Saturday, June 28, 2008

Kanfer, Stefan. "For Whom the Bell Tolls." CITY JOURNAL June 25, 2008.

Holt, Jim. Stop Me If You’ve Heard This: a History and Philosophy of Jokes. New York: Norton, 2008. Sometimes Stop Me opts for the low road. Comedian Garry Shandling: “I went to my doctor and told him, ‘My penis is burning.’ He said, ‘That means somebody is talking about it.’” Other times it aims higher: “In some languages,” said the Oxford philosopher J. L. Austin, “a double negative yields an affirmative. In other languages, a double negative yields a more emphatic negative. Yet, curiously enough, I know of no language, either natural or artificial, in which a double affirmative yields a negative.” “Suddenly, from the back of the hall, in a round Brooklyn accent, came the comment, ‘Yeah, yeah.’” . . . For more, visit:

Gallix, Andrew. "Dead Philosophers' Society: an Interview with Simon Critchley." 3: AM MAGAZINE June 26, 2008.

Critchley, Simon. The Book of Dead Philosophers. London: Granta, 2008. 3:AM: The Book of Dead Philosophers has lofty ambitions. You set out to write “a history of philosophers” as opposed to “a history of philosophy” in the teleological mould. In effect, you are defending a specific conception of philosophy against another… SC: Yes, I am against the idea of the history of philosophy as a history of systems that can be arranged in a certain logical and historical order, such as one finds in Hegel or Heidegger. It is one of the many aspects of being deluded by the idea of progress (Hegel) or even the idea of regress (Heidegger). I am opposing it with an idea of the history of philosophy as a history of philosophers, that is, a history of mortal, fragile and limited creatures like you and I. I am against the idea of clean, clearly distinct epochs in the history of philosophy or indeed in anything else. I think that history is always messy, contingent, plural and material. I am against the constant revenge of idealism in how we think about history. . . . Read the rest here:

PUB: Critchley, Simon, and Reiner Schürmann. ON HEIDEGGER'S BEING AND TIME. London: Routledge, 2008.

On Heidegger's Being and Time is an exploration of Heidegger's most important work by two major philosophers. Simon Critchley argues that we must see Being and Time as a radicalization of Husserl's phenomenology, particularly his theories of intentionality, categorial intuition, and the phenomenological concept of the a priori. This leads to a reappraisal and defense of Heidegger's conception of phenomenology. In contrast, Reiner Schürmann urges us to read Heidegger 'backward', arguing that his later work is the key to unravelling Being and Time. Through a close reading of Being and Time Schürmann demonstrates that this work is ultimately aporetic because the notion of Being elaborated in his later work is already at play within it. This is the first time that Schürmann's renowned lectures on Heidegger have been published. The book concludes with Critchley's reinterpretation of the importance of authenticity in Being and Time. Arguing for what he calls an 'originary inauthenticity', Critchley proposes a relational understanding of the key concepts of the second part of Being and Time: death, conscience and temporality.

Annual Conference, British Society of Aesthetics, St. Edmund Hall, University of Oxford, September 5-7, 2008.

Guest Speakers:
  • Stephen Davies (University of Auckland) “Why Art Cannot be a Spandrel”
  • Alexander Nehamas (Princeton University)"Because It Was He, Because It Was I: Aesthetics and the Good of Friendship"
  • Berys Gaut (University of St. Andrews) “Interactive Storytelling and Computer Games”
  • Hannah Ginsborg (UC, Berkeley) “Rule-Following and Aesthetic Objectivity”

This year's William Empson lecture will be given by Jonathan Jones (The Guardian) "Painting and the Decline of Magic: Artists, Shamans and Art Factories"

Further information is here:

Pappas, Nickolas. "Plato's Aesthetics." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY June 27, 2008.

If aesthetics is the philosophical inquiry into art and beauty (or, today, 'aesthetic value'), then Plato's aesthetics is a rich subject—maybe too rich. For the striking feature of Plato's dialogues in this regard is that he devotes as much time as he does to both beauty and art, but treats the two oppositely. Art, mostly represented by poetry, is closer to a greatest evil than any other phenomenon Plato speaks of, while beauty is close to a greatest good. Can there be such a thing as 'Plato's aesthetics' that contains both positions? Perhaps Plato is better described as working through an exploratory aesthetics, seeking to discover the subject's vocabulary and issues. For this reason his readers might not find a single aesthetic theory in the dialogues. But for the same reason they are uniquely situated to watch core concepts of aesthetics being defined: beauty, imitation, inspiration. The subject calls for careful reading. If perennially footnoted by later philosophers Plato has also been perennially thumbnailed. Clichés accompany his name. It is worth going slowly through the main topics of Plato's aesthetics—not in the search for some surprising theory unlike anything that has been said about him, but so that background shading and details may emerge, for a result that perhaps resembles the usual doctrine-summaries as a human face resembles the cartoon reduction of it. . . . Read the rest here: Related page: Griswold, Charles. Plato on Rhetoric and Poetry. Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy December 23, 2003.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cordner, Christopher. "Review of Megan Laverty's IRIS MURDOCH'S ETHICS." NDPR (June 2008)

Laverty, Megan. Iris Murdoch's Ethics: a Consideration of her Romantic Vision. London: Continuum, 2007. Modern moral philosophy has followed in Aristotle's footsteps not Plato's. Aristotle highlights 'the virtues'. By highlighting love and the good, Iris Murdoch once again brought Platonic ideas alive, making them accessible in a contemporary idiom. This bent of her philosophy is, I am sure, one reason it has so engaged people, but perhaps it is also why so few of the philosophers who have expressed their indebtedness to Murdoch's moral philosophy have written directly about it. Contemporary analytic philosophy still resists, or perhaps just has not been able to find its own words for, what Murdoch had to say as a philosopher. Megan Laverty describes her book as not aiming 'to replicate Murdoch's ideas' (12), but as 'an exercise in methodological mimesis or iteration' (12). What she writes will be 'a way of "going on" with Murdoch's concepts or terms' (12) rather than an analysis of them. Laverty situates Murdoch within the tradition of what (following Nikolas Kompridis) she calls 'philosophical romanticism' (2). She says that the 'authority of Murdoch's philosophy . . . is given by its location in, and its ability to comment on, a larger philosophical tradition, in this case romantic' (2). This is a bold move, given Murdoch's criticisms of romanticism, which Laverty brings out. But Laverty also reminds us that for Murdoch Plato was one of 'the great romantics' (7). Laverty sees philosophical romanticism as a response to Kant, a response seeking what Laverty (taking up a phrase of Murdoch's) calls a 'third way' (19) between Kant's locating of noumenal reality beyond consciousness and a lapsing into subjectivism. She writes: 'Murdoch and the romantics comprehend, without bridging, the gap between human subjectivity and reality, by bringing the noumenal within the sweep of human experience' (9). Thus Laverty locates Murdoch's work in concerns that have been and continue to be central to philosophy; and she speaks to these concerns in ways that should engage thinkers both within and without analytical philosophy. . . . Read the rest here:

Schrift, Alan D. "Questioning Authority: Nietzsche's Gift to Derrida." KRITIKA & KONTEXT 35 (2007).

Be it the moral-theological tradition, God, or his own status as author, Nietzsche's refusal to legitimate authority remains constant. As Alan D. Schrift writes, Nietzsche's deconstruction of authoritarian subjectivity shares much with Jacques Derrida's post-modern critique of the subject as a privileged centre of discourse. . . . Read the rest here:

Egyed, Bela. "Nietzsche's Anti-Democratic Liberalism." KRITIKA & KONTEXT 35 (2007).

While Nietzsche was an enemy of populism and egalitarianism, he was also an enthusiastic supporter of the struggle for liberty; his perfunctory endorsement of existing institutions sits alongside a proto-politics of drives and intensities. A Nietzschean politics is less a critique of political events so much as a diagnosis of the forces and tendencies driving them – and therein lies its liberalism, writes Béla Egyed. . . . Read the rest here:

Rorty, Richard, et al. "What does Nietzsche Mean to Philosophers Today?" KRITIKA & KONTEXT 35 (2007).

Excessively sensitive, anti-liberal, and irrelevant, or radical, prescient, and misunderstood? Six philosophers answer Kritika & Kontext's questions on Nietzsche. Their responses make one thing clear: Nietzsche still divides opinion. . . . Read the rest here:

Lee, Benjamin Todd. "Review of Paul Allen Miller's POSTMODERN SPIRITUAL PRACTICES." BRYN MAWR CLASSICAL REVIEW (June 2008).

Miller, Paul Allen. Postmodern Spiritual Practices: the Construction of the Subject and the Reception of Plato in Lacan, Derrida, and Foucault. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2007. It is practically a truism of literary theory that poststructuralism is anti-humanist as well as anti-classical, and that the "swerve into poststructuralism was a turning against humanism, against the traditional values of Western civilization." Miller provides a fundamental challenge to this proposition, and in a thoughtful and deeply researched study of Lacan, Derrida, and Foucault, shows the great extent to which these critical titans all relied on exegesis of Plato and other texts of classical antiquity to articulate their philosophies. In so doing, Miller addresses directly one of the most important questions confronting classical studies as a discipline: namely, the value and relevance of a classical canon in the face of poststructuralism and its off-shoots in deconstruction, gender theory, and postcolonialism. Miller is obviously not the first to address this question, but I believe he has offered a significant argument that inscribes the classics into postmodernism, as opposed to attempting to apply postmodernist methodologies to classical texts. His argument attempts to shift the position of the classics from the periphery to the center of a poststructuralist theoretical geography inasmuch as he argues that a student of these modern and dynamic texts would benefit also from an understanding of ancient philosophy. Miller studies not only the manifestly classicizing works of each figure (e.g. Derrida's "Plato's Pharmacy," Lacan's seminar on the Symposium, Foucault's lectures on the Alcibiades), but also the broader intellectual climate of the France in which these works were written. He argues that these theorists used Platonic texts as a means of responding to each other in an ongoing dialogue on the nature of subjectivity and how philosophy can transform subjectivity. In this critical regard, then, Miller's book creates an alternative to the theoretical apparatus we currently employ and gives our discipline a new way of performing our identity: we are essential to poststructuralism and essential to the thought of Lacan, Derrida, and Foucault. Read the rest here:

Saunders, Timothy. "Review of R. Drew Griffith's A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE AGORA." BRYN MAWR CLASSICAL REVIEW (June 2008).

Griffith, R. Drew, and Robert B. Marks. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Agora: Ancient Greek and Roman Humour. Kingston: Legacy Books, 2007. As the subtitle suggests, the focus of this book is on humour. Humour is, of course, a far broader category than, say, comedy and the authors take full advantage of this as they encourage us to find examples of it not only in such comic playwrights as Aristophanes and Plautus (both of whom, and especially the former, are nonetheless reasonably well represented), or even in such evidently 'comic' texts as the Homeric Battle of Frogs and Mice, Attic satyr plays, Roman satire, Apuleius' Metamorphoses and Petronius' Satyricon; but also in epics such as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, in tragedies such as Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound and Euripides' Orestes, in philosophical dialogues such as Plato's, in public speeches such as Cicero's (see, for instance, p. 37, where he is said to represent the prosecution's account as a kind of 'Keystone Kops adventure') and in the, often vindictive, lyrics of a poet like Catullus. In order to explicate and, to some degree, contextualise these Ancient Greek and Roman examples, moreover, the authors employ a broadly conceived comparative approach, discussing the role and presence of humour in a wide variety of other times and places, which range from Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Hebrew Bible and the 'German barbarians' (there is a fine coda, entitled 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Longship', that surveys instances of wit in Anglo-Saxon and Norse culture) all the way up to such staple modern fare as The Simpsons, South Park and American Pie. Sharing elbow-room at this veritable feast of material, meanwhile, is an equally impressive roster of theorists, among whom one is just as likely to bump into the likes of St. Augustine, Charles Darwin, Mary Douglas, Freud, Hobbes, Kant and Pirandello, as one is to squeeze the grape with those ancient analysts of wit, Plato and Aristotle. . . . (Thanks to Ed Brandon for the link.) Read the rest here:

Lawson, Dominic. "Review of Kenan Malik's STRANGE FRUIT." TIMES June 22, 2008.

Malik, Kenan. Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides Are Wrong in the Race Debate. Oxford: Oneworld, 2008. Malik seeks to develop a more interesting version of the debate — between those who say we should all be judged indiscriminately as equals, and those who believe that ethnicity within western society should be treated as something discrete and special, with members of minority races being judged by different standards, according to their “culture”. As Malik observes, the latter view — sometimes called “multiculturalism” — is now associated entirely with the left, even though the notion of separate racial cultures and separate legal frameworks is something we would have associated in the past with the far right — notably apartheid South Africa. Such a parallel will scandalise the supporters of the multicultural ideal but Malik has a point, to this extent at least: the consequences of drawing these “cultural” distinctions can be vicious. . . . Malik dredges up some foul examples from across what one might once have been allowed to describe as “the civilised world”: in 2002, a 50-year-old Aboriginal man was given a 24-hour prison sentence for raping a 15-year-old girl. According to the (white) Australian judge, because the girl was an Aborigine, she “knew what was expected of her. It’s very surprising to me that he was charged at all”. The prevailing official attitude in cases such as these suggests not just an underlying racism masquerading as cultural sensitivity, but also a deep lack of confidence in the values — sometimes called Judeo-Christian — on which western society is supposedly based. It represents a failure of cultural nerve on a colossal scale. Strangely, Malik does not attempt a thorough explanation of what has caused this collapse of confidence. There is the odd reference to the loss of faith in western civilisation stemming from the first world war — and that’s it. It is especially strange that Malik — who was born in India — does not examine in any detail the phenomenon of post-colonial guilt, which surely lies behind this disfiguration of the middle-class social conscience. The view has taken hold that because, in the 19th century, we settled in their countries and behaved as if we were still in our English villages, ignoring local sensibilities and rituals, so the descendants of those whom we once ruled should be able to lead their lives in England exactly as they would have in rural Pakistan. Thus, the Archbishop of Canterbury, as well-meaning a character as you will find, advocates official recognition of sharia law as a way of making Muslim immigrants feel more at home in the United Kingdom. On a more sinister note, you have the West Midlands police menacing Channel 4 for broadcasting a programme that revealed the violent nature of what passes for theology in some of our mosques. If a Church of England vicar had said that homosexuals should be thrown off cliffs, his critics would not be told that to publicise his sermons was an unforgivable risk to “community relations”; but “anti-racism”, as it has evolved, makes exactly this racist distinction. . . . Read the rest here:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Symposium on Emmanuel Eze's ON REASON. SYMPOSIA Special Issue (2008).

Eze, Emmanuel Chukwudi. On Reason: Rationality for a World of Cultural Conflict and Racism. Durham: Duke UP, 2008 (forthcoming). Here is a description of the book offered at Amazon.Com:
Given that Enlightenment rationality developed in Europe as European nations aggressively claimed other parts of the world for their own enrichment, scholars have made rationality the subject of postcolonial critique, questioning its universality and objectivity. In On Reason, the philosopher Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze demonstrates that rationality and, by extension, philosophy, need not be renounced as manifestations or tools of Western imperialism. Examining reason in connection to the politics of difference--the cluster of issues known variously as cultural diversity, political correctness, the culture wars, and identity politics--Eze expounds a rigorous argument that reason is produced through and because of difference. In so doing, he preserves reason as a human property while at the same time showing that it cannot be thought outside the realities of cultural diversity. Advocating rationality in a multicultural world, he proposes new ways of affirming both identity and difference. Eze draws on an extraordinary command of Western philosophical thought and a deep knowledge of African philosophy and cultural traditions. He explores models of rationality in the thought of a broad range of philosophers from Aristotle, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, and Thomas Hobbes to Noam Chomsky, Richard Rorty, Hilary Putnam, Jacques Derrida, and Cornel West. He considers portrayals of reason in the work of the African thinkers and novelists Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Wole Soyinka. Eze reflects on contemporary thought about genetics, race, and postcolonial historiography as well as on the interplay between reason and unreason in the hearings of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He contends that while rationality may have a foundational formality, understanding of its foundation and form is dynamic, always based in historical and cultural circumstances.
Here is an extract from John Pittman's review:
Eze is perhaps best known for his critical reading of Kant’s anthropological writings and the philosophical ‘raciology’ they contain, in his important article, “The Color of Reason: The Idea of ‘Race’ in Kant’s Anthropology.” He extended that critique to include Hume as well in his edited volume on Race and the Enlightenment. Indeed, Emmanuel Eze was the contemporary writer who most consistently explored the issue of the racial logic of the founding thinkers of the European enlightenment. In Achieving our Humanity: the Idea of a Postracial Future (2001), Eze extended that inquiry, discussing at length the history of race conceptions in European thought, arguing that the modern origins of philosophical racism in Europe lie in the writings of Hume and Kant, and reflecting on the cultural issues faced by Africans in the diaspora. He was something of a ‘hardliner’ on the role of modern European philosophy, arguing both that the racism that ravaged Africa and produced the horrors of the middle passage and New World slavery was a modern invention underwritten by the ‘greats’ of the modern philosophical tradition, and that the philosophical foundation of the ‘Enlightenment project’ was itself compromised by the pervasive racialization of the social thought of its celebrated founding figures. He emphatically rejected the suggestion that “we ‘separate’ the ideal from the real [Enlightenment], holding on to one while rejecting the other.” (Eze 1997, 12). “It is more appropriate,” Eze claimed, ”to consider Africa’s experience of the ‘Age of Europe’ as the cost of Occidental modernity” (Eze 1997, 13). There were signs his hard-line attitude had softened by the time Achieving our Humanity was written. There he justified his concerns about what he saw as Kant’s racializing of reason by referring to himself as one of those “who do not wish to continue to see the word ‘universalism’ regarded as a curse word (to damn nonwhite cultures or as an expletive against white cultures) [and] are interested in separating true from false universalism” (Eze 2001, 81). On Reason (2008) can be seen as Eze’s constructive response to his abiding concern with the consequences of European enlightenment’s racialization of reason: if no nonracialized version of European philosophy’s method can be recuperated, then we must look elsewhere for a truly universal account of reason.
Read the rest of the review here:

Proudfoot, Wayne. "Review of Ginia Schonbaumsfeld's A CONFUSION OF THE SPHERES." NDPR June 2008.

Schönbaumsfeld, Ginia. A Confusion of the Spheres: Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein on Philosophy and Religion. Oxford: OUP, 2007. Wittgenstein told his friend Maurice Drury that Kierkegaard was the most profound author of the nineteenth century and a saint. His writing on philosophy and religion has sometimes been compared with that of Kierkegaard, particularly in the pseudonymous works. Schönbaumsfeld reviews the evidence for Kierkegaard's influence on Wittgenstein, points to strong similarities between them on the aims of philosophy and on their conceptions of religious belief, and criticizes interpreters whom she takes to have distorted their views on these topics. She argues that for both authors spiritual cultivation is more important for religious understanding than intellectual analysis of a set of doctrines. By examining their views Schönbaumsfeld hopes to contribute toward a conception of religion as something other than adherence to metaphysical beliefs or a non-cognitive attitude immune from rational criticism and support, but this alternative conception is not well developed in the book. . . . Read the rest here:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

CFP: "Philosophy of Language and Linguistics," Department of English and General Linguistics, University of Łódź, Poland, May 14-15, 2009.

The title of the conference is deliberately ambiguous: we wish to investigate the relation between ‘philosophy of language’ and ‘linguistics’, but we also want to focus on ‘philosophy of language’ as opposed to ‘philosophy of linguistics’. Are the two in opposition, or do they perhaps complement one another? The principal aim of our conference is to bring together philosophers and linguists; we would like the papers to address the following issues (the list is not exhaustive):

  • what are the new problems and issues in the philosophy of language in the 21st century?
  • have any traditional problems been successfully solved?
  • how does research in linguistics influence the philosophy of language and philosophy of linguistics?
  • how does philosophy influence modern linguistics?

The following scholars have accepted our invitation to address the conference as plenary speakers:

  • Prof. Eros Corazza (Institute of Cognitive Science, Carleton University)
  • Prof. Katarzyna Jaszczolt (Department of Linguistics, University of Cambridge)
  • Prof. Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk (Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics, University of Łodź)
  • Prof. Michael Morris (Department of Philosophy, University of Sussex)
  • Prof. Jaroslav Peregrin (Department of Logic, Charles University, Prague)

Abstracts of papers of max. 500 words should be forwarded by e-mail to Deadline for submission is 31 December 2008. Presentations should last max. 30 minutes (including discussion and questions). Notification of acceptance will be sent by 1 March 2009. A volume of conference proceedings will be published with an international publisher.

Geller, Jeffrey. "Review of Giorgio Agamben's PROFANATIONS." NDPR June 2008.

Agamben, Giorgio. Profanations. Trans. Jeff Fort. New York: Zone Books, 2007. At the risk of oversimplifying a complex body of ideas, I will place Profanations in the context of at least a fraction of Agamben's thought. A fraction is all that can be expected here, principally because I cannot hope to duplicate the range of expertise Agamben commands. In the single short volume of Profanations, he builds on insights from a kaleidoscopic range of philosophers, including Aristotle, Kant, Marx, Nietzsche, Schmitt, Heidegger, Adorno, Benjamin, and Foucault, among many others, not to mention an equally wide range of figures from art and literature. The climactic essay "In Praise of Profanation" ties the collection together by explaining the apparatus of commodification. While that essay draws most extensively from Walter Benjamin, whose influence has been evident throughout Agamben's career, readers will also find it helpful to think of Theodor Adorno in the background. In earlier works, notably, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (one of three books in the Homo Sacer series), Agamben developed the unsettling thesis that everyone subject to the sovereign authority of the modern nation-state has been reduced by a system of biopolitics to naked life, existence devoid of personal dignity and rights. In this reduced state, people are not legally or morally protected against mistreatment at the hands of the sovereign. Reduction to the naked life is not restricted to a small minority, according to Agamben, but is virtually pervasive. The biopolitics responsible for Nazi concentration camps are on display in the general tendency of the modern nation-state to suspend the rights of citizens in cases of exception, that is, cases of national emergency, as illustrated in the United States, he has argued, by the USA Patriot Act and the power assigned to the Homeland Security Administration. Following Benjamin, Agamben contends that the modern nation-state careens from one national emergency to the next and weaves these emergencies seamlessly into one long state of exception. Whereas the power of the nation-state vis-à-vis the power of its citizens is expressly circumscribed, for example, by the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution, the state of exception legally empowers the sovereign to expand its own power and to suspend individuals' rights. The state of exception, according to Carl Schmitt, authorizes the sovereign to detain and kill its subjects in the interest of maintaining the nation-state. Drawing from and expanding on Benjamin and Schmitt, Agamben argues that such authority strips citizens of their rights and leads to the formation of naked life. . . . Read the rest here:

CFP: "Islamic Resurgence in the Age of Globalization: Myth, Memory, Emotion," Norwegian University of Science and Technology, September 4-6, 2009.

The resurgence of Islamic sentiment starting in the later part of the twentieth century assumed various forms, from moderate da'wa organizations to radical jihad vanguards. This multitude of Islamic and Islamist discourses and modes of collective action are now being integrated, together with the societies in which they are embedded, into the wider process of globalization. The dramatic increase in economic, social, cultural, and political connections across the globe, and the growing awareness that we all live in one world, have deeply affected many Islamists' perceptions of Self and Other, their assessment of the nature of the challenges Islam faces, and their modes of resistance to the hegemonic West and to local Westernized elites. Existing studies of the contemporary Islamic and Islamist upsurge include social surveys of various movements, analyses of the teachings of ideologues, and sophisticated reflections concerning their meaning and significance. The conference seeks to contribute to this ongoing research by adopting an interdisciplinary approach which combines two complementary perspectives, the historical and the cultural studies approach; the latter has in fact developed in conscious relation to globalization and its concomitant communications revolution. We invite interdisciplinary paper proposals dealing with the Islamic resurgence in the late 20th and early 21st centuries from the perspective of three key concepts: myth, memory and emotion. Myth is used here especially in Roland Barthes' sense as a form of meta- language in which given symbolical signs are appropriated and stripped of their original contexts, history, and significances only to be infused with new and "mystifying" conceptual content. Examples of myths could be the new significances ascribed to Saladin and the Crusades, Jerusalem and Karbala, the hijâb and the siwâq. This connects to memory (remembering and forgetting), either collective (such as different - liberal, radical, Sufi - "remembrance" of the legacy of al-salaf, of the Ottoman Empire, of the "orthodox" Sultan Awrangzeb, etc.) or private (inspired by childhood experiences, persecution of relatives, etc). Finally, emotion refers to the social and psychological mechanisms which motivate people to adopt religious attitudes, join Islamic organizations and movements of various types and shades, and sometimes even be prepared to sacrifice their lives on the path of God. Keynote speakers are:
  • Dale Eickelman, Dartmouth College
  • Armando Salvatore, Humboldt University
  • Hakan Yavuz, University of Utah

It is intended that an edited volume will be published, based on the proceedings of the conference. Traveling expenses and accommodation for paper presenters will be covered by the organizers, as will be an excursion to the fjords and a concluding dinner. Abstract proposals (maximum 400 words, with a brief CV, maximum two sentences) should be sent by January 31, 2009 to: Ulrika Mårtenson (, Itzchak Weismann (, or Mark Sedgwick ( Acceptances and rejections will be notified by April 2, 2009.

"Armchair in Flames? Experimental Philosophy and its Critics," University of Cologne, September 22-24, 2008.

Recent empirical findings from experimental philosophy suggest that philosophical intuitions are much more sensitive to all kinds of background factors than traditional philosophers have thought. This relativity of intuitions seems to present a severe challenge to the standard procedure in philosophy, namely clarifying philosophical phenomena just by relying on intuitions. Our workshop will focus on the following questions:
  • To what extent are intuitions relative in different areas of philosophy?
  • What are the determining background factors? (theory, cultural and socio-economic factors, priming effects etc.)?
  • Are intuitions relative across the board and under all conditions? Are folk intuitions, conceptual intuitions as well as rational intuitions equally affected? Does relativity even hold for sufficiently reflected intuitions?
  • Can we explain away the experimentally observed relativity by reinterpreting the data or criticizing the methodology of experimental philosophy?
  • What bearing do these findings have on the status of intuitions as evidence?

There will be participants from both camps: experimental philosophers as well as more traditionally minded philosophers. Here is a list of confirmed speakers and preliminary titles:

  • Thomas Grundmann (University of Cologne, Germany): "Some Hope for Intuitions: a Reply to Weinberg"
  • Frank Hofmann (University of Tübingen, Germany): "Intuitions, Dispositions, and the A Priori"
  • Joachim Horvath (University of Cologne, Germany): "Experimental Philosophy and Meta-Epistemology"
  • Jens Kipper (University of Cologne, Germany): "Philosophers and Grammarians"
  • Kirk Ludwig (University of Florida, USA): "Intuition and Relativity"
  • Thomas Nadelhoffer (Dickinson College, USA): "The Psychology of Philosophy"
  • Christian Nimtz (University of Hamburg, Germany): "What Intuitions are not"
  • Joseph Shieber (Lafayette College, USA): "On the Very Idea of Experimental Philosophy."
  • Ernest Sosa (Rutgers University, USA): "Intuitions and X-Phi"
  • Anand Vaidya (San José State University, USA): "On the Central Theoretical Posit of Experimental Philosophy"
  • Jonathan Weinberg (Indiana University, USA): "Are Philosophers Experts?"

The workshop is sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie (GAP) and the Universität zu Köln. Attendance of the workshop is free, but please check our website for registration and further information:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Goodman, Russell. "American Transcendentalism." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY June 24, 2008.

Transcendentalism is an American literary, political, and philosophical movement of the early nineteenth century, centered around Ralph Waldo Emerson. Other important transcendentalists were Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Amos Bronson Alcott, Frederic Henry Hedge, and Theodore Parker. Stimulated by English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Herder and Schleiermacher, and the skepticism of Hume, the transcendentalists operated with the sense that a new era was at hand. They were critics of their contemporary society for its unthinking conformity, and urged that each individual find, in Emerson's words, “an original relation to the universe” (O, 3). Emerson and Thoreau sought this relation in solitude amidst nature, and in their writing. By the 1840s they, along with other transcendentalists, were engaged in the social experiments of Brook Farm, Fruitlands, and Walden; and, by the 1850's in an increasingly urgent critique of American slavery. . . .

Read the rest here:

"Hegel and the Philosophy of Spirit," Annual Conference, Hegel Society of Great Britain, University of Oxford, September 1-2, 2008.

September 1, 2008 1.00 - 1.30 Conference Registration 1.30 - 3.00 Robert Williams (University of Illinois at Chicago) "Recognition and Self-Actualization in Hegel’s Philosophy of Spirit" 3.00 - 3.30 Tea/coffee 3.30 - 5.00 Michael Wolff (University of Bielefeld) Tbc 5.00 - 5.30 Break 5.30 - 7.00 John Burbridge (Trent University) "Transforming Representations into Thoughts and Thoughts into Concepts" 7.30 Dinner September 2, 2008 9.30 - 11.00 Dean Moyar (Johns Hopkins University) "Naturalism in Ethics and Hegel’s Distinction Between Subjective and Objective Spirit" 11.00 - 11.30 Coffee/tea 11.30 - 1.00 Marina Bykova (North Carolina State University) "The Problem of Intersubjectivity in the Encyclopedia Phenomenology" 1.00 - 2.00 Lunch 2.00 - 3.30 Richard Dien Winfield (University of Georgia) "Hegel, Mind, and Mechanism: Why Machines Have No Psyche, Consciousness, Nor Intelligence" For further details, contact: Dr Thom Brooks, Department of Politics, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU. Telephone: (0191) 222 5288 E-mail: See also the conference homepage:

Monday, June 23, 2008


Transcendental phenomenology was born as a reaction against the 19th Century Psychologism. However, this fact did not prevent the phenomenologists from continuing the questioning of their relationship with psychology. Thus Edmund Husserl designated phenomenology as a "descriptive psychology" in Logical Investigations, 1901, published one year after Prolegomena to Pure Logic which laid the logical premises of this separation. The Husserlian project recognized itself therefore as being the rightful follower of psychology and, more precisely, that of Brentano, without, however, being taken for a simple "experimental science", as it was the case with the leading contemporary psychology. Once this filiation established, one would not be surprised to notice that, in the 1925 lectures, Husserl openly assumes the possibility of a phenomenological psychology, understood as a path to the domain of transcendental immanence. On the other hand, immediate consequences of certain investigations made by Husserl and Heidegger were going to confirm the phenomenological genuineness of some important topics of reflection, which previously seemed to belong exclusively to psychology and psychiatry. In this context of thematic and methodological turmoil, thinkers as Ludwig Binswanger or Medard Boss, Emmanuel Lévinas or Michel Henry, were able to articulate a new understanding of psychiatric practice and of its therapies. Simultaneously, the phenomenological interest for the work of another free listener to Brentano's lectures - namely Freud, the founder of the psychoanalysis -, was going to change profoundly the initial architectonic of transcendental phenomenology. It is in this respect that Maurice Merleau-Ponty, otherwise a close friend to Lacan, was going to propose the rejection of the pure ego of consciousness and of its continuous flow in favor of a "phenomenological unconsciousness": a modification and, afterwards, a sort of "architectonic reduction" that will inspire some important contemporary research (such the one of Henri Maldiney or, more recently, Marc Richir) situated halfway between phenomenology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis. It is against the background of this rich history of cultural exchange, that we intend to question the relation between psychology and phenomenology. We suggest several basic lines of investigation: 1. The affinities between phenomenology and psychology. What makes the connection between the phenomenological discipline and psychology? Why is studying the life of psyche so important to phenomenology if phenomenology only wants to set itself apart from it? Conversely, what are main teachings that psychology can draw from the phenomenological analyses? How can the phenomenological analyses relate to the recent psychological, psychiatric or psychoanalytic practices? 2. The differences between phenomenology and psychology. What separates the phenomenological projects from the psychological ones? Are there fundamental reasons of dissent? How important is the phenomenological criticism regarding the general conception of the nature of psychology? And, inversely, which would be the impact of the psychoanalytic criticism, for example, on classical phenomenology? Can one restrict the theoretical and practical interest of phenomenology to a simple transcendental analytics of the pure self-consciousness? 3. Phenomenology and psychology today. Which are the repercussions of the evolution of the two disciplines on the former debate opened by Husserl? Does the Husserlian criticism still apply to the new developments of psychological research, notably on the cognitive sciences? How can one integrate the new suggestions to "naturalize" the domain of embodied consciousness? Does this orientation concern simultaneously psychology and phenomenology in a rediscovered solidarity, or does it rather mark their final separation? The deadline for submitting articles is: 01.05.2009. Further information is here:

McBride, William L. "Review of Katherine Morris' SARTRE." NDPR June 30, 2008.

Morris, Katherine J. Sartre. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008. The book is well-written, generally careful and accurate in its philosophical claims, and skillful at showing, in a number of places, ways in which Sartre's critics have gotten him wrong, while still taking a distance from him on some issues. (Morris likes to use the word "nuance" as a verb -- as, e.g., on p. 99: she is not, she says, contradicting his claim about the relation between bodies and instruments, but "nuancing" it.) The book is also an exercise in challenging both those self-styled "analytic" philosophers who find no value in Continental European thought and those post-modernists and others who take Sartre to be passé, as the author explicitly says at one point in her introduction (p. xiii). In fact, I regard this aspect of the work -- that is, its probing and bridging of the Analytic-Continental "gap" -- as perhaps its greatest single contribution to ongoing philosophical discussion, since in fulfilling its designated function of presenting the basic ideas of the early Sartre, especially the Sartre of Being and Nothingness, it must perforce go over many points that are already rather well known to Sartre scholars. The book's structure is as follows: Following the introduction, there is a twenty-page summary of Sartre's life, and then there are two major sub-divisions and an exceedingly brief "postscript" about ethics. Both sub-divisions are divided into four sections. The first of the two begins with a useful treatment of Sartre's background in the method of Husserlian phenomenology, including a rebuttal to Daniel Dennett's claim that phenomenologists are really just doing anthropology; then interestingly explores the role of Sartrean phenomenology as a "therapy for intellectual prejudices" (p. 51), such as what Morris calls most philosophers' prejudice in favour of knowing over living; and concludes with a clear, standard account of Sartre on the nature of consciousness and then a section on bad faith. The titles of the four sections of the second sub-division are, simply, "The Body," "Life-space," "Others," and "Freedom." The author makes abundant use of Sartre's contemporary Maurice Merleau-Ponty, while (rightly, in my view) arguing that Merleau-Ponty actually built on Sartre's treatment of the lived body (p. xii), contrary to what many Merleau-Pontyans claim, and exhibiting skepticism over Merleau-Ponty's criticism that Sartre is too conceptual (p. 63). In fact, she makes good use of a number of diverse figures, from Kurt Lewin (in the section on life-space) to Ludwig Wittgenstein and Martin Heidegger (the two most frequently cited authors besides Merleau-Ponty and Sartre himself), without ever losing sight of her principal aim of explicating the main points of Sartre's early thought. . . . Read the rest here:

Rorty, Amelie. "Review of Kant's ANTHROPOLOGY, HISTORY AND EDUCATION." NDPR June 30, 2008.

Kant, Immanuel. Anthropology, History and Education. Ed. Günter Zöller and Robert Louden. Cambridge: CUP, 2008. This collection of Kant's reflective essays on human nature -- its history and future prospects, its uniformity and variety, its achievements and foibles -- covers the period from 1764 to 1803. The essays range from book reviews and notes for physicians to "Lectures of Pedagogy" (1803) and "Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View" (1798). To those who know Kant primarily from the complexly structured and abstract arguments of the Critiques, these essays come as a surprise. In contrast to the conceptual apparatus articulated in the Critiques, they are full of detailed observations, empirical speculations, and pithy, shrewd -- even homely -- practical suggestions. Most of the essays are 'pragmatic' rather than -- in Kant's technical sense -- 'practical.' They characterize and counsel a wide range of human activities, ranging from advice on the systematic and principled methods of empirical observation to maxims on how best to control the exercise of the imagination in art and ordinary life. . . . The views expressed in these essays are sometimes as surprising as their scope and detail. The high-minded enlightenment rationalism that emerged in the first two Critiques as a transcendental regulative 'Idea' is introduced as a guiding principle for an historical process of human development. The moral autonomy -- the rational morality of self-legislation -- that is the fulfillment of human nature is argued to be approached historically, painstakingly by many unexpected twists and turns of human effort. . . . Read the rest here:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

PUB: Samet, Jerry. "The Historical Controversies Surrounding Innateness." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY June 19, 2008.

We are as we are and we live as we do because of the interplay of our inherent natures and the world around us. This much is uncontroversial. But it is natural to wonder about the extent of the contributions of the two broad factors and about the nature of the interactions. This is where the innateness controversy begins. In the history of philosophy, the focus of the innateness debate has been on our intellectual lives: does our inherent nature include any ideas, concepts, categories, knowledge, principles, etc, or do we start out with blank cognitive slates (tabula rasa) and get all our information and knowledge from perception. Nativists defend some variant of the first option, while Empiricists lean towards the second. . . . Read the rest here:

Lane, Bob. "Review of Myint Swe Khine's KNOWING, KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEFS." METAPSYCHOLOGY June 3, 2008.

Khine, Myint Swe, ed. Knowing, Knowledge and Beliefs: Epistemological Studies across Diverse Cultures. Dordrecht: Springer, 2008. Epistemology has been at the centre of philosophy since Plato drew his famous line between appearance and reality. The Myth of the Cave has influenced our world view for 2,500 years. One thing we learn from examples like the above is that beliefs, like perceptions, have a mind-to-world fit. Belief that P is a necessary condition for knowing that P. But what else is required? Is knowledge equivalent to justified true belief? Philosophers wrestle with these epistemological complexities, looking for Gettier-like counter-examples to the justified true belief theory. In the meantime, over in another area of academe, social scientists are gathering empirical evidence about beliefs by doing research in epistemological studies across diverse cultures. According to some writers, social epistemology should retain the same general mission as classical epistemology, revamped in the recognition that classical epistemology was too individualistic. According to other writers, social epistemology should be a more radical departure from classical epistemology, a successor discipline that would replace epistemology as traditionally conceived. Perhaps the first use of the phrase "social epistemology" appears in the writings of a library scientist, Jesse Shera, who in turn credits his associate Margaret Egan. "[S]ocial epistemology," says Shera, "is the study of knowledge in society…. The focus of this discipline should be upon the production, flow, integration, and consumption of all forms of communicated thought throughout the entire social fabric" (1970: 86). . . . Read the whole review here:

Sparrow, Tom. "Review of Mark Johnson's THE MEANING OF THE BODY." METAPSYCHOLOGY June 10, 2008.

Johnson, Mark. The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding. Chicago: U Of Chicago P, 2007. Mark Johnson's book is a welcome contribution to the recent philosophical literature meant to expound the ontological, epistemological, aesthetic, and moral implications of research coming out of second-generation cognitive science. It belongs in the company of theorists like George Lakoff, Antonio Damasio, Eugene Gendlin, Shaun Gallagher, and Francisco Varela. Its specific aim is to develop and defend a theory of embodied cognition which gets beyond objectivist and dualist metaphysics, and which is intended to ground the meaning of human experience in body-environment interactions. As Johnson puts it: "This book is about meaning--what it is, where it comes from, and how it is made" (ix). This engagement with the whence and whither of meaning is situated by Johnson in the field of aesthetics, by which he means "the study of everything that goes into the human capacity to make and experience meaning" (x). Using this broadened definition, The Meaning of the Body argues for the bodily/aesthetic basis of all philosophy--as well as logic, mathematics, and language (cf. 102, 181, 195)--and for an expansive understanding of meaning as such. In Johnson's words, "meaning is not just a matter of concepts and propositions, but also reaches down into the images, sensorimotor schemas, feelings, qualities, and emotions that constitute our meaningful encounter with our world. Any adequate account of meaning must be built around the aesthetic dimensions that give our experience its distinctive character and significance" (xi-xii). . . . Read the whole review here:

Malcolm, Noel. "Was it Jokes that Defeated Communism?" DAILY TELEGRAPH June 15, 2008.

Lewis, Ben. Hammer & Tickle: a History of Communism told through Communist Jokes. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2008. I like the one, for example, about the man who goes to buy a car in Moscow, pays for it, and is told by the salesman that he can collect it on a particular date in 10 years' time. The buyer thinks for a moment and then asks: 'Morning or afternoon?' The salesman, astonished by the question, asks: 'What difference does it make?' And the buyer answers: 'Well, the plumber is coming in the morning.' As Gorbachev was well aware, these jokes had not been manufactured by some sinister department of the CIA; they were real ones, as told by real Russians. He was probably also aware that although people in the West told jokes about the frustrations of ordinary life, there was no such thing as a whole category of jokes about the capitalist system as such. If there had been, we can be sure that his aides would have been feeding them to him, contributing to an ever-escalating jokes race between the superpowers. . . . For more jokes, visit:

Leddy, Neven. "Review of David Wiliams' ROUSSEAU'S PLATONIC ENLIGHTENMENT." NDPR June 28, 2008.

Williams, David Lay. Rousseau's Platonic Enlightenment. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 2007. Williams' thesis is that Rousseau shared with Plato a philosophical dependence on immaterial concepts, which he elaborates on the preface:
Here we see a combination of the metaphysical, ontological, and political dimensions [of Rousseau's Platonic affiliation]: the commitment to transcendent ideas as the ultimate authority for moral and political arguments. (xxvii)
What Williams calls Rousseau's Platonic affiliation is presented as encompassing matters epistemic, faith in god, the immaterial soul, and freedom of the will, but not an institutional affinity -- at least not in this initial presentation. His use of 'Platonic' includes Plato himself and those whom Williams quite reasonably assigns to a Platonic tradition including St Augustine, Ficino, Descartes, Leibniz and Malebranche. Williams does not differentiate between Platonic and neo-Platonic. He also bluntly nails his own Platonist colours to the mast in what might be called his "so what?" moment, where he gestures towards the beneficial wealth-generating aspects of materialism, but despairs over the ethical vacuum that results in undergraduate cheating on exams, performance enhancing drugs, corporate plunder, and genocide. . . . Read the rest here:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Walzer, Judith. "The Breakthrough: Feminism and Literary Criticism." DISSENT MAGAZINE (2008).

How do we know when something starts or when a new phenomenon becomes a major trend? We don’t have a “big bang” theory for the “second wave” of the women’s movement. The common wisdom has been that it began when women who were active in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s took a good, long look at their radical male comrades and began to question their own subservience. “We do everything they do,” they thought, “organizing, writing leaflets, marching, demonstrating—and then they think we should do the laundry? What’s that about?” They wondered why they weren’t running the show. But the roots of the movement go back even earlier. Again, popular opinion tells us that there was a buildup for some time, at least since the time of the Second World War, when women had to pitch in and were needed for essential work in the “outside” world. In much the same way, we assume that the burgeoning interest in women’s literature did not burst forth from the “second wave” in its early days. This interest, too, must have been forming slowly. It took time for the ideas of the new movement to stimulate new attitudes and for these in turn to create powerful connections to intellectual life and academic fields. Yet even without the stimulus of a popular movement, scholars and critics must have been thinking about women and literature and puzzling over the odd ways in which women writers were categorized, shunted off the main line, ignoring that among them were some of the most important writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. . . .

But four books seized my attention—then and now—and seem of major importance. They were published from 1975 to 1979: Patricia Spacks’s The Female Imagination (1975), Ellen Moers’s Literary Women (1976) Elaine Showalter’s A Literature of Their Own (1977), and Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s The Madwoman in the Attic (1979). . . .

Read the rest here:

"Symposium on THE PHENOMENOLOGICAL MIND, by Shaun Gallagher and Dan Zahavi." ABSTRACTA 2 (2008).

Abstracta’s second special issue is dedicated to The Phenomenological Mind by Shaun Gallagher and Dan Zahavi (London: Routledge, 2008), the latest book on one of the hot topics within the philosophy of mind today: the need for phenomenological considerations and methodology for any comprehensive theory of mind. Gallagher and Zahavi chose to call their seminal work "introduction to philosophy of mind and cognitive science", but—as will be clear from commentaries in this volume—this book goes far beyond the typical aims of an introduction. It is not only an introduction to readers new to the field, it is also a sophisticated attempt to introduce phenomenological methodologies into Analytic philosophy of mind and cognitive science. In this way, it touches the heart of, and is a substantive contribution to, contemporary philosophy of mind. Contents:

Or download the Complete Issue in PDF.

Visit the journal homepage here:

"Reconsidering Polanyi," Department of Philosophy and History of Science, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, June 26-28, 2008.

Polanyi, the philosopher, is mostly known as a theorist of knowledge. His philosophy proceeds from the analysis of knowing to address many important topics including ontology, social theory, theory of the person, and the study of the practical dimensions of science. His theory of knowledge rests on ethical, social and existential pillars beside his Gestalt-based theory of cognition. On the 50th anniversary of the publication of his masterpiece, Personal Knowledge, the aim of the conference is the reappraisal of this perplexingly rich, highly original and refreshingly unconventional philosophy in the light of the current intellectual milieu as well as from historical perspectives. The conference is open to contextual, historical, and analytical approaches including - but not limited to - the following list of topics: - Personal knowledge in light of social and historical epistemology - Tacit knowledge and the new results of cognitive psychology - Reappraising Polanyi's The Logic of Liberty - The cognitive functions of emotions - Polanyi on the production and management of knowledge - Postcritical and postmodern perspectives - Embodiment and tacit knowing - Polanyi and the concept of emergence - Polanyi and understanding technology .

The programme may be found here:

CFP: "Rousseau and Revolution," Institute of Philosophy and the History of Ideas, University of Aarhus, March 13- 15, 2009.

Fidel Castro once told a journalist that one of his masters was Jean- Jacques Rousseau and that he fought Batista with a copy of the Social Contract in his pocket. This anecdote, true or false, calls attention to an aspect of Rousseau’s philosophy which is often ignored or forgotten in academic discussions, namely that his philosophy has often been used, for good or bad, to inspire and legitimize revolutions and rebellions, beginning with the French Revolution. As for Rousseau himself he certainly claimed that one should "never shake the machine too brusquely" but at the same time he supported national insurrections in Poland and Corsica. So, we have Rousseau both supporting and criticizing revolution just as Rousseau in the French Revolution was used by both the defenders and opponents of the revolution. In the 200 years after a consensus seems to have emerged among Rousseau’s friends and enemies that he was a supporter of revolution. The friends have found inspiration in his texts and the enemies has used Rousseau to claim a totalitarian or terroristic consequence of all attempts at revolution, again starting from the French Revolution. This conference wants to explore these multiple and often contradictory links between Rousseau’s thinking and revolutions both in his own work and its afterlife. Examples of possible topics include but are not limited to: • Rousseau’s conception of popular uprising and political change • Rousseau’s support of insurrection in Poland and Corsica • The references to Rousseau in different revolutionary periods, for instance in the writings of Robespierre, Lenin and others • The possibility of understanding modern revolutions and rebellions in Rousseau’s terms • The counter-revolutionary understanding of Rousseau as the "mad dog of revolution" • The use of Rousseau to allege a necessary and inevitable connection between revolution and terror There are two ways of attending the conference: with or without paper: • With paper: abstracts of maximum 200 words should be emailed by December 1, 2008 to Paper presentations will be 30 minutes. The papers will subsequently be invited for publication in a forthcoming anthology. • Without paper: deadline for registration to is February 1, 2009. For both: please include return email address and institutional affiliation for all submissions. Keynote Speakers: • James Swenson: associate professor of French at Rutger’s Univerity, specializing in eighteenth-century literature and intellectual history, and twentieth-century criticism and theory and the author of the highly acclaimed On Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Considered as One of the First Authors of the Revolution. • Blaise Bachofen: associate professor of philosophy at the University of Cergy-Pontoise, publisher of commented texts of Rousseau and the author of the acclaimed La Condition de la liberté: Rousseau, critique des raisons politiques ("The Condition of Liberty. Rousseau, a Critique of Political Reason").

Monday, June 16, 2008

Anon. "Bored by Philosophy." ECONOMIST June 12, 2008.

Gross, Neil. Richard Rorty: the Making of an American Philosopher, 1931-1982. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2008. RICHARD RORTY, who died last year at 75, was one of the most talked-about thinkers in America. Every professional philosopher in the English-speaking world had to grapple with his magnum opus, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, published in 1979. But the reason why he was a superstar is that it was not only philosophers who read him. Students and teachers in many other branches of the humanities fell under his spell. This wide appeal was partly due to his approachable style, trenchant polemics and breadth of learning. It also helped that he attacked philosophy as a puffed-up pretender with no monopoly on deep truths. . . . Read the whole article here:

Rosen, Jonathan. "Return to Paradise: the Enduring Relevance of John Milton." NEW YORKER June 2, 2008.

This year is the four-hundredth anniversary of Milton’s birth, and there are a host of Milton books to mark the occasion: the Modern Library has brought out The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose, edited by William Kerrigan, John Rumrich, and Stephen M. Fallon, and not long ago Oxford University Press published an edition of Paradise Lost introduced by Philip Pullman, whose young-adult trilogy His Dark Materials draws its title and much of its mythic energy from Paradise Lost. (Titles involving sight and blindness often come from Milton: Look Homeward, Angel, Eyeless in Gaza, Darkness at Noon, Darkness Visible.) There is a new edition of Paradise Lost edited by the scholar Barbara Lewalski, whose monumental biography of the poet came out a few years ago, and Oxford is launching an eleven-volume series of all Milton’s works, edited by Thomas Corns and Gordon Campbell. Corns and Campbell are also jointly publishing a biography of Milton in time for the birthday, later this year, and Corns is editing The Milton Encyclopedia, for Yale University Press. A new critical study by the Princeton scholar Nigel Smith bears the provocative title Is Milton Better Than Shakespeare?, and there has been a recent spate of books with titles like Why Milton Matters and Milton in Popular Culture, pointing out Milton’s influence on everyone from Malcolm X, who read Paradise Lost in prison and identified with Satan, to Helen Keller, who created the John Milton Society for the Blind. Milton in Popular Culture reminds the reader that in the movie Animal House, Donald Sutherland’s Professor Jennings gives a lecture on Paradise Lost, taking a bite of an apple as he suggests that the Devil has more fun, before confessing to his unresponsive students that even “Mrs. Milton found Milton boring,” and so does he. . . . Read the rest here:

"T. S. Kuhn's THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS: Impact, Relevance and Open Issues," University of Athens, August 21-23, 2008.

Thursday 21 August 2008
Morning Session 10:00 - 11:15 Aristidis Baltas (National Technical University of Athens): "The Logic of Paradigm Shift" 11:15 -- 11:45 Coffee Break 11:45 -- 13:00 Hasok Chang (University College London):"Incommensurability: Revisiting the Chemical Revolution" Evening Session 18:00 -- 19:15 Rupert Read (University of East Anglia): "How far canscience determine our environmental values? An answer, courtesy of Kuhn and Winch" 19:15 -- 19:30 Coffee Break 19:30 -- 20:45 James Conant (University of Chicago): "Kuhn and Nonsense"
Friday 22 August 2008
Morning Session 10:00 - 11:15 Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen (Durham University): "Evolutionary development of science and scientific progress: Can evolution lead to the truth?" 11:15 -- 11:45 Coffee Break 11:45 -- 13:00 James A. Marcum (Baylor University, USA): "Systems Biology: a Kuhnian Scientific Revolution?" Evening Session 18:00 -- 19:15 Theodore Arabatzis (University of Athens): "Truth and Historical Interpretation: Kuhn versus the Analytic Philosophical Tradition" 19:15 -- 19:30 Coffee Break 19:30 -- 20:45 Alan Richardson (University of British Columbia):"Thomas Kuhn in the History of Philosophy of Science"
Saturday 23 August 2008
Morning Session 10:00 - 11:15 Vasso Kindi (University of Athens): "Rules and Novelty: Kuhn's impact outside science" 11:15 -- 11:45 Coffee Break 11:45 -- 13:00 Guröl Irzik (Bogasiçi University, Turkey) & Sibel Irzik (Sabanci University, Turkey): "Kuhn's impact on literary theory and criticism" To register, please contact Vasso Kindi:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kirsch, Adam. "Patrick Buchanan's Know-Nothing History." NEW YORK SUN June 11, 2008.

Buchanan, Patrick. Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War. Crown, 2008. For Mr. Buchanan, a former speechwriter in the Nixon and Reagan White Houses, was once a notable presence in mainstream American politics. Since the collapse of his second protest candidacy for the Republican nomination for president in 1996, however, he has in fact left the mainstream behind, not just by associating himself with the fringe Reform Party, but by publishing a series of books whose Spenglerian rhetoric about the decline of the West lays bare the racist and reactionary premises of his thought. . . . He deploys a rhetoric of violence and treason more redolent of the German right in the Weimar period than of anything in the American conservative tradition. . . . Read the rest here:

Reviews of Mary Lefkowitz's HISTORY LESSON: A RACE ODYSSEY.

Lefkowitz, Mary. History Lesson: a Race Odyssey. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007. I found the following three reviews online (there are others):

Campbell, James. "Richard Wright: Black First." TLS June 11, 2008.

By the time he sailed to France from New York in 1947, Richard Wright was a star, fixed in the literary firmament. Two of his books – Native Son (1940) and Black Boy (1945) – had risen high in the US best-seller lists, and were being translated into European languages. In Paris, Wright was aggrandized by the reigning intelligentsia: he and his wife became friendly with Simone de Beauvoir (Ellen Wright would later act as Beauvoir’s agent), and to a lesser extent with the non-English-speaking Sartre and other members of the Temps Modernes circle. Boris Vian borrowed the grisly mechanism of Native Son – black boy kills white girl, then kills another girl – for his scandalous novel J’irai cracher sur vos tombes, which he published under the pen name “Vernon Sullivan”, who was allegedly a black American. The success of his books, and a shrewd property investment in Greenwich Village, had made Wright prosperous. A photograph of the early 1950s shows the family at the table in their well-appointed flat in rue Monsieur le Prince, being attended by a uniformed maid. Except for one brief visit during the making of a film of Native Son, in which the forty-one-year-old Wright took the role of his teenage anti-hero Bigger Thomas, he never returned to the United States. Wright was a true “black first”: a cosmopolitan writer and intellectual with popular appeal. . . . Read the rest here: .

Editorial: "Calabashing Naipaul." STABROEK NEWS June 12, 2008.

Before his long harangue of V. S. Naipaul was read at the Calabash literary festival in Jamaica, Derek Walcott spoke at length about film, music and the state of West Indian literature. Among his many thoughtful asides, he spoke about the difficulty of finding a voice in the relative obscurity of the modern Caribbean. “The new American empire,” he told the poet Kwame Dawes (to intermittent applause), “is the world empire, and whatever the tastes of the empire are, they’re inflicted on the colonies… we are the intellectual colonies of America; so is a lot of the world. So if people say in America… that you don’t tell stories, you don’t mould character, you don’t have a beginning, a middle, an end. That’s old fashioned. Well, it’s a great thing that the Caribbean art is old-fashioned, because you still tell stories, which is what the human heart craves.” For many of us, Walcott included, the early novels of VS Naipaul answered this craving. They told our stories with a fond attention to the peculiarities of West Indian life, and a humorous truthfulness that has rarely, if ever, been equalled. Naipaul’s genius for evocative details caught the lilt and rhythm of West Indian speech perfectly, and his sense of what might be called the Caribbean Quixotic, framed a generation of political dreamers in unforgiving and unforgettable prose. His ascent into the highest rank of world literature refuted his now infamous jibe that “nothing was created in the West Indies.” Along the way, whatever his failings, he was still our misanthrope. Then, something changed. He refashioned himself as an exclusively British writer – in many ways he had always been British, just with West Indian roots – and his long leave-taking of the Caribbean ended with a tribute to “India, home of my ancestors” in his Nobel acceptance speech. . . . (Thanks to Mark McWatt for the link.) Read the whole article here:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Williams, Jeffrey J. "Why Today's Publishing World Is Reprising the Past." CHRONICLE REVIEW June 13, 2008.

Literary theory seems caught in a holding pattern. Instead of the heady manifestoes and rampant invention of the late 1960s through the early 80s, it has turned retrospective. This turn says something about the state of literary criticism, as well as the humanities and the university today. . . . Read the rest here:

Cusset, Francois. "French Theory's American Adventures." CHRONICLE REVIEW June 13, 2008.

All "traveling theories," as the late Edward Said once called them, carry with them . . . a risk, for they have always involved a disconnection from a specific context and reconnection with a new one — in this case, disconnection from a certain Continental notion of writing, from the horizon of Marxism and revolution, and from a timely critique of semiology and the linguistic turn — and reconnection with many American traditions like textual ontology and literary irony, best represented by the New Critics of the 1940s, against the "fallacies" of psychology and intentionality. Reconnection too with the American tradition of pragmatism. Reconnection with a historical tradition of subversive counterreadings, a quintessentially American tradition that started with the founding fathers and their reinterpretation of the Bible. Reconnection again, much closer in time, with the bold new analysis of schizophrenia, therapy, and marginality inaugurated in the 1950s by the likes of Gregory Bateson or R.D. Laing. Reconnection may not be the right term: What should be said here is that there is a historical convergence of the two branches, French and American, Foucault and Bateson, Deleuze and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Derrida and Robert Penn Warren. . . . Read the rest here:

Wolin, Richard. "America's Tolerance for French Radicalism." CHRONICLE REVIEW June 13, 2008.

French theory's 'antifoundationalism' jibes surprisingly well with the precepts of American pluralism. Both traditions are deeply wary of metaphysical absolutes and high-flown theoretical speculation. Liberalism can be frustratingly nonprescriptive: It democratically allows everyone the luxury of having his or her own opinion. Deconstruction — which, under Derrida's stewardship, embraced the confusions of "undecidability" instead of taking a firm position — similarly ended up in a state of self-canceling judgmental paralysis. Little wonder, then, that on this side of the Atlantic, poststructuralism has frequently been assimilated with the tepid and stolidly reformist orientation of American pragmatism. . . . Read the rest here:

Soucek, Brian. "Review of James Hamilton's THE ART OF THEATRE." NDPR June 15, 2008.

Hamilton, James. The Art of Theatre. Oxford: Blackwell, 2007.

James R. Hamilton writes that his book, The Art of Theater, has but one concern: to explain and defend the claim that theatrical performance is "a form of art in its own right, independent of literature" (15). This claim, he adds, has always been true; theatrical performances have never been mere presentations of texts. Its truth has only recently been discovered, however, as the history of theater long hid it from our view. . . .

Read the rest here:

Currie, James. "Review of Andrew Bowie's MUSIC, PHILOSOPHY AND MODERNITY." NDPR June 16, 2008.

Bowie, Andrew. Music, Philosophy, and Modernity. Cambridge: CUP, 2007. Bowie's own language is almost completely free of any trace of the excesses that both characterize my own prose and which I am prepared, tentatively, to call music -- a point and problem to which I will return later. But its apparent sobriety nevertheless articulates a call for philosophy to address music, and, further (something potentially quite shocking) that music should not merely be philosophy's object of investigation since music, as it were, knows something that much Anglo-American philosophy, in particular, as yet does not. As Adorno writes: "We do not understand music -- it understands us. This is as true for the musician as for the layman. When we think ourselves closest to it, it speaks to us and waits sad-eyed for us to answer." Or Bowie's words: "One possibility is to regard the 'philosophy of music,' not as the philosophy whose job is conceptually to determine the object 'music,' but rather as the philosophy that emerges from music" (p. 11). . . . Read the rest here:

Fish, Stanley. "Politics and the Classroom: One More Try." THINK AGAIN: NEW YORK TIMES BLOG June 8, 2008.

Readers who responded to my column lampooning the University of Colorado’s plan to raise $9 million for a chair in conservative thought aggressively reopened a question I took up in several columns written in 2006. The question, provoked by the fact that according to a survey only 2 or 3 percent of the C.U. faculty identifies as Republican, is, what is the relationship between the political affiliations of a faculty member and his or her classroom performance? And the answer I gave, and would still give, is none, necessarily. I would never deny that there are some college and university teachers who mistake the classroom lectern for a political platform and thereby substitute indoctrination for instruction. But, I argue, this need not happen — it is not an inevitable consequence either of our fallible natures or of certain subject matters — and when it does happen, it should be labeled as wrong and regarded as a reason for discipline by the school’s administration. The objections raised to this argument in 2006 have all surfaced again, and although I have replied to them often, I obviously have not vanquished them; and since the issue is an important one, I’m going to give it another try, as Milton might say, “yet once more.” Read the rest here:

Henri-Levy, Bernard. "A Woman in Full." NEW REPUBLIC June 6, 2008.

It is time that we pay tribute to Simone de Beauvoir. Posterity being what it is--unjust, capricious, confusing and chaotic, making a great deal out of very little, force-feeding us May '68 nostalgia and treating the dead as if they have not lost any of their formidable, vibrant virulence (not that this is, in this case, such a terrible thing)--it is time we celebrate Simone de Beauvoir on a scale commensurate with the 100th anniversary of her birth, which passed nearly unnoticed on Jan. 9.. . . Read the rest here:

"The Post/Human Condition," Annual Conference, Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy (ASCP), University of Auckland, December 3–5, 2008.

What is it to be human? The advent of modern science, the industrial revolution, the rise of the modern nation-state, and the development of evolutionary theory conspired to bring about the collapse of traditional understandings of the human condition during the Enlightenment. But recently the modern and postmodern paradigms that emerged out of this period of philosophical upheaval have themselves been put to the test by an unprecedented constellation of phenomena: biotechnologies, globalization, the ecological crisis, and the virtualization of social relations, to name but a few. How then are we to think about the human experience today? What language can we find for it? Indeed, what language would provide not only a descriptive but also the necessary critical perspective on the human condition in the contemporary context? Is the category of “the human” still viable, or should we now speak of “the post-human”? Are we better served by categories such as “animal” or “life”? Are the “de-centering” strategies of postmodernism to be further developed, or is it imperative, as some have maintained, to revive the concept of the “subject”? What is the status of the body and embodiment in an age of technological prosthesis and genetic manipulation? How is the social or “plural” character of human existence to be theorized in view of contemporary patterns and possibilities of familial, economic, and political interaction? What, if anything, has been contributed by the recent “post-secular turn” in philosophy to questions concerning the human condition? And finally, what, if anything, can be said by the philosopher about the “ends” of humanity today? The ASCP 2008 Conference Committee invites proposals for papers exploring these questions or any others of relevance to contemporary philosophical debates concerning the (post-)human condition. Paper proposals in other areas of Continental Philosophy are also welcome. Proposals are also encouraged for topical panels addressing the conference theme and for panels on books by Australasian philosophers. Keynote Speakers:
  • Prof. Leonard Lawlor (Penn State)
  • Prof. Ewa Ziarek (SUNY Buffalo)
  • Prof. David Wills (SUNY Albany)
  • A/Prof. Nikolas Kompridis (York)

Conference Streams (draft list):

  • Animality and Humanity
  • Human/Post-Human
  • Bare Life and Biopolitics
  • The Posthuman Body
  • Merleau-Ponty
  • Phenomenology of Life
  • Phenomenology and Post-Phenomenology
  • Arendt and the Human Condition
  • Hegel, Desire, Subjectivity
  • Levinas and the Humanism of the Other
  • Humanism and Anti-Humanism
  • The Legacy of Existentialism
  • Comparative Philosophy
  • Philosophy & Literature
  • A Post-Human Aesthetics?
  • Richard Rorty in memoriam
  • Philosophy of the Future
  • The Human To-Come

Abstract Submissions:

Deadline: Friday, September 19, 2008. Paper and panel proposals should be emailed to Dr Simone Drichel at Please include your name, paper title, an abstract (200 words max), plus up to 5 key words.

Further information will be posted here in due course:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

CFP: "Mind, Art and Psychoanalysis: Perspectives on Richard Wollheim," Institute of Philosophy & Heythrop College, University of London, June 20, 2008

Update: June 10, 2008
The conference homepage, including the progamme, is here:
First Posted: January 15, 2008
Richard Wollheim, former Grote Professor of Philosophy of Mind and Logic at University College, London and Mills Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy at University of California, Berkeley, was one of the most original and pre-eminent philosophers of mind and aesthetics of the late 20th century, whose work reached beyond philosophy to engage psychoanalysts and art historians as well. Yet his thought has received comparatively little comment and discussion. This conference seeks to undo some of that neglect. Invited speakers: Anthony Price James Hopkins Derek Matravers The conference will comprise two symposia, one on psychoanalysis, the other on aesthetics, individual papers, and a conference address. Papers We invite papers on any aspect of Wollheim’s philosophy of mind, particularly in relation to psychoanalysis, aesthetics and theories of value. Papers should be presentable in 30-40 minutes. Papers will be considered for publication in a volume of the conference proceedings (publisher TBC). Please send a detailed abstract of 500-1000 words (or a full paper) by March 15, 2008 to: Michael Lacewing Heythrop College Kensington Square London W8 5HQ Or Speakers’ travel expenses within the UK will be reimbursed. Registration For registration and enquiries, please contact Registration fees: Individual members of the Institute of Philosophy: Free Students in an institution with membership of the Institute of Philosophy: £5 Staff in an institution with membership of the Institute of Philosophy: £15 Standard: £20

Carman, Taylor. "Review of Thomas Baldwin, ed. READING MERLEAU-PONTY." NDPR June 14, 2008.

Baldwin, Thomas, ed. Reading Merleau-Ponty: On Phenomenology of Perception. London: Routledge, 2007. This excellent volume contains most of the papers read at an Anglo-French colloquium on Merleau-Ponty held at the Collège de France in the summer of 2005, plus two additional essays (by Sean Kelly and Mark Wrathall) not presented there. The colloquium itself may have been Anglo-French, but the authors are overwhelmingly Anglo. The book is neither an introduction for beginners wholly unfamiliar with Merleau-Ponty's thought nor an academic exercise exclusively for specialists. Instead, the collection offers an engaging mixture of textual interpretation and critical argument to those who already have at least a rough sense of what Phenomenology of Perception is all about. . . . Read the rest here:

"Art, Praxis and Social Transformation: Radical Dreams and Visions," San Francisco State University, November 6-9, 2008.

Eighth Biennial Radical Philosophy Association Conference. Speakers include: George Ciccariello-Maher, Angela Davis, Enrique Dussel, Barbara Epstein, Andrew Feenberg, Ann Ferguson, Juan Flores, Nancy Holmstrom, Alison Jaggar, Douglas Kellner, Agustin Lao-Montes, Tommy Lott, Eduardo Mendieta, Charles Mills, Lucius Outlaw, Carole Pateman, John Sanbonmatsu, Naomi Zack and many others. Conference information is available here:

Berkowitz, Peter. "Answering Edward Said." POLICY REVIEW (June-July 2008).

Warraq, Ibn. Defending the West: a Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2007. In Ibn Warraq, Said and his celebrated Orientalism have found a worthy critic. To be sure, Ibn Warraq is not the first to squarely confront Said. Bernard Lewis exposed massive flaws in Said’s understanding of the Islamic world in a lengthy and sharp 1982 exchange in the New York Review of Books. In a substantial 1999 essay in the New Criterion, Australian writer Keith Windschuttle demonstrated that Said’s depiction of the whole of Oriental studies as a form of imperialism is devoid of serious historical support, both in its depiction of the West and of the East. And in 2001, in Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America, Washington Institute for Near East Studies fellow Martin Kramer chronicled the baleful impact of Said’s writings on Middle East scholars. But Ibn Warraq’s is the first book-length, post-9/11 critique of Said’s views and of the fashionable 'postcolonial studies' paradigm that Orientalism spawned. And, with a rare combination of polemical zest and prodigious learning, it is the first to address and refute Said’s arguments “against the background of a more general presentation of salient aspects of Western civilization.” A pen name taken by the author of Defending the West to protect himself from retribution from Muslims enraged by his writings, Ibn Warraq means “son of a stationer, book-seller, paper-seller.” The name, adopted over the centuries as an alias by dissenting Muslims, evokes the ninth-century figure Muhammad al Warraq, who doubted that Muhammad was a prophet and insisted that the claims of Islam must submit to the authority of reason. It is certainly an apt choice for our generation’s Ibn Warraq, who burst upon the scene in 1995 with his outspoken Why I Am Not A Muslim, then edited five volumes aimed at putting Islam in historical and philosophical context, and, with his most recent book, seeks to set the record straight about two centuries’ worth of Western scholarship of the Arab people and of Islamic civilization. . . . Read the rest here:

"PRACTICAL CRITICISM and its Legacies," English Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University, June 26-27, 2008.

Confirmed keynote speakers:
  • Professor Ben Knights, Director of the English Subject Study Centre
  • Dr Gary Day, De Montfort University

I. A. Richards’ foundational text Practical Criticism, which he described as ‘in part … the record of a piece of field-work in comparative ideology’, was published by Cambridge University Press in 1929. Its methodological and theoretical assumptions constitute the basis of all subsequent teaching and much critical analysis of literary texts. Practical criticism is still the first mode of encounter with literary texts for most students, and major traditions of literary analysis and theory, from New Critical approaches to deconstruction, from psychological and psychoanalytic approaches to linguistic and reader-response theories, owe conceptual and methodological debts to Richards’ project in Practical Criticism. The book provided a series of models for the reading of texts, the comprehension of contexts, and the processes of interpretation, analysis and composition, which has influenced subsequent critical practice in profound ways.

This conference will explore the arguments and assumptions, influences and legacies, reactions against and developments from, and contemporary versions of and responses to the traditions of critical reading established by Richards’ text. A selection of the papers will be included in a planned volume marking in 2009 the 80th anniversary of the publication of Practical Criticism.

The conference website is here:

Monday, June 09, 2008

CFP: 13th International Bakhtin Conference, University of Western Ontario, July 28-August 1, 2008.

Update: June 9, 2008
Plenary Session Speakers: Robert Barsky (Vanderbilt University) Craig Brandist (Sheffield University) Caryl Emerson (Cornell University) Gardiner, Michael (University of Western Ontario) Ken Hirschkop (University of Waterloo) Peter Hitchcock (City University of New York) Michael Holquist (Yale University) Linda Hutcheon (University of Toronto) Stephen Lofts (King’s University College) Vitalii Makhlin (Moscow State Humanities University) David Shepherd (University of Sheffield) Galin Tihanov (Lancaster University) Anthony Wall (University of Calgary) The full programme is here:
First Posted: November 11, 2007
The First International Mikhaïl Bakhtin Conference, organized by Clive Thomson, Anthony Wall, and others, was held at Queen’s University (Canada) in October, 1983. The thirteenth conference will be held as a celebration of the accomplishments of the twelve others that have taken place over the twenty-five years since the first one. The thirteenth conference will also be an occasion to assess the present state of research on the Bakhtin Circle and map out directions for future research. Papers and panel proposals on all aspects of the work of the Bakhtin Circle are welcome: genesis, influences, comparisons, reception, extensions, reformulations, exegesis, textology, translation, teaching, etc. Deadline for Proposals has been extended to December 15, 2007. For further details, please go here:

David, A. P. "Homer and the Mystery of Blushing: Mind, Body and the Distance Between." MORE INTELLIGENT LIFE December 11, 2007.

In his Principles of Psychology James espouses a notion of correlation or correspondence. Like most moderns, he has a preoccupation with the brain—which was unusual in the ancient world. There, it is the chest and lungs that are the seat of consciousness; they are also the bellows that exhale the shapes of air that we call "words". Words are "winged", according to Homer's epithet, because they must fly across a material medium in order to impinge upon another human's sense apparatus, before they can penetrate his consciousness. . . . Read the rest here:

Horgan, John. "The Consciousness Conundrum." IEEE SPECTRUM (June 2008).

Neuroscience is indeed thriving. Membership in the Society for Neuroscience has surged from 500, when it was founded in Washington, D.C., in 1970, to almost 40 000 today. New brain journals seem to spring up daily, crammed with data from ever-more-powerful brain probes such as magnetic-resonance imaging and transcranial magnetic stimulation. In addition to such noninvasive methods, scientists can stick electrodes in brains to monitor and stimulate individual neurons. Researchers are also devising electrode-based “neural prostheses” to help people with nervous-system disorders such as deafness, blindness, paralysis, and memory loss. In spite of all those advances, neuroscientists still do not understand at all how a brain (the squishy agglomeration of tissue and neurons) makes a conscious mind (the intangible entity that enables you to fall in love, find irony in a novel, and appreciate the elegance of a circuit design). “No one has the foggiest notion,” says the neuroscientist Eric Kandel of Columbia University Medical Center, in New York City. “At the moment all you can get are informed, intelligent opinions.” Neuroscientists lack an overarching, unifying theory to make sense of their sprawling and disjointed findings, such as Kandel's Nobel Prize–winning discovery of the chemical and genetic processes that underpin memory formation in sea slugs. . . . Read the rest here:

Rosenfield, Israel, and Edward Ziff. "How the Mind Works: Revelations." NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS June 26, 2008.

Jean-Pierre Changeux is France's most famous neuroscientist. Though less well known in the United States, he has directed a famous laboratory at the Pasteur Institute for more than thirty years, taught as a professor at the Collège de France, and written a number of works exploring 'the neurobiology of meaning.' Aside from his own books, Changeux has published two wide-ranging dialogues about mind and matter, one with the mathematician Alain Connes and the other with the late French philosopher Paul Ricoeur. . . . Read the rest here:

"The Varieties of Moral Experience: a Phenomenological Investigation," Department of Philosophy, Durham University, June 24-25, 2008.

Participants will include members of the Department of Philosophy at Durham University, as well as Shaun Gallagher (University of Central Florida/University of Hertfordshire), Peter Goldie (University of Manchester), Peter Poellner (University of Warwick) and Jan Slaby (University of Osnabruck). For further information, email: Benedict Smith at

CFP: "Literature and Philosophy," Centre for Philosophy and Literature, University of Sussex, June 12-14, 2008.

Update: June 9, 2008
Plenary Talks:
  • Paul Davies: "Living Without Belief: Philosophy and a Fictional World"
  • Alex Garcia-Duttmann: "Literary Examples in Philosophy"
  • Jonathan Lear: "Mythic Justice: Plato's Cave"
  • Stephen Mulhall: "The Wounded Animal: J. M. Coetzee and the Difficulty of Reality"
  • Nicholas Royle: "Miracle Play"
  • Kathleen Stock: "Fictional Desires and Fictional Objects"
  • Kendall Walton: "Poets, Personnae, Thoughtwriters"
The programme may be found here:
First Posted: October 27, 2007
Final Call for papers for the 2008 inaugural conference of the Centre for Literature and Philosophy at the University of Sussex Keynote speakers: Paul Davies, Alex Garcia-Duttmann,Jonathan Lear, Stephen Mulhall, Nicholas Royle, Kendall Walton Theme: Over the last few years there has been a sustained discussion of the relation between philosophy and literature: from within the analytic and the continental philosophical traditions, specific questions are being raised about the metaphysics, value and interpretation of literary texts; from literary theory emerge new forms of literary practice; and, partly as a result of these developments, important questions about disciplinary boundaries are being addressed to both disciplines.The aim of our first conference is to take stock of these developments. The topic of this first conference is deliberately broad:'Philosophy and Literature/Literature and Philosophy' Topics may include: Cognition, emotion, imagination- Autobiography- Fiction and reality- Ethics and literature- Interpretation and psychoanalysis- Critical theory- Philosophy as literature/literature as philosophy Contributions are invited for: A. Panel topics (2-4 speakers) B. Individual papers (40 minutes) C. Graduate papers (for the graduate round tables) Please send proposals (300 words) by the 1st of November 2007 to: K. Deligiorgi, B 346, Centre for Literature and Philosophy, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QNOr: Visit the Centre for Literature and Philosophy website at

PUB: INFORMAL LOGIC 28.2 (2008).

Informal Logic is a peer reviewed journal publishing articles and reviews on topics related to reasoning and argumentation in theory and practice. It is deliberately multi-disciplinary, welcoming theoretical and empirical research from any pertinent field, including, but not restricted to, philosophy, rhetoric, communication, linguistics, psychology, artificial intelligence, education, law. The Contents include the following essays:
  • "Investigating the Shared Background Required for Argument: a Critique of Fogelin’s Thesis on Deep Disagreement" (Abstract PDF) by Dana Phillips 86-101;
  • "Dialectical Relevance and Dialogical Context in Walton’s Pragmatic Theory" (Abstract PDF) by Fabrizio Macagno 102-128;
  • "Arguing from Definition to Verbal Classification: The Case of Redefining 'Planet' to Exclude Pluto" (Abstract PDF) by Douglas Walton 129-154;
  • "Tu Quoque Arguments and the Significance of Hypocrisy" (Abstract PDF) by Scott F. Aikin 155-169.
Further information is here: