfurt-am-Main, where Adorno taught and where he remains something of a legend, there is now an Adorno-Platz that features, instead of the customary bust, his writing desk, bizarrely encased in glass. A plethora of public exhibitions tracing his life and thought were mounted. Concerts featuring his musical com­­p­o­sitions—most of which resemble Vienna School pastiches—were widely staged and subsequently released on CD. Documentaries examining his intellectual itinerary and philosophical contributions suffused German television. Radio programs took note of his immense influence on postwar German politics and society. The obligatory postage stamp bearing his likeness appeared, putting him in the company of such luminaries as Immanuel Kant and Hannah Arendt. Major universities hosted ponderous colloquiums, in which professors parsed such Adorno conundrums as “Philosophy is really there to redeem what lies in an animal’s gaze.” . . . Read the rest here:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cooke, Mel. "Walcott Broadsides Naipaul." JAMAICA GLEANER May 26, 2008.

Derek Walcott landed a poetic broadside on Trinidadian novelist V.S. Naipaul as he ended his 'Chatterbox' stint at the 2008 Calabash International Literary Festival on Saturday afternoon at Jake's in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth. The Nobel laureate for literature followed an onstage interview with Kwame Dawes with poetry from his upcoming collection, White Egrets, but a lot of the sting was in the tail as he closed with 'The Mongoose'. It was quickly made clear that the beast he was referring to did not run around in literal cane piece. . . . (Thanks for the link to Carl Wade.) Read the rest here:

"Ontology and Politics," Department of Politics, Queen Mary College, University of London, June 16, 2008.

Recent work in political theory has often revolved around the question of the relation between ontology and politics . For all of their differences, Derrida, Nancy, Hardt and Negri, Deleuze, Laclau, Butler, Connolly, Zizek, Foucault, and Agamben (to name but a few) have sought to question the foundations of political thought, and also philosophy's relation to the political conditions within which it arises. While politics can no longer lay claim to secure grounds, the gesture of rethinking ontology cannot be separated or abstracted from the society in which it arises. The relation between ontology and politics is consequently a crucial question for both philosophy and politics . This workshop aims to explore the intersections of politics and ontology and the resulting implications for thinking the political and the philosophical. Programme: 9:00am Registration 9:30am Panel 1: Delimiting the Absent Grounds of the Political:
  • Kevin Inston (University College London): "Representing the Unrepresentable: Rousseau's Legislator and the Impossible Object of the People."
  • Alexandros Kioupkiolis (University of Cyprus): "Keeping It Open: Ontology, Ethics, Knowledge and Radical Democracy."
  • Gerald Moore (Université Paris XII): "To Have Done with The End of Sacrifice."

11:10am Coffee/Tea Break

11:30 Panel 2: The Political Subject Between Immanence and Transcendence:

  • Nemonie Craven (Queen Mary): "Je suis nécessaire à la justice. Emmanuel Levinas, from conatus to fidélité a soi."
  • Patricia Farrell (Manchester Metropolitan): "Responsibility without capability, responsibility within capability: the encounter with the Other in Levinas and Deleuze.
  • Giorgos Fourtounis (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki): "Immanence and Subjection: Foucault, Althusser and the aporia of the subject."

1:10pm Lunch Break

2:15pm Panel 3: Ontology and Engagements with Politics:

  • Ignaas Devisch & Kathleen Vandeputte (Ghent University): "Nancy and Ontological Pluralism: the Absence of a Political Program."
  • Johanna Oksala (University of Dundee): "Foucault's Politicisation of Ontology."
  • Paul Reynolds (Edge Hill): "Ontologies, Politics, Dialectics: the Ordering of Stable and Unstable Moments."

4:15pm Keynote Address:

  • Simon Critchley (New School)
  • Andrew Benjamin (Monash University)

Further information is here:

Kirsch, Adam. "Is Milton Better than Shakespeare?" NEW YORK SUN May 21, 2008.

Smith, Nigel. Is Milton Better than Shakespeare?. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2008. It would be hard to dispute that Shakespeare's plays are more powerful, and more central to our culture, than Milton's biblical epics or his artfully classical lyrics. Around the world, when people dream about true love, they think of Romeo and Juliet; when they thrill with ambition, they think of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, and so on down the list of Shakespeare's characters. Harold Bloom could even speculate, not quite in jest, that Shakespeare invented human nature, so completely does he seem to dominate our imagination of what it means to be human. Ever since Paradise Lost was published in 1667, Milton has been acclaimed as a supreme English poet, Shakespeare's only rival in linguistic mastery. Yet even at the height of his prestige, in the 18th century, Milton never inspired the kind of ardent intimacy that readers bring to Shakesepare. Nor is it simply our lazy generation, unused to reading long poems and deaf to the majesty of Milton's artifice, that has relegated Paradise Lost to the seminar room. Even Samuel Johnson, in his "Life of Milton," wrote that "Paradise Lost is one of the books which the reader admires and lays down, and forgets to take up again. None ever wished it longer than it is. Its perusal is a duty rather than a pleasure. We read Milton for instruction, retire harassed and overburdened, and look elsewhere for recreation; we desert our master, and seek for companions." . . . Read the rest here:

CFP: 17th Biennial Conference, International Society for the History of Rhetoric (ISHR), McGill University, July 22-26, 2009.

Conference Theme: "Innovative Perspective in the History of Rhetoric." The biennial conference of ISHR brings together several hundred specialists in the history of rhetoric from around thirty countries. This will be the first meeting of the Society in Canada since 1997. The Society calls for papers that focus on the theory and practice of rhetoric in its historical contexts from classical period to the present. The main theme of the conference is "Innovative Perspective in the History of Rhetoric". Over the last two decades, new fields of investigation have emerged in the research being done in the history of rhetoric – or should we say "Histories of rhetorics". New spheres of activities (religious studies, queer studies, feminist writings, etc.) as much as new geographical areas (Amerindian, Asian and African traditions, among others) have questioned the a priori of a universal and hegemonic model based on a classical and occidental definition of the history of rhetoric. Papers exploring these new trends in Western and Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas are welcomed. Papers are also invited on every aspect of the history of rhetoric in all periods and languages and the relationship of rhetoric to poetics, literary theory and criticism, philosophy, politics, law, and other elements of the cultural context. Visit the conference homepage here:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bartlett, Thomas. "The Betrayal of Judas." CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION May 30, 2008.

When the Gospel of Judas was unveiled at a news conference in April 2006, it made headlines around the world — with nearly all of those articles touting the new and improved Judas. "In Ancient Document, Judas, Minus the Betrayal," read the headline in The New York Times. The British paper The Guardian called it "a radical makeover for one of the worst reputations in history." A documentary that aired a few days later on National Geographic's cable channel also pushed the Judas-as-hero theme. The premiere attracted four million viewers, making it the second-highest-rated program in the channel's history, behind only a documentary on September 11. But almost immediately, other scholars began to take issue with the interpretation of Meyer and the rest of the National Geographic team. They didn't see a good Judas at all. In fact, this Judas seemed more evil than ever. Those early voices of dissent have since grown into a chorus, some of whom argue that National Geographic's handling of the project amounts to scholarly malpractice. It's a perfect example, critics argue, of what can happen when commercial considerations are allowed to ride roughshod over careful research. What's more, the controversy has strained friendships in this small community of religion scholars — causing some on both sides of the argument to feel, in a word, betrayed. . . . Read the rest here:

CFP: "Counterpoints: Edward Said’s Legacy," University of Ottawa and Carleton University, October 31-November 2, 2008.

This bilingual English/French colloquium celebrates the works of one of the world’s most compelling intellectuals, the Palestinian-American thinker Edward Said (November 1st 1935- September 23rd 2003), author of Orientalism, Culture and Imperialism, and Out of Place among other famous books. The colloquium revolves around the theme of 'Counterpoint,' extensively used by Said as the interplay of diverse ideas and various 'discrepant' cultural experiences. As Said writes in Culture and Imperialism: "As we look back at the cultural archive, we begin to reread it not univocally but contrapuntally, with a simultaneous awareness both of the metropolitan history that is narrated and of those other histories against which (and together with which) the dominating discourse acts.” Following Said’s legacy this colloquium envisions a polyphonic, interdisciplinary engagement from fields as broad as comparative literature, sociology, anthropology, history, postcolonial studies, Diaspora studies, musicology, and political science with a special focus on Middle Eastern politics. The organizers seek papers/ panel proposals drawing from or expanding on the following themes: • Colonialism and Imperialism: a Middle Eastern Context • Transnationalism and Reflections on Exile • Overlapping Territories and Imaginative Geographies • Language, History and the Production of Knowledge • The Arab World: States, Territories and Refugees. • Gender, Class and Orientalism • Criticism and French Philosophy • Otherness in the Arts • Representations of the Secular • Power, Politics and Truth Please send a 200 word abstract of paper/panel proposals to; deadline for paper/panel submission: July 15th, 2008. For more information please contact: or See the CFP online here:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

CFP: "The Work of Romanticism," International Conference on Romanticism, Oakland University, MI, October 16-19, 2008.

We invite participants to consider the Work of Romanticism, interpreted as broadly as possible. Thus, topics may include, but are not limited to, working (agricultural, industrial, political, social, etc.); the text as work (e.g., editions, textual variants, the text per se, etc.); (re-)productive labor; the work of Romanticists; responses to works (e.g., reception, intertextuality, etc.); literary, artistic or intellectual labor; and leisure (including idleness, indolence, vacation, travel, retirement, etc.) We welcome proposals for special sessions. Submit 250 word abstracts electronically by April 15, 2008 to Proposals for special sessions should be submitted by March 1, 2008. Contact Chris Clason ( or Rob Anderson ( for more information. The conference homepage is here:

CFP: "Aimé Césaire à l'Oeuvre," École Normale Supérieure, 8-9 Octobre, 2008.

Les contributions devront prioritairement toucher aux thèmes suivants : description ou analyse des fonds ; édition des manuscrits ; critique génétique ; problème d’établissement du texte. Elles pourront présenter soit un projet d’exploitation d’un manuscrit identifié, soit un exemple d’étude comparée de plusieurs versions d’une même œuvre dans des éditions différentes, soit encore une question de méthodologie éditoriale traitée à partir d’un cas significatif.Elles ne devront pas excéder 30 minutes. Le colloque aura lieu en français. Prière de faire parvenir par courriel un résumé de 500 mots ainsi qu’un curriculum vitae avant le 15 juillet 2008, soit à Marc Cheymol : ou à Philippe Ollé Laprune :


Table of Contents:
  • "An Answer to the Problem of Other Minds" by MARIA ANTONIETTA PERNA, 1-31 Abstract View-PDF
  • "Hegel's Guilty Conscience: Three Forms of Schuld in the Phenomenology of Spirit" by MATTHEW LYONS CONGDON, 32-55 Abstract View-PDF
  • "On the Function of the Epoche in Phenomenological Interpretations of Religion" by SAMUEL MICKEY, 56-81 Abstract View-PDF
  • "La Question du mal chez Hannah Arendt: Rupture ou continuité?" by SOPHIE CLOUTIER, 82-111 Abstract View-PDF
  • "Oikos and Economy" by GREGORY CAMERON, 112-133 Abstract View-PDF
  • "Building-in-Place" by RANDALL TEAL, 134-158 Abstract View-PDF
Download the entire issue here:

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pick, Daniel. "Analysing Adolf." TLS May 21, 2008.

Edmundson, Mark. The Death of Sigmund Freud: Fascism, Psychoanalysis and the Rise of Fundamentalism. London: Bloomsbury, 2007. Although this book focuses on the antinomies of psychoanalysis and Fascism, it also seeks to present, especially after the Anschluss, what Edmundson calls the “oddly converging lives” of the leaders of these two movements of thought. Sometimes the “convergence” is strained, with the author virtually implying (albeit to good dramatic effect), for instance, that a personal reckoning with the founder of psychoanalysis was on Hitler’s mind as he raised the diplomatic stakes in 1938: on March 14, writes Edmundson, Hitler was “heading to Vienna (and to Freud)”. The more serious and sustained concern of The Death of Sigmund Freud lies elsewhere than in personal crossed paths, and rather in the dire psychic and political processes that Nazism exploited and Freud might help us to think about. A call to obedience and total faith in authority – that of the Führer himself – were central to Nazism. This was also the terrain that Freud opened up in his account of the superego, which he set out in The Ego and the Id in 1923, and which was substantially to transform the discourse of psychoanalysis thereafter. In certain circumstances, a particular type of superego, for instance, cruel, mad and implacable, may seem to be given licence to dominate the entire psyche. Freud’s work, Edmundson passionately argues, has a very strong bearing on politics, including, but not confined to, the specific politics that bedevilled interwar Europe, even if it says little about the contingent historical factors that led to the disasters of modern German history. . . . Read the rest here:

Paparella, Emanuel L. "Richard Rorty's Unflinching Critique of Modern Western Philosophy." OVI MAGAZINE May 19, 2008.

While writing a Ph.D. dissertation at Yale University on immanence and transcendence in Giambattista Vico’s concept of Providence I serendipitously discovered the late Richard Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979). What first attracted my attention to that particular book was Rorty’s rejection of the Cartesian mind-body split with which Vico’s too begins his New Science. To be sure he had already written another important book in 1967 titled The Linguistic Turn in which he had introduced a skeptical attitude about the nature and place of philosophical enquiry while remaining within the field of analytic philosophy, but here was a courageous critique of analytic philosophy and by implication of the role and importance of traditional philosophy in modern culture. That book eventually was seen as Rorty’s most important work in which he dismisses Cartesian representationalism, the notion that the mind reflects some objective reality outside itself. Philosophy is only important for pragmatic reasons, for how useful it is in helping a culture achieve its aims. . . . Read the rest here:

Wilson, A. N. "V. S. Naipaul, Master and Monster." TLS May 21, 2008.

French, Patrick. The World is What It is: the Authorized Biography Of V. S. Naipaul. London: Picador, 2008. They met in Oxford – he an impoverished scholarship boy from Trinidad, she a girl from Birmingham. More than most writers of his generation, V. S. Naipaul’s great subjects and his life experience were inextricably linked from the beginning. Doubly cut loose, first from Asia and then from the Caribbean (his forebears had come to work as agricultural labourers in the West Indies), Naipaul chronicled better than anyone the central twentieth-century phenomenon: global deracination. His grand theme is that we have all come adrift. With his gifts of observation, intuition, insight, and his mesmeric prose style, he was born to be one of the great writers of our time. Yet few could have predicted it. And this makes his wife Pat’s belief in him all the more remarkable: that, in 1954, when he had published nothing, and seemed to have no prospects, she could write: “I have absolute faith in your ultimate ability to do something great. I am convinced that we are going to be a distinguished couple.”. . . Read the rest here:

CFP: "Power: Forms, Dynamics and Consequences," Department of Sociology and Social Psychology, University of Tampere, September 22-24, 2008.

What is power and who has power today? Has power escaped from nation-states to international organizations and the global market? Does power reside in big institutions or is it rooted in micro level interaction? How does power hide from view and therefore become most effective? For social scientists power is in many ways like what St. Augustine said about time: it is central to our investigations and we think we know what it is, but it is hard to explain. By bringing together scholars who approach power from different angles this conference will advance our understanding about power relations in social reality. Keynote speakers will include: Mitchell Dean, Robert Dingwall, Mark Haugaard, Tuula Juvonen, Lois McNay, Randy Lippert, Leslie Pal, and Pekka Sulkunen. If you want to present a paper, please send an abstract by 31st May 2008. The sessions can be found from "accepted sessions" page. You can contact the conference organisers by email: Visit the conference homepage here:

Wirth, Jason M. "Review of Alison Ross's THE AESTHETIC PATHS OF PHILOSOPHY." NDPR May 23, 2008.

Ross, Alison. The Aesthetic Paths of Philosophy: Presentation in Kant, Heidegger, Lacoue-Labarthe, and Nancy. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2007. Alison Ross has written a fascinating and commendable study in which she pursues the "general claim that the Kantian topic of presentation is an enduring topic within contemporary European thought" (11). Not only does this theme "endure," not only does it place "some of the problems treated in their work in a new light" (11), that is, not only does it recur often in some of the major thinkers in this tradition (Ross details its importance in the work of Kant, Heidegger, Lacoue-Labarthe, and Nancy) without it being fully appreciated, but it also plays a fundamental role in the work of these thinkers. Although the last point is not always argued explicitly and extensively in Ross' study, it is clearly implied, allowing her text to be read on the following levels. 1) It traces and develops an underappreciated but critical theme that develops in Kant's philosophy, and then is radicalized in Heidegger, and then pursued as a decisive issue in the work of Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy, two thinkers whose writings inhabit expansively the space opened up by Heidegger. 2) If one takes these thinkers seriously, the lens of presentation provides an important perspective through which to enter their thinking. 3) It also invites sympathetic readers to think more carefully and fundamentally about how we think when we think philosophically. The question of presentation is not only a philosophical theme among possible philosophical themes, but rather it exposes thinking to what Heidegger once called "the other beginning" of philosophy. In this sense, presentation is not just a problem for philosophy but also the problem of philosophy. It is a reconsideration of die Sache des Denkens, what thinking thinks from and towards. . . . Read the rest here:

Smith, Daniel, and John Protevi. "Gilles Deleuze." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY May 23, 2008.

Gilles Deleuze (January 18, 1925–November 4, 1995) was one of the most influential and prolific French philosophers of the second half of the twentieth century. Deleuze conceived of philosophy as the production of concepts, and he characterized himself as a “pure metaphysician.” In his magnum opus Difference and Repetition, he tries to develop a metaphysics adequate to contemporary mathematics and science—a metaphysics in which the concept of multiplicity replaces that of substance, event replaces essence and virtuality replaces possibility. Deleuze was also well-known for a number of important monographs he published in the history of philosophy (on Hume, Nietzsche, Kant, Bergson, Spinoza, Foucault, and Leibniz), as well as for his writings on the various arts, which include a two- volume study of the cinema, books on Proust and Sacher-Masoch, a monograph on the painter Francis Bacon, and a collection of essays on literature. Deleuze considered these latter works as pure philosophy, and not criticism, since he sought to create the concepts that correspond to the artistic practices of painters, filmmakers, and writers. In 1968, he met Félix Guattari, a political activist and radical psychoanalyst, with whom he wrote several works, among them the two-volume Capitalism and Schizophrenia, comprised of Anti-Oedipus (1972) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980). Their final collaboration was What is Philosophy? (1991) Deleuze is noteworthy for his rejection of the Heideggerian notion of the “end of metaphysics,” as well as the extent of his non-philosophical references (inter alia, differential calculus, thermodynamics, geology, molecular biology, population genetics, ethology, embryology, anthropology, psychoanalysis, economics, linguistics, and even esoteric thought); his colleague Jean-François Lyotard spoke of him as a “library of Babel.” Although it remains to be seen whether the 20th century will be “Deleuzean,” as his friend Michel Foucault once quipped, Deleuze's work has already enjoyed a considerable influence both inside and outside the contemporary academy; along with a growing influence in philosophy, Deleuze's work is approvingly cited by, and his concepts put to use by, researchers in architecture, urban studies, geography, film studies, musicology, anthropology, gender studies, literary studies and other fields. . . . Read the rest here:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Just Images: Ethics and the Cinematic," Department of Film and Television, Tel Aviv University & Jerusalem Centre for Ethics, June 3-6, 2008.

For the programme of the Seventh International Tel Aviv Colloquium on Cinema Studies, please visit:

Franklin, Ruth. "After Empire: Chinua Achebe and the Great African Novel." NEW YORKER May 26, 2008.

In the course of a writing life that has included five novels, collections of short stories and poetry, and numerous essays and lectures, Achebe has consistently argued for the right of Africans to tell their own story in their own way, and has attacked the representations of European writers. But he also did not reject European influence entirely, choosing to write not in his native Igbo but in English, a language that, as he once said, “history has forced down our throat.” In a country with several major languages and more than five hundred smaller ones, establishing a lingua franca was a practical and political necessity. For Achebe, it was also an artistic necessity—a way to give expression to the clash of civilizations that is his enduring theme. . . . Read the rest here:

"Shifting the Geography of Reason V: Intellectual Movements," Caribbean Philosophy Association, Universite des Antilles-Guyane, June 4-7, 2008.

Update (May 21, 2008): The programme (PDF) has now been posted. I have temporarily lodged it here till it appears on the CPA site (see URL below). Original Post (November 25, 2007): Under this heading, the Caribbean Philosophical Association will expand on its organizing theme, when it focused on the broad impact of the rise of Africana and other 'third world' philosophies from geographical notions, metaphors, and assumptions that have long been associated with modern concepts of philosophical reason. For 2008, we will continue to look closely at the variety of intellectual movements that have shaped the development of ideas, especially in the Caribbean, that have contributed to, and continue to have an impact (positive or negative) on, the geography of reason. These movements include, but are not limited to, those that have grown out of the Africana Francophone world such as Negritude, Mestisaje, and Creolite, the varieties of Afro-Latin discourses on race and decolonization, and social and philosophical movements such as Pan-Africanism, Garveyism, Rastafari, Black Consciousness, Feminism, Historicism, Poeticism, historicism, Marxism, Afrocentrism/Africology, Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, Existentialism, Pragmatism, Logical Analysis, Deconstruction, Poststructuralism, Cultural Studies, Psychoanalysis, and more. In the spirit of reshaping the geography of reason, we invite the submission of papers on the philosophical aspects of these movements, nearly all of which are present in the texts and practices of Native Caribbean, Afro-Caribbean, Indo-Caribbean, Euro-Caribbean, African, Latin-American, African-American, Indian, and European thinkers, or papers that offer radically new formulations of issues born from these movements. Proposals may be submitted and papers may be presented in English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese since members of this organization are encouraged to work in these languages with and in indigenous and creolized New World languages as well. Send submissions for panels and abstracts for papers by 25 February 2008, by email to or by regular mail to: Research Associate • Institute for the Study of Race and Social Thought • Temple University • Philadelphia, PA 19122-6090 • (215) 204-5621/Fax: (215) 204-2535. Further information on the Caribbean Philosophy Association is available here:


Caroll, Noel. The Philosophy of Motion Pictures. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008. Any art form needs a philosophy; something that can begin to articulate its nature and value in representing and understanding our world. Hopefully, through the publication of this scholarly, detailed and thoroughly-argued book Carroll will finally put to rest the debate about whether or not films (aka motion pictures or moving images) can be seen as works of art. He makes the case persuasively that they can, and in the process exposes the limitations and narrowness of view of the opposing argument. Although the eponymous term moving pictures is not Carroll's preferred label (he would rather talk about the moving image and therefore it is a bit of a puzzle why he titled the book as he did) he does not waste undue time in making arcane arguments about whether we should be talking about films or cinema or whatever. We all pretty much know what we mean and we know what we sitting down to watch. Film-makers create and present a point of view that while it may be recorded is nevertheless created and imbued with choice. So, Carroll begins a careful and scholarly examination of the history of the philosophy of film, beginning with Munsterberg's 1916 exposition of what he called photoplays, through the traditional theorists such as Arnheim, Eisenstein, Bazin and Kracauer among others, to the period cultural studies to his own preferred and simplified position in which a pluralistic approach is applied and a functional definition is more important than any specificity of medium (that is to say, videotape, podcasting, CGI and new media can all be considered under the rubric of the moving image). . . . Read the rest here:

Lelyveld, Joseph. "Looking for Naipaul." NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS May 19, 2008.

Naipaul, V. S. A Writer's People: a Way of Looking and Feeling. New York: Knopf, 2008. Thirty-two years ago, V.S. Naipaul went to India for this paper to write about the collapse of its post-independence experiment in democracy. Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, had declared an emergency and suspended the constitution. Naipaul took this to be a major turning point, and possibly a salutary one, for a sick culture in need of shock therapy. One of his articles explored the notion that Indians experience the world in ways drastically different from those of most Westerners: that Indians were typically more self-absorbed, less observant, more instinctive; in other words, that they were ill-adapted, in their basic consciousness, to the modern world. "India: a Defect of Vision" is what he called that essay. Naipaul's latest volume is a set of variations and meditations on that theme. One of its chapters is called "Looking and Not Seeing: the Indian Way," but this time, in his characteristic preoccupation with what his subtitle terms "ways of looking and feeling," he journeys far beyond the subcontinent. A Writer's People is amazingly concise, as Naipaul can be, but also wide-ranging and tightly packed, a kind of literary Rubik's Cube, made up of small, exquisitely beveled pieces, with no obvious points of contact, that he manages to fit together effortlessly. At one moment, we go from Nehru's thoughts about Gandhi to the author's mother and her experience on her first visit to their ancestral village. A few pages later, we're into Flaubert and the embrace of concrete French realities that made possible the glorious, seemingly transparent second chapter of Madame Bovary, which then is contrasted to the overblown failure of Salammbo. By a natural progression that brings us to Polybius, only a couple of steps away from Virgil and, leaving the Aeneid aside, his poem "Moretum," which Naipaul celebrates for its grasp of the physical details of life in this world. Then we're back on the Gangetic Plain in 1925, observing the young Aldous Huxley observing Gandhi at a political gathering. . . . Read the rest here:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

CFP: "Architecture and Phenomenology," Second International Conference, Kyoto Seika University, Japan, June 26-29, 2009.

For further information, please visit:

Helliwell, Paul. "Crisis in the Visual System." MUTE MAGAZINE (May 2008).

The god Janus has two faces each looking in opposite directions, he looks at origins and ends, past and future, cause and effect, and for both Adorno and Rancière he makes the connection between art and something ‘forbidden’, whether commerce or politics.[2] Janus is fortunate in having two pairs of eyes – for it means he could look at the ‘two faces or a vase’ visual paradox or Die Fliegenden Blätter (the drawing of a rabbit that looked at another way becomes a duck) and see both at the same time but, E.H. Gombrich argues in his Art and Illusion, we cannot. There are no perceptions without theories first – and perceptually we cannot hold two theories at the same time. We’ve only got one pair of eyes. On the other hand Anton Ehrenzweig holds (in The Hidden Order of Art), that our readings of art are always ‘polyphonic’ – we are always shifting our attention between details and to the totality. Indeed, according to Rancière collage/ montage, creating relationships between things, images, image-sentences, has become the key artistic strategy – and more, this relation – these metaphors of visibility – are the means by which aesthetics and politics can themselves be thought in common again. Rancière’s supporters argue his is the radical programme of May '68 alive and still with us, something that can leapfrog the diminishing returns of the intervening 40 years of the new left and theory and put us once again in that blissful dawn. All theories, suggests Gaston Bachelard, render some things visible (that are first hidden), but conversely, they also render some things, questions important to the previous regime, hidden (invisible). Rancière seeks to reveal the ‘impossibilities and prohibitions . . . lodged at the very heart of thought that considers itself radical’ – but what are the ‘impossibilities and prohibitions’ of Rancière’s own thought? . . . Read the rest here:

Patton, Paul. "Review of Jacques Derrida's PSYCHE: INVENTIONS OF THE OTHER." NDPR May 20, 2008.

Derrida, Jacques. Psyche: Inventions of the Other. 2 Vols. Ed. Peggy Kamuf and Elizabeth Rottenberg. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2007. This volume is the first installment of the English translation of what the editors call a 'work' by Derrida that was originally published in French in 1987 and then republished in two volumes with two additional essays in 1998. It makes up slightly more than half of the original 'work'. However, it is not the first English translation of much of the work that is collected here. Eleven out of the sixteen essays have long been available in English language journals and edited collections. Or almost. As the editors point out, it is misleading to say that these essays were available, firstly because Derrida revised them for inclusion in the French Psyché so that none corresponds exactly to the versions previously published in English, and secondly because the editors themselves have revised the previous translations, sometimes extensively, in accordance with their own principle of 'allegiance or alliance to the idiom of Derrida's writing' (x). Derrida's preface to Psyche describes the contents as texts that have 'accompanied, in some fashion, the works I have published over the last ten years' (xii). This is not so much a 'work' then as a collection of texts that accompanied, in some yet to be determined sense, the works that Derrida published in French between 1977 and 1987, including Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles (1978), Truth in Painting (1978), The Post-Card (1980) and a number of smaller works. In his preface, Derrida suggests that there are connecting threads that link the diverse texts collected in Psyche, although he does not spell out what these might be. The placement of "Psyche: Invention of the Other" at the beginning of the book suggests it provides the frame or theoretical space in which the other texts "link up or correspond to one another" (xii). In French, a psyché is a full length mirror that can be turned at will to reflect what stands at different angles before or behind it. In effect, this collection provides something like a reflection or snapshot of the activity of the French philosopher over this decade. It includes texts written for a variety of occasions ranging from lectures delivered at conferences or colloquia to essays written for collections or special issues of journals devoted to a particular topic or figure. The contents range from important and substantial essays that take up themes of Derrida's earlier or later works to very occasional pieces written to accompany exhibitions, theatrical performances or publications of work by others. Some of the latter are so slight that the reader may well wonder what justifies their inclusion over and above the narcissism that, as Derrida openly acknowledges in his preface, accompanies every gesture of publication, let alone the gesture of republishing that which was already published (xiii). It is not because these texts amount to a representative selection from among all the occasional pieces published during this time-slice from the life of a philosopher much in demand. Another bundle of essays from the same period, dealing with the teaching of philosophy and its place in the university institution, has been published in a separate volume (translated into English as two volumes: Who's Afraid of Philosophy? Right to Philosophy 1, Stanford 2002, and Eyes of the University: Right to Philosophy 2, Stanford 2004). . . . Read the rest here:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sharpe, Matthew. "Review of Robert Sinnerbrink's UNDERSTANDING HEGELIANISM." PARRHESIA 4 (2008): 81-83.

Sinnerbrink, Robert. Understanding Hegelianism. Chesham: Acumen, 2007. Robert Sinnerbrink comments in the conclusion of Understanding Hegelianism that it might facetiously be said that Continental European Philosophy over the last two centuries has been so many footnotes to Hegel. In Kierkegaardian spirit, the reader of Sinnerbrink’s Understanding Hegelianism might respond that all this says is that the truth must evidently be facetious. For Sinnerbrink’s Understanding Hegelianism certainly makes a strong case for the looming, and luminous, importance of Hegel. Despite belonging to an introductory Acumen series (Understanding Movements in Modern Thought), Understanding Hegelianism covers a formidable itinerary of thinkers: from Hegel himself (no minor thinker), via the Young and Right Hegelians, through critical theory, phenomenology, existentialism, and post-structuralism. In line with the book’s introductory vocation, Sinnerbrink’s accounts of these philosophies and their key figures are generally admirably clear and precise. Undergraduate students as well as more seasoned readers will, properly, be challenged by parts of this book. This is not because of any shortcomings of Understanding Hegelianism. It is because of the generic complexity of the ideas the book introduces (for instance, Adorno’s negative dialectics, Deleuze’s philosophy of difference, not to mention Hegel’s ‘Hegelianism’ itself). . . . Read the rest here:

Malouf, Michael. "When Were We Creole?" POSTMODERN CULTURE 18.1 (2007).

Stewart, Charles, ed. Creolization: History, Ethnography, Theory. Walnut Creek: Left Coast, 2007. Ever since James Clifford declared in 1988 that "we are all Caribbeans now living in our urban archipelagoes" there has been a rise in the theoretical cachet of creolization as a term that-- along with its synonyms hybridity and transculturation--might explain the cultural diversity that has emerged with globalization. What distinguishes Clifford's quote is its use of the Caribbean as a site whose experiences might be generalized as a universal concept. The utopian impulse behind Clifford's phrase appears as a leitmotif in the essays edited by Charles Stewart in Creolization: History, Ethnography, Theory which admirably seeks to rescue this term from its status as an epigram and recover its analytical force by turning to its origins in linguistic, anthropological, and historical theories and methodologies. While this interdisciplinary collection does not offer a single definitive interpretation of creolization, it does represent a shared concern with the specific question of what happens when a term that is meant to be descriptive becomes prescriptive. Using Clifford Geertz's terms, they ask how and why scholars collapse a model of into a model for. In what ways is creolization different from its synonyms? These essays answer these questions by examining the fate of a creative metaphor as it travels across disciplines and takes its place within many different theoretical and conceptual models. While each of the essays makes its own particular critique of creolization, they all offer models for how it might be disentangled and more usefully deployed. Traditionally, most work on creolization has been based in history, linguistics, and cultural studies of the Caribbean region, from Fernando Ortiz's landmark work on transculturation to the early 1970s work of Kamau Brathwaite, Sidney Mintz, and Wilson Harris, where creolization emerged, to Chris Bongie's later Islands and Exiles. Antonio Benitez-Rojo's recent essay, "Creolization in Havana: The Oldest Form of Globalization," is typical of recent uses in viewing the term as a synonym for globalization. The term is also used interchangeably with hybridity, and to describe global flows, as in the 1992 declaration by the anthropologist Ulf Hannerz that "this world of movement and mixture is a world in creolisation" (qtd 2). By contrast, the twelve essays in this collection follow in the wake of recent historical studies of creolization that expand our sense of the term beyond the Caribbean region, such as Megan Vaughan's history of Mauritius, Creating the Creole Island and Michel Rolph Trouillot's Global Transformations: Anthropology and the Modern World, both of which avoid using the term as only a metaphor for globalization. But this work is most unique in its interdisciplinary connections--returning anthropological appropriations of the term to its roots in linguistics--and in its geographical scope as it expands our sense of creolization beyond the Caribbean basin. Yet as Stewart observes in his carefully balanced and thoughtful introduction, the shared impulse of the collection to recover an original theoretical formulation stands in ironic opposition to the conventional sense of the term, which has come to signify the refusal of return to origins or of the kind of faith in etymology that underlies many of these essays. . . . Read the rest here:

Kaufman, Eleanor. "The Desire Called Mao: Badiou and the Legacy of Libidinal Economy." POSTMODERN CULTURE 18.1 (2007).

This essay addresses the legacy of the synthesis of psychoanalysis and Marxism that reached its apogee in France shortly after the events of May 1968. It attempts to delineate how this synthesis, largely abandoned by the mid-1970s, at least in its libidinal economic dimension (though certainly taken into entirely new registers by later thinkers such as Jameson and Žižek), might be said to be resurrected and reconfigured in the work of Alain Badiou. It is a reconfiguration that is in some sense unrecognizable as such, though Badiou's 1982 Théorie du sujet explicitly addresses the conjunction of Lacan and Mao, and his most recent work returns more forcefully to some of the earlier thematics--especially that of destruction--that to a large extent fell by the wayside in his 1988 opus Being and Event. If the "libidinal economy" theory of the early 1970s might be defined by a certain defiant, even delirious energy--defiant of interpretation, localization, or even of a specific mapping onto Marxism or psychoanalysis per se--then Badiou's reconfiguration of the conjuncture of psychoanalysis and Marxism is spoken in a tone of order and restraint that might be more characteristic of the period Badiou labels the "Restoration," namely the last two decades of the twentieth century. Perhaps such a shift in tonality is above all symptomatic of a shift from the conjucture of Marx and Freud to that of Mao and Lacan, but the claim will be that what has shifted concerns the unconscious itself, that the early 1970s moment of libidinal economy allowed the unconscious full reign, whereas the later moment of the early 1980s and beyond demanded that the unconscious and other wayward desires be brought to full and absolute clarity. If unconscious desires served as a driving motor for libidinal economy theory, they are left aside in Badiou's engagement with psychoanalysis, only to surface in different form around questions of number, counting, and periodization. . . . Read the rest here:

Marder, Michael. "Differance of the 'Real.'" PARRHESIA 4 (2008): 49-61.

Revisiting the Husserlian slogan "To the things themselves!" and the Kantian idea of the thing in itself, we might ask, along with Derrida, What is inside the thing? What is encrypted in this seemingly vacuous notion and within the concrete thing itself? Yet, we may pose the first question only on condition that we do not pre-comprehend its meaning, nor any single word comprising it. An interrogation of the query’s every word will reveal that what the thing harbors includes not only a "what" but also a "who"; that its interiority incessantly turns inside out and outside in; that the thing is interchangeable with the athing; and that, eventually, the copula itself dissipates into a relation of non-identity. After outlining these différantial qualities of thingly interiority, I will discuss how it shelters the event of expropriation in a re-configuration of Heideggerian Ereignis. Read the rest here:

PUB: PARRHESIA 4 (2008).




Journal homepage:

"Geographies of Film Theory," Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies & Screen Studies Group, University of London, June 26-28, 2008.

The symposium will trace the contexts in France, Italy and Germany between the wars in which film theory was first articulated; it will then follow the reception and reconfiguration of film theory in key, mainly non-European, cultural and political contexts. The collaboration between the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies and the Screen Studies Group has enabled an original approach to the complex intellectual and aesthetic relations between influential European cultural discourses and ‘world’ film theory. Keynote speakers:
  • Francesco Casetti (Professor, Universita Cattolica, Milano)
  • Mikhail Iampolski (Professor, New York University)
  • Kim Soyoung (Professor, Korean National University of Arts)
  • Ashish Rajadhyaksha (Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore)

Click here for the programme (PDF).

Click here here for the Registration Form (PDF).


Sunday, May 18, 2008




Please visit:

Vernon, Mark. "Debunking the Neuromythology; Deepening the Mystery." PEOPLE AND LIFE BLOG May 17, 2008.

Tallis, Raymond. The Kingdom of Infinite Space: a Fantastical Journey around your Head. Atlantic, 2008. The brilliance of the book is not just that it is written with wit and clarity; and that Tallis has a deep understanding of both the science and the philosophy behind his subject. Rather, it is that even as he discusses the astonishing scientific advances in our understanding of our heads, he never loses sight of the fact that this knowledge does not begin to touch the big question of how we have consciousness - how we are not just aware, but are aware of being aware. That some scientists and their philosophical interpreters believe they may even be close to an explanation is what Tallis calls neuromythology. . . . Read the rest here:

CFP: "Beyond Reification: Critical Theory and the Challenge of Praxis," John Cabot University, May 21-23, 2008.

Update: The programme is here: Original Post (November 15, 2008): John Cabot University is hosting the second international conference on Critical Theory, which will be held at its campus in Rome, Italy – Via della Lungara 233. The conference will examine the importance and the developments of the Frankfurt School by addressing both the philosophical tradition of the early stages of Critical Theory – and in particular the works of Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse – as well as the application of their theories to our contemporary society. In order to reflect the wide range of topics addressed by Critical Theory, the conference will cover different aspects of philosophical reflection on politics, aesthetics, sociology, technology, literature and any other relevant field of study. The conference will be held at John Cabot University on May 21-23, 2008. It will begin on Wednesday morning and end by Friday afternoon. During the sessions, each speaker will have one hour, with 30-40 minutes for presentation, followed by 20-30 minutes of discussion. All presentations will be made in English. Keynote speakers: Andrew Cutrofello, Loyola University Chicago Andrew Feenberg, Simon Fraser University Alessandro Ferrara, University of Rome, Tor Vergata David Ingram, Loyola University Chicago Martin Matustik, Purdue University Hugh Miller, Loyola University Chicago Stefano Petrucciani, University of Rome, La Sapienza Francesco Saverio Trincia, University of Rome, La Sapienza If you are interested in presenting a paper, please submit a 1-2 page abstract by January 15, 2008 (including name, institutional affiliation if any, and mailing address). Abstracts should be submitted by email. Decisions regarding the program will be made by February, 2008. The presented papers will be published in a volume dedicated to the conference. To submit an abstract, or for more information, contact: Prof. Stefano Giacchetti Ludovisi – or Tel: (+39) 06-81905467.

Friday, May 16, 2008

"Vision, Praxis, and Legacy: Cheikh Anta Diop, Molefi Kete Asante and the Afrocentric Project," Philadelphia, October 17-18, 2008.

The 20th Annual Diop Conference. Cheikh Anta Diop stated that his work was not only directed toward scientifically re-establishing the place of Ancient Egypt in the orbit of African history and culture, but also toward recovering its rich and varied legacy and using it to advance the horizons of knowledge and history in the interest of African people, humanity and the world. Moreover, he argued for a “return to Egypt in all domains”, i.e., the critical engagement with it as a fundamental source of paradigms of excellence, achievement and possibilities in the various disciplines of human knowledge. Indeed, he contends that such a return for critical retrieval and creative reconstruction “is a necessary condition to reconcile African civilizations with human history; to build a modern body of human sciences; and to renew African culture”. Taking up this multifaceted challenge, Molefi Asante advanced the theory and methodology of Afrocentricity as the fundamental way to address the projects posed by Diop and the critical issues of our times. To practically engage and expand Diop’s initiative and the Afrocentric project, Asante and several colleagues founded the Cheikh Anta Diop Conference in 1988. This year’s meeting marks the 20th anniversary of the Conference and its annual gathering together Afrocentric scholars from around the world to advance the field of Africana Studies, strengthen and expand our scholarly community, and address the critical issues confronting African people, humanity and the world. The conference theme allows for papers and panels on varied aspects of African life, culture, history, thought and practice within an Afrocentric framework. Submissions are encouraged that address intellectual and social problematics, and historical and current issues. Preference will be given to session proposals and papers that address the Conference theme of addressing the work of Diop and Asante, although submissions of panel proposals and papers which address other topics will be considered also. Suggested topics:
  • A Thorough Examination of Cheikh Anta Diop’s Work and His Contribution to Africana Studies Scholarship
  • A Thorough Examination of Molefi Kete Asante’s Work and His Contribution to Africana Studies Scholarship
  • Codifying Afrocentric exemplars (Asante, Karenga, Hurston, Hudson-Weems, Diop, Keto, Obenga, et al.)
  • Paradigms of African hero dynamics
  • Discoveries and observations of Mdw Ntr
  • Revisiting Diop’s Theory of Matriarchy: a Womanist Re-reading
  • Diop and the Clarification of Human History
  • Diop and the Concept of Return to Egypt
  • Diop and the Concept of an Uncompromising Anthropology/Archaeology
  • Diop and the Dialog with Egyptology
  • Asante and Afrocentric Methodology in the Academy
  • Revisiting manifestos of change
  • Maat and the Kemetic Concepts of Governance and Justice
  • Kawaida and the Development of the Maatian Intellectual and Ethical Initiative
  • Kawaida, Afrocentricity and the Diopian Project
  • Afrocentric Philosophical and Literary Initiatives: Creative and Interpretive
  • Ancient Nile Valley Culture’s Discourse on Women
  • Women of Power in Ancient Egypt: Queens, Queen Mothers and Divine Wives
  • Womanist Foundations in Ancient Egypt
  • Asante, Identity and Concepts of Location and Dislocation
  • Afrocentric Concepts of Cultural and Social Liberation
  • Afrocentric Engagement of Critical Social Issues: Theory and Practice
  • Personhood and Community in Afrocentric Theory
  • The Afrocentric University
  • Theory, Pedagogy, and Tactics for Afrocentric teachers
For more information, visit:

"Diaspora and Cosmopolitanism," University of Wisconsin, Madison, June 20-21, 2008.

The term 'diaspora' designates the scattering of a given population like seeds (spore) on the wind through migration—conventionally often in the form of forced migration rather than its opposite. The term 'cosmopolitanism' refers to the politics and philosophy of inhabiting a polis or political community on the scale of the cosmos rather than the metropolis. Both paradigms thus constitute alternatives to models of community in which a society is organized around a single geographic space, with the metropole at its center. While diaspora studies are generally associated with the identities and claims of marginalized populations, cosmopolitanism has, in the words of Amanda Anderson, "close ties with universalism." Cosmopolitanism, Anderson notes, "endorses reflective distance from one´s own cultural affiliations, a broad understanding of other cultures and customs, and a belief in universal humanity." Recently, Anthony Appiah has suggested that cosmopolitanism in the wake of globalization is virtually inevitable through not only the cultivated praxis of reflective distance as a means of accommodating a world of difference, but also the quotidian praxis of mimetic acquisition of diverse cultural tastes, behaviors, and relationships in globalized societies. Yet histories of the non-integration of migrants, of the hostile co-existence of "hosts" and "guests" in the state framework, or of the explosion of national populations into new traumatic diaspora through economic, military, ecological, and cultural upheavals, provide challenges to political and philosophical models of cosmopolitanism. Diaspora and cosmopolitanism are mutually decentered, but along the contrasting metaphorical trajectories of the spore and the cosmos. The tension between these epistemological frames arguably opens a space for reconsideration of the new millennial politics of postcolonial identities. Diaspora studies have a clear affiliation with the study of the colonial and imperialist cultures responsible for many large scale forced migrations since Columbus. Cosmopolitan theory from Kant onward was instrumental in the conception of global political bodies and declarations of rights, and since the late twentieth century it has addressed the predicament of many postcolonial immigrant groups in former colonial metropoles (and less frequently, the predicament of postcolonies). In the 21st century, how do the models of diaspora and the cosmopolitical allow us to reflect on the undoing of former social and political geographies, and the formation of new ones? How do these models merge or overlap, and how do they contradict or undermine each other? . For general information, please visit: Speakers are listed here: Abstracts are here:

Wisnewski, J. Jeremy. "Review of Amy Allen's THE POLITICS OF OUR SELVES." NDPR May 17, 2008.

Allen, Amy. The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory. New York: Columbia UP, 2008. The Politics of Our Selves begins by rethinking the Foucault/Habermas debate -- a debate that centers on the place of critique in the network of power. In reading Foucault's work, where power 'is everywhere' and is that in virtue of which agents are constructed and placed within systems of normalization and subordination, a persistent worry seems to arise: if power is absolutely everywhere, how is it possible to engage in the critique of power in such a way that we might (at least partially) liberate ourselves from the oppressive aspects of power? If power pervades everything, it follows that it pervades rationality, and hence that the use of rationality itself is riddled with the very means of subordination we are trying to overcome. It is precisely this criticism that has been leveled against the Foucaultian enterprise by philosophers like Habermas and Charles Taylor. . . . Read the rest here:

"Hallucination on Crete," Universities of Glasgow and Crete, September 11-14, 2008.

Sponsored by Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience, University of Glasgow and Department of Philosophy and Social Studies, University of Crete. Description: The traditional problem of hallucination in the philosophy of perception and epistemology has always attracted attention. However, over the last few years, neuroimaging techniques and scientific findings on the nature of delusion, together with the upsurge of interest in new theories of perception in philosophy, such as representationalism and disjunctivism, have brought the topic of hallucination to the forefront of philosophical thinking. The importance of the phenomenon of hallucination is such that it deserves extensive treatment; it has a direct impact on a wide range of issues in the philosophy of perception and epistemology, including:
  • the question of whether we directly see the world
  • the nature of perception and perceptual experience more generally
  • the nature of our knowledge of our own mental states
  • the nature of our knowledge of the external world
  • questions about what we can learn about the mind, and the nature of hallucination, from empirical results in psychology and brain science.

The conference will bring together philosophers and psychologists to debate and discuss these topics.

Invited Speakers:

Call for Papers:

We invite papers by philosophers and psychologists and cognate disciplines, accessible to an interdisciplinary audience, on the topic of hallucination. Papers should be suitable for presentation in no more than 45 minutes. Papers should be original and unpublished and authors should be willing to submit their papers for consideration for inclusion in an edited volume arising from the conference. The papers will be chosen by the organizers on the basis of an abstracts of between 500 - 1000 words.

For more information, visit:

PUB: KB JOURNAL 4.2 (2008).

The Spring 2008 issue of KB Journal (devoted to Kenneth Burke) is now available online at Essays: Reviews:

New submissions to KB Journal should be directed to Andy King of Louisiana State University at

Jacques Ranciere Day, Centre for Research in Film and Audiovisual Cultures, Roehampton University, May 21, 2008.

10.00 - 11.20
  • Paul Bowman (Roehampton University): Welcome & Introduction
  • Emiliano Battista (Leuven University): "The Wrong Man: Rancière on the Innocence of the Arts"
  • Mark Robson (Nottingham University): "The Call and the Fall: Rancière, Rossellini, Flaubert, Haneke"

11.40 - 13.00

  • Nico Baumbach (Duke University): "On Rancière and the Persistence of Film Theory"
  • Patricia MacCormack (Anglia Ruskin University): "The Ethics Imperative of Spectator Incommensurability"
  • Martin O'Shaughnessy (Nottingham Trent University): "Using Rancière to renew our understanding of political cinema"

14.00 - 15.00

  • Frederik le Roy & Kathleen Vandeputte (Ghent University): "Art equals politics. Jacques Rancière's aesthetics in between relational and sublime art"
  • Joseph J. Tanke (California College of the Arts): "The Twisted Logics of Modernity: the Philosophy and Anti-Philosophy of Art"

14.30 - 15.30

  • Nick Hewlett (Warwick University): "Politics is equality is democracy"
  • Richard Stamp (Bath Spa University): "Stupidity, in Theory - or: why reading Ranciere matters for cultural studies"

15.45 - 16.45

  • Ben Highmore (Sussex University): "Aesthetics From Below: From Proletarian Nights to the Distribution of the Sensible"
  • Jérôme Game (American University of Paris): "Jacques Rancière's aesthetics of the 'choc sensible' and its politics : the case of video-art and photography"


Keynote Speaker: Jacques Rancière For full details, see; For further information and to register, contact Dr Paul Bowman:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Howard, Jennifer. "Measuring the AENEID on a Human Scale." CHRONICLE REVIEW May 16, 2008.

For more than 2,500 years, classical epic has been the province of men: written by, for, and about them, and passed down through the centuries by male translators. One could certainly describe Virgil's Aeneid as a manly poem. From its arms-and-the-man opening to its climactic blood bath on the battlefield, the Latin epic tells a tale of exile, combat, and slaughter, with a body count rivaling that of Homer's Iliad. Women figure mostly as collateral damage. In what appears to be a first, however, a woman has finally tried her hand at bringing Virgil's dactylic hexameters to a modern, English-speaking public. This month Yale University Press publishes a blank-verse translation by the poet and classicist Sarah Ruden. . . . Bringing a sense of personal passion to the task, modern translators are reminding readers that for all the fierceness and grandeur of the events it describes, the Aeneid is also intimate, at times even tender. It raises an urgent question — What price empire? — even as it creates a foundational myth of how a great empire came to be. In an age that has had its fill of war and foreign adventures, Virgil's epic, written 2,000 years ago, still speaks volumes. . . .

Read the rest here:

CFP: "Aesthetics and Modernity from Schiller to Marcuse," Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of London, September 10-11, 2009.

From Schiller to Marcuse the aesthetic dimension has been conceived among other things as a kind of moral forum, a critical mirror for society, an outlet for otherwise impermissible drives, and as a dimension in which a more affirmative mode of existence is possible. It has been seen as characteristic of modernity’s orientation around the individual and as a means of counteracting the rationalisations of modern life. This two day-conference will investigate the many and conflicting relationships between aesthetics and modernity. In particular, the 250th anniversary of Schiller’s birth in 1759 seems a timely point to reflect on the German tradition of socio-cultural and aesthetic theory and artistic practice from the late Enlightenment to the Frankfurt School and beyond, in which Schiller played such a seminal role. Papers are therefore invited on any and all aspects of the relationship between aesthetics and modernity from the 1790s to the 1970s, and in particular, contributions that develop an interdisciplinary perspective – embracing German studies, philosophy, social and cultural theory, aesthetics, literature, music, art. Papers should last no more than 30 minutes; the conference languages will be English and German. Please send proposals (including an abstract of 200 words max.) by 31 August 2008 to: Dr Jerome Carroll and Dr Maike Orgel. We shall also be publishing an edited collection of papers from the symposium. Visit the conference webpage here: