Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Taylor, Charles. Interview with Chris Bloor. PHILOSOPHY NOW 74 (July / August 2009)

Charles Taylor’s intellectual journey took him from studying at McGill University in Montreal to Balliol College Oxford, then back to McGill. There he has taught philosophy and politics while writing a series of influential articles on concepts of freedom and the nature of explanation in the social sciences. His books include works on Hegel, as well as Sources of the Self: the Making Of The Modern Identity. His most recent book, A Secular Age, was published in 2007. In 2007 he was also awarded the Templeton Prize for his life’s work, which comes with an award of $1.5 million; and this year he was awarded the Kyoto Prize, which includes an award of 50 million yen ($500,000). Read the interview here:

Wilson, A. N. "Isaiah Berlin: the Dictaphone Don." TIMES July 15, 2009.

  • Berlin, Isaiah. Enlightening: Letters 1946-1960. Ed. Henry Hardy, Jennifer Holmes and Serena Moore. London: Chatto & Windus, 2009.
  • Hardy, Henry, ed. The Book of Isaiah: Personal impressions of Isaiah Berlin. Rochester: Boydell and Brewer, 2009.

Isaiah Berlin’s best work is contained in the form of essays and lectures on the history of ideas. Many will have read his short monograph The Hedgehog and the Fox (1953), a book which has some of the qualities of good conversation. It takes as its starting point a Greek fragment by Archilochus (quoted to Berlin by Lord Oxford) which states that “The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing”. Berlin then sweeps off into one of his favourite devices – the list. Thinkers or writers who were obvious hedgehogs, he believed, were Plato, Lucretius, Pascal, Hegel, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Ibsen and Proust. Shakespeare leads the foxes in to bat, with an impressive team of Aristotle, Montaigne, Erasmus, Molière, Goethe, Pushkin, Balzac and, a little oddly, Joyce. But which was Tolstoy? Tolstoy, according to Berlin, was a fox who spent his life wishing he was a hedgehog.

The Hedgehog and the Fox survives as an after-dinner game more than a serious theory. If it is read slowly, it comes apart at the seams. . . .

Read the rest here:

Pub: Chiesa, Lorenzo, and Alberto Toscano, eds. THE ITALIAN DIFFERENCE.

Chiesa, Lorenzo, and Alberto Toscano, eds. The Italian Difference: Between Nihilism and Biopolitics. Sydney: Re.Press, 2009. Description: This volume brings together essays by different generations of Italian thinkers which address, whether in affirmative, problematizing or genealogical registers, the entanglement of philosophical speculation and political proposition within recent Italian thought. Nihilism and biopolitics, two concepts that have played a very prominent role in theoretical discussions in Italy, serve as the thematic foci around which the collection orbits, as it seeks to define the historical and geographical particularity of these notions as well their continuing impact on an international debate. The volume also covers the debate around ‘weak thought’ (pensiero debole), the feminist thinking of sexual difference, the re-emergence of political anthropology and the question of communism. The contributors provide contrasting narratives of the development of post-war Italian thought and trace paths out of the theoretical and political impasses of the present—against what Negri, in the text from which the volume takes its name, calls ‘the Italian desert’. Contents: Antonio Negri, 'The Italian Difference' Pier Aldo Rovatti, 'Foucault Docet' Gianni Vattimo, 'Nihilism as Emancipation' Roberto Esposito, 'Community and Nihilism' Matteo Mandarini, 'Beyond Nihilism: Notes Towards a Critique of Left-Heideggerianism in Italian Philosophy of the 1970s' Luisa Muraro, 'The Symbolic Independence from Power' Mario Tronti, 'Towards a Critique of Political Democracy' Alberto Toscano, 'Chronicles of Insurrection: Tronti, Negri and the Subject of Antagonism' Paolo Virno, 'Natural-Historical Diagrams: The ‘New Global’ Movement and the Biological Invariant' Lorenzo Chiesa, 'Giorgio Agamben's Franciscan Ontology' Further information may be found here:

Hassan, Ihab. "The Way We Have Become: a Surfeit of Seeming." GEORGIA REVIEW (Summer 2009).

Truth, trust, and mind can be weasel words. Some clarification of them, as they apply to this essay, is due before we start fingering the beads. Philosophers have long puzzled trust as they have puzzled truth. In Plato’s Republic, Socrates and Glaucon debate whether trust depends on fear of detection, as in the case of the shepherd Gyges, who found a gold, magic ring in the Lydian wilderness and considered keeping it. This perspective, rooted in rank self-interest, informs subsequent discussions, through Machiavelli and Hobbes and on down to John Nash’s solution—yes, think Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind—of the Prisoner’s Dilemma in game theory. Another perspective, developed by Locke, Hume, Kant, and Rousseau, takes a more benevolent view of human nature, locating trust in love, sympathy, moral responsibility. Then there’s the leap of faith, Kierkegaardian or otherwise, that finds truth and trust—now fused—in a spiritual impulse that overwhelms doubt, defies the weight of the world. And now? We perceive a crisis of trust, a dearth of veracity, everywhere. (This is not an American dilemma only, as Onora O’Neill’s Reith Lectures of 2002, in Britain, suggest.) Still, I am not wholly persuaded that America has become a culture of mistrust. Yes, hermeneutics of suspicion abound in academe. And yes, public scandals—in church and state, in sports and entertainment, in the very media that report all the scandals—seem unremitting, indeed cataclysmic, as we can now see. But have Americans really lost the will to trust, to believe in trust? More than a century ago, William James wrote in The Will to Believe:
Our faith is faith in some one else’s faith, and in the greatest matters this is most the case. Our belief in truth itself, for instance, that there is a truth, and that our minds and it are made for each other, —what is it but a passionate affirmation of desire, in which our social system backs us up?
Has that desire disappeared? Is “cognitive dissonance” now our common fate? I think there is an urge called truth, a longing called trust, which our natures seem unable to quell despite the chameleon in us all. Paradoxically, that urge and that longing find fulfillment in self-abnegation, self-bracketing at least, and at best self-dispossession. Thus we tend to credit what demands nothing from us and trust those who have emptied themselves of their needs. Perhaps that is the mysterious call of our destiny, the secret lure of all our religions and philosophies. Perhaps that was the primogenial impulse of mind, after all. As to mind, its road has been long and anfractuous. Some say the journey began with the big bang. Some say it started with a stray asteroid rich in iridium, smashing into present-day Mexico, exterminating the monsters of the earth, and tearing a hole into evolution so that our ancestors could squeeze through. To this accident or event—maverick scientists ascribe to it the so-called Anthropic Principle, enabling sentience on planet Earth—we owe not only our existence but also our awareness of existence, and even the capacity to name and explain the event itself. In short, the gift of language. That’s reaching far back, back to the origins of our flawed consciousness. But in a self-conscious age that considers representations supreme—signs, symbols, images, simulacra—the reminder is apt. These semiotic shards and shavings of mind, slowly displacing nature as our environment, now largely constitute our world. And so we live among superabundant signifiers—but where’s the signified? We have perceptions without substance. We lull ourselves with the mantra “appearances are everything.” This mantra echoes throughout American politics, economics, private lives, even the arts. How live with this surfeit of seeming? Let’s finger the beads, not wring our hands. . . . Read the rest here:

Cfp: "Controversy, Protest, Ridicule, Laughter, 1500-1750," School of English and American Literature, University of Reading, July 9-11, 2010.

This three-day conference aims to draw together scholars from a variety of disciplines working on areas related to the themes of controversy, protest, ridicule, and laughter in the early modern period.Controversy, protest, ridicule and laughter are means to register more than disagreement: they convey contemptuous opposition to an opponent. How can the study of their uses advance our understanding of the nature and development of public debate in the early modern period? How were new media (theatres, newsbooks, periodicals) and traditional forms (sermons, proclamations, disputations) used by the two (or more) sides in early modern controversies? What were the connections between 'low' literary forms (pamphlets, ballads, satires, libels), and the learned seriocomic tradition of, for example, Erasmus's Praise of Folly? What were the sites of protest: Parliament; stage; university; alehouse; Inns of Court - and what connections, if any, existed between these spaces? What role did ridicule have in religious and political controversy, from Martin Marprelate to John Milton's anti-prelatical writings? How were the conventions for mocking one's opponent refracted by variables of class and gender? Laughter might be a marker of intellectual achievement (distinguishing the human from the animal), or it might be condemned as a sign of brutality. If laugher was both elevating and debasing, what strategies were used by writers of satire, comedy and polemic to control its connotations? How can we write a history of laughter? How useful is more recent psychological and philosophical work on laughter - by Freud or Henri Bergson, for example - for work on early modern culture? Possible topics include: Humanism, learning, wit, and laughter; gender and class; classical ideas of laughter and ridicule; disputation and debate in education; ridicule, stereotyping and national identity; European models of controversy and ridicule; popular radicalism and the public sphere; conduct manuals and the etiquettes of laughter; the Putney Debates; clowns and jesters; new media and popular radicalism; the Spanish Match; burlesque, parody, scatology and obscenity; Jonson's comedy of humours and satirical comedy; popular print (pamphlets, ballads) and 'low' literary forms; urban and rural forms of controversy; Rabelais and discourses of the body; legal controversy: sedition, libel, slander; the Marprelate Tracts; jokes and jests on the stage and page; Milton's Defensio pro populo Anglicano; the Oath of Allegiance controversy; mimicry and impersonation; Civil War religious radicalism; the carnivalesque; Jacobitism; traditions of complaint, satire and invective; the decorum of ridicule, controversy, and ideas of ethical restraint; the 'Glorious Revolution' and 'godly revolution'. We invite papers that consider any or all of this year's themes. Proposals (max. 300 words) for 30 minute papers and a brief CV should be sent via email attachment by 4 December 2009 to: Dr. Chloë Houston, School of English and American Literature, University of Reading,

Kirsch, Adam. "What's Romantic about Science? When Science Became a Source of Sublime Terror." SLATE MAGAZINE July 20, 2009.

Holmes, Richard. The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science. New York: Pantheon, 2009. Richard Holmes explores an early-19th-century period of terrific—and often terrified—excitement about science, of marvelous discoveries that raised humble experimenters to the rank of national heroes. Holmes' subjects—including astronomer William Herschel, chemist Humphry Davy, and explorer Mungo Park—were household names in England, but their discoveries were by no means always welcome ones. Herschel's observation of the stars, for instance, showed that the Milky Way was just one of a vast number of galaxies that were constantly being born, aging, and dying. The Milky Way, Herschel warned, "cannot last forever." It followed, as Holmes writes, that "our solar system, our planet, and hence our whole civilization would have an ultimate and unavoidable end." For the first time, the apocalypse was not a matter of religious faith but of demonstrated scientific fact. Herschel's discoveries represent one face of what Holmes calls, loosely but suggestively, Romantic science. The phrase sounds like an oxymoron, as Holmes acknowledges: "Romanticism as a cultural force is generally regarded as intensely hostile to science, its ideal of subjectivity eternally opposed to that of scientific objectivity. But I do not believe this was always the case, or that the terms are so mutually exclusive. The notion of wonder seems to be something that once united them, and can still do so." Contemplating the immensity and strangeness of the universe could produce the same feeling of sublime terror that Coleridge strove for in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner or that Wordsworth evokes in parts of his autobiographical epic The Prelude. In Keats' sonnet "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer," the poet compares his feeling of literary discovery with that of "some watcher of the skies/ When a new planet swims into his ken"; as Holmes explains, this was an allusion to Herschel's discovery of the planet Uranus in 1781, one of the stories told at length in The Age of Wonder. . . . Read the whole review here:

Cfp: "Cognitive Ecology: the Role of the Concept of Knowledge in our Social Cognitive Ecology," University of Edinburgh, June 3-4, 2010.

2010 Episteme Conference. The overarching purpose of the 2010 Episteme conference is to explore how our epistemic concepts—and the concept of knowledge in particular—figure in our cognitive ecology in general and in our social cognitive ecology in particular. For the purpose of the conference, the phrase ‘social cognitive ecology’ is to be understood broadly as encompassing individual and intersubjective thought as well as ordinary conversation and public discourse.We think and talk about a wide variety of epistemic, doxastic and factual affairs by way of various epistemic concepts. This is especially so when it comes to the concept of knowledge and its linguistic counterpart ‘knowledge’. For example, we often criticize each others’ actions and assertions in terms of knowledge. Furthermore, we think of knowledge as something distinctively valuable to achieve and disseminate. Indeed, we often seek to organize society in a manner that promotes the achievement and transfer of knowledge. In sum, our epistemic concepts—and especially the concept of knowledge—play a number of very important roles in our social cognitive ecology. And yet the roles that these concepts play in our thought and talk about epistemic, doxastic and factual matters is inadequately understood. The aim of the 2010 Episteme conference is to rectify this inadequacy. Keynote Speaker: Martin Kusch (Cambridge/Vienna) 'Knowledge and Certainties in the Epistemic State of Nature' Plenary Speakers: Lorraine Code (York) 'TBC' Sandy Goldberg (Northwestern) 'TBC' Hilary Kornblith (UMass) 'Why Should We Care about the Concept of Knowledge?' Ram Neta (UNC, Chapel Hill) 'Knowledge as a Natural Norm of Belief' Discussants-At-Large: David Bloor (Edinburgh) Miranda Fricker (Birkbeck) Alan Millar (Stirling) All general inquiries about this conference should be addressed to Prof. Duncan Pritchard ( Visit the conference page here:

Della Rocca, Michael. Review of John Carriero's BETWEEN TWO WORLDS. NDPR (July 2009).

Carriero, John. Between Two Worlds: a Reading of Descartes's Meditations. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2009. Let me then begin this review by offering instead a sketch of what Carriero's book is not, of the kinds of interpretations of Descartes that Carriero seeks to get us to reject. I will speak here of the usual view of Descartes, but I don't mean to imply that any one person holds this view in its entirety. Rather, I simply mean to articulate a collection of theses that are often attributed to Descartes and that Carriero seeks to undermine. The usual view is that in the Meditations Descartes is obsessed with skeptical arguments of increasingly radical scope, arguments that aim to overturn the foundations of our beliefs and to show that they are all unjustified. In the second Meditation, Descartes begins to emerge from this skeptical abyss with the help of his famous cogito argument, which proves that he exists and also, with the help of the further claim that the mind is transparent to itself, that judgments about the contents of one's mind are self-justifying whereas claims about existence beyond the mind are not. Thus, on the usual view, Descartes needs to work his way up from foundational beliefs concerning his own mind in order to achieve justified beliefs about the extra-mental world. In other words, on the usual view, Descartes focuses on what Carriero calls the "epistemological surfaces" of things and needs to build a bridge from these surfaces in order to gain access to the epistemically more problematic things themselves (p. 20). On the usual view, then, one purpose of the skeptical doubts is to reveal the epistemically privileged character of the mind itself and its contents, which are available to the mind in consciousness in a way that things outside the mind are not. Unfortunately, so the usual view develops, Descartes's radical doubt is so radical that he may not be able legitimately -- i.e. with the justification his beliefs require -- to build the bridge beyond the epistemological surfaces of things. Despite -- or perhaps because of -- his treatment of the mind as an epistemic refuge, Descartes is unable to acquire the kind of justification required to build this bridge without illicitly assuming that he has already built this bridge. This is, of course, the traditional problem of the Cartesian Circle that threatens Descartes's entire epistemological and metaphysical enterprise in the Meditations. Bracketing this intractable problem -- as we must if we want to make progress on other areas of Descartes's thought -- the usual approach is to note that Descartes does offer some arguments for the existence of God in a perhaps futile attempt to show that the veracity of God can underwrite our knowledge of the world. The connections among these arguments for God's existence (one or perhaps two in the Third Meditation, the ontological argument in the Fifth) are not clear, nor is it, on the usual view, clear why the arguments appear in the order that they do. After some fascinating and wildly implausible claims in the Fourth Meditation to the effect that belief is a matter of will and in the Fifth Meditation about the nature of body as merely extended, Descartes moves -- on the usual view -- to an argument for dualism in the Sixth Meditation. Here he attempts to demonstrate that the mind is distinct from the body, though the two somehow interact. This powerful argument proceeds by showing that the mind can exist without the body, and to show this Descartes invokes his earlier skeptical arguments, which in part turned on the possibility that his mind could exist with all its sensations even if his body does not exist and even if no bodies exist at all. So ends the usual view. The first thing to note -- and the first thing Carriero notes -- about this sketch is how un-unified it is. The various parts of the Meditations on the usual view do not hang together well . . . Read the rest here: See also the review on Metapsychology Online Reviews by Michael Pereira here:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Whittingham, Matthew. Review of Thomas Szasz's PSYCHIATRY: THE SCIENCE OF LIES. MOR (July 2009).

Szasz, Thomas. Psychiatry: the Science of Lies. Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 2008. Szasz' central thesis is that the notion of mental illness can be understood at best as a metaphor, at worst an oxymoron. He outlines the currently accepted definition of illness as based on the normal or abnormal functioning of the body -- specifically lesions at the cellular level. Given the nature of mental phenomena, we cannot properly ascribe to them lesions at the cellular level. As soon as we start pointing to lesions in the brain, we are dealing with brain diseases, not mental diseases. He concludes it makes no sense to talk of the mental, or our behavior, as a disease. Szasz accepts that behavior may be a symptom of a disease -- this much is obvious -- but the disease itself is always going to be of the body. If behavior is to be a symptom of disease, we need to locate the pathological cause before we can talk of it as such. However, Szasz contends that many of the so called mental illnesses, such as those listed in the APA (American Psychiatric Association), have no scientifically proven pathological cause locatable in the body. By way of example he offers the fact that homosexuality used to be included on this very list, and that it was no scientific study which urged its removal, but rather that homosexuality became socially acceptable. Szasz contends that most mental illnesses are simply social stigmatization. Given the aforementioned strong links between the institutions of psychiatry and our economic and legal institutions, the existence or non-existence of mental illness could have serious ethical ramifications. The majority of this book focuses on an unraveling of the history of psychiatry through an analysis of some of the key figures in its development, as well as some lesser known commentators. His aim here seems to be to show the foundations of psychiatry as built on and sustained by mutually beneficial lying. . . . Read the whole review here:

Gentile, Valentina. Review of Lisa Dowling, ed. CAMBRIDGE INTRODUCTION TO MICHEL FOUCAULT. MOR (July 2009).

Dowling, Lisa, ed. Cambridge Introduction to Michel Foucault. Cambridge: CUP, 2008. It provides a detailed introduction to Foucault's major works, analyzing critically most of his key concepts, such as subjectivity, discourse and power. While, on the other hand, it explores the impact of Foucault's work on contemporary post-modern literature, with particular attention to feminist and queer studies. Therefore, if the first section is ideally directed to students, the book as a whole contains key information and suggestions for readers and scholars from different backgrounds who seek to understand the relation existing between Foucault's work and the more recent discipline of Gender studies. In her preface, Lisa Downing lists the three major objectives of the book. It is aimed at (1) explaining the historical and philosophical context behind Foucault's ideas, (2) explaining and removing some of the confusion caused by translations to get back to Foucault's original meaning, and (3) offering detailed analyses of major texts. However, if the first and the last objectives are fully achieved, Downing's effort to "get back to Foucault's original meaning" is largely unfulfilled. Only in a few cases does she focus on problems raised by translations, clarifying the original meaning of some crucial Foucauldian notions, such as the actual usage of "madness" instead of "folly"(p.23). In general, no explicit reference is made to the French passages either in the main text or in footnotes, and this leads us to question whether the author could fulfill her second objective, which would have entailed a different kind of work based on careful examination of the original texts and confrontation with current translations. . . . Read the rest here:

Bauerlein, Mark. "Diminishing Returns in Humanities Research." CHRONICLE REVIEW July 20, 2009.

In a working paper I wrote recently for the American Enterprise Institute, "Professors on the Production Line, Students on Their Own," I reported that over the past five decades, the "productivity" of scholars in the fields of languages and literature had increased hugely: from approximately 13,000 publications to 72,000 a year. Consider the output in literary studies. From 1950 to 1985, 2,195 items of criticism and scholarship devoted to William Wordsworth appeared. Virginia Woolf garnered 1,307, Walt Whitman 1,986, Faulkner 3,487, Milton 4,274, and Shakespeare at the top, with 16,771. Type any major author into the MLA International Bibliography database and more daunting tallies pop up. In each pile lies everything from plot summaries to existentialist reflections. But for all practical purposes, such as teaching an undergraduate class, they impart the meanings and representations to the full. The accomplishment of the enterprise, however, was a curse for young aspirants, the graduate student in search of a dissertation (like I was in 1985) and the assistant professor in need of a book. They had to write something new and different. Theories and valuations that displaced the meaning of the work and prized the unique angle of the interpreter didn't just flatter the field. They empowered novices to carry on. The long shadow of precursors dissipated in the light of creative, personal critique. The authors studied might remain, but there were new theories to rehearse upon them and topics to expound through them, controversies in which to "situate" oneself, and readerly dexterities to display. It was liberating and enabling, as subsequent outputs show. From 1986 to 2008, Wordsworth collected 2,257 books, chapters, dissertations, etc. Faulkner came in at 2,781, Milton at 3,294, Whitman at 1,509, Woolf at 3,217, and Shakespeare at 18,799. The model worked—astoundingly so. Degrees, grants, jobs, tenure, and raises rested on those publications, and if older criticism answered questions about the meaning of Paradise Lost, well, other questions had to be found. Something happened, though, in the process. As striving junior scholars and established seniors staged one reading after another, as advanced theories were applied and hot topics attached, the performances stacked up year by year —and seemed to matter less and less. Look at the sales figures for monographs. Back in 1995, the director of the Pennsylvania State University Press, Sanford G. Thatcher, asked who reads those books and revealed in The Chronicle, "Our sales figures for works of literary criticism suggest that the answer is, fewer people than ever before." Sixty-five percent of Penn State's recent offerings at that point sold fewer than 500 copies. A few years later, also in The Chronicle, Lindsay Waters, an executive editor at Harvard University Press, said his humanities monographs "usually sell between 275 and 600 copies." In 2002 the Modern Language Association issued a report on scholarly publishing that cited editors estimating purchases of as low as 200 to 300 units. Remember, too, that standing library orders account for around 250 copies. (That's my guess—also, a few librarians have told me that the odds that such books will never be checked out are pretty good.) Why the disjuncture? Because performance ran its course, and now it's over. The audience got bored. For decades the performative model obscured a situation that should have been recognized at the time: Vast areas of the humanities had reached a saturation point. Hundreds of literary works have undergone introduction, summation, and analysis many times over. Hamlet alone received 1,824 items of attention from 1950 to 1985, and then 2,406 from 1986 to 2008. What else was to be said? Defenders of the endeavor may claim that innovations in literary studies like ecocriticism and trauma theory have compelled reinterpretations of works, but while the advent of, say, queer theory opened the works to new insights, such developments don't come close to justifying the degree of productivity that followed. Also, the rapid succession of theories, the Next Big Thing, and the Next … evoked the weary impression that it was all a professional game, a means of finding something more to say. . . . Read the rest here:

Critchley, Simon. "Heidegger's BEING AND TIME, Part 8: Temporality." GUARDIAN July 27, 2009.

Although there is no much more we could say about division two of Being and Time, there is one final topic that I'd briefly like to explore and which some readers think is the climax of the book: temporality. Let me begin by describing what Heidegger is trying to avoid in his discussion of time. Firstly, he is trying to criticise the idea of time as a uniform, linear and infinite series of "now-points". On this model, which derives ultimately from Aristotle's Physics, the future is the not-yet-now, the past is the no-longer-now, and the present is the now that flows from future to past at each passing moment. This is what Heidegger calls the "vulgar" or ordinary conception of time where priority is always given to the present. Heidegger thinks that this Aristotelian conception of time has dominated philosophical inquiries into time from the ancient Greeks to Hegel and even up to his near contemporary Bergson. Secondly, he is trying to avoid any conception of time that begins with a distinction between time and eternity. On this understanding of time, classically expressed in Augustine's Confessions, temporality is derived from a higher non-temporal state of eternity, which is co-extensive with the infinite and eternal now of God. In order to understand what Heidegger means by temporality, we have to set it in the context of the existential analytic of Dasein that I have sought to describe. . . . Read the rest here:

Cfp: "Feminism, Science, and Values," International Association of Women Philosophers (IAPh), University of Western Ontario, June 25-28, 2010.

The organizing committee invites papers from all areas of philosophy related to the theme of the conference: 'Feminism, Science, and Values.' We especially welcome papers from graduate students. There are many possible topics, the following being just a small sample: · Questions about the content of science; the evaluation of hypotheses; the uses of science; the idea of “value-free science”; the regulation and control of science; the funding of science; science as oppressor of the disadvantaged; science as a liberator of the disadvantaged; science for the people; science and democracy; the “collapse” of the is/ought distinction; the relationship between ethical and epistemic norms; the role of ethics in deciding what sorts of science to pursue; the role of science in the resolution of ethical questions. · Questions about concepts of sex/gender, race, intelligence, sexuality, sociobiology, health and disease, normalcy, etc., possibly discussed via specific examples and case studies. · Historical studies of the relationship between science and feminist thought. · Discussions of philosophy’s role in supporting modes of thought that perpetuate bad practices and discussions of philosophy’s emancipatory potential for women and others. Submissions of long abstracts (750-1000 words) are invited (for eventual presentation of papers that are no more than 3000 words and 20 minutes maximum reading time). Please email your abstract as a double-spaced Word or RTF attachment, prepared for anonymous review, which requires that you remove all identifying-author tags from your document content and file properties. Send the e-mail to, and include within it (not in the abstract) your full contact information. Deadline: Midnight Eastern time August 15, 2009. More information will be available about the conference on our website:

Cfp: 25th Anniversary Conference, International Society for the Study of Narrative, Case Western Reserve University, April 8-11, 2010.

The International Conference on Narrative is an interdisciplinary forum addressing all dimensions of narrative theory and practice. Plenary speakers include:
  • Susan Stanford Friedman (University of Wisconsin Madison), author of Mappings, Penelope’s Web, and Psyche Reborn;
  • Rita Charon (Columbia University), founder and director of the Program in Narrative Medicine, author of Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness, and co-editor of Stories Matter: the Role of Narrative in Medical Ethics; and
  • Greil Marcus, author of Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century, The Dustbin of History, and The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy in the American Voice.
We welcome proposals for papers and panels on all aspects of narrative in any genre, period, nationality, discipline, and medium. Proposals: For individual paper proposals, please include an abstract (500 words max.) and a brief vita (no more than 2 pages). All paper proposals must include the title of the paper; presenter's name and institutional affiliation; mailing address, phone and fax number, and email address. For panel proposals, please include an abstract (700 words max.) summarizing the panel's rationale and describing each paper. All panel proposals must include a title for the panel and a title for each paper. In addition, please include each panel member's institutional affiliation; mailing address, phone and fax number, and email address, as well as a brief vita (no more than 2-3 pages) for each of the panel members. This year, the Society will hold a poster session on the teaching of narrative. This session will enable poster presenters to share their approaches to teaching narrative. Posters may have multiple authors. To submit a proposal for a poster, please include an abstract (500 words max.) and brief vitas on all presenters. Deadline for receipt of proposals: October 30th, 2009. Please send all proposals by email in Word, WordPerfect, or PDF format to: If you are unable to send your proposal by email, send two copies of all materials to: Kurt Koenigsberger Narrative Conference Coordinator Department of English, Case Western Reserve University 11112 Bellflower Rd. Cleveland, OH 44106-7117 USA Please address all questions to Kurt Koenigsberger ( For further information, visit .

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Arrested at Cambridge Home.

Update 4 (July 28, 2009): Update(s) 3 (July 24, 2009):

Update 2 (July 21, 2009): Charges dropped. Further information is here:,2933,534203,00.html?test=latestnews. Update 1 (July 21, 2009): When a police officer arrived on the scene to investigate the tip, Gates was reportedly already having an altercation with another sergeant inside the home. The professor allegedly shouted that he would not provide the police with information and that "[t]his is what happens to black men in America!" The sergeant reportedly then tried to calm Gates, to which Gates shouted, "[y]ou don't know who your [sic] messing with!"according to the report. The report said that the two then moved to the front porch, where Gates continued to shout that the sergeant was racist, catching the attention of roughly seven "surprised and alarmed" onlookers. . . . Further details on the incident here from the Harvard Crimson: Original Post (July 20, 2009): Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation's pre-eminent African-American scholars, was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home by Cambridge police investigating a possible break-in. The incident raised concerns among some Harvard faculty that Gates was a victim of racial profiling. . . . (Tracy Jan, Boston Globe July 20, 2009.) Read the rest here:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cfp: "Media Ecology and Natural Environments," Department of Communication and Journalism, University of Maine, June 10-13, 2010.

11th Annual Conference, Media Ecology Association. Convention Coordinators: Paul Grosswiler (paulg at University of Maine Ellen Rose (erose at University of New Brunswick, Fredericton The subject of media ecology was formed with two biological methaphors in mind, Neil Postman wrote in “The Humanism of Media Ecology” (2000). In biology, a medium is a substance within which a culture grows. Change “substance” to “technology,” and media ecology defines a medium as a technology within which a culture grows, forming its politics, social organization, and ways of thinking. In biology, ecology is the study of what constitutes a balanced and healthy natural environment. Media ecology refers to ways that cultures maintain a healthy symbolic balance to help keep our natural world in order. Media ecology seeks to make us more aware that we live in two different environments. We live in both the natural environment of air, water, animals, and plants, and the media environment of language, images, symbols, and technologies that shape us. The 11th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association invites papers, panels, creative projects, and other proposals exploring the connections between these two ecologies, one of culture and communication, the other of nature and the physical sciences. Convention submissions are welcome that draw on a wide variety of perspectives in environmental studies in the sciences and communication, from issues such as climate change, biodiversity, acid rain, and wildlife ecology. How do media ecology and natural ecology intersect? How do ecologists in humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences create dialogue with each other? Can scholarship bring artists, communication researchers, and scientists together? What is the relationship between primary natural and virtual media realities? What is the history of environmental thought? Electronic submissions of papers and session proposals are preferred and should be sent by January 15, 2010 to Paul Grosswiler, Chair, Department of Communication and Journalism, 420 Dunn Hall, University of Maine, Orono ME 04460, paulg at

Cfp: Thirteenth Annual Conference, Association of the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities, Brown University, March 19-20, 2010.

The Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities is an organization of scholars engaged in interdisciplinary, humanistic legal scholarship. The Association brings together a wide range of people engaged in scholarship on legal history, legal theory, jurisprudence, law and cultural studies, law and literature, law and the performing arts, and legal hermeneutics. We want to encourage dialogue across and among these fields about issues of interpretation, identity, ideals, values, authority, obligation, justice, and about law's place in culture. We will be accepting proposals for panels, roundtables, papers, and volunteers for chairs and discussants from July 15th until October 15th 2009. To submit proposals, please go to the online submission site As it becomes available, additional information about accommodations and other conference matters, will be posted to the, “ASLCH Annual Conference Information” page on the ASLCH webpage at We welcome submissions on any law, culture and humanities subject. Examples of recent panel topics include: Imagining Rights in the Era of Globalization; The Child as a Legal Subject; Law and Love; The Color of Justice; The Cultural Lives of the Judiciary; Law and the Sacred; E. M. Forster and the Question of Social Justice; Thinking about Places and Spaces; Feminism v. Feminism: Conceptions of Justice in Transnational Criminal Law; South African Dignity Jurisprudence; Film as Legal Text. We invite scholars with interests across the range of areas in Law, Culture and the Humanities to organize panels, performance pieces, screenings, or to submit proposals for individual paper presentations. We urge those interested in attending to consider submitting complete panels, and we hope to encourage a variety of formats such as roundtables, sessions in which commentators respond to a single paper or issue or sessions in which the chair presents the papers and their authors respond. We invite proposals for sessions in which the focus is on pedagogy or methodology, for author-meets-readers sessions organized around important books in the field, or for sessions in which participants focus onperformance (theatrical, filmic, musical, poetic). Ideally, traditional panels should include NO MORE THAN 3 papers. All panel proposals should indicate the name of the chair. In most cases having a separate discussant is desirable. All panels should be planned in such a way that 30 minutes of the one hour and 45 minutes generally allotted for sessions is reserved for discussion/comments by the audience. Proposals must indicate whether a ³smart room² with computer, audio or video presentation technology will be needed. More detailed instructions about participation rules and limits are listed on the first page of the online conference submission system. We would also welcome you to volunteer to serve as a chair and/or discussant, whether you are submitting a paper proposal or not. If you would like to serve as a chair and/or discussant, please indicate the areas or subjects of your interest/expertise. Participants will be notified of their acceptance by December 31st 2009. We cannot promise that we will be able to accommodate all proposals. Questions, please contact Linda Meyer (

Power, Nina. Review of Alain Badiou's CONDITIONS. NDPR (July 2009).

Badiou, Alain. Conditions. Trans. Steven Corcoran. London: Continuum, 2008. (1992) Conditions, originally published in France in 1992, is a collection of companion essays to what remains Alain Badiou's magnum opus and the most exhaustive exposition of his philosophical system, Being and Event (which first appeared in 1988). It is possible to treat the book as a series of engaging explorations of an extraordinarily diverse range of topics -- from Mallarmé to set-theory, sophistry to psychoanalysis, Beckett to academia -- without immersing oneself in the system proper. Nevertheless it probably helps to do so. Indeed, in his preface, François Wahl, longtime associate of Badiou, explicitly stresses that Conditions should not be read without first tackling the formidable system as a whole. Even bearing this caveat in mind, however, some of the essays -- the one on Beckett and the essay entitled "Philosophy and Politics", in particular -- are as good an introduction to Badiou's main concerns as you'll find anywhere else in his not insubstantial oeuvre. Badiou has become an increasingly central name in European thought in recent years, and it is important to note that many of these pieces have already been published elsewhere. Corcoran lists these at the beginning of the book, although he neglects to mention that the essay on Beckett, "The Writing of the Generic", was also already published in a collection from 2003 entitled On Beckett, published by Clinamen. (I mention this not merely because I co-edited the collection, but because if you've already read that book as well as Manifesto for Philosophy, Infinite Thought, Theoretical Writings and other translations in Umbr(a) and Cosmos and History, you'll have already encountered many of the texts contained here.) The essays in Conditions are based on lectures and papers of varying lengths written and presented in the years following the publication of Being and Event. Sometimes it is very clear that the texts are written with a definite audience in mind; for example, in "Philosophy and Psychoanalysis", Badiou tells the reader "I intervene among you as someone, like the Eleatic Stranger from the Sophist, neither an analyst, nor an analysand". Useful notes at the back, however, make it clear in each case who the intended recipients of the essays or talks were, so one need not get too caught up in the shifts in tone and style. The core idea that links all the essays together, however disparate their topics, is conveyed by the title of the collection. Conditions for Badiou are the four types of "truth procedure" that provide the material for philosophy, which itself produces no truths. Badiou argues, or rather, states that there are four conditions: science (in particular, mathematics), art (in particular, the poem), politics (in particular, a politics of emancipation) and love (or more precisely, "the procedure that makes the truth of the disjunction of sexuated positions" [p. 23]). This four-fold claim is laid out in a very short piece near the beginning of Conditions entitled simply "Definition of Philosophy". It is here too that Badiou makes it clear that philosophy's task is to "compossibilize" or assemble truths "on the basis of the void" (p. 24). This means that philosophy as such can generate no truths of its own, and certainly is not capable of designating a particular conception of "Truth" as the unified meaning of history or thought. (If Badiou is to be understood as a "systematic" thinker, his system lacks the drive to totalize that often accompanies such a project.) Indeed, whatever truths are generated by the four conditions (a revolution in mathematics, a political uprising in the name of equality, a poem that reconfigures the field or a love that changes the way the couple see the world), they have very little to do with meaning, and in one fell swoop Badiou waves aside all hermeneutical and phenomenological approaches to the question of truth: "I propose to call 'religion' everything that presupposes that there is a continuity between truths and the circulation of meaning" (p. 24). . . . Read the rest here:

Leszek Kołakowski (1927-2009).

Update: Please see the following obituaries: Original Post (July 17, 2009): The distinguished Polish philosopher and historian of ideas was best known for his critical analyses of Marxist thought, especially his acclaimed three-volume history, Main Currents of Marxism. For further information on his life and career, visit his Wikipedia page here:

Cfp: "Phenomenology and French Epistemology," British Society for Phenomenology, St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, April 9-11, 2010.

The conference will examine the relation between phenomenology and the work of thinkers such as Gaston Bachelard, Jean Cavaillès, Jean-Toussaint Desanti, George Canguilhem and Michel Foucault. Their work was in important respects developed in dialogue with the phenomenological tradition of Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and others. Bachelard was a pivotal figure in this dialogue, always close to phenomenology without following the Husserlian path, and at the same time inspired by the mathematical sciences and passing on their significance to others. Although the two series of thinkers shared an interest in formalisation and in mathematics, in the main their paths diverged over the role of the subject in thought, and more broadly the direction taken in their response to Kant. An appreciation of these issues throws light on the route taken by the mainstream phenomenological tradition itself, and is also important for understanding aspects of the work of figures such as Foucault, whose thought was shaped by both currents. Speakers: Jean-Michel Salanskis (University of Paris, Nanterre) Ed Casey (SUNY, Stony Brook) Donny Frangeskou (Staffordshire University) Knox Peden (University of California, Berkeley) Kevin Thompson (DePaul University) Johanna Oksala (University of Dundee) will respond to a panel discussion of her book Foucault on Freedom (CUP, 2005).   Information on the conference will be posted here: Please send an abstract of approx. 300 words to David Webb ( by 12th October 2009.

Dodd, James. Review of Fred Rush's ON ARCHITECTURE. NDPR (July 2009).

Rush, Fred. On Architecture. London: Routledge, 2009. Rush is interested in just what "architecture" would look like, were one to conceive of building from a more robust appreciation of what we might call the experiencing of experience. Again, one should point out that Rush does not provide us here with a general account of the built world (or of experience, for that matter), since in the end he is predominantly interested in how such an architecture is to be apprehended ultimately as an aesthetic object. In this respect Rush's discussion is rather traditional, in that he sees the philosopher's contribution to a discourse on architecture to be either aesthetic or ethical, something that in fact corresponds to the division of the book. Chapter One, "Bodies and Architectural Space", outlines the basic concepts of a phenomenological architecture, while Chapters Two ("Architecture and Other Arts") and Three ("Buildings, Buildings and More Buildings") deal with the significance of these concepts with respect to aesthetics and the ethics of urban design, respectively. Let us take each of these in turn. Drawing principally from Merleau-Ponty, the approach to architecture that Rush has in mind is tied to the theme of embodiment. The idea is that, against what Rush calls the approach of "historical inter-textuality" and "semiological" approaches to understanding architectural form, it is possible to approach the built as a means of expressing structures and modalities of human bodily comportment (pp. 4-5). This is an extension of a philosophical thesis -- that our awareness of our experiencing just is our awareness of our embodiment -- into a reflection on architectural aesthetics, via the insight that the expressive force of the build-world folds back ("loops back", p. 4) into our experiencing itself, raising it to a heightened awareness of itself and, perhaps, in such a way that shapes embodied experiencing. The principal figure in contemporary architecture that Rush discusses here is Steven Holl, who employs phenomenologically inspired notions of "intertwining", parallax, and the primacy of haptic experience in the generation of architectural forms that seek to play on the multiplicity of the dimensions of bodily experience in complex, synthetic ways (pp. 36-38). Rush offers a first person descriptive analysis of Holl's aesthetics in a consideration of the Nelson-Atkins Museum extension project in Kansas City, Missouri. His analysis culminates in the interesting idea that architectural structures that seek to engage the subject in the full dimensionality of bodily experience tend to develop, in a striking fashion, a form of recursive sensitivity, "similar to the way that being sensitive to oneself and one's relation to one's particular life paths is thought indicative of humans" (p. 46). . . . Read the whole review here:

Cfp: "In Derrida's Wake," School of Communication, Arts and Critical Enquiry, La Trobe University, October 9, 2009.

Hosted by English and Philosophy Programmes.

Keynote Speaker: Andrew Benjamin (Professor of Critical Theory and Philosophical Aesthetics, Monash University), "Justice, Law and Place: Derrida and the Unconditional"

8 October 2009 marks the fifth anniversary of the death of French deconstructionist Jacques Derrida. Given Derrida's concern with dates and contexts, but also with notions of trying to mourn for lost friends and the responsibilities of the living towards the dead and their legacies, it seems a more than appropriate time - perhaps a day late, because we hesitate, trying to postpone the inevitable - to bring together some friends and scholars of Derrida, not to mourn a man so concerned with the impossibility of mourning, but to begin to celebrate the enduring influence of deconstruction, to survey the state of play across the disciplines, in Derrida's wake.

And then, how does this unique context - not only 9 October 2009, but also La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia - influence what is taking place? What is the relationship of Derrida and deconstruction to this context, to this time and these places? More generally, how are Derrida and the particularly European and North American phenomenon of deconstruction placed in the Antipodes? How does deconstruction take place in the Antipodes? And what can we make of the Antipodes after Derrida?

The aim of the symposium is threefold. Firstly, it is to pay our respects to Derrida not through mourning or memorialising, but through critically engaging with acts of deconstruction, and so acting responsibly towards Derrida's legacy. Secondly, our aim is to showcase current critical and theoretical applications of Derrida and deconstruction, from across as many disciplines as possible - literature, philosophy, linguistics, life-writing, cinema, media, music, performance, gender studies, the visual arts, architecture, design, law, politics, sociology, and others. Thirdly, our hope is to begin to build a network of interested Derrida scholars across Melbourne and Australia, and across the disciplines, with the aim of promoting and advancing the study of Derrida and deconstruction, with or without a uniquely Antipodean inflection, and the possibility of organizing future events. Publication opportunities are being sought, with the aim of publishing longer versions of the conference papers as either a special journal edition or a stand-alone publication.

This call goes out as widely as possible. Papers, of roughly 20 minutes in length, can address any aspect of Derrida's life, works, or thought, and can show deconstruction in operation across any area of scholarship. The deadline for proposals is 1 August 2009. Abstracts of up to 500 words should be sent to and should be accompanied by a brief biographical note.

Further information is obtainable from: Stephen Abblitts

Cfp: "Feeling Photography," Toronto Photography Seminar, University of Toronto, October 16-17, 2009.

“Feeling Photography” is an international, interdisciplinary conference that will bring together scholars working in a range of interpretive and theoretical approaches to interrogate the relationship between the affect, emotion, and/or feeling and the photograph. The conference will be held at the University of Toronto and is sponsored by the Centre for the Study of the United States and the Toronto Photography Seminar. The conference features plenary addresses from the following scholars: Lisa Cartwright (UCSD); Ann Cvetkovich (UT Austin); David Eng (Penn); Marianne Hirsch (Columbia) and Leo Spitzer (Dartmouth); Christopher Pinney (University College, London); Shawn Michelle Smith (School of the Art Institute of Chicago); and Diana Taylor (NYU). We have assembled fifty-two papers from our fall CFP into sixteen panels featuring scholarly work from across the globe and the disciplines. Panel topics include Children and the Political Management of Affect; Feeling Together: Publics and Counterpublics; Emotional Geographies; Marketing Emotions: Loss, Fear and (Comic) Loathing; Racial Affects; Emotional States: Citizenship and Photography; Instrumental Images: Bodies, Cities and Empires, 1903-1918; Digital Affects; Public Intimacies; Touching Photo; Visual Witnessing: Photography and World War II; Feeling First: Documentary and Left Internationalism; Photography, Trauma, and the Ethics of Witnessing; Queer Affect(s); Affective Economies; Facial Tics – Faciality. Visit the conference webpage here:

Cfp: 5th Joint Conference, Society for European Philosophy & Forum for European Philosophy, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, August 27-29, 2009

Update (July 24, 2009): The Keynote Speakers are listed here: The Programme may be found here: Update (May 8, 2009): The website is here: Original Post (January 14, 2009): Keynote Speakers: Rosi Braidotti (Utrecht) Claire Colebrook (Edinburgh) Leonard Lawlor (Penn State) Christopher Norris (Cardiff) Plenary Sessions: The Future of Hermeneutics (Chair: Nicholas Davey, Dundee) and The Role of Imagery in Ontology and Thought (Chair: Clive Cazeaux, UWIC). If you would be interested in participating in either of these, please contact Clive Cazeaux by 1 May 2009 at The SEP-FEP Joint Conference offers faculty and graduate students the opportunity to present papers in any area of European Philosophy. Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be submitted by 1 June 2009 to Juliana Cardinale, either in electronic form to or by mail to: Forum for European Philosophy Room J5, European Institute Cowdray House, Portugal Street London School of Economics, London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom In addition to proposals for individual papers, proposals for themed panels of (up to) four speakers on any area of European Philosophy are also invited. If you would like to organize a themed panel, please contact Clive Cazeaux by 1 May 2009 at A prize of £250 will be awarded to the best graduate paper, as judged by members of the SEP and FEP Committees. Graduates who would like their papers considered for the prize should email their papers (maximum 3,000 words) as Word 2003 attachments to Clive Cazeaux at by 3 August 2009. Deadline Summary: Panel proposals by 1 May 2009 to Paper abstracts by 1 June 2009 to Graduate papers in full by 3 August 2009 to


Mullarkey, John, and Beth Lord, eds. Continuum Companion to Continental Philosophy. London: Continuum, 2009. The Continuum Companion to Continental Philosophy offers the definitive guide to contemporary Continental thought. The book covers all the most pressing and important themes and categories in the field - areas that have continued to attract interest historically as well as topics that have emerged more recently as active areas of research. Twelve specially commissioned essays from an international team of experts reveal where important work continues to be done in the field and, valuably, how the various topics intersect. Featuring a series of indispensable research tools, including an A to Z of key terms and concepts, a chronology, and a guide to practical research in the field, this is the essential reference tool for anyone working in Continental Philosophy. "This book teaches us that there is a good deal going on today under the banner of 'continental philosophy' that neither starts with Kant nor ends with post-structuralism. Without looking over its shoulder at every turn, it provides an overview of the thematic areas that belong to 'continental philosophy' as it is actually conceived and practiced today, highlighting especially that it is no longer a matter of applying philosophical 'theory' to other disciplines, but more and more a distinctive way of engaging in those other disciplines themselves." – Simon Glendinning (Reader in European Philosophy, London School of Economics and Political Science) Table of Contents Notes on Contributors 1. Introduction, Beth Lord (University of Dundee) 2. Research Problems and Methodology: Three Paradigms and a Thousand Exceptions, James Burton (Goldsmiths College, University of London) 3. The Continental Tradition: Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Gary Banham (Manchester Metropolitan University) Part I: Contemporary Continental Philosophy: 4. Metaphysics and Ontology, Daniel W. Smith (Purdue University) 5. Philosophies of Consciousness and the Body, John Protevi (Louisiana State University) 6. Philosophies of Difference, Todd May (Clemson University) 7. Politics and Ethics, Caroline Williams (Queen Mary, University of London) 8. Continental Marxist Thought, Bill Martin (DePaul University) 9. Psychoanalysis and Philosophy, Hector Kollias (King's College London) 10. Feminist Philosophy, Rosi Braidotti (Utrecht University) 11. Philosophies of Life, Dorothea Olkowski (University of Colorado) 12. Philosophies of Science, Andrew Aitken (Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK) 13. Philosophies of Art, Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield (University of Reading) 14. Philosophy, Literature and Interpretation, Douglas Burnham and Melanie Ebdon (both Staffordshire University) 15. The Future of Continental Philosophy, John Mullarkey (University of Dundee) Part II: Resources: 16. A-Z of Key Terms and Thinkers 17. Chronology, James Burton (Goldsmiths College, University of London) 18. Research Resources Notes Bibliography Index Order a copy here:

Cfp: "Concepts of Knowledge," Canadian Society for Epistemology, Carleton University, November 6-7, 2009.

The symposium will be devoted to examining different characterizations of the concept of knowledge. We invite submissions dealing with conceptions of knowledge based on knowledge as representation, knowledge as ability, knowledge as propositional attitude, and so on. Cross-disciplinary submissions are particularly welcome. The languages of the symposium are English and French. Authors are invited to submit a 250 word abstract (in English or in French) for a paper of 20-30 minutes reading time. The deadline for submitting an abstract is Friday September 18. The abstract can be submitted online by web form (recommended) or by email (attachment in DOC or RTF format): For more information, visit the Symposium's website at or write or

Pub: Partenie, Catalin. "Plato's Myths." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY July 23, 2009.

What the ancient Greeks—at least in the archaic phase of their civilisation—called muthos was quite different from what we and the media nowadays call “myth”. For them a muthos was a true story, a story that unveils the true origin of the world and human beings. For us a myth is something to be “debunked”: a widespread, popular belief that is in fact false. In archaic Greece the memorable was transmitted orally through poetry, which often relied on myth. However, starting with the beginning of the seventh century BC two types of discourse emerged that were set in opposition to poetry: history (as shaped by, most notably, Thucydides) and philosophy (as shaped by the peri phuseōs tradition of the sixth and fifth centuries BC). These two types of discourse were naturalistic alternatives to the poetic accounts of things. Plato broke to some extent from the philosophical tradition of the sixth and fifth centuries in that he uses both traditional myths and myths he invents and gives them some role to play in his philosophical endeavor. He thus seems to attempt to overcome the traditional opposition between muthos and logos. There are many myths in Plato's dialogues: traditional myths, which he sometimes modifies, as well as myths that he invents, although many of these contain mythical elements from various traditions. Plato is both a myth teller and a myth maker. In general, he uses myth to inculcate in his less philosophical readers noble beliefs and/or teach them various philosophical matters that may be too difficult for them to follow if expounded in a blunt, philosophical discourse. More and more scholars have argued in recent years that in Plato myth and philosophy are tightly bound together, in spite of his occasional claim that they are opposed modes of discourse. . . . Read the rest here:

Interview with Santiago Zabala (Columbia UP).

Zabala, Santiago. The Remains of Being: Hermeneutic Ontology after Metaphysics. New York: Columbia UP, 2009. In sum, the goal of this book is to expose the remains of Being after Heidegger’s destruction of metaphysics in contemporary philosophy. The greatest achievements of this destruction are, first, the revelation that Being has always been described as a present object in its presentness and, second, the realization that it is not possible to definitively overcome this objective interpretation without falling back into another descriptive interpretation. In this condition, where metaphysics cannot be “überwinden,” (overcome, meaning a complete abandonment of the problem) but can only be “verwinden” (surpassed, alluding to the way one surpasses a major disappointment not by forgetting it but by coming to terms with it) it is necessary to start interpreting Being through its remains, which is a concept that maintains metaphysics in such a way to also overcome it. . . . Read the full interview here:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Holland, Eugene. Review of Bernd Herzogenrath, ed. DELEUZE/GUATTARI AND ECOLOGY. NDPR (July 2009).

Herzogenrath, Bernd, ed. Deleuze/Guattari and Ecology. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Taken together with Issue Number 15 (Summer 2007) of the online journal Rhizomes, Bernd Herzogenrath's collection provides a fairly comprehensive mapping of the relations between Deleuze and Guattari's philosophy and what we might call "ecologism". If one were to accept Arne Naess's distinctions among ecology, ecophilosophy, and ecosophy (invoked by Bogue, p.43), it would have been better to title the volume "Deleuze/Guattari and Ecophilosophy" inasmuch as Deleuze and Guattari are doing philosophy, not science (to which Naess limits his notion of ecology). Ecophilosophy treats the relations between ecological problems and philosophical ones -- certainly a central concern of Deleuze/Guattari. Nevertheless, Guattari himself used ecology in a much broader sense, recognizing the importance of scientific contributions to ecophilosophy, but ultimately stressing the values embodied in humans' relations to the natural environment, which Naess characterizes as "ecosophy". Hence the book's title seems perfectly appropriate. Like most anthologies, this one suffers from some unevenness of quality among the essays, and from something like a lack of focus -- although the field of Deleuze/Guattari-inspired ecological studies may be young enough to explain and excuse this. A slightly different order to the essays, however, could have brought several common themes or emphases into sharper focus. . . . Read the whole review here:


Articles: Book Reviews: Fiction: Visit the journal homepage here:


Download the second issue here:

Critchley, Simon. "BEING AND TIME, Part 7: Conscience." GUARDIAN July 20, 2009.

After the existential drama of Heidegger's notion of being-towards-death, why do we need a discussion of conscience? As so often in Being and Time, Heidegger insists that although his description of being-towards-death is formally or ontologically correct, it needs more compelling content at what Heidegger calls the "ontic" level, that is, at the level of experience. Finitude gets a grip on the self through the experience of conscience. For me, the discussion of conscience contains the most exciting and challenging pages in Being and Time. Let me try and sketch as simply as possible the complex line of Heidegger's argument. . . . Read the rest here:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Carroll, Joseph. "Adaptive Function of Literature and the Other Arts." ON THE HUMAN FORUM (June 2009).

Evolutionists insist that genes constrain and direct human behavior. Cultural constructivists counter that culture, embodied in the arts, shapes human experience. Both these claims are true, but some evolutionists and some cultural constructivists have mistakenly regarded them as mutually exclusive (D. S. Wilson, “Evolutionary”). Some evolutionists have either ignored the arts or tried to explain them away as epiphenomenal to the basic processes of life. Many cultural constructivists, in contrast, have sought to collapse biology into culture, eliminating “human nature” and thus turning culture into a first cause or unmoved mover. In the past few years, evolutionists in both the sciences and the humanities have broken through this impasse, arguing that the imagination is a functional part of the adapted mind. These new ideas revise an earlier model of human cognitive evolution—a model most closely associated with “evolutionary psychology” (EP) as a specific school within the evolutionary human sciences. Revising that model makes it possible for us now fully to integrate the evolutionary human sciences and literary study. . . .

Read the rest here:

42nd Annual Meeting, Cheiron: the International Society for the History of the Behavioural and Social Sciences, Le Moyne College, June 24-27, 2010.

Papers, posters, symposia, or workshops may deal with any aspect of the history of the behavioral and social sciences or related historiographical and methodological issues. All submissions must conform to the length limitations listed below (references, tables, etc. may be appended). To facilitate blind review, please include a cover sheet indicating: a) title; b)author’s name and affiliation; c) author’s address and phone number; and d) audio/visual needs. All submissions must be received by 5pm CST on January 15, 2010. Authors are strongly encouraged to send submissions electronically as attachments (.doc or .rtf), although three printed copies of a submission may be sent by post to the address below. Papers: Submit a completed paper (7-8 double-spaced pages plus a short abstract), or a 700-800 word abstract plus short bibliography. Papers should be original, i.e., not previously presented at other conferences. Posters: Submit a 300-400 word abstract. Symposia: Submit a 250-300 word abstract describing the symposium as a whole, and a 500-700 word abstract plus short bibliography from each of the participants. A cover letter should include the names and institutional affiliations of each of the participants, which should not be revealed in the abstracts. Workshops: Contact the program chair ( Student Travel Awards: Available to help defray travel expenses of students who present papers and posters. Please indicate if you are a student and wish to be considered for an award. Program submissions should be sent to: Jerry Sullivan at (N.B. gsullivan). If necessary, they may be sent by regular mail to Jerry Sullivan at: Collin College 2800 E. Spring Creek Parkway Plano, TX 75074 Visit the Society's homepage here:

"Situated Selves: Phenomenology, Law and Aesthetics," Department of Philosophy, University of Liverpool, October 30-31, 2009.

This conference will bring together researchers in phenomenology, law and contract theory and philosophy of art to discuss how a phenomenological concept of the subject may alter our approach to politics, law and art appreciation. Each area - subjectivity and consciousness, political philosophy, social contract theory and aesthetics - has benefited from insights gleaned from thinking of the self and object as a synthetic unity. The benefits gained from such philosophical analysis have been enhanced by the fruitful dialogue with feminism over issues such as objectivity, realism, perception and power. The aim of the conference is to continue with this dialogue in a productive and constructive fashion and to clarify a number of conceptual problems in these areas of practical concern. This conference is a celebration of the work of Christine Battersby and is supported by the European Journal of Philosophy, the Society of Women in Philosophy and the University of Liverpool. Confirmed speakers include: Christine Battersby; Rosemary Betterton; Joanna Hodge; Kimberly Hutchings; Rachel Jones; Diane Morgan; Janice Richardson; Stella Sandford; Linnell Secomb; Margrit Shildrick; and Alison Stone. Registration fee: £40. Bursaries available. Deadline for abstracts: Friday September 4th. E-mail: Contact: or

Inglis, Fred. "Bringing Off the Miracle of Resurrection." TIMES May 14, 2009.

Quentin Skinner's methodological and Collingwoodian insight was that all political philosophers, including authors of the classics, were not trying to answer timeless questions on eternal exam papers, but seeking to win an urgent victory about matters of life and death immediately around them, by the power of reason if possible, of rhetoric if not. Skinner's lifelong preoccupation has been to return the history of ideas to history, which is to say that the great texts, like the lesser ones, belonged to contexts. . . . Read there rest here:

Coughlan, Sean. "Degree in Rhetoric to be Launched." BBC NEWS July 14, 2009.

Rhetoric, once taught as a cornerstone of an aristocratic classical education, is to be revived as a university masters degree course. The MA in Rhetoric, to be launched by the University of Central Lancashire, is being claimed as the first of its kind in the United Kingdom. . . . Read the rest here:

"New Directions in the History of Concepts," University College London and University of Oxford, September 17-29, 2009.

12th Annual Conference on History of Concepts, History of Political and Social Concepts Group. The 12th annual conference is organised by HPSCG in cooperation with University College London, Centre for Political Ideologies at Oxford University, the Finnish Institute in London, the German Historical Institute in London, CENS in Helsinki, CoePolCon in Jyväskylä. At the 12th annual conference of the HPSCG we intend to look back at the themes covered over the last ten years and focus on the new directions that has emerged in the study of the history of concepts. Some important themes have emerged over the years. We wish to investigate these themes closer and to discuss the empirical and methodological implications involved. The 12th annual conference will be organised around the following themes: • The transfer and translation of concepts from one region to the other and within regions. Several conferences of the HPSCG have been dedicated to the investigation of which concepts travel and how they travel. The focus has been on transnational concepts suited for transfer (e.g. democracy, modernisation, civilisation, international law). The travel routes of the concepts through translations and the effects of concepts being inserted in different linguistic and cultural contexts have been discussed. The underlying relations of hegemony and asymmetry in these processes have been highlighted. We wish to continue the study of transnational concept, travel routes, translations and hegemonic relations and particularly to discuss the methodological and empirical problems involved. • Concepts in politics and rhetoric. The role of key political concepts in the process of political modernisation has been a prominent theme for the HPSCG since the beginning. At the 12th annual conference we would like to focus on how political communication, broadly speaking, produces conceptual changes. This involves investigating the formative role of ideologies and political rhetoric in forming concepts. The focus on ideology will include the explicit engineering of political concepts in totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. • Concepts in identity politics. Participants at the HPSCG conferences have shown a growing interest in studying the conceptual architecture of past and present identity politics. This has involved the study of a variety of auto-designators (e.g. people, nation, patriots), of asymmetrical counter-concepts (e.g. barbarian, despot, primitive) and of names (e.g. geographical names). The rising importance of infra- and supra-national identity politics calls for more studies along these lines. • Concepts in international relations. In later years scholars of international relations have taken an interest in examining the role of key concepts and their history in the forming of global systems of international relations. This entails focusing on the development of an international language, including concepts, through which states and other political entities communicate with each other. Studies of the emergence and history of concepts such as friendship, war, international law, commerce, international community, human rights in different linguistic and cultural contexts have already been undertaken within the HPSCG. • Concepts, metaphors, images and monuments. From its start the history of concepts has included an interest in metaphors. The link between concepts and metaphors has been the object of constant theoretical and methodological debates. Concepts often connect with a pictoral semiotics through metaphors. The Amsterdam conference in 2002 was partly devoted to the presentation of studies linking concepts, images and monuments. We intend to continue along these lines at the 12th annual conference • Concepts of religion. Recent years have witnessed an overall growing interest in religious concept and in comparing the key concepts of world religions. Religion is an excellent field for highlighting similarities and differences in conceptual frameworks, e.g. between the various Christian religions or between Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Confucianism, Buddhism and Hinduism. Such meta-concepts as religion and secularism must themselves be open to critical scrutiny, not last by following their role in different cultural and historical contexts • Comparative,European, transnational and global conceptual history. From being embedded in national cultures the history of concepts has in later years tried to transgress these limits. Efforts have been conducted to undertake comparative studies at a regional level (e.g. the Ibero-American and the Central European project). Larger supranational projects are being discussed (e.g. the Europaum project of a European conceptual history), and even global projects of comparing regions across the world are being launched. Projects of this range raise a multitude of methodological and empirical challenges that needs to be discussed. • New theoretical and methodological challenges. History of concepts as endorsed by the HPSCG developed in a fruitful dialogue between Begriffsgeschichte and the Cambridge school. Other sources of inspiration have been lingering in the periphery. It is time, however, to engage more directly in dialogues with neighbouring approaches and new fields. This could include engaging with Foucauldian genealogy, with a variety of linguistic approaches (text linguistics, text pragmatics, critical discourse analysis, argumentation analysis) and with new approaches within contextualism (e.g. new historicism). Invited Speakers: Professor Emeritus Melvin Richter, New York Professor Michael Freeden, Oxford Senior Research Scholar Hans Erich Bödeker, Berlin Professor Rolf Reichardt, Gießen Professor Javier Fernández Sebastián, Bilbao Professor Pim den Boer, Amsterdam Professor Willibald Steinmetz, Bielefeld Professor Jörn Leonhard, Freiburg Professor Kari Palonen, Jyväskylä Visit the conference webpage here:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cfp: "Phenomenology and Sport." Special Issue of SPORT, ETHICS AND PHILOSOPHY (2011).

A Special Issue of the journal Sport, Ethics and Philosophy ( will be produced for 2011, edited by Irena Martinkova and Jim Parry, will be devoted to the traditions of Continental Philosophy, and especially to Phenomenological approaches to Sport, Sports-related practices and to Sports Ethics. Whilst happy to consider contributions of any philosophical kind, we see this Issue as a special opportunity to bring phenomenological work to a wider audience, and to stimulate future work in this field. In aiming to contribute to the wider dissemination and discussion of phenomenological methods and traditions, we will view favourably contributions on any issue in relation to Philosophy of Sport, which provided one or more of the following in application to sports (broadly conceived): • exegesis of and critical commentary on central thinkers, texts or traditions • clear introduction and discussion of central concepts in phenomenology • explicit reference to methodological issues Papers must be prepared in English. Mindful of the difficulties faced by colleagues in preparing a text in a second or third language, the Editors are very keen to encourage contributors to submit early versions of papers for comment and for advice on language issues. So we are happy to receive abstracts and full paper submissions any time from now. Please also note that the First International Conference of the European Association of Philosophy of Sport ( in conjunction with the British Philosophy of Sport Association ( will take place at Charles University in Prague in Spring 2011 (exact date yet to be finalised), organised by Irena Martinkova and Jim Parry. In due course, a call will be issued for conference abstracts in the usual way and with the usual time-frame. Papers prepared for the Conference may also be considered for inclusion in this Issue - but given the lead time for the Journal, papers to be submitted for the Special Issue must follow a separate timetable from Conference submissions (see above). Also, we wish to emphasise from the outset that, because of the very tight production timetable for journal issues, there is no room for negotiation over submission dates. Papers not entirely finalized by the 15th December 2010 cannot be included. Guidelines for Abstracts and Contributions: • Abstract of paper (200-300 words) final submission date December 15th 2009 • Accepted authors will receive notification by January 30th 2009 • The submission deadline (absolute) for accepted papers December 15th 2010 • Final papers should be between 5000-7000 words • Preferred format is MS Word. Abstracts/papers should be submitted electronically to; Enquiries should be directed to: Dr Irena Martinkova or Dr Jim Parry

Cfp: "Recycling Myths, Inventing Nations," Department of English and Creative Writing, Aberystwyth University, July 14-16, 2010.

The organisers of "Recycling Myths, Inventing Nations" would like to invite proposals for panels and papers that explore myth and myth-making in all its guises. The conference will bring together scholars working across creative and critical disciplines, historical periods and theoretical approaches in order to explore the links between story-telling, mythology, histories, identities and ideologies. The organisers welcome contributions that will explore these issues in ways that will engage with current and emerging scholarly dialogues and demonstrate the diverse range of approaches being adopted in the study of mythology, both in contemporary culture and cultures of the past. Proposals should raise new questions and ideas in relation to the cultural, social and political functions of myth; the “recycling” of stories; the formation of “invented” identities and the multivalent relationships between mythology, history, fact and fiction. Suggested themes include;
  • the ways in which writers draw on myths to retell the stories of people and nations
  • the re-inscription of myths in fiction as a challenge to “official” history
  • the use of myth by writers to represent new kinds of personal or collective identity
  • using myth as a way to rethink literary traditions
  • the fictional critique of myth and its politics
  • the links between story-telling, mythology, identity and history
  • mythologising origin or originary culture
  • the supernatural in relation to origin and ancestral identity
  • recycling mythologies to reflect contemporary political, cultural and global crises.

We welcome proposals, in the form of a 250 word abstract on any of these topics, or a related area. The deadline for abstracts is 30th November 2009. Proposals, expressions of interest and enquiries by email to

Or visit the conference webpage:

"What Went Wrong with Economics." THE ECONOMIST July 16, 2009.

Of all the economic bubbles that have been pricked, few have burst more spectacularly than the reputation of economics itself. A few years ago, the dismal science was being acclaimed as a way of explaining ever more forms of human behaviour, from drug-dealing to sumo-wrestling. Wall Street ransacked the best universities for game theorists and options modellers. And on the public stage, economists were seen as far more trustworthy than politicians. John McCain joked that Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, was so indispensable that if he died, the president should “prop him up and put a pair of dark glasses on him.” In the wake of the biggest economic calamity in 80 years that reputation has taken a beating. In the public mind an arrogant profession has been humbled. Though economists are still at the centre of the policy debate—think of Ben Bernanke or Larry Summers in America or Mervyn King in Britain—their pronouncements are viewed with more scepticism than before. The profession itself is suffering from guilt and rancour. In a recent lecture, Paul Krugman, winner of the Nobel prize in economics in 2008, argued that much of the past 30 years of macroeconomics was “spectacularly useless at best, and positively harmful at worst.” Barry Eichengreen, a prominent American economic historian, says the crisis has “cast into doubt much of what we thought we knew about economics.” In its crudest form—the idea that economics as a whole is discredited—the current backlash has gone far too far. If ignorance allowed investors and politicians to exaggerate the virtues of economics, it now blinds them to its benefits. Economics is less a slavish creed than a prism through which to understand the world. It is a broad canon, stretching from theories to explain how prices are determined to how economies grow. Much of that body of knowledge has no link to the financial crisis and remains as useful as ever. And if economics as a broad discipline deserves a robust defence, so does the free-market paradigm. Too many people, especially in Europe, equate mistakes made by economists with a failure of economic liberalism. Their logic seems to be that if economists got things wrong, then politicians will do better. That is a false—and dangerous—conclusion. . . . Read the rest here:

Pub: Gordon, Anna, and Neil Roberts, eds. CREOLIZING ROUSSEAU. C. L. R. JAMES JOURNAL 15.1 (2009).

  • "Introduction: the Project of Creolizing Rousseau" by Jane Anna Gordon and Neil Roberts
  • "Of Legitimation and the General Will: Creolizing Rousseau through Frantz Fanon" by Jane Anna Gordon
  • "From Mestiçagem to Cosmopolitanism" by Alexis Nouss
  • "Beyond Négritude and Créolité: the Ongoing Creolization of Identities" by Mickaella Perina
  • "Rousseau, the Master’s Tools, and Anti-Contractarian Contractarianism" by Charles W. Mills
  • "Rousseau and Fanon on Inequality and the Human Sciences" by Nelson Maldonado-Torres
  • "From Rousseau’s Theory of Natural Equality to Firmin's Resistance to the Historical Inequality of Races" by Tommy J. Curry
  • "Rousseau and the Problem of Democratic Transition in Postcolonial Africa" by George Carew
  • "C. L. R. James and the Creolizing of Rousseau and Marx" by Paget Henry
  • "Virtuous Bacchanalia: Creolizing Rousseau’s Festival" by Chiji Akọma and Sally Scholz
  • "Rousseau, Social Alienation, and the Possibility of Generative Critique: a Review Essay" by Emily C. Nacol
  • "On Pateman and Mills’s Contract and Domination" by Lewis R. Gordon
  • "Space, Power, Consciousness and Women's Resistance: a Review Essay" by Gertrude Gonzáles de Allen
  • Wilson Harris
  • "Sylvia Marcos’s Taken from the Lips as a Post-secular Transmodern, and Decolonial Methodology" by Nelson Maldonado-Torres
  • "On Sylvia Marcos’s Taken from the Lips" by Karen Torjesen
  • "On Sylvia Marcos’s Journey along the Spiral of Nahuatl Gender and Eros" by Madina Tlostanova
  • "Cosmology and Gender in Sylvia Marcos’s Taken From the Lips: Gender and Eros in Mesoamerican Religions" by María Lugones
  • "Unapologetically to Introduce New Goals and Methods: a Reply" by Sylvia Marcos
The table of contents can also be read online at: If you wish to obtain a copy of the issue, please direct your requests to Paget Henry (, Executive Editor of the C. L. R. James Journal. In addition, the complete introduction that articulates the project of creolizing Rousseau and summarizes the essay of each author can be found at: JANE ANNA GORDON ( teaches in the Department of Political Science at Temple University. She is the author of Why They Couldn’t Wait: A Critique of the Black-Jewish Conflict Over Community Control in Ocean-Hill Brownsville, 1967–1971 (Routledge, 2001), which was listed by The Gotham Gazette as one of the four best books recently published on civil rights, and co-editor of A Companion to African-American Studies (Blackwell’s, 2006) and Not Only the Master’s Tools (Paradigm Publishers, 2006). She is also coauthor of the forthcoming Of Divine Warning: Reading Disaster in the Modern Age (Paradigm Publishers, 2009) and is completing her next book, Creolizing Political Theory: Reading Rousseau through Fanon (Fordham University Press, forthcoming). NEIL ROBERTS ( is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and Faculty Affiliate in Political Science at Williams College. Roberts’s work has appeared in Caribbean Studies, New Political Science, Philosophia Africana, Political Theory, Sartre Studies International, Shibboleths, and Souls. He is currently working on two book projects. The first is entitled Freedom as Marronage: The Dialectic of Slavery and Freedom in Arendt, Pettit, Rousseau, Douglass, and the Haitian Revolution, and the second is a comparative study of the Rastafari and Carl Schmitt.