Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cfp: "Taking the Body Seriously," Sixth Annual Conference, UK and Ireland Association for Medical Humanities, University of Durham, July 6-8, 2009.

The conference's aim is to bring humanities resources, both single-discipline and inter-disciplinary, to bear upon our understanding of how our bodies constitute both the possibilities of, and the constraints upon, leading flourishing lives. Key themes include: * the role of the body in framing experience, knowledge, values and the imagination * the place of the body in relation to creativity and the arts, both as generator and as object * how science's methods and agenda reflect the fact and form of our embodiment; and * the place of medical conceptions of the body, health and well-being within prevalent contemporary understandings of human flourishing In addition to these themes, there will also be a general section accommodating papers on topics of broad interest within medical humanities. Abstracts of up to 250 words should be submitted electronically by 24th April 2009 to the organisers at Further information is here:

Cfp: "Knowledge, Ethics and Representations of Medicine and Health: Historical Perspectives," Universities of Durham and Newcastle, July 8-11, 2010.

A meeting of the Society for the Social History of Medicine. The organisers welcome proposals for 20-minute papers under the theme above. We particularly encourage papers addressing questions such as: * What processes have generated knowledge about the body, illness and health that has become authoritative in different societies? * How have claims of medical expertise been justified vis à vis claims from other domains of social and cultural authority such as religion and law? * What did it mean for medical practitioners in different cultural and social contexts to claim to be ethical as well as knowledgeable? * How did they present themselves to the public? * What kind of material, visual and textual representations of body, mind, health and disease have gained 'defining power' exerting influence on medical practice and research until today? Please send your proposal by 1 November 2009 to the NCHM (Email: Decisions on papers will be made by January 2010. Organising Committee: Philip van der Eijk (Newcastle University), Holger Maehle (Durham University), Cathy McClive (Durham University), Diana Paton (Newcastle University), Thomas Rütten (Newcastle University), Lutz Sauerteig (Durham University) Further information may be found here:

Cfp: "Translating Bioethics and Humanities," Annual Meeting, American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, Washington DC, October 15, 2009.

Medicine relies on myriad translations: discoveries at the laboratory bench translated to the bedside, innovations in clinical care translated to medical practice and practitioners, and complex technological interventions translated for patients and families making medical decisions. Simultaneously, disciplines must learn how to "speak each other's language" in order to make a meaningful impression on clinical care and health policy. These translations bring both opportunities and challenges. Thresholds of translation, liminal spaces, engender power and danger. In translational medicine, for example, the potential for true innovation is balanced with risks of miscommunication and harm. Interdisciplinary discourse has the potential to create bridges and synergy among radically different viewpoints rather than to expand chasms of influence and meaning. We invite scholars to address the issues of translation in the medical humanities and bioethics. Whether translational work involves bringing ethical theory to the bedside, art and literature to the hospital ward, silenced voices to the mainstream, or basic science to clinical care, proposals that move across discursive thresholds of context are welcomed. 2009 Program Planning Committee: Anne Drapkin Lyerly, MD MA, Co-Chair, Duke University Medical Center Toby Schonfeld, PhD, Co-Chair, University of Nebraska Medical Center Julie M Aultman, PhD MA, Northeastern Ohio University Inmaculada De Melo-Martin, PhD, Weill Medical College of Cornell University Contact the Program Planning Committee at Visit the conference webpage here:

"Nietzsche and Approaches to Ethics," Department of Philosophy, University of Southampton, July 8-9, 2009.

Part of the Nietzsche and Modern Moral Philosophy Project. Speakers: Jessica Berry (Georgia State) Allan Gibbard (Michigan) Robert Louden (S. Maine) Mark Migotti (Calgary) Robert Pippin (Chicago) Peter Poellner (Warwick) Tamsin Shaw (Princeton) Alan Thomas (Kent) (Titles to be confirmed shortly.) For further information, contact Dr. Simon Robertson at; for further details about the project, visit:

Wiebe, Philip. Review of Richard Swinburne's WAS JESUS GOD?. NDPR (March 2009).

Swinburne, Richard. Was Jesus God?. Oxford: OUP, 2008. This book articulates a coherent vision of Christian faith using its tradition, scriptures, creeds, and the views of prominent early theologians. The first half addresses the existence and nature of God, including grounds for considering God to be triune and disposed to co-suffer with humanity. The second half explores the theological significance of the life of Jesus. Swinburne is doing theology here, which can be brought out by reflecting on the remarkable dogma of the Virgin Birth. A historian would ask for the sources on the life of Jesus, and finding some fifty to sixty, would order them chronologically, undertake a comparative analysis, assess them in relation to other historical sources, etc. Upon discovering that this birth is mentioned in very few documents, and knowing that virgin human births (especially of males) are biologically improbable, the historian would conclude that this part of the life of Jesus taught in the Church is a fable. However, a theologian would consult the tradition, texts, and creeds on the matter, and finding that these show some consistency, would advance a Virgin Birth. A critic of Christian faith would wonder why we would do theology when we can do history. Swinburne accepts the fabulous nature of the OT books of Daniel and Jonah, but, unlike many modern exegetes, refuses to regard the Virgin Birth and Resurrection as fables. Swinburne's book is written from within the Church, and attempts to show that if God exists and has the attributes that tradition has given to him, especially the love that marks a triune nature, God will act in history much as tradition has taught. The book will appeal to those who trust the tradition, and possibly to some for whom the Holy Scriptures are the hinge upon which Christian claims depend. Whether Swinburne could convince those who find themselves unable to trust either the tradition or the bible is unclear. . . . Read the whole review here:

Rea, Michael. Review of Paul Moser, ed. JESUS AND PHILOSOPHY. NDPR (March 2009).

Moser, Paul K., ed. Jesus and Philosophy: New Essays. Cambridge: CUP, 2008. Jesus and Philosophy is motivated, so the Preface tells us, by the following question: "What, if anything, does Jesus of Nazareth, the founder of the Christian movement, have to do with philosophy?" Following the editorial introduction, the book falls into three parts: I. Jesus in His First Century Thought Context II. Jesus and Medieval Philosophy III. Jesus in Contemporary Philosophy The first three essays in Part I, as well as the first two essays in Part III, are written by theologians -- Craig A. Evans, James Crenshaw, Luke Timothy Johnson, William J. Abraham, and David Ford. Evans and Johnson are best known for their work in New Testament studies, Crenshaw for his work on Old Testament wisdom literature, and Abraham and Ford for their work in contemporary Christian thought. Paul Gooch, most of whose work lies at the intersection of philosophy and biblical studies, contributes the final essay in part I. The remaining essays are written by philosophers whose work will already be known to most of those reading this review -- Gareth Matthews, Brian Leftow, Nicholas Wolterstorff, and Charles Taliaferro. . . . Read the whole review here:

"Philosophy and/as Literature," King’s College London, May 5-6, 2009.

Tuesday 5th May 9.30-10.00 coffee 10-10.50 Josh Billings (Oxford): ‘The Idea of Hamlet’ 10.50-11.45 Niklas Forsberg (Uppsala): ‘Running Out of Arguments: On Iris Murdoch "Resorting" to Literature’ 12-12.50 Craig Taylor (Flinders): ‘Literature, Value and Ambiguity’ 1.30-2.20 Joanne Waugh (South Florida/Tampa): ‘Philosophia, Poiesis and Paideia: the Republic Revisited’ 2.25-3.15 Nora Hämäläinen (Helsinki): ‘Literature, Moral Realism and Rorty’ 3.30-4.20 Íngrid Vendrell Ferran (Geneva): ‘Unamuno’s Philosophy of Tragic Passions’ 4.25-5.15 Sophie Djigo (Amiens): ‘Satire and Moral Perfectionism in Musil’s Novel’ Wednesday 6th May 10-10.50 Abigail Bright (Oxford/London): ‘What would be the significance of identifying features of reasoning intrinsic to philosophy but not to philosophical literature?’ 10.50-11.45 Manolis Simos (Cambridge): ‘Remarks on the Concept of a Literary Philosophy’ 12-12.50 Julia Peters (Berlin) ‘Self-Knowledge, Teleology and Involuntary Memory: On a Hegelian Element in Proust’s Recherche’ 1.30-2.20: Torsten Pettersson (Uppsala): ‘The Decay of Dying: Questioning the Detective Novel from the Viewpoint of Moral Philosophy; 2.25-3.15: Mikel Burley (Leeds): ‘Philosophizing Through Grief: C. S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed (With Several Allusions to Wittgenstein)’ 3.30-4.20 Stefano Marino (Bologna): ‘Theodor W. Adorno: Philosophy as More Than Just a Kind of Writing’ 4.25-5.15 María José Alcaraz León (Murcia): ‘Responding to Fiction as a Form of Self-Knowledge’ Further information is available from:

Im, Manyul. Review of Karyn Lai's AN INTRODUCTION TO CHINESE PHILOSOPHY. NDPR (March 2009).

Lai, Karyn L. An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy. Cambridge: CUP, 2008. It is noteworthy that the two most recent textbooks that bear this title, the current one by Karyn Lai, and one by JeeLoo Liu (2006, Blackwell; also reviewed on NDPR), limit themselves to introducing the reader to early Chinese philosophy (Warring States period through the Han -- roughly 5th century BCE through 3rd century CE) and the early schools of Chinese Buddhism (from ca. 1st through 6th centuries CE). This means that the title is quite misleading for both volumes since there are also significant periods of Chinese philosophy in the Tang, Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties, and up to the post-dynastic present; so, roughly 1400 years of the 2500-year tradition are not represented. The similarity and temporal proximity of the two textbooks invites comparison, but for the purposes of this review, I will leave that exercise to others. Lai's volume is interesting and bold, as introductory textbooks go. There are aspects to her approach that those who are concerned with issues of historiography will find controversial. Those who care more about comparative philosophy should be pleased to find that Lai's presentation of Chinese philosophy provides a very useful update to the collection of textbooks that are available. Lai's discussion provides an excellent sense of the most current interpretations and uses of early Chinese thought by philosophers who, like Lai herself, work in Chinese and comparative philosophy. . . . Read the rest here:

Driver, Julia. "The History of Utilitarianism." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY March 27, 2009.

Utilitarianism is one of the most powerful and persuasive approaches to normative ethics in the history of philosophy. Though not fully articulated until the 19th century, proto-utilitarian positions can be discerned throughout the history of ethical theory. Though there are many varieties of the view discussed, Utilitarianism is generally held to be the view that the morally right action is the action that produces the most good. There are many ways to spell out this general claim. One thing to note is that the theory is a form of consequentialism: the right action is understood entirely in terms of consequences produced. What distinguishes Utilitarianism from Egoism has to do with the scope of the relevant consequences. On the Utilitarian view one ought to maximize the overall good—that is, consider the good of others as well as one's own good. The Classical Utilitarians, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, identified the good with pleasure, so, like Epicurus, were hedonists about value. They also held that we ought to maximize the good, that is, bring about ‘the greatest amount of good for the greatest number’. Utilitarianism is also distinguished by impartiality and agent-neutrality. Everyone's happiness counts the same. When one maximizes the good, it is the good impartially considered. My good counts for no more than anyone else's good. Further, the reason I have to promote the overall good is the same reason anyone else has to so promote the good. It is not peculiar to me. All of these features of this approach to moral evaluation and/or moral decision-making have proven to be somewhat controversial and subsequent controversies have led to changes in the Classical version of the theory. . . . Read the rest here:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Birnbaum, Norman. "The Half-Forgotten Prophet: C. Wright Mills." THE NATION March 11, 2009.

I first read C. Wright Mills in Dwight Macdonald's all too short-lived journal Politics in 1944. It was an essay on the plight of the intellectuals. I was 18 at the time and thought there was nothing better than becoming an intellectual--and I suppose I had John Dewey's influence on the New Deal generation in mind. Mills's earliest academic work was on American pragmatism, which he viewed as our way of connecting present and future, a dramaturgy of historical purpose. By the time I heard Mills speak, at a meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society in 1948, he had become exceedingly pessimistic about the liberating power of thought. That made sense to me. I was studying sociology in the graduate program at Harvard, where themes like class, gender and race were assiduously underemphasized. In the larger university there was almost nothing to be heard of Joseph Schumpeter's claim that intellectuals were ineradicably anticapitalist. Harvard's professors were too busy flying to Washington to staff the agencies of our expanding imperial power. One could not emigrate to Columbia University to study with Mills. His appointment was at Columbia College, and he warned graduate students away: he was thought an outsider in the "profession," and association with him was unhelpful to their careers. Still, it was Mills (and to be sure, David Riesman) whom the New York intellectuals and their readers in the universities thought of when they thought of sociology at all. Mills was the self-designated survivor of a tradition of large historical and social criticism in American sociology that had largely disappeared by the time he apprenticed himself to it. . . . Read the rest here:

Gifford, Paul. "The Ultimate French Intellectual: Paul Valéry." TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT March 11, 2009.

Jarrety, Michel. Paul Valery. Paris: Fayard, 2008. T. S. Eliot hailed Paul Valéry as the representative poet of the first half of the twentieth century (“not Rilke, not Yeats, nor anyone else”). This new biography broadens the specification: the most distinguished, versatile and best-connected mind of his time; the ultimate French intellectual; le contemporain capital, whose life (from 1871 to 1945) forms the most searching prism held up to a world-changing epoch of European history. Such large claims belong implicitly to this doorstopper of a book, over 1,300 pages in length, richly illustrated and with scholarly notes for specialist readers, as well as a serviceable index (helpful to the far greater number who will consult it as a reference work). The thoroughness of Michel Jarrety’s research produces a plethora of evidence: private letters made available by copyright-holders, memoirs of contemporaries, recently published diaries of key figures in Valéry’s personal life, newspaper articles and reviews; the proceedings of the organizations in which he held high office, personal papers of all kinds (love poems, draft letters, invitations, bank statements, stock exchange reports – Valéry threw nothing away). Scaling the paper mountain, his biographer has resolved to tell the whole story, and does so with chronological deliberateness, at the rate of roughly a chapter per adult year. Jarrety’s very readable narrative marshals a teeming cast of characters in an elegant and quietly dramatic life history which recounts his intellectual hero’s obscure early career as minor Symbolist poet, then as withdawn and solitary thinker, emerging to a late and paradoxical fame in 1917 with the publication of La Jeune Parque; and thence to international stardom as a roving ambassador for the Third Republic and the League of Nations. . . . Read the whole review here:

Tiersma, Peter. "What is Language and Law and Does Anyone Care?" LAW AND LANGUAGE. Ed. Frances Olsen, et al.

Abstract: There has been growing attention paid recently to the interdisciplinary study of language and law. This article explores the nature and parameters of this relatively new discipline, including its relationship to related areas such as law and semiotics, literature, and forensic linguistics. Although the study of language and law has been advancing, it nonetheless remains a relatively marginal and underappreciated field. The article concludes with some suggestions for making the field more prominent. Download the whole essay here:

Some Interesting Recent Items on Research and Publishing in Academe.

Coates, Ken. "Knowledge Overload." Inside Higher Ed March 23, 2009:
There is a fundamental problem here that needs to be addressed. . . . A significant number of articles, including many published in small circulation periodicals, are never cited by anyone. Think, too, of the conferences papers that fail to attract meaningful audiences, the journals that have tiny circulations and very small readerships, and the fact that most academic books are published in press runs of under 1,000 copies, despite the growth in the number of academics and university and college libraries. Put bluntly, we are researching without having an impact, speaking without being heard and writing without being read. Furthermore, our tenure and promotion procedures reward publication more than they do awareness of the field, thus pushing up conference attendance, and journal and book submissions. New technologies certainly do find things faster and share them more broadly. Digitized materials are readily assembled and moved from producers to libraries to end-users. But there is a major impediment to improvement in this regard: the capacity to read. No one has yet found a system that will truly allow us to assimilate new research more effectively. And so, we read indexes rather than journals, abstracts rather than papers, review essays rather than books. Awash in a sea of academic discourse and analysis, we look desperately for an intellectual life-raft, all the while feverishly seeking to add to the accumulated scholarly wisdom ourselves. It is time to take a very deep breath and to step well back from our current approach to academic dissemination and publication. . . . (
"Farewell to the Printed Monograph." Inside Higher Ed March 23, 2009:
The University of Michigan Press is announcing today that it will shift its scholarly publishing from being primarily a traditional print operation to one that is primarily digital. Within two years, press officials expect well over 50 of the 60-plus monographs that the press publishes each year -- currently in book form -- to be released only in digital editions. Readers will still be able to use print-on-demand systems to produce versions that can be held in their hands, but the press will consider the digital monograph the norm. Many university presses are experimenting with digital publishing, but the Michigan announcement may be the most dramatic to date by a major university press. The shift by Michigan comes at a time that university presses are struggling. With libraries' budgets constrained, many presses have for years been struggling to sell significant numbers of monographs -- which many junior professors need to publish to earn tenure -- and those difficulties have only been exacerbated by the economic downturn. The University of Missouri Press and the State University of New York Press both have announced layoffs in recent months, while Utah State University Press is facing the possibility of a complete elimination of university support. Michigan officials say that their move reflects a belief that it's time to stop trying to make the old economics of scholarly publishing work. "I have been increasingly convinced that the business model based on printed monograph was not merely failing but broken," said Phil Pochoda, director of the Michigan press. "Why try to fight your way through this? Why try to remain in territory you know is doomed? Scholarly presses will be primarily digital in a decade. Why not seize the opportunity to do it now?". . . . (
"Unread Monographs, Uninspired Undergrads." Inside Higher Ed March 18, 2009:
Scholarly output rises; undergraduates are disengaged. “This is the real calamity of the research mandate -- 10,000 harried professors forced to labor on disregarded print, and 100,000 unwitting students missing out on rigorous face-to-face learning,” Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University, writes in a new paper on relieving research expectations in the humanities. “I think these two trends -- to do more and more research and less academic engagement on the freshman level -- are not unrelated,” Bauerlein said in an interview about “Professors on the Production Line, Students on their Own." The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research released the paper Tuesday. “The incentives are obvious. If you’re a professor whose future depends on the amount of pages you produce, then all those hours you spend talking to freshmen about their majors, about their ideas, about their summer reading … really paying attention to these wayward 18-year-olds who are fresh out of high school, you’re hurting yourself," says Bauerlein, author of The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Penguin, 2008). Bauerlein considers research on student engagement and data on trends in scholarly publishing -- and sales -- in arguing his case. He cites 2008 National Survey of Student Engagement figures showing that 38 percent of first-year students “never” discuss ideas from readings with their instructors outside of class, while 39 percent do "sometimes." Meanwhile, he writes that scholarly book output in literary studies has outpaced growth of the professoriate by a magnitude of three. Scholarly consumption has not kept up accordingly. Average sales for literature and language monographs are in the low to mid-hundreds, Bauerlein writes, and he cites Association of Research Libraries data finding that the number of monographs purchased by research libraries rose just 1 percent between 1986 and 2006. . . . (
"Style: MLA, Updated." Inside Higher Ed March 11, 2009:
Even in citations, print is the default no more. The seventh edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, released Tuesday, states that the Modern Language Association no longer recognizes print as the default medium, and suggests that the medium of publication should be included in each works cited entry. Moreover, the MLA has ceased to recommend inclusion of URLs in citing Web-based works – unless the instructor requires it or a reader would likely be unable to locate the source otherwise. “Inclusion of URLs has proved to have limited value… for they often change, can be specific to a subscriber or a session of use, and can be so long and complex that typing them into a browser is cumbersome and prone to transcription errors. Readers are now more likely to find resources on the Web by searching for titles and authors' names than by typing URLs,” states the handbook. . . . (
"Universities Urged to Ensure 'Broadest Possible Access' to Scholarship." Chronicle of Higher Education February 12, 2009:
With digital technologies profoundly changing how researchers produce and share scholarship, universities must take a “much more active role” in disseminating that work. That is the central message of a “call to action” issued jointly today by the Association of Research Libraries, the Association of American Universities, the Coalition for Networked Information, and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges. . . . (

McLemee, Scott. "Examined Life." INSIDE HIGHER ED January 14, 2009.

Wandering around the Lyceum with an entourage, Aristotle would hold forth on his conception of the universe: one in which God is the Unmoved Mover, while all else shuttles between the potential and the actual. Part of what we know about Aristotle’s thought comes via notes from those lectures. (You picture a student scribbling furiously as the philosopher pauses to dislodge a stone from his sandal.) This picture does not square with the usual notion of intellectual activity, which is a cross between Descartes’s self-portrait (the cogito talking to itself in a warm room) and Rodin’s nude dude. But there is a counter-tradition in philosophy -- one which takes thought to be, in essence, shambolic. “A sedentary life is the real sin against the Holy Spirit,” says Nietzsche, blaspheming tongue not entirely in cheek. “Only those thoughts that come by walking have any value.” And more recently, Martha Nussbaum has insisted that running is an organic part of the philosopher’s professional ethos: “Lawyers tend to be tennis and squash players -- maybe it's the competitive element -- but philosophers tend to be runners, perhaps because of the loner, contemplative quality." All of this by way of introduction to Examined Life, the latest documentary by Astra Taylor, whose Žižek! now turns up on the Sundance Channel from time to time. Taylor’s camera follows nine thinkers of various disciplinary extractions -- here’s a list -- as they walk on the street, ride in the backseat of a car, paddle around the pond in New York’s Central Park, and haul luggage around an international airport. They speak for about 10 minutes each -- sometimes in dialogue with Taylor or one another, sometimes in peripatetic soliloquy. The trailer for Examined Life is now up on YouTube, though viewers should be warned against trying to form an impression of the film from it. "Examined Life" is more than an anthology of short lectures by famous talking heads. Taylor's intelligence as a documentarian extends to both content and form. The film is put together with a subtlety and wit that two minutes of highlights cannot capture. And she has not only scouted interesting or appropriate settings for her subjects (Anthony Appiah discussing cosmopolitanism in an airport, Slavoj Žižek challenging liberal environmentalism in a trash dump) but found common themes and points of implicit conflict among them. But then Taylor takes another step. What might seem like a gimmick (the “philosopher-in-the-street” interview format, as I called it when blogging about the trailer last week) becomes a way to reflect on questions of context, meaning, and mobility. She does not explicitly mention Aristotle and Nietzsche, but the allusions are there, even so. Confirmation of this comes in her introduction to a book that The New Press will publish this June, based on interviews that Taylor did for the film. There, she cites another inspiration for her approach: Rousseau’s Reveries of a Solitary Walker. . . . Read the rest here:

Ivry, Benjamin. "The Private Barthes." CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION March 20, 2009.

Nearly three decades after he was hit and fatally injured by a laundry van in a Paris street, the French literary theorist and critic Roland Barthes still enjoys rare prestige in his native land as well as in the English-speaking world. Generally considered the most readable of his generation of theoreticians, which also includes Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida, Barthes has further benefited from being translated into English by the extremely able Richard Howard. Barthes titles that were Englished by Howard, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet as well as prolific translator, include Système de la mode (The Fashion System), L'Empire des signes (Empire of Signs), and Fragments d'un discours amoureux (A Lover's Discourse: Fragments). To this rich legacy may be added two titles that appeared in France last month, amid some controversy: Journal de deuil (Bereavement Diary) and Carnets du voyage en Chine (China Travel Notebook). . . . Read the rest here:

Cfp: Beckman, Frida, ed. DELEUZE AND SEX. Edinburgh UP, 2010.

"Making love is not just becoming as one,or even two, but becoming as a hundred thousand" (Anti-Oedipus). For Gilles Deleuze, sexuality has a central role in the production of thought, bodies, and becomings. True thought, he argues in Logic of Sense, is possible only when it is liberated from the notion of castration as transcendent law. Castration needs to be thought of, instead, as a crack, a fracture that does not produce a lack but a surface of thought, “projecting the entire corporeal surface of sexuality over the metaphysical surface of thought.” Sexuality, then, is linked closely to the possibility of immanence and thinking; the event of thought. If the transcendent law of castration results in a blockage of thought, it also results in the mastering and moulding of the sexual body into the molar notion of two sexes rather than the (pregenital) Harlequins cloak to which Deleuze compares it. The sexual surfaces of the libido are restricted, blocked, and reduced and thereby their flows are repressed “in order to contain them in the narrow cells of the type ‘couple,’ ‘family,’ ‘person,’ ‘objects.’” However, the sexual body is seen to retain a revolutionary potential and sexuality is seen as a source of becoming; there is immense power in the thousand sexes of desiring-machines, in sexuality beyond the “all too human” idea of castration as absence, and in the multiplicity of surfaces that are opened up in its place. This collection seeks to address the notion of sexuality, not so much as instinct but as creation, not so much as a transcendent mode of organization but as a revolutionary machine. It wants to know the potential of sexuality when liberated from genitality as well as antrophomorphic presuppositions. It is therefore interested in exploring areas such as for example sexuality and the machinic, sexuality and surfaces, and sexuality and animality. It asks about the ontology of sex and how we can begin to know of it when it is no longer captive to molar representations. Investigating the strengths and potentials but also the weaknesses and dangers that sexuality open for thinking, bodies, and becomings, it pursues the ethic, aesthetic, political, and philosophical dimensions of Deleuze’s work on sexuality. Importantly, contributors should note that this edited collection follows on edited books in the same series focusing on Deleuze and Feminist Theory, Deleuze and Queer Theory, and Deleuze and the Body (forthcoming). While aspects of gender, queer, and the body will be likely, as well as welcome in this new collection, it is crucial that articles focus specifically on the possibilities of sexual practice in the revisiting of such issues. Abstracts should be submitted electronically to the editor no later than May 1st 2009:

Cfp: "Deleuze and Activism," Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory, Cardiff University, November 11-13, 2009.

When Deleuze and Guattari wrote Anti-Oedipus they hoped it would be a resource to arms for dissidents and political activists. Rather than set out a program of change, they tried to isolate the political, cultural and economic factors that inhibit change. In so doing they created a work that was instantly recognised as a philosophical watershed. It changed the landscape of political theory in a single sweep. Subsequent works developed this analysis further, creating a formidable armoury of critical tools with which to face a world increasingly indifferent to philosophy. This conference seeks to examine the Deleuzian legacy from the point of view of radical politics. It seeks to analyse both what he and Guattari wrote on the subject and more particularly to see what their writings enable us to say now. Keynote Speakers: Paul Patton Jeremy Gilbert Nathan Widder Ian Buchanan Convened by Dr. Marcelo Svirsky, Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory, Cardiff University. For more information, please contact:

"Meaning and Interaction," Department of Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies. University of the West of England, April 23-25, 2009.

The conference aims to disseminate cutting edge, multi-disciplinary research in the area of meaning in interaction. It is unique in bringing together scholars working on meaning in interaction and others working on the impact of interaction on language structure. The two constituencies share an interest in the manner in which meaning is co-constructed and negotiated between interactants, thus leading to a form/function reconfiguration. The complexities of the interpretation of meaning can be more acute in intercultural encounters. The conference thus extends its scope to include the relatively new sub-discipline of intercultural pragmatics. It is timely in reflecting a rising interest across a number of fields in issues in interpreting meaning. Keynote Speakers: Professor Janet Holmes, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ, Professor Elizabeth Traugott, Stanford University, USA, Dr Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini, University of Nottingham Trent, Dr Helen Spencer-Oatey, University of Warwick, Dr Véronique Traverso, Université de Lyon Email: Dr Jo Angouri and Dr Kate Beeching Further information may be found here:

Yanal, Robert J. Review of Peter Lamarque's THE PHILOSOPHY OF LITERATURE. NDPR (March 2009).

Lamarque, Peter. The Philosophy of Literature. Oxford: Blackwell, 2009. The Philosophy of Literature is another installment in the Foundations of the Philosophy of the Arts series, which "is designed to provide a comprehensive but flexible series of concise texts addressing both fundamental general questions about art as well as questions about the several arts". Peter Lamarque, formerly editor of the British Journal of Aesthetics, has made a specialty of the philosophy of literature, having authored two books in this area (with Stein Haugom Olsen Truth, Fiction and Literature (1994), and Fictional Points of View (1996), along with a goodly number of articles. I shall not here describe points of similarity with or departure from Lamarque's previous work. Appropriately for a book that presents itself as an introduction to the field, Lamarque gives a historical overview of various sub-topics in the philosophy of literature as well as supplementary readings for each chapter. The topics canvassed are: literature-as-art; the role of the author (including attention to the intentional "fallacy"), reading a work of art-literature (including issues regarding interpretation), issues raised by works of fiction (including the ontology of fictional characters and emotions towards fiction), literary truth (what it might be); and the evaluation of literature (including the formation of a "canon" and "ethical criticism"). There are many topics I haven't listed (hence "including"), and certainly many topics I cannot touch on in this review. Indeed, I shall focus on one topic here: the definition of literature (which does seem to be Lamarque's principal concern). His Preface begins, "What exactly is it to view literature as art?" (vii), implying that the book is an exploration of various issues that arise from this very question. There is one general objection I have to this, though it isn't terribly serious. Some issues touched on in the book do directly relate to the problem of defining art-literature. If a text is art-literature, we might adopt approaches to it that are like those we would take towards other art forms (e.g., attention to form and structure, special ways of evaluation). But other issues can be raised quite independently of whether a text is art-literature: interpretation, the ontology of fiction, and emotion towards fiction, to name three. The same issues that arise with the interpretation of art-literature come up with the interpretation of non-art texts, such as legal contracts. That is, the fact that a certain text is a work of art is not always what forces issues of interpretation. Too, "Not all novels . . . are 'literary' " (31), but even fictional stories that are not art-literature raise issues of ontology and emotional reaction. (What, if anything, does "Sherlock Holmes" refer to? What is the nature of our emotional response to reading "The Adventure of the Speckled Band"?) Literary theorists -- New Critics, Structuralists, etc. -- are not interested in the problem of when a text is a work of literary art (though something like it arises as the problem of canon formation). Philosophers, though, are interested in definition, and the standard form of the analytical problematic is to seek necessary and sufficient conditions for "X is a work of literary art". . . . Notwithstanding Yanal's limited understanding of literary theory in the paragraph above (where does he get the idea that literary theorists are uninterested in the "problem of when a text is a work of literary art" and what has this to do with "canon formation" exactly?), read the rest here:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Pro and Contra: Ethical Values in Literature?," Interdisciplinary Workshop, University of Tuebingen, April 23-25, 2009.

A workshop on Robert Musil’s The Man without Qualities and Fedor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. Organisation: Prof. Dr. Sabine Döring, Dr. Catrin Misselhorn, Prof. Dr. Schamma Schahadat, Dr. Irina Wutsdorff Within the framework of this workshop issues concerning the ethical assessment of works of literature will be discussed from a philosophical as well as a literary perspective. Philosophers have recently provided controversial answers to the question whether, if at all, moral criteria should play any role in assessing pieces of art. With regard to literature the following questions ensue: In which way are ethical topoi and issues inscribed in literary works of art? What are the poetological consequences of ethical claims on literature as is predominantly the case in Russian culture. The novels The Brothers Karamazov by Fedor Dostoyevsky and The Man without Qualities by Robert Musil will serve as a primary point of reference. Speakers include: Gottfried Gabriel, Berys Gaut, Peter Goldie, and Matthew Kieran. Participation is free of charge, but the number of participants is limited and registration is required. Please contact: for further information.

"Thinking with Spinoza: Politics, Philosophy and Religion," Birkbeck College, University of London, May 7-8, 2009.

Does religious pluralism undermine political co-operation? Does religion differ from superstition? What is the scope of philosophical knowledge? Can it live alongside religious faith? How can states combine pluralism with solidarity? How deeply does political co-operation depend on imagined narratives? These and other themes of Spinoza’s seminal Theologico-Political Treatise will be discussed. Speakers: Etienne Balibar (Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities), "Spinoza’s Three Gods and the Modes of Communication" Aaron Garrett, (Boston University), "Knowing the Essence of the State"
 Don Garrett (New York University), "Spinoza’s ‘Promising’ Ideas: Contract and Covenant in the Theologico-Political Treatise"
 Moira Gatens (University of Sydney), "Compelling Fictions: Spinoza and George Eliot on Belief and Faith" 
 Susan James (Birkbeck College), "When does Truth Matter? The Politics of Spinoza’s Philosophy"
 Warren Montag (Occidental College), "Lucretius Hebraizant: Spinoza’s Reading of Ecclesiastes" Pierre-Francois Moreau (Ecole Normale Supérieure des Lettres et Sciences Humaines, Lyon), "From Scripture to Nations: Spinoza’s Theory of History in the Theologico-Political Treatise" Further attraction: Beth Lord (University of Dundee) will launch the Spinoza Research Network Visit the conference webpage here:

Mooney, Edward F. Review of M. Jamie Ferreira's KIERKEGAARD. NDPR (March 2009).

Ferreira, M. Jamie. Kierkegaard. Oxford: Blackwell, 2009. Jamie Ferreira has written in short compass a subtle account of a writer in many ways uniquely difficult to summarize. Kierkegaard managed to deliver an abundance of 'perspicuous presentations' of the literary, philosophical, and religious strata of the culture he inhabited, and of the psychological, or 'spiritual' types it enclosed or set free. These efforts were, as Ferreira points out, simultaneously poetic and philosophical. The same Wittgenstein who called Kierkegaard the best of 19th century philosophers, wrote that 'philosophy ought really to be written only as a poetic composition'. And is there one way to write a poem? Kierkegaard's works are infinitely inventive in genre and presentation, which only adds to the difficulty of summarizing. Ferreira claims, and I agree, that no other thinker writes across as great a number of genres with as many literary devices, often deployed for novel and enigmatic ends -- not Plato, not Rousseau, not Sartre, not Nietzsche. He puts at his disposal lyric, satire, novella, slapstick, gentle humor, irony, bathos, fragment, tome, epistolary exchange, titillating confession, feuilleton, sermon, sophisticated academic polemic, newsprint screed, literary criticism, sociological analysis, journals, a book of absolutely nothing but prefaces, a 500 page 'postscript' to a book called Philosophical Fragments (or perhaps better, 'Crumbs' or 'Scraps' -- smuler) -- a 'postscript' that includes at the end its own retraction. Ferreira's challenge is to bring out an underlying order to this apparently unruly yet alluringly brilliant outpouring. Those who know Ferreira's previous Kierkegaard work will not be surprised at her meticulous care in rendition as she undertakes walking us through the twisting arguments of over 30 books in under 200 pages. The effect is like letting the eye follow the strings of streets and buildings in those marvelous etched overviews of Paris, streets laid out with care, with glimpses of the partial exteriors of hundreds of varied buildings and the occasional park or riverbank, cramped, in miniature, yet inviting and riveting nonetheless. Before beginning these street-by-street, building-by-building walks, she provides general cautions. One caution is her reminder that Kierkegaard's writings are not just poetic philosophy (or philosophical poetry) but simultaneously psychological, personal and religious, and that in their attack on bourgeois culture, they are also sociological and political. Apart from his 'discourses', which assume the recognizable shape of a sermon, no single piece of his output can be pigeonholed. Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard tells us, is a dialectical-lyric -- but exactly what genre is that? The Postscript is not just 'unscientific'; it is "a mimical-pathetical-dialectical compilation" -- and what's that? Nor can we pigeonhole the oeuvre in toto. We're dealing with multiple dimensions, imbrications, and tangles. Kierkegaard continually confounds the ready-made distinctions among the psychological, personal, literary, religious, moral, and social (and so forth). An overview can't tease out each of these dimensions and their interweaving in a particular work, but we need Ferreira's caution that these texts are multi-layered in this way. There is a second caution to bear in mind. Kierkegaard hardly ever leaves us with a simple conclusion or position. He develops positions contrapuntally and in tension with their contraries, avoiding dialectical "one-sidedness", as Ferreira puts it. Truth may involve the subjective standpoint, but it is also, we're told, objectivity. The ethical life may be an advance on the rootlessness of the aesthetic, yet that very rootlessness can verge on the religious. By constantly qualifying his positions, Kierkegaard escapes premature closure or theoretical finality. Pronounced theses can solidify into one-sided dogmas. He subverts this possibility by having earlier texts qualify later ones, by having this pseudonym counter that, by having the author of Postscript take back his arguments at the finish. Dialectical and dialogical tensions put on hold simple once-for-all conclusions. Furthermore, his lavish use of pseudonyms (Hilarius Bookbinder, Johannes de Silentio, The Watchman of Copenhagen, and over half a dozen others) leaves it always open for a reader to inquire whether a position is Kierkegaard's or only the pseudonym's -- the pseudonym perhaps speaking against Kierkegaard. It only complicates matters that even the signature "S. Kierkegaard" seems to function sometimes as a pseudonym. If this is a dizzying hall of mirrors, it is also irresistible and revealing. Ferreira's third caution makes salient a feature of Kierkegaard's corpus often overlooked or underplayed. Specialists know that alongside the pseudonymous production (Either/Or, Fear and Trembling, and the like) Kierkegaard published many slim books of sermonic 'discourses' or 'talks' under his own name. Ferreira makes this fact explicit, employing the interweaving strands in a 'visual' organizational device. As she sees it, rather than a single line of publication, Kierkegaard's works appear as a double unfolding. As Either/Or appeared, so did a set of 'complementary' discourses; along with Fear and Trembling, a different set of coordinate discourses appeared. It's like a double helix, two spiraling lines in temporally extended conversation. Ferreira is the first to tell the story of Kierkegaard's authorship keeping these talks constantly in view along with the wider drama of the pseudonyms. . . . Read the whole review here:

"Religion and Politics of the Body," Second Biannual Conference, Nordic Society for Philosophy of Religion, University of Iceland, June 26-28, 2009.

Keynote Speakers: Bettina Bergo Raja Ben Slama Deadline for submission is April 1, 2009. Please submit your proposal in the form of an abstract of maximum one A4 page (250 words) to For further information, visit the conference webpage here:

Cfp: "time • transcendence • performance," School of English, Communications and Performance Studies, Monash University, October 1-3, 2009.

Call for Papers, Presentations and Performances The number of motion in respect of before and after? Irrecuperable diachrony of pure passingness? Reversible? Relative? Real? Living present? Original transcendence? Structure of consciousness? The various Western philosophical traditions have, since their inception, continuously attempted to grapple with the question of time, but still, the problems remain unsolved, the paradoxes tangled, the contradictions unsettled. Performers and artists understand time as an essential dimension of their media. Many contemporary artists foreground the temporal as a theme in their practice and making. Movements, rhythms, bodies, sounds, objects, experiences, memories, dreams, imaginings and dwellings are recorded, performed and activated in their duration, moment, event and passing. time transcendence performance brings together the expertise and experiences of scholars and artists in a format that permits the thinking and doing of time with an aim towards mutual elucidation. Drawing together papers, panels, diverse performance practices, exhibitions, installations, screenings and workshops, this transdisciplinary conference and inter-media event initiates a global discussion, investigation and critique of temporality in its performative, phenomenological and transcendental dimensions. The tangible consequences of this cross-fertilisation offers promise for researchers, scholars and artists alike. To begin this gathering and discussion, this conference invites presenters across discourses, disciplines and media, questioning and emphasising the taken for granted yet complex and mysterious phenomenon of time. Confirmed Keynote Speakers include: Professor Andrew Benjamin (Monash University, Australia) Professor Alphonso Lingis (Emeritus, Penn State University, US) Dr Erin Manning (Research Chair, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada) Professor Brian Massumi (Université de Montreal, Canada) Associate Professor Ian Maxwell (The University of Sydney, Australia) Assistant Professor Lanei Rodemeyer (Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, US) Professor Anthony J Steinbock (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, US) Draft Program of Events 1-2 October – Key Note Speakers (4), papers, panels, presentations, ongoing screenings, exhibition at Caulfield Campus, Monash University 1-2 October – Workshops, practice-based research at DanceHouse, Carlton 3 October – Key Note Speakers (3), showings and performances Evening 1 October – Messianic Dinner Installation (outside); screenings Evening 2 October - Guided temporal walk through City; screenings Evening 3 October – Closing Reception Bohemian Ball - live music and performances, City location Proposals are invited in, but not limited to, the following categories: 1. Paper Presentation (20 mins) 2. Panel Presentation (1 Hour) 3. Discussion Group (I Hour max) 4. Workshop for conference participants 5. Practice based research with showing 6. Performance or performative event 7. Exhibition of solo or group work 8. Screenings 9. Installations 10. New media work (subject to own technical provision) 11. On-line presentation Proposals are invited on - not limited to - the following suggested areas from any discipline. Papers, presentations, performances will be considered on any related theme. • temporalities of performance • the temporalization of time • time-based performance • time as performance • performing the past • presenting, awaiting, remembering • memory • body as a site for/of transcendence • the performance of the everyday • time as transcendence • performative transcendences • the infinite • the problem of immediacy • being in the moment • audience temporalities • diachrony • digital time • time and realism • flow • rhythm • time and movement • change • kinaesthetic temporality • death and finitude • time and place • revelation, creation and redemption • the transcendental ground of time • the actual and the possible • messianic time • kairos and chronos • the fullness of time • the right time • ripeness • the now • being here • passing • birth, growth, senescence, decay • present and presencing • duration • the present expanse • endurance • time and violence • in god’s time • time and technology • mediated time • lost time • boredom • durational performance • ectstasis • irreal time • world time Submission Guidelines for Papers and Presentation Proposals Email abstracts and presentation proposals to:; For further information, visit:

"On FOUCAULT," Volcanic Lines: Deleuzian Research Group, Department of Philosophy, University of Greenwich, April 18, 2009.

A Workshop on Gilles Deleuze’s Book Foucault. Presentations by: Matt Lee (Greenwich) Rodrigo Nunes (Goldsmiths) Alberto Toscano (Goldsmiths) Edward Willatt (Greenwich) Free entry but please register by e-mailing us at; Lunch and coffee is unfortunately NOT provided but there are many coffee shops, cafes and food shops near to campus. For further information, visit

Cfp: "A Secular Age: Tracing the Contours of Religion and Belief," Mater Dei Institute of Education, Dublin, Ireland, June 8-11, 2009.

Plenary speakers include: Professor Ruth Abbey (University of Notre Dame, USA) Professor Eamonn Conway (Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Ireland) Professor Michael Conway (Pontifical University of Maynooth, Ireland) Professor Michael Cronin (Dublin City University, Ireland) Dr. Conor Cunningham (University of Nottingham, UK) Dr. Joseph Dunne (St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra, Dublin City University, Ireland) Professor Michael Paul Gallagher (Gregorian University, Rome) Dr. Padraig Hogan (National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland) Professor Gregor McLennan (University of Bristol, UK) Professor Roland Robertson (University of Aberdeen, UK) Dr. Fainche Ryan (Mater Dei Institute of Education, Dublin City University, Ireland) The conference will explore the way in which theology and philosophy, when placed in dialogue with the social sciences, can reinvigorate public discourse. Suggested themes for papers include, but are not restricted to: Assessment of Charles Taylor's A Secular Age; The relationship between religion, belief and modernity: a critical assessment; The role of theology and philosophy in the public square; The decline of the appeal to an objective moral order and the rise of the human rights culture; Moral sources and diverse contexts today. We welcome the submission of papers by those who are currently engaged in research in this area. Papers will be presented at the parallel sessions and speakers will be allotted approximately 20 minutes presentation time followed by a 10 minute question and answer session. Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words and should be prepared for blind review (please provide a separate cover sheet with your name, contact details, institutional affiliation, and level of study, i.e. graduate student or faculty member). Please do not include any personal details on the main document. Abstracts should be submitted electronically (Microsoft Word or PDF format) to: The deadline for submission of abstracts is: Monday 6th April, 2009. For further information, please contact Ms. Mary Shanahan, conference organiser, at: or visit

"Form(s) of Life and the Nature of Experience," Institute of Philosophy of Language, New University of Lisbon, May 22-23, 2009.

International Wittgenstein Workshop. The aim of this workshop is to explore some of the relations between Wittgenstein’s concept of ‘Lebensform(en)’ and his view of human experience. To what extent is the form of our life fixed, i.e., is there a form of life or forms of life, and how does this relate to the different fields of experience? The workshop is expected to shed light on a much exploited but rarely analysed topic in Wittgenstein’s scholarship and to contribute to the overall philosophical discussion about the nature of experience. Speakers include: Jean-Pierre Cometti (Provence) Edward Harcourt (Oxford) Stefan Majetschak (Kassel) António Marques (Lisbon) Jesús Padilla Gálvez (Toledo) Joachim Schulte (Zurich) James M. Thompson (Halle) Nuno Venturinha (Lisbon) There is no registration fee for the workshop. Those attending it will be expected to make their own arrangements for meals and accommodation as needed. Enquiries relating to any subject should be sent to Dr. Nuno Venturinha ( Up-do-date information about the conference will be available at For information about, and how to get to, the Faculty please visit

Osler, Margaret J. Review of Catherine Wilson's EPICUREANISM AT THE ORIGINS OF MODERNITY. NDPR (March 2009).

Wilson, Catherine. Epicureanism at the Origins of Modernity. Oxford: OUP, 2008.

The restoration of Epicurean atomism and hedonism was an important feature of philosophy in the seventeenth century. Epicurean atomism was one of several traditions that influenced the development of the mechanical philosophy, and its hedonism contributed to the development of political philosophies incorporating theories of social contract. In her new book, constructed from a number of previously-published articles, Catherine Wilson wants to demonstrate "how the theory of atoms, and the political contractualism and ethical hedonism that were conceptually bound to it, were addressed, adopted, and battled against by the canonical philosophers of the period." (v) She wants further "to establish that an intellectually compelling and robust tradition took materialism as the only valid frame of reference, not only for scientific inquiry but for the deepest problems of ethics and politics." (v) She adopts De rerum natura, the Roman poet Lucretius' (94-55 BC) poetic exposition of the philosophy of Epicurus (341-270 BC), as the framework for her argument. Accordingly, she deals with the role key Epicurean doctrines, such as an atomic theory of matter, the absence of gods and providence from the world, the mortality of the soul, and ethical hedonism, played in the thinking and writing of several key seventeenth-century philosophers. She devotes her longest discussions to Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655), René Descartes (1596-1650), Robert Boyle (1627-1691), and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716). Although she never says exactly what she means by 'modernity' -- the currently ubiquitous term that eludes definition and should be gone with the wind like the vexed, essentialist terms 'Renaissance' and 'Enlightenment' -- the book's thesis seems to be that modernity arose from the Epicurean preoccupations of seventeenth-century philosophers, notably their godless materialism and their endorsement of empirical and experimental knowledge, and their articulation of a totally secular political philosophy based on the notion of the social contract, developments that Wilson cheers. A good history of Epicureanism in early modern thought would be a welcome addition to the existing literature. Unfortunately, this is a gap that Wilson's book does not fill. It suffers from a number of problems -- some systemic and some detailed -- that undermine its reliability. Her view of seventeenth-century issues is blinkered because she restricts her analysis to an account of philosophers who hold a place in the modern canon of the history of philosophy. This limitation coupled with a tendency to make anachronistic judgments prevents her from examining the abundance of alternatives that competed with Epicureanism in seventeenth-century philosophy. Further, she neglects to consider other traditions -- such as late Scholasticism, alchemy, Renaissance humanism, Copernican astronomy, and Galileo's new science of motion -- that contributed directly to the development of a corpuscularian philosophy and an empirical and experimental approach to natural knowledge. Her own patently intolerant attitude towards theology prevents her from understanding that theological presuppositions were virtually axiomatic for most of the philosophers of the period. Their lengthy arguments for the immortality of the soul, for example, were aimed at correcting the errors they found in the writings of Pietro Pompanazzi (1462-1525) as well as in Epicureanism, even if those arguments are not convincing by modern standards. They were not, as she claims time after time, acts of subterfuge created to avoid official condemnation. Equally, Wilson's uncritical endorsement of a materialistic account of the natural world prevents her from seeking a genuinely historical explanation for the appeal of the mechanical philosophy to seventeenth-century thinkers. Her account reads almost like the old histories of science that explained the development of the sciences in terms of the unrolling of their internal logic. What this approach lacks is an understanding of the role of historical contingencies, interests, and assumptions, often ones that we no longer find acceptable, in leading thinkers to adopt the positions they did and which also have influenced our own views. Even if we could know that our present theories are correct, seventeenth-century philosophers could not possibly have known that they were creating modernity. . . .

Read the whole review here:

Cfp: "Asian Philosophies and the Contemporary Modes of Existence," International Journal of the Asian Philosophical Association 1.2 (2009).

The International Journal of Asian Philosophical Association (IJAPA) - an interdisciplinary, intercultural, full text, open access online peer reviewed journal now invites proposals for articles for its second issue (vol 1, no 2) on subjects related to the theme of Asian philosophies and the contemporary modes of existence. Topics could include, but not limited to, the dialectics of Asian various ways of governance and their relationship to religion and philosophy, the dialectics between philosophy and faith in relation to various Asian contexts, the constituents of Asian Philosophy and Asianness, Asian philosophies and Human Rights, the relationship between Asian literatures and Asian philosophies and religions, literature and Philosophy as dialogue builders among different cultures and civilizations, identity, gender, sexuality in the works of major Asian writers, tolerance and cultural diversity in Asian literatures, and other related topics. The deadline for paper submission is 15 June 2009. Papers should be sent in MSWord attachments to: Articles submitted to the journal should not exceed 4000 words including notes and bibliographical data; should be original and not be under consideration elsewhere. Submissions should also include a 200- word abstract, a brief bio data, and full contact information. Contributions are accepted in English only. Further information, including instructions for authors can be found at: Contact: Prof. Dr. Visam Mansur Department of English Literature Fatih University Büyükçekmece 34500 Istanbul Turkey Email: Web:

"Exploring the Post-Secular," MacMillan Center Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Society, Yale University, April 3-4, 2009.

There has been a great deal of talk in recent years suggesting that we have entered a 'post-secular' age. Much of this is a response to the resurgence of politicized religion on the world scene. But what, if anything, does the term 'post-secular' even mean? Have we really entered into a post-secular age? And if so, what implications, if any, does this have for the social sciences? Do these developments imply a new approach to the study of religion? A wholesale reconstruction of social science? A shift towards social philosophy? Is there such a thing as "post-secular social science"? This conference brings together a number of analysts of religion and its entanglements with the world in an attempt to assess these questions. We will address the possible meanings of religion and of the various terms with roots in the term "secular": secularism, secularity, secularization. Without some grappling with the question of what religion is, it is very difficult to say what secularity or secularization might entail. We will explore the extent to which the "return of religion" is a product of an actual upsurge of religiosity around the world as opposed to greater scholarly attention to religion. We will also examine the ways in which the global religious situation may compel us to reconsider how we think about both religion and social science. 8:50 A.M. Introductory remarks: Philip Gorski, David Kyuman Kim, John Torpey 9:00 A.M. Richard Madsen, University of California at San Diego "What is Religion? Categorical Re-configurations in a Global Horizon" discussant: Deborah Davis, Yale University 10:00 A.M. Aditya Nigam, Center for the Study of Developing Societies "What Comes After the Secular?" discussant: Arvind Rajagopal, New York University 11:15 A.M. Courtney Bender, Columbia University "Things in their Entanglements" discussant: Paul Lichterman, University of Southern California 1:00 P.M. Philip Gorski, Yale University "Recovered Goods: the Moral Underpinnings of Durkheimian Sociology" discussant: Steven Lukes, New York University 2:00 P.M. Hent de Vries, Johns Hopkins University "Obama’s Deep Pragmatism" 3:15 P.M. Bryan S. Turner, Wellesley College "On Doing Religion: Critical Reflections on Rorty, Derrida and Vattimo with Special Reference to ‘Asian Religions’" discussant: Fred Dallmayr, University of Notre Dame 4:15 P.M. James K. A. Smith, Calvin College "Secular Liturgies and the Prospects for a ‘Post-Secular’ Age" discussant: Pericles Lewis, Yale University 5:30 P.M. John Schmalzbauer, Missouri State University "Religion and Knowledge in the Post-Secular Academy" discussant: Peter Steinfels, Fordham University 6:30 P.M. End of panels for the day Saturday, April 4 8:30 A.M. Penny Edgell, University of Minnesota "Religion as Cultural Repertoire, or, the Post- Secular as Scholarly Turning Point" discussant: Tomoko Masuzawa, University of Michigan 9:30 A.M. Michele Dillon, University of New Hampshire "Probing the Post-Secular Turn: Bridging Grandiose Claims and Lived Realities" discussant: David Little, Harvard University 10:45 A.M. John Torpey, The Graduate Center, City University of New York "A (Post-)Secular Age? Religion and the Two Exceptionalisms" discussant: David Morgan, Duke University 11:45 A.M. Eduardo Mendieta, SUNY at Stony Brook "Spiritual Politics and Post-secular Authenticity: Foucault and Habermas on Post-Metaphysical Religion" discussant: Ludger Viefhues-Bailey, Yale University 1:30 P.M. Roundtable Craig Calhoun, SSRC & New York University José Casanova, Georgetown University David Kyuman Kim, SSRC & Connecticut College 3:00 P.M. End of conference Conveners: Philip Gorski, John Torpey, David Kyuman Kim. Conference sponsors: MacMillan Center Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Society; Center for Comparative Research at Yale University; Social Science Research Council; co-sponsored by The Graduate Center, City University of New York. The conference is free and open to the public. No registration is required. For further information, please contact the conference coordinator, Ateş Altınordu, at

Cfp: 2nd Biannual CLASP Conference, Program in Culture, Language and Social Practice, University of Colorado, Boulder, October 2-4, 2009.

2009 Plenary Speakers: H. Samy Alim, University of California, Los Angeles (Anthropology) Bob Craig, University of Colorado, Boulder (Communication) Kira Hall, University of Colorado, Boulder (Linguistics) Makoto Hayashi, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (Ling/EALC) The CLASP Conference is an interdisciplinary forum for scholars with interrelated research interests in the sociocultural and sociopolitical analysis of language to present new research and participate in workshops and data sessions with plenaries and local faculty. Both paper and panel submissions should address the relationship of language to culture and society; examples of possible frameworks or analytic traditions may include, but are not limited to: sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, bilingualism and code-switching, language socialization, narrative studies, the sociology of language, verbal art and performance, language and literacy, and language globalization. Panel proposals of up to 250 words should be submitted by April 21, and will be posted to the conference website for those interested in coordinating papers on a particular topic (panel submissions do not need to be accompanied by paper abstracts). Abstracts of 500 words for 20-minute papers may be submitted for an individual panel or independently, and should be submitted before May 7. Submissions should be sent as attachments (DOC or PDF) via email to, and should only contain the title and abstract for the paper. The body of the email should contain the following information: Author name(s) Affiliation(s) Paper Title Proposed panel (if any) For additional information, please visit: Or contact:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Guignon, Charles. Review of S. J. McGrath's HEIDEGGER: A (VERY) CRITICAL INTRODUCTION. NDPR (March 2009).

McGrath, S. J. Heidegger: a (Very) Critical Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008. S. J. McGrath's trim little book offers us an overview of Heidegger's life-work, with special emphasis on his political activities and his relationship to theology. The book is part of a religious series originating from the Centre of Theology and Philosophy, and McGrath is up front in announcing that he is a Christian humanist and a personalist. Though he is highly impressed by Heidegger (this is his second book on the subject), his religious commitments incline him to be "very" critical of Heidegger. The book is divided into five chapters. After a short introduction, there are chapters on phenomenology, ontology, axiology, and theology, with a brief conclusion on "Why I Am Not a Heideggerian." The chapters are of unequal quality and their titles do not really correspond to their subject matters. The chapter titled "Phenomenology" is actually about the early Heidegger, covering Heidegger's thought from his Habilitationsschrift of 1915 on Duns Scotus to his greatest work, Being and Time (1927). As a religious scholar, McGrath does not examine the debates on logic that motivated Heidegger's dissertation on psychologism of 1913, but he does a remarkably good job of explicating the Duns Scotus work and showing its relevance for all Heidegger's thought up to the magnum opus. This short chapter, only twenty-eight pages, provides a marvelously clear and thoughtful account of Heidegger's early thinking. McGrath is an excellent writer and his narrative is crisp, fresh and insightful. Instead of repeating the tired old clichés that make up so much of the Heidegger literature, he invents novel formulations and clear summaries of texts that illuminate Heidegger's work in interesting ways. With the exception of one important confusion about the texts, which I will turn to in a moment, this chapter provides a helpful and engaging summary of Heidegger's early work. The chapter titled "Ontology" is actually an account of the later Heidegger. The strange juxtaposition of titles and chapter contents results from McGrath's misunderstanding of Heidegger's conception of phenomenology, which leads him to think that phenomenology is abandoned in the later works, whereas the term "ontology" correctly captures the intent of the later works, an idea Heidegger would reject. Nevertheless, this chapter contains some helpful, if not very original, elucidations of the later writings. The chapters titled "Axiology" and "Theology," obviously McGrath's main interests, were rather disappointing in my view. The chapter on axiology repeats familiar criticisms of Heidegger for failing to provide an ethics to go along with his ontology. What this claim overlooks is Heidegger's critique of the then dominant "value philosophy." The term "value" that was introduced into philosophy in the nineteenth-century was borrowed from economic theory and therefore was loaded down with the assumptions of the science of economics. In line with his tendency to undercut counterproductive dichotomies, Heidegger rejected the dualism of fact and value and focused instead on formulating an account of our most "primordial" understanding of reality as "always already" suffused with what we today call "values." The conception of being as an "event" retrieves something like the older teleological understanding of reality as it is originally experienced by us, and it suggests that the modern distinction between factual and normative is derivative from this older experience of things. The axiology chapter also repeats the familiar charge that Heidegger was a "fascist" because he did not respect "liberal individualism," as though anyone who critically reflects on individualism is a fascist. The rather shrill, self-righteous tone of this chapter marks a strong contrast with the earlier, more temperate chapters. Finally, the chapter on "Theology" continues the critique of Heidegger by claiming that his avowed "methodological atheism" fails to account for the fundamental need for God that is characteristic of all human experience everywhere. In this chapter, Heidegger's betrayal of his Christian roots is explained in terms of what McGrath thinks is a deep incoherence in Heidegger's thought -- the inseparability of the "ontic" and the "ontological" -- which should require Heidegger to make faith central to his "existential anthropology." . . . Read the whole review here:

Pub: Heinze, Eric. "Heir, Celebrity, Martyr, Monster: Legal and Political Legitimacy in Shakespeare and Beyond." LAW AND CRITIQUE 20.1 (2009).

Abstract: The Seventeenth Century places Western political thought on a path increasingly concerned with ascertaining the legitimacy of a determinate individual, parliamentary or popular sovereign. Beginning with Shakespeare, however, a parallel literary tradition serves not to systematise, but to problematise the discourses used to assert the legitimacy with which control over law and government is exercised. This article examines discourses of legal and political legitimacy spawned in early modernity. It is argued that basic notions of 'right', 'duty', 'justice' and 'power' (corresponding, in their more vivid manifestations, to categories of 'heir', 'celebrity', 'martyr' and 'monster') combine in discrete, but always encumbered ways, to generate a variety of legitimating discourses. Whilst transcendentalist versions of those discourses begin to wane, their secular counterparts acquire steadily greater force. In addition to the Shakespearean histories, works of John Milton, Pierre Corneille, Jean Racine, Friedrich Schiller and Richard Wagner are examined, along with some more contemporary or ironic renderings. Download the whole article here:

Romano, Carlin. "Virginia, Jean, and Flannery: a Good Role Model Is Easy to Find." CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION March 13, 2009.

Woolf, Rhys, and O'Connor sounds like a law firm, and indeed it could be — a firm sure to lay down clear laws and illuminating precedents for women writers. First, however, Jean Rhys (1890-1979) and Flannery O'Connor (1925-64) would have to make full partner alongside the so-called "high priestess of Bloomsbury." The peculiar status of Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) as muse to every woman seeking a room of her own took off after fast sales of The Years landed her on Time magazine's cover in 1937. Next, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? hurtled her in the 1960s into catchphrase immortality. Feminist thinkers and literary critics then raised her up as a heroine, spurring a counterreaction that just added to Woolf's gleam. By the end of the 20th century, the trajectory of ascent from icon of 1930s modernist elitism to literary everywoman pointed straight up. The National Portrait Gallery sold more postcards of Woolf's face than of any other figure. The New York Times Book Review declared Woolf "a beacon for most of a century." The New York Review of Books and Bass Ale exploited her image to market their wares. The rock groups Virginia Woolf and Virginia and the Wolves paid homage. A towering photomontage in Chapel Hill, N.C., placed Woolf's head on top of Marilyn Monroe's body. Is such universal celebrity about to strike O'Connor and Rhys? . . . Get the answer here:

Albert, David Z., and Rivka Galchen. "Was Einstein Wrong? A Quantum Threat to Special Relativity." SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN February 18, 2009.

Our intuition, going back forever, is that to move, say, a rock, one has to touch that rock, or touch a stick that touches the rock, or give an order that travels via vibrations through the air to the ear of a man with a stick that can then push the rock—or some such sequence. This intuition, more generally, is that things can only directly affect other things that are right next to them. If A affects B without being right next to it, then the effect in question must be indirect—the effect in question must be something that gets transmitted by means of a chain of events in which each event brings about the next one directly, in a manner that smoothly spans the distance from A to B. Every time we think we can come up with an exception to this intuition—say, flipping a switch that turns on city street lights (but then we realize that this happens through wires) or listening to a BBC radio broadcast (but then we realize that radio waves propagate through the air)—it turns out that we have not, in fact, thought of an exception. Not, that is, in our everyday experience of the world. We term this intuition "locality." Quantum mechanics has upended many an intuition, but none deeper than this one. And this particular upending carries with it a threat, as yet unresolved, to special relativity—a foundation stone of our 21st-century physics. . . . Read the rest there:

Bostridge, Ian. "Timing is Everything." STANDPOINT ONLINE (January 2009).

The subjectivity of our experience of time is widely acknowledged. As we get older, time seems to go faster - or is it that we seem to move faster in time? The spatial metaphors we use are confused and confusing. The theories to explain this change range from the physiological (the body cools as we age) to the arithmetical (each moment is a smaller proportion of a lengthening lifespan). If time is so mutable, so much a matter of the ebb and flow of consciousness, is it in fact illusory? The commonsense view has long been that of classical science. Isaac Newton contrasted "absolute, true, and mathematical time" which "in and of itself and of its own nature, without reference to anything external, flows uniformly and by another name is called duration" with what he called "relative, apparent and common time". This is the view he bequeathed to the industrial age, the world of clocks, measurement and effective time management, but one which was exploded in its metaphysical aspects by Einstein's musings on relative motion and the speed of light, by the space-time continuum, and the uncertainties of quantum mechanics. Time is the stuff of music: music manipulates our experience of time; it plays with the rhythm of experience; it stretches and complicates our relationship to the passing of time. If the world of physics is a space-time continuum, music is a pitch-time continuum. We use spatial metaphors to express our experience of frequency - notes are higher and lower, something expressed formally in staff notation, and deeply inscribed in our experience of music as performers and listeners. A large interval between two notes is a gulf to be stretched over. The quintessential musical form, melody, as it moves up and down in pitch space, over time, is a sort of quasi-miraculous bridging of the gap between the abandoned past, the ungraspable present and the as-yet-to-be-achieved, utterly unreal future. We grasp it and, as we do so, time is attended to and made palpable and affective. . . . Read the rest here:

Pub: Landes, Joan. "Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY (March 10, 2009).

Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet (September 17, 1743 – March 28, 1794) is most often referred to as one of the last philosophes or as an early champion of social science. An inspired proponent of human rights, Condorcet moved from his first achievements in mathematics into public service, with the aim of applying to social and political affairs a scientific model that he termed a ‘social arithmetic.’ Through educational and constitutional reforms, he hoped to create a liberal, rational and democratic polity. He advocated for the social utility of statistics and probability theory, and he applied mathematical calculations to fiscal crises, the reform of hospital care, jury decision-making and voting procedures. He is best remembered as the author of the posthumously published final work Esquisse d’un tableau historique de l’esprit humain [Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Human Mind] (1794), in which he diagnosed the stages of human progress, including what was yet to come. However, far less well known is Condorcet's extraordinary advocacy of the rights of women. In this regard, he was exceptional even for an enlightened thinker. What Condorcet termed, in a 1790 essay by that name, “the admission of women to the rights of citizenship” was widely opposed on the grounds that women possessed distinctive natures, which perfectly suited them to the fulfillment of their domestic duties. Women were deemed unqualified for the realm of public affairs because of their alleged greater susceptibility to sensations, flawed rationality, and weaker sense of justice. Women did not get the vote during the French Revolution, but they did benefit from many of the changes that occurred in matters of marriage, divorce, inheritance, and the legal status of unwed mothers and their children. However, they ultimately suffered setbacks as many of these reforms were withdrawn or curtailed during Napoleon's reign. . . . A further consequence of the Revolution is that, for the first time, sex was introduced as a constitutional condition for the possession of political rights, even as rights were proclaimed to be universal and inalienable. In contrast to such hypocrisy, Condorcet affirmed woman's equal humanity on the grounds of reason and justice. While never entirely dismissing the influential case for women's difference, Condorcet refused to accept this as an impediment to their equal enjoyment of civil and political rights. He attributed women's limitations, to the extent they existed, not to their sex but rather to their inferior education and circumstances. Appreciating the risks he faced in rebutting one of the age's most deeply held prejudices, he begged for the opportunity to engage in reasoned dialogue with his opponents: “I hope that anyone who attacks my arguments will do so without using ridicule or declamation, and above all, that someone will show me a natural difference between men and women on which the exclusion could legitimately be based” (Condorcet 1790, in McLean and Hewitt 1994, 338-339). . . .

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Pub: Duncan, Stewart. "Thomas Hobbes." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY (March 11, 2009).

Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), whose current reputation rests largely on his political philosophy, was a thinker with wide-ranging interests. In philosophy, he defended a range of materialist, nominalist, and empiricist views against Cartesian and Aristotelian alternatives. In physics, his work was influential on Leibniz, and lead him into disputes with Boyle and the experimentalists of the early Royal Society. In history, he translated Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War into English, and later wrote his own history of the Long Parliament. In mathematics he was less successful, and is best remembered for his repeated unsuccessful attempts to square the circle. But despite that, Hobbes was a serious and prominent participant in the intellectual life of his time. . . . Read the rest here:

"Nietzsche and Kantian Ethics," Department of Philosophy, University of Southampton, April 2-3, 2009.

Workshop Speakers: Lanier Anderson (Stanford), Kevin Hill (Portland), Paul Katsafanas (New Mexico), Seiriol Morgan (Bristol), David Owen (Southampton). Places are very limited but anyone interested in attending should contact Professor Aaron Ridley, at This forms art of an ongoing series of conferences, workshops and public talks as part of the Nietzsche & Modern Moral Philosophy Project. Previous project participants include: Julia Annas (Arizona), Simon Blackburn (Cambridge), Maudemarie Clark (UC Riverside), Robert Guay (Binghampton), Ken Gemes (Birkbeck / Southampton), Edward Harcourt (Oxford), Nadeem Hussain (Stanford), Chris Janaway (Southampton), Peter Kail (Oxford), Brian Leiter (Chicago), Sabina Lovibond (Oxford), Simon May (Birkbeck), David Owen (Southampton), Peter Railton (Michigan), Bernard Reginster (Brown), John Richardson (NYU), Aaron Ridley (Southampton), Simon Robertson (Southampton), Richard Schacht (Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), John Skorupski (St. Andrews), Michael Slote (Miami), Robin Small (Auckland), Henry Staten (Washington), Christine Swanton (Auckland), Christopher Williams (Nevada, Reno).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cfp: "Lucretius: Poetry, Philosophy, and Science," Department of Classics and Ancient History, University of Manchester, July 6-7, 2009.

The De Rerum Natura is at once one of the most brilliant and powerful poems in the Latin language, a passionate attempt at dispelling humanity's fear of death and its enslavement by empty religio, and a detailed exposition of Epicurean atomist physics. There is perhaps no other Latin poem which so requires and rewards approaches which combine the critical perspectives of literary analysis, philosophy and the history of science. At DRN 1.928-34 Lucretius himself links his pursuit of poetic excellence and achievement directly with the subject-matter of his poem and its consequent dissolution of the bonds of religio, and closely associates the clarity of his verses with the grace of the Muses. The recent Cambridge Companion to Lucretius edited by Stuart Gillespie and Philip Hardie represents a landmark in bringing together cross-disciplinary approaches to the DRN. This conference aims to build on this important combination of different scholarly methodologies, but also to focus attention more directly on the poem itself and its multifaceted nature, particularly with regard to the interaction between its poetic form and its scientific and ethical content, and its focus on physics. This is also an ideal opportunity to re-evaluate whether existing approaches (across a range of disciplines) are sufficient for understanding as difficult and important a text as the DRN, and which new questions it might be most productive to ask about the poem. Hence we are seeking to bring together a group of experts from a wide range of relevant disciplines to examine such topics as:
  • the relationship between the DRN's status as intrinsically 're-readable' poetry and the character of the didactic content the reader is urged to accept (thus obviating the need for the poem itself?),
  • the ways in which its poetic form affects the presentation of the philosophical and scientific content of the DRN,
  • the relationship between physics and ethics in the poem: what reasons motivate the concentration on physics, and how does the content of the poem imply or suggest particular changes in belief or behaviour?
  • the tensions in the poem between the philosophical position being urged and the affective impact of some passages of the poem (e.g. that 'death is nothing to us' and the manipulation of the emotions of the reader in the depiction of the death of Iphianassa, 1.84ff.),
  • its generic self-positioning with regard to earlier Greek didactic poetry (e.g. Hesiod, Aratus),
  • its relationship to the philosophical poetry of pre-Socratic philosophers such as Empedocles,
  • its key role in the dissemination and transformation of Epicureanism at Rome,
  • its place in the wider translation of Hellenistic philosophy into Latin, and its attendant problems,
  • its place in contemporary Republican culture, its influence on later poets and philosophers,
  • its place in the history of ancient science,
  • its influence on early modern science, especially where the DRN itself (or an interpretation of it) seems to affect later theoretical conceptions/formulations.

Visit the conference page here:

Okrent, Mark. Review of Shaun Gallagher's BRAINSTORMING. NDPR (March 2009).

Gallagher, Shaun. Brainstorming: Views and Interviews on the Mind. Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2008. Shaun Gallagher's Brainstorming is an innovative and ambitious book. Gallagher has set himself the task of writing an introduction to the study of the mind that is accessible to "beginning students, or even experts who are approaching these topics from different fields". This goal is unusual in that introductions to a field do not typically target both beginners and experts, even if the experts are not expert in the field to which they are being introduced. This unusual goal is complemented by the fact that Gallagher has decided to introduce the study of the mind by focusing on "a set of ongoing questions and discussions that define the field", rather than on "received and established views". By itself such a strategy is not entirely uncommon, of course. There are many good reasons that an author might have for determining that the best way to approach his subject is to throw the reader directly into current debates in the field, instead of first going over well-worn territory. When he does so, however, the author needs to be sensitive to the issue of how much background must be introduced in order for the reader to understand the meaning, structure, and importance of those debates. In the case of Brainstorming, this need for sensitivity is complicated both by the complexity of Gallagher's target audience and by the way in which he understands the contemporary study of the mind. The amount and nature of the background information necessary or sufficient for outside experts might not be necessary or sufficient for a beginning student. But in addition, the way in which Gallagher selects the 'ongoing questions and discussions' that for him define the field of the study of the mind imposes a further constraint. As Gallagher understands it, contemporary study of the mind involves the 'triangulation' of three strands, 'phenomenological description and clarification' of essentially first person evidence, 'philosophical conceptual analysis', and the results of 'experimental science', both from cognitive science and neuroscience. So, to be successful on its own terms, Brainstorming not only needs to supply for beginning students an intelligible introduction to contemporary investigation of the mind in several research traditions, but also needs to help readers who are familiar with work in some of those traditions come up to speed on what has been going on recently in the others. This is a tall order for any introductory volume. These various aims account for much of the ambition of Brainstorming. The innovation arises out of the means that Gallagher uses in his attempt to achieve those goals. There are two such innovations. First, the book is organized topically, and the topics are ordered by Gallagher's own views on the epistemic and ontological priorities among various cognitive phenomena. Roughly, Gallagher holds that the mind is a 'system of embodiment' and because of that the mind is best understood if it is approached by way of an understanding of the way in which biological organisms use mental capacities in the course of achieving biologically salient ends. Which questions are considered in the book, how they are considered, and the order of their consideration, are functions of this overall orientation towards the study of the mind. So, instead of beginning as many introductions to 'The Philosophy of Mind' do, with a discussion of the nature of mental states, Gallagher (after brief sections on methodology and historical background) begins with a discussion of movement, from which he goes on to intentional action, consciousness, intersubjectivity, and emotion and empathy. It is only towards the end of the book that he comes to discuss 'language, cognition, and other extras'. Other topics, such as the proper way to understand intentionality and the nature of perception, are treated tangentially insofar as they come up in the course of the discussion of these core issues. The second way in which Brainstorming is innovative has to do with its rhetorical character. Rather than using the usual method of essentially writing an essay, Gallagher instead structures the book around a series of edited excerpts of conversations that he has had with nine philosophically informed cognitive and neuroscientists. (To provide some historical background, Gallagher also constructs a dialogue among Socrates, Simmias, Cebes, and himself, which reproduces some of the argument of the Phaedo, and a dialogue among Descartes, Elisabeth of Bohemia, and himself.) The decision to restrict the range of the conversational partners to scientists tends to limit the content of the conversations to the third aspect of Gallagher's triangulation method, empirical science, even though the choice of the interlocutors guarantees that they have a certain amount of philosophical sensitivity and sophistication. In effect, Gallagher himself organizes and determines the conceptually analytic and phenomenological framework of the book, and turns to the scientists for experimentally derived information relevant to the issues he has structured as well as for support for his way of organizing those issues. Taken together with the emphasis on movement and action, and the extensive attempt to integrate empirical work into philosophical discussions, this rhetorical reliance on dialogue makes Brainstorming strikingly different in character from any other introduction to philosophy of mind with which I am familiar. As is perhaps to be expected with such an ambitious and innovative venture, Brainstorming is only a partial success, and it is more successful in achieving some of its aims than it is in achieving others. . . . Read the whole review here:

Cfp: "Thought in Science and Fiction," International Society for the Study of European Ideas, Çankaya University, August 2–6, 2010.

12th International Conference of ISSEI. Scientific knowledge is so vitally important for the welfare of mankind that it no longer needs any justification. Nevertheless, the negative consequences of science and technology require continual vigilance. This vigilance need not necessarily lead to the radical reductionism that posits science as just another ‘fiction’. As suggested by the theme of the 11th ISSEI conference in Helsinki, 2008, Language and the Scientific Imagination, we must foster the dialogue between science and literature in order to show their crucial interdependence. The pivotal role of language in ‘the two cultures’ is based on our conception of thought and is commonly believed to originate in sense perception. What we call fiction is thus the free rearrangement of our perceptual thought in language. Historically, the great works of western literature preceded philosophical speculation on knowledge and science. Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides came before Plato and Aristotle, just as Dante, Cervantes, and Shakespeare came before Galileo, Descartes and Newton, and Flaubert, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky before Einstein. The organizers of the 12th conference of ISSEI, to be held at Çankaya University, Ankara, Turkey invite scholars from various disciplines such as History, Politics, Literature, Art, Philosophy, Science, and Religion, to re-examine, redefine and reassess the scope of interdisciplinary dialogue in the past and present. The conference is divided into five sections: 1. History, Geography, Science 2. Politics, Economics, Law 3. Education, Sociology, Women’s Studies 4. Literature, Art, Music, Theatre, Culture 5. Religion, Philosophy, Anthropology, Psychology, Language Colleagues interested in organizing a workshop on a topic from their discipline related to the general conference topic are invited to submit a one-page proposal to: Ezra Talmor at the address below. The deadline for submitting a proposal is July 31, 2009. Conference Co-Chairs: Cem Karadeli Cankaya University Political Science and International Relations Ogretmenler Caddesi 14 B Blok oda 13/1, 100. Yil, 06530 Ankara. Turkey Ezra Talmor Kibbutz Nachshonim D.N. Merkaz, 73190 Israel Tel: +972-3-938-6445; Fax: +972-3-938-6588 Email: For further information on ISSEI, visit the website of its journal here: