Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cfp: "Technology, Textuality, and Transmission," Third Material Cultures Conference, University of Edinburgh, July 16-18, 2010.

Keynote Speakers:
  • Roger Chartier
  • Jerome McGann
  • Peter Stallybrass
Following the Material Cultures conferences which took place at the University of Edinburgh in 2000 and 2005, the third in the series is scheduled to take place in July 2010. The key theme of the conference is ‘Technology, Textuality, and Transmission,' though proposals relating to all aspects of Bibliography and the History of the Book are welcome:
  • Materiality and Textuality
  • Electronic Text
  • The Cultures of Print
  • Censhorship and Regulation
  • Collections and their Preservation
  • Readers and Reading Practices
  • Technology and Transmission
  • The Information Revolution
  • Geographies of the Book
Proposals of 200-300 words are invited on these or any other topic related to the history of the book, to be sent no later than 30 November 2009, to Material Cultures, Centre for the History of the Book, University of Edinburgh, 22a Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9LW or by email to

Fish, Stanley. "What Should Colleges Teach?" THINK AGAIN BLOG. NEW YORK TIMES August 27, 2009.

The arguments pro and con are familiar. On one side the assertion that a core curriculum provides students with the distilled wisdom of the western tradition and prepares them for life. On the other side the assertion that a core curriculum packages and sells the prejudices and biases of the reigning elite and so congeals knowledge rather than advancing it. Have we lost our way or finally found it? Thirty-five years ago there was no such thing as a gay and lesbian studies program; now you can build a major around it. For some this development is a sign that a brave new world has arrived; for others it marks the beginning of the end of civilization. It probably is neither; curricular alternatives are just not that world-shaking. The philosophical baggage that burdens this debate should be jettisoned and replaced with a more prosaic question: What can a core curriculum do that the proliferation of options and choices (two words excoriated in the ACTA report) cannot? The answer to that question is given early in the report before it moves on to its more polemical pages. An “important benefit of a coherent core curriculum is its ability to foster a ‘common conversation’ among students, connecting them more closely with faculty and with each other.” The nice thing about this benefit is that it can be had no matter what the content of the core curriculum is. It could be the classics of western literature and philosophy. It could be science fiction. It could be globalization. It could be anything so long as every student took it. But whatever it is, please let it include a writing course that teaches writing and not everything under the sun. That should be the real core of any curriculum. . . . Read the rest here:

"Rhetoric and Narcissism," Southern Colloquium on Rhetoric, Department of Communication, College of Charleston, September 18, 2009.

The Department of Communication at the College of Charleston will host a meeting of SCoR from 1-5 pm on September 18. The topic for this meeting is rhetoric and narcissism. For further details, consult the reading list, and the extensive visitor and travel information provided by our host, chair of CoC’s Dept of Communication, Brian McGee. The text for this meeting will be Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech (aka, “the malaise speech”), and Pat Caddell, one of the writers for that speech will join us for part of the seminar. Visit the conference webpage here:

Holberg International Memorial Prize Awarded to Ian Hacking

The Holberg International Memorial Prize for 2009 for outstanding scholarly work in the arts and humanities, social sciences, law and theology is awarded to Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto and Collège de France Ian Hacking. Read the rest here:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wright, Robert. "A Grand Bargain Over Evolution." NEW YORK TIMES August 22, 2009.

THE “war” between science and religion is notable for the amount of civil disobedience on both sides. Most scientists and most religious believers refuse to be drafted into the fight. Whether out of a live-and-let-live philosophy, or a belief that religion and science are actually compatible, or a heartfelt indifference to the question, they’re choosing to sit this one out. Still, the war continues, and it’s not just a sideshow. There are intensely motivated and vocal people on both sides making serious and conflicting claims. There are atheists who go beyond declaring personal disbelief in God and insist that any form of god-talk, any notion of higher purpose, is incompatible with a scientific worldview. And there are religious believers who insist that evolution can’t fully account for the creation of human beings. I bring good news! These two warring groups have more in common than they realize. And, no, it isn’t just that they’re both wrong. It’s that they’re wrong for the same reason. . . . Read the rest here:

Price, Matthew. "The End Was Nigh." THE NATIONAL August 20, 2009.

The West, it seems, is living through a golden age of civilisational anxiety, marked by endless agonising about the uncertain future: its loss of power, the climate crisis, terrorism, rogue nuclear weapons, economic collapse, the unchecked flow of immigrants across borders. Whether the calamities envisioned by today’s Cassandras will come to pass cannot be determined, but our vivid imagination for disaster has long and deep roots. Indeed, the story of the West might be seen as tale of progress married to peril. Advances in technology, governance, and standards of living have been accompanied by new anxieties and an uneasy self-consciousness about the fragility of such gains. Technology appears as wonder and horror alike, both panacea and mortal threat. We twitter blissfully away on our laptops, worrying all the while about the collapse of the electronic infrastructure on which we now depend – or the malignant ends to which it could so easily be turned. One law of civilisation might be cast as follows: Every strength needs to be opposed by a perceived existential threat. The sum of these fears – or their apotheosis – is the belief that civilisation (read: “the West”) is fated to decline, to be subdued from without or collapse from within. This too, is not a new idea. History, it is true, has often been narrated as a Whiggish tale of continual progress – that “It’s getting better all the time”, as Sir Paul McCartney put it. But this uplifting Enlightenment sentiment has always been opposed by a darker view, one that stresses the cycles of history, the tendency for what has risen to fall again – a physics of decline with its own martial undertones, including the unmistakable implication that the West, fat and happy with the fruits of its technological and cultural sophistication, is blithely tottering on the brink of oblivion. Few thinkers savaged Europe’s faith in progress with the ferocity of Friedrich Nietzsche, who thought that anything called “progress” was a mere illusion – if there was even such a thing, he suggested, its flowering could only give way to dissolution. Nietzsche’s ideas were carried into the 20th century by Oswald Spengler, whose book The Decline of the West became the ur-text of declinism in the 1920s. About history, Spengler concluded: “I see no progress, no goal no path for humanity.” Spengler’s pessimism squared nicely with the gloomy mood of Europe after the First World War. If his book appears now as a curious artefact of its time, it helped to establish a template of decline – and a rhetoric to evoke its inevitability – that endures today, a kind of civilisational pessimism that exists at all points among the ideological spectrum; the declinists of the left and right obsess over very different threats, but the essential dynamic transcends politics. . . . Read the rest here:

Hawkes, Terence. "William Empson's Influence on the CIA." TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT June 10, 2009.

Counterintelligence aims to collect and master the enemy’s intelligence in order to turn it against him. By sifting and ordering the information that the enemy’s agents transmit, it analyses the questions they are aiming to answer, obtains evidence of their plans and intentions as a result, and then tries to influence or supplant these by the answers that it carefully supplies. Rather than execute spies, counterintelligence aims to “turn” them. This proved a handy skill when Russia threatened India, the jewel in the British Empire’s crown, and Kipling’s novel Kim offers a fitting memorial to what was called the Great Game. An updated scheme called the “Double Cross” later emerged from Whitehall as a way of dealing with the subsequent threat from Hitler’s Germany. When the American allies arrived in London in 1942, they were so impressed by the massive British card index of agents that they modelled the system of their own Office of Strategic Services (OSS) on it. Norman Holmes Pearson, formerly an instructor in the English Department at Yale University before becoming a major element in the OSS, was wholly approving. As a student of literary criticism, he was naturally attracted to the subtleties of a text-based system that put a crucial emphasis on recognition of thematic and structural patterns. New Criticism, as the practice was called at Yale, concerned itself not with literary history and the personality of authors, but with the specific use poems made of language on the page. It fostered an interest in multiple levels of meaning, ambivalence, paradox, wit, puns and the peculiarities of Sprachgefühl: all devices on which cryptic codes or obscure messages might draw. In fact, when he described the whole Double Cross system, Pearson made it sound like a poem elucidated in class, its ironies nicely balanced, its contrasts wittily shaped. The power produced by this kind of close reading was intense, and as a result he was delighted to welcome as one of his new assistants in the OSS a graduate of Yale who had studied these mysteries: James Angleton. . . . Holzman’s brisk, uncluttered book offers valuable access to previously untapped material on Angleton, who became the first head of the Counter-intelligence Staff of the CIA. In particular, it makes incisive use of his years as a student of English at Yale and the influence on him of the New Critics and modernist poets of his day. Previous biographers such as Robin Winks have pointed out that at Yale he was co-editor of the literary journal Furioso. But Holzman takes a more spirited line, publishing two of Angleton’s grating undergraduate poems and a list of his correspondence with writers such as T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, I. A. Richards, William Empson, Ezra Pound and Louis MacNeice. These famous poets all “took this young man very seriously” and he, in return, was greatly impressed by their writings, particularly the book that became a crucial text of New Criticism, Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity. For Empson, ambiguity is the central aspect of language. Not a minor stylistic flourish, it is an unavoidable linguistic feature permanently in place and in effect seems to exploit the fundamental characteristics of language itself. This means that “opposite” meanings will always illuminate and invade the primary meanings of ordinary words, so that “in a sufficiently extended sense any prose statement could be called ambiguous”. Thus, Empson argues, a word may have several distinct meanings; several meanings connected with one another; several meanings which need one another to complete their meaning; or several meanings which unite together so that the word means one relation or one process . . . what often happens when a piece of writing is felt to offer hidden riches is that one phrase after another lights up and appears as the heart of it; one part after another catches fire. Given the allure of this, it seemed quite appropriate that Angleton should be sedulously practising in Ryder Street the reading arts he had learned in the Yale classroom. Of course the issue of ambiguity is insignificant when it involves intelligence data of a practical kind. The decoding of military messages is a relatively simple matter. But when counter-intelligence is at stake, when agents may be recognized as “turned”, so that what they supply either prevents access to the enemy’s spy system or actively penetrates our own, they themselves become “texts” which demand complex analysis. A sensitivity to ambiguity then becomes a crucial weapon. The improbable but undeniable impact of modern literary criticism on practical politics has no better model, and Angleton later described his work in counter-intelligence as “the practical criticism of ambiguity”. His rise was swift. . . .

Cfp: "Technology, Time, and the Political: Modernity and Memory from Heidegger to Stiegler," Michigan State University, October 3, 2009.

Workshop in Continental Philosophy. Time and memory are predominate themes throughout Continental Philosophy. This workshop begins with Heidegger's meditations on historical time and existence and connects them to contemporary discussions on technology and the political, looking closely at Bernard Stiegler's thesis in Technics and Time that technics is not the result but the condition of human life and its cultural evolution. In addition, Jean-Luc Nancy's reflections on world and globalization, as well as Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe's reflections on Heidegger will be addressed. The workshop will problematize these connections through David Barison and Daniel Ross' documentary film The Ister, which deals with the problem of technology in connection with Heidegger's interpretation of Hölderlin's poem "The Ister," and features Nancy, Lacoue-Labarthe, and Stiegler. Of special concern are questions about how technology mediates, determines, and narrates human existence, social life, creativity, history, and the environment. The film will be featured during the workshop followed by brief introductions and extended discussions. . . . Further information (including programmes and downloads) may be found here:

Martin, Wayne M. Review of Frederick Neuhouser's ROUSSEAU'S THEODICY OF SELF-LOVE. NDPR (August 2009).

Neuhouser, Frederick. Rousseau's Theodicy of Self-Love: Evil, Rationality, and the Drive for Recognition. Oxford: OUP, 2008. Self-love is a major theme -- indeed, along with freedom, perhaps the major theme -- in the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau himself was intimately familiar with the perverse and destructive manifestations of self-love, both from his first-hand experiences of the flamboyantly narcissistic world of the Ancien Régime, and from his own famously tortured psyche. Part of his intellectual legacy was an incisive exploration of the sentiment and its powerful dynamics. In this recent book, Fred Neuhouser has provided an incisive exploration of his own: a detailed critical reconstruction of Rousseau's account of self-love, both in its destructive and its constructive configurations. The research builds on recent contributions in Rousseau scholarship -- notably the ground-breaking work of Nicholas Dent and an unpublished dissertation by Andrew Chitty. But Neuhouser offers a novel framing of the issues, makes important contributions on a number of controversial points, and concludes with a bold and original (if also somewhat speculative) development of Rousseau's hints that self-love functions as a condition on the possibility of rationality. . . . Read the rest here:

Cfp: Second Biennial Literature and Law Conference, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, April 16, 2010.

This conference aims to bring scholars of literature and law into an interdisciplinary setting to share the fruits of their research and scholarship.The conference’s keynote speaker is John Matteson, winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for his book Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father. John Matteson is a professor in the English Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and obtained his JD from Harvard University.

The journal Law and Literature is in the process of publishing a special symposium issue containing full versions of select papers presented at the inaugural Literature and Law Conference, and we are in negotiations with the journal to do the same for this second biennial conference.

We invite papers dealing with all aspect of literature and law, including papers which might address literature dealing with some of the following:

-Comparative Justice

-The rule of law

-Rhetoric and law

-Judicial discretion and its abuse

-Blind justice

-Common versus Civil law

-(Post)Colonial Justice

-Law and Deception

-(Mis)Interpretation and Competing Interpretations of Law

-Non Western Justice and Injustice

-Comic Justice and Injustice

Please submit abstracts (250 words or less) to Andrew Majeske, by Friday, January 15, 2010.

Vernon, Mark. "Plato's Dialogues, Part 4: What Do You Love?" GUARDIAN August 24, 2009.

Iris Murdoch is sometimes not numbered amongst great Plato scholars today. However, the unique combination of her philosophical and literary talents means that, to my mind, she captures the nature of his philosophical way of life as few have. It might be said to revolve around a single question: what do you love? No one would doubt that love was a major theme for Plato. Three of his dialogues explicitly address it – the Lysis, Symposium and Phaedrus. It is never far from the surface in the others. There are various stories about Plato that emphasise the association too, and though they are undoubtedly apocryphal, they must have been remembered because they made sense. Some of the stories remember his affairs of the heart. . . . Read the rest here:

Cfp: "Philosophical Hermeneutics and Religion," NASPH, Newman University, September 25-26, 2009.

Update 2: Papers have now been posted here: Update 1 (July 24, 2009): Further information (inc. the programme) has been posted here: Original Post (January 5, 2009): 4th Annual Conference of the North American Society for Philosophical Hermeneutics. Merold Westphal (Fordham University) will present the keynote address. Submissions for papers are invited on all themes related to philosophical hermeneutics, but we are especially interested in papers related to the theme of Philosophical Hermeneutics and Religion. In order to promote a spirit of dialogue and meaningful reflection on each paper, presenters will be asked to make their papers available for posting on our web site to be read in advance. Sessions will consist of 15-20 minutes of reflective summaries of papers, followed by 45-60 minutes of discussion. Since papers will not be read in-session, there is some flexibility regarding length: submissions may be between 3,000 and 6,000 words in length. Complete papers, formatted for blind review, must be submitted electronically to Attachments in either *.doc or *.rtf format are preferable. The deadline for full-paper submissions is June 1, 2009. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by July 15, 2009. For more information about the society and/or to be put on an e-mail list, please visit our blog at the URL below or contact Monica Vilhauer ( or Jamey Findling ( Further information will be posted here:

Cfp: Sharp, Hasana, and Jason Smith, eds. HEGEL AFTER SPINOZA: A VOLUME OF CRITICAL ESSAYS.

The names Hegel and Spinoza have come to represent two irreconcilable paths in contemporary philosophy. This opposition has taken different forms, but has its roots in mid- to late-20th century French philosophy. Althusser announced that he required a “detour” away from Hegel and through Spinoza in order to arrive at a genuinely materialist Marxism. Pierre Macherey staged a careful deconstruction of Hegel’s claim to have superseded Spinoza’s system in Hegel ou Spinoza, which concomitantly served as a defence of Spinozism against the Hegelianism dominant in France in the 1960s and ‘70s. Among the most influential articulations of this antagonism are the polemics of Deleuze celebrating the immanent and vitalist thinking of a materialist tradition beginning with Lucretius and passing through Spinoza to the present, to which he opposes the logic of totality, negativity, and contradiction found in Hegel. Spinoza, for Deleuze and others, stands for a rejection of negativity and lack as the foundation of philosophical and political thought, and as a salutary alternative to the negativity (in both the logical and existential senses) associated not only with Hegel, but with Hobbes, Freud, Sartre, Heidegger, and Lévinas as well. Feminists have likewise celebrated Spinoza as providing a joyful alternative to a tradition that emphasizes anxiety, mortality, and combat. This opposition, in its various expressions, underscores that reading Hegel has always been and remains a political act. We are seeking essays to contribute to an anthology on the relationship between Spinoza and Hegel that move beyond the stalemate of current debates in continental philosophy. The title we have proposed for this collection points toward a horizon that no longer opposes a “bad” Hegel to a “good” Spinoza; we seek essays that indicate how contemporary readings of Spinoza-no longer the thinker of absolute substance, but of immanent causality, singular connections, transindividuality, and the multitude-might illuminate otherwise less visible threads in Hegel’s thought, and open the way to a re-reading of Hegel, beyond the institutionalized figure we take for granted. How might a productive and mutually enlightening encounter be produced between these two great systematic thinkers? What political possibilities are opened up by reading Hegel and Spinoza as useful contrasts rather than moral alternatives? The anthology will be published in a series that treats historical topics in light of contemporary continental thought. We are open to a broad range of topics within this rubric, but are especially interested in new readings that avoid simply recapitulating either the pantheism controversy in 19th century Germany or the French polemics of the 20th century. Please send papers of 7,500-10,000 words toHasana Sharp ( or Jason Smith ( by 15 June, 2010. (Crossposted from Public Reason)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Balls, Paula. "Phenomenology in Nursing Research: Methodology, Interviewing and Transcribing." NURSING TIMES August 13, 2009.

An increasing number of nurse researchers have been drawn to phenomenology; possibly because, like nursing, it considers the whole person and values their experience. Nursing is concerned with understanding people, being perceptive and sympathising with them. It recognises the validity of individuals’ experiences and supports them in exercising control over their own health care (Oiler, 1982). Nurses are taught to respect individuals, listen to them and believe them. They can also relate to the methods used to obtain data. Nurses are taught to be good listeners, to empathise and to create rapport, often in a short period of time. All these are valuable skills in phenomenology and nurses may feel they are sufficient to allow them to conduct a good interview in this type of research. However, phenomenological research is not so straightforward and one must firstly decide which of two main approaches are to be used. These are: Descriptive phenomenology; Interpretative phenomenology. . . . Descriptive phenomenology, which is attributed to Husserl (1963; original work 1913), attempted to make phenomenology a rigorous science within the tradition of its time, and used the concept of bracketing to maintain objectivity. Bracketing involves putting aside what the researcher already knows about the experience being investigated and approaching the data with no preconceptions about the phenomenon (Dowling, 2004; Lopez and Willis, 2004). Subsequently, phenomenologists such as Heidegger (1962) modified and built on Husserl’s theories and developed the interpretative tradition (also known as the hermeneutic tradition). Principally, interpretative phenomenologists believe it is impossible to rid the mind of preconceptions and approach something in a completely blank or neutral way. They believe instead that we use our own experiences to interpret those of others. . . . For nurses conducting research using descriptive phenomenology, one would expect to see some discussion around how they bracket their preconceptions and ensure a neutral approach to the topic. This may even mean not conducting a literature search before carrying out the research to avoid contaminating or influencing the interviews. On the other hand, those conducting interpretative phenomenological research will need to show how their own experiences have shaped the choice of research topic, the questions and their interpretations. They may even write down in an appendix to the work what they expect to uncover. In short, nurses should make sure they read around the different types of phenomenology and use language consistent with the approach chosen. They should not refer to bracketing if using interpretative phenomenology and should not explain how they stand within a hermeneutic circle if using descriptive phenomenology. Read the rest here:

Kirsch, Adam. "Frankfurt on the Hudson." TABLET MAGAZINE August 18, 2009.

Wheatland, Thomas. The Frankfurt School in Exile. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2009. It would be hard to overstate the importance of the Frankfurt School in recent American thought. Philosophers, psychologists, and sociologists like Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, and Max Horkheimer—to name just the best-known members of the group—helped to develop a subtle and powerful way of thinking about the problems of modern society. Critical Theory, as it is usually capitalized, adapted the revolutionary impulse of Marxism to 20th century conditions, in which mass culture and totalitarianism seemed to shut off any real possibility of social transformation. Especially appealing to academics is the way Critical Theory makes the analysis of culture feel like a revolutionary act in and of itself. Reading Adorno on modern music, or Benjamin on literature, it is momentarily possible to believe that criticism is a weapon of liberation, rather than simply a hermetic exercise for intellectuals. No wonder that after the 1960s, as Thomas Wheatland writes in his impressive new study The Frankfurt School in Exile, “ambitious young sympathizers with the New Left” in the academy turned en masse to the Frankfurt School, a scholarly subject that they could explore “without having to disguise or hide their intellectual and political orientations.” It is strange that it took until the 1960s for the Frankfurters to make a major impact on America, however, since from 1934 to 1949 they were actually living in the United States. The Institute for Social Research—the institutional home of the Frankfurt School thinkers—had to uproot itself from Germany in 1933, following Hitler’s rise to power. After a brief period in Geneva, it relocated to Morningside Heights, where it formed an uneasy partnership with Columbia University. From its headquarters at 428 West 117th Street, the Institute struggled with the intellectual and practical challenges involved in doing European-style Critical Theory in America. While the members of the Institute eventually scattered—Horkheimer and Adorno moved to Los Angeles, joining the German émigré colony there, while after Pearl Harbor Marcuse and others went to Washington, applying their skills to the war effort—New York remained the Institute’s official home until 1949, when Horkheimer moved it back to the University of Frankfurt. In his book, an unusually thorough blend of intellectual and institutional history, Wheatland sheds new light on this phase of the Frankfurt School’s existence. . . . Read the rest here:

Salmon, Gildas. "Lévy-Bruhl and the Problem of Contradiction." LA VIE DES IDEES February 12, 2009

Keck, Frédéric. Lévy-Bruhl: Entre philosophie et anthropologie. Paris: CNRS, 2008. As a thinker who has no heirs and belongs to no school, Lévy-Bruhl’s influence over the three main philosophical currents of the twentieth-century – analytical philosophy, phenomenology and structuralism – is gauged by the need each of them has felt to ward off the idea of a form of thought that excluded the principle of non-contradiction. The case that supplied the point of departure for Lévy-Bruhl’s thought was borrowed from anthropologist Karl Von den Steinen, who reported that the members of a Brazilian tribe, the Borono, claimed to be araras (a type of parrot). However, to be at once human and non-human violates the most fundamental principle of logic. It was in order to describe this phenomenon that Lévy-Bruhl called upon the law of participation, which he identified as the central principle of the primitive mentality. Starting with this example, Frédéric Keck shows that the problem raised by Lévy-Bruhl offers a panoramic view of contemporary thought. In analytic philosophy, Quine’s principle of charity could thus be understood as a means for reducing the contradictory utterances upon which Lévy-Bruhl built his case to mere errors of translation. If phenomenology proved more receptive to the concept of a pre-logical mind, it is because it saw it as an instrument for describing the “naïve” experience of the perceptible world independently of the intellectual frameworks that science imposes on our perception. But by subordinating this “practical logic” to a putatively superior theoretical logic, phenomenology lost sight of what made Lévy-Bruhl’s investigation radical. The great strength of structuralism, for its part, was to prove that these apparently contradictory utterances became intelligible in the light of the ethnographic context from which Lévy-Bruhl had isolated them: if the Bororo boasted of being araras, it is not because they were unaware of the contradiction but rather because they wished to distinguish themselves from their neighbors, the Trumai, who identified with aquatic animals. While recognizing the fruitfulness of this analysis, Keck emphasizes that structuralism’s focus on networks of semantic opposition prevented it from accounting for the syntax of the contradictory utterances that so fascinated Lévy-Bruhl. Keck divides the work of Lévy-Bruhl into four periods, respectively corresponding to the concepts of the primitive, mentality, participation and experience. His approach to examining the concepts of contradiction and participation is thus simultaneously chronological and thematic. . . . Read the rest here:

Vernon, Mark. "Plato's Dialogues, Part 3: Philosophy as a Way of Life." GUARDIAN August 17, 2009.

Plato wrote dialogues. This is striking not only because it differs so wildly from the usual philosophical style today; often dry, usually abstract, always tightly argued prose. It matters because we can be sure Plato believed dialogues were the best way to do written philosophy: scholars are confident we have all of his "published" works, so there are no treatises waiting to be found that would imply Plato believed prose was as good a way of doing philosophy too. Given that's true, what can be made of it? In a word, much. Today, scholars try to place the Dialogues in chronological order, and thereby discern something of Plato's development. However, the ancient world made no such attempt. Instead, they were read according to their content and the aptitude of the reader. This is, perhaps, closer to Plato's own intention. For one thing, it is obvious that the dialogues differ substantially in terms of their sophistication and subject. Some seem more designed to draw a novice philosopher into the subject. Others seem more targeted at an audience with an already developed knowledge of the matter in hand. Others again seem to be summaries of arguments that originally took place between members of the Academy. In other words, the attempt to track Plato's changing ideas could be a mistake: it may be that he wrote different dialogues for different purposes. . . . Read the rest here:

"Outsiders Inside," LatCrit XIV, American University - Washington College of Law, October 1-4, 2009.

Fourteenth Annual LatCrit (Latina and Latino Critical Legal Theory, Inc.) Conference. In October 2009, LatCrit will meet inside the Beltway for the first time in its history amidst a tectonic shift in American government. With the January inauguration of President Barack H. Obama, the nation’s first “outsider” president, we also saw the ascendance of a new progressive governance philosophy in Washington. As a biracial former law professor with working class and immigrant roots and an international and multicultural upbringing, Mr. Obama ran a progressive campaign that echoed many core LatCritical values, including internationalism and global-mindedness, the valorization of human rights and multidimensional diversity, the centrality of antidiscrimination work, a commitment to rigorous interrogation of longstanding dominant assumptions and norms, and a preference for discourse and dialogue over militarism. Notably, President Obama’s Yes We Can! campaign slogan has its roots in the ¡Si Se Puede! rallying cry coined by Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers movement and invoked in more recent progressive and mostly Latino/a political actions. The new Presidential administration and enlarged bicameral Democratic majority in Congress account only for part of the historic paradigmatic transition in American national government. The ongoing deterioration of the American and world economies also has catalyzed an aggressive reassessment by moderate and even some conservative thinkers of the wisdom of the Reagan Revolution’s uber alles dependency on the private marketplace for the realization of the public good – an antiregulatory disposition that dominated federal government through the last seven presidential administrations. In the United States, the failure of the government’s dominant antiregulatory disposition to prevent the ensuing economic meltdown has catalyzed a new, aggressive Federal response in the form of much more statist economic interventions, including the de facto nationalization of key economic components. To add irony, it was the administration of President George W. Bush – the loudest in exalting the power of unbridled private marketplaces to regulate themselves – that laid the foundation for the national takeover of large sectors of the financial services and banking industries. These quantum changes in the leadership and driving philosophies of American government present unique and in some cases unprecedented opportunities for scholars engaged in critical outsider scholarship to influence and inform national policy and legislation. The new executive and legislative branch incumbents have telegraphed early receptivity to the instantiation of LatCritical and other progressive theories and principles in the tangible products of Federal government (i.e., legislation, regulation, presidential directives, and, of course, caselaw). As President Obama’s aspirational campaign continues to transition into the nouveau regime at the helm of the most powerful government on Earth, millions of Americans expect the vague Yes We Can promise to become the Yes We Are reality. But with these openings come potential pitfalls. More information may be found here:

McWhorter, John H. "Thus Spake Zora." CITY JOURNAL (Summer 2009).

One of the last photos of Zora Neale Hurston, taken in the late fifties, is heartrending. Once renowned as a handsome figure who could dominate any room, she sits outside a Florida bungalow, a bloated old woman living in poverty, chatting with locals. As sanguine as she looks, we can’t help wishing that she had been in New York, plugging her latest novel on The Jack Paar Show. But all her books were out of print, and she was supporting herself on piddling jobs, including working as a maid (not for the first time). She seems to have reached the state of mind that her character Janie describes at the end of her masterwork, Their Eyes Were Watching God: “Ah done been tuh de horizon and back and now Ah kin set heah in mah house and live by comparisons.” Hurston died soon thereafter, in 1960. But she was a mesmerizing thinker who could never have remained a footnote for long. Thirteen years later, the novelist Alice Walker brought her back to the world’s attention. Hurston’s works are in print again—indeed, enshrined in a Library of America volume. Her early play Mule Bone, a collaboration with Langston Hughes, enjoyed a full-scale staging in New York in 1991. The postage stamp arrived in 2003, a film of Their Eyes Were Watching God came out two years later, and PBS’s American Masters documentary series celebrated her in 2008. Hurston scholarship has advanced over the last several years, too, with an important biography by Valerie Boyd, Wrapped in Rainbows, and a superb edition of Hurston’s letters by Carla Kaplan. Hurston, then, has taken her place in the Harlem Renaissance diorama, and it would be easy for us to read the knowing grin she wears in photos as signaling her recognition that Black Is Beautiful. That was true, to a point. But she was more eccentrically self-directed than many of her fans today realize, a fervent Republican who would be at home today on Fox News and whose racial pride led her to some unorthodox conclusions. Zora Neale Hurston’s grin was a quiet challenge to black people as well as white, and it still is. . . . Read the rest here:

"Hideous Gnosis," Black Metal Theory Symposium, Brooklyn, December 12, 2009.

  • Erik Butler, “The Counter-Reformation in Stone and Metal: Spiritual Substances”
  • Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, TBA
  • Nicola Masciandaro, “Anti-Cosmosis: Black Mahapralaya”
  • Benjamin Noys, “‘Remain true to the earth!’: Remarks on the Politics of Black Metal” (in absentia)
  • Joseph Russo, TBA
  • Anthony Sciscione, TBA
  • Niall Scott, “Black Confessions and Absu-lution”
  • Steven Shakespeare, “The light that illuminates itself, the dark that soils itself: blackened notes from Schelling’s underground”
  • Aspasia Stephanou, “Black Metal and Evil”
  • Brandon Stosuy, TBA
  • Evan Calder Williams, “The Headless Horsemen of the Apocalypse”
  • Scott Wilson, “BAsileus philosoPHOrum METaloricum”
  • Lionel Maunz, sculpture
  • Nader Sadek, Baptism in Black (Phase II)
Visit the conference homepage here:

Cfp: Thirteenth Biennial Wake Forest University Argumentation Conference, Wake Forest University, March 19-21, 2010.

The Biennial Wake Forest Argumentation Conference began in November 1982, with a one-day conference on the Wake Forest University campus. After again meeting on the Wake Forest campus in 1984, the Conference was convened in 1988 in the Wake Forest study abroad facility, Casa Artom, in Venice, Italy, co-sponsored by the International Society for the Study of Argumentation (ISSA). The conference has subsequently alternated between Venice and domestic sites, including Florida Atlantic University. In 2010, the conference returns to Wake Forest University and will feature keynote addresses by Narahiko Inoue (Kyushu University), Lenore Langsdorf (Southern Illinois University), Frans van Eemeren (University of Amsterdam) and Carol Winkler (Georgia State University). We welcome ideas for workshops and seminars from scholars willing to lead sessions (of 4 to 6 hours over two days) by September 30. We will notify the workshop/seminar leaders by October 15 and then issue an additional call for participants for the accepted workshops / seminars. Workshop/seminar leaders are also encouraged to invite participants. We also welcome proposals for papers, panels, and other creative contributions addressing all aspects related to argumentation, including but not limited to: • Argumentation theory and practice • Argumentation and democracy • Argumentation and citizenship • International views and approaches to argumentation • Argumentation and politics • Debate theory and practice • Public debate and argumentation • Argumentation in the media (traditional and new media) • Argumentation and science • Argumentation ethics • Legal argumentation Workshops/Seminars proposals: • Format: must include a title, a 250-word abstract, a 250-word rationale, the name/s of the leading scholar/s, their affiliation and contact information. • Deadline: September 30, 2009. • Procedure: workshop/seminar leaders will be notified by October 15. A subsequent call will publicize the workshop/seminars and solicit participant self-nominations. Papers and Panel Proposals: • Papers: must not exceed 25 pages and include a separate cover page with the author’s/s’ affiliation and complete contact information. No information identifying the author/s should appear on the paper. • Panel proposals: must include a title, a 250-word abstract, a 250-word rationale, the titles of all papers/contributions, the names of all participants, their affiliation and contact information. • Deadline: December 1, 2009. Participants will be notified within two weeks. Small grants for travel and lodging expenses are available. If you wish to be considered for a grant, please include a short letter with your submission. For questions and submissions, contact Alessandra Beasley Von Burg, Conference Director (, or Conference Co-Directors Michael David Hazen (, Allan Louden (, or David Cratis Williams (

Cfp: "Explosive Past, Radiant Future," Centre for Comparative Literature, University of Toronto, March 19-20, 2010.

21st Annual International Colloquium. Keynote Lectures:
  • Svetlana Boym (Harvard University, USA)
  • Thomas Moylan (University of Limerick, Ireland)

The lingering spectre of the past and the beckoning formlessness of the future are the two highly charged images that act as the starting points of the 21st annual international colloquium at the Centre for Comparative Literature, University of Toronto. Negotiating the troubled terrain between them has been the work of cultural texts and an ongoing problem for cultural and literary criticism. The struggle to establish a meaningful present, which incorporates the triumphs and horrors of historical memory and enables comprehensible directions toward the future, is a shared task of art, philosophy, religion and political though, among other activities. We suggest that narration – in its various poetic modes – is nothing more than this struggle for meaning, occurring over a multiplicity of social and cultural spaces. Likewise, we suggest that art, philosophy, political thought and religion, to the extent that they are concerned with the problems of meaning and temporality, may also be understood as essentially narrative endeavours. We seek papers from diverse disciplines that bring the problems of narration, thus defined, to the fore and offer innovative solutions to them. The arts have offered us rich and enduring images embodying the complex antinomies of this struggle, from the time bomb ticking in a sardine can in Petersburg to the ghost of Sethe’s murdered baby in Beloved to Paul Klee’s painting Angelus Novus, so eloquently described by Walter Benjamin as having its face turned to the past, wishing “to piece together what has been smashed,” but blown by a wind from Paradise “irresistible into the future.” We take seriously Benjamin’s subsequent suggestion that the dialectical object – the historical ruin, the aesthetic text, the political moment – contains the latent potential to “explode the continuum of history.” We seek papers that interrogate the status of such objects and their relations to the problems of temporality in general, to current cultural and political situations, and to the ways we understand cultural and political situations of the past. We also invite papers that consider the phenomenological and/or existential nature of time, its relation to the experiences of consciousness and the limitations (or impossibilities) of translating it into public language. Such papers may follow Heidegger in the contention that the subjective experience of time – “the horizon of being” – shapes the contours of social and cultural “historical” realities; or they may follow Freud in the counter-contention that the temporal imperatives of organized domination are introverted against the living memory of primordial, liberated time (situated in the unconscious). It was perhaps Augustine who most clearly illuminated the phenomenological problem: “What is time? If no one asks me, I know. If I want to explain it to someone who asks, I do not know.” We seek re-evaluations of the relationship of subjectivity to culture, mediated by the experience of time. Suggested topics include (but are not limited to):

  • science fictions, possible worlds, and literary utopias/dystopias; utopian planning in art and politics; utopian philosophy; lived utopias/dystopias;
  • the status and temporality of memory, trauma and nostalgia, rooted in the present and directed toward both past and future;
  • the study of texts from various historical periods; the political and intellectual goals of revisiting older texts; the selection of historical texts and critical modes of approaching them from the present;
  • canonization/re-canonization/de-canonization and their relationship to temporality in general and their own historical moment (the problem of cultural history);
  • the emergence of “historical thought” within history itself, and related artistic, political and philosophical movements (i.e. “the rise of the novel”; “enlightenment” thought; new teleologies; the explosion of imperialism); alternative modes of temporality and historical thought within modernity;
  • revisionist approaches to history and historical thought based on subjective experience (i.e. women’s history, queer history, indigenous people’s history); the political projects and philosophical stakes of such revisions, and new directions for revisionism (i.e. moving beyond ‘herstory’; moving beyond the ‘outing’ of history; moving beyond the postcolonial and ‘new’ historicism);
  • the role of capitalism and its social/cultural logic in the narration of history and the possibilities of the present; the limits within capitalism of imagining alternative futures, and literary, philosophical, or political challenges to those limits;
  • the challenges of globalization and the crossing of political, social, cultural, and philosophical boundaries; the clashes and hybrids of opposing temporalities;
  • the role of technology and science in articulations of modernity, and the relationship of these spheres to literary forms, political agendas, and philosophical discourses.

Herbeck, Jason. Review of John Foley's ALBERT CAMUS. NDPR (August 2009).

Foley, John. Albert Camus: from the Absurd to Revolt. Montreal: McGill-Queen's UP, 2008. John Foley's book addresses what for all intents and purposes he perceives as the all-too-often misunderstood relationship between the absurd and revolt in Camus's writings. Calling into question the critical contention made most recently by Avi Sagi and Richard Kamber, according to which Camus eventually rejected the absurd in favor of revolt, Foley proposes to demonstrate the "intellectual continuum" linking the two (4). Moreover, recognizing what he terms the "profound coherence between these two concepts" will, Foley argues, allow us to better negotiate the nuances of Camus's political and philosophical engagements (170). Such a perspective is meant to afford readers a more informed understanding of the vexed issues, such as capital punishment, Algerian independence and the legitimacy of political violence, that Camus faced in his lifetime. Consequently, where Camus's detractors (ranging from Sartre and de Beauvoir to Conor Cruise O'Brien and Edward Said) have leveled charges of political quietism and inconsequence, bourgeois liberalism and impotent idealism, Foley's close critical readings and extensive scholarship provide an apologia of sorts for what some have too hastily interpreted as Camus's egregious contradictions and inexcusable silence. . . . Read the whole review here:

Hamawaki, Arata. Review of Fiona Hughes' KANT'S AESTHETIC EPISTEMOLOGY. NDPR (August 2009).

Hughes, Fiona. Kant's Aesthetic Epistemology: Form and World. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2007. Kant, as is well-known, held that the pure concepts of the understanding, or the categories, are conditions of the possibility of the "experience" of objects. By this, he appears to have meant not just that the categories are conditions of the possibility of thought, or judgment, regarding objects, but also of the possibility of the sensory experience, or perception, of objects. This impression is, perhaps, strongest in the climactic section 26 of the second-edition Transcendental Deduction, in which Kant seems intent to close off the possibility that, despite the fact that all thought must conform to the categories, there may nonetheless be "rogue" intuitions or appearances that fail to so conform. So he seems to argue that the categories are conditions even of the sensory apprehension of objects. However, success in closing such a potential gap between mind and world can strike one as a pyrrhic victory. This is how I think Fiona Hughes, in her book Kant's Aesthetic Epistemology, sees it. She does so because it promotes a picture of the mind's relation to the world she calls "impositionalist": the view that anything that can come to us through our sensibility is necessarily stamped from the outset with the "imprint" of the forms of the understanding. As Hughes argues, if it is guaranteed in advance of any actual experience that anything that we experience must conform to the categories, then it is hard to credit what we receive from experience as knowledge of an "extra-mental world". Even if the objects of our knowledge have an existence that is independent of us, it will seem, she thinks, that what we know of the object would be nothing more than the "imposition" of our own forms of thought. Ultimately, the dualism between sensibility and thought with which Kant started would seem to be abolished in favor of a view on which sensibility has been co-opted by the understanding. Hughes's aim in her book is to show that while there are isolated passages in Kant that invite an "impositionalist" reading, careful consideration of the entirety of his corpus, particularly in light of the third Critique, reveals a more complex account of the relation between mind and world, one that she describes alternately as "pluralist" or "dynamic". On a "dynamic" reading the categories can have application to objects only through a cooperative engagement between the separate faculties of sensibility and understanding, an engagement that requires the mediation of the imagination. On an "impositionalist" reading, since it is a "fait accompli", as Hughes puts it, that the categories are involved even in the reception of an object through sensibility, there is no mediating work for the imagination to perform. Thus, for Hughes the difference between the two readings hinges on the different roles that each reading envisions for the imagination. For the impositionalist, the imagination is nothing more than the faculty of the understanding itself, considered under one of its aspects, namely, under the aspect of its application to intuition, as opposed to its employment in mere thought as such. For Hughes, however, the imagination must be accorded some independence from the understanding, and so must possess an independent standing as a genuine third faculty, one that serves to mediate the relation between the world, as it is received by us through our sensibility, and the faculty of understanding. . . . Read the whole review here:


  • "Introduction: Unorthodox Remarks on Philosophy as Literature" by Costica Bradatan 513–518
  • "Of Poets and Thinkers: A Conversation on Philosophy, Literature and the Rebuilding of the World" by Costica Bradatan; Simon Critchley; Giuseppe Mazzotta; Alexander Nehamas 519–534
  • "Hunting Plato's Agalmata" by Matthew Sharpe 535–547
  • "The Nexus of Unity of an Emerson Sentence" by Kelly Dean Jolley 549 – 560
  • "The Concept of Writing, with Continual Reference to ‘Kierkegaard’" by Mark Cortes Favis 561–572
  • "An Inhumanly Wise Shame" by Brendan Moran 573–585
  • "Stanley Cavell and Two Pictures of the Voice" by Adam Gonya 587–598
  • "Philosophy, Poetry, Parataxis" by Jonathan Monroe 599–611
Review Essays:
  • "After the Abyss: Theory Lives On" by Constance Eichenlaub 613–616
  • "Funny Masters" by Sonia Arribas 617–620
  • "Ritual or Playful? On the Foundations of European Drama" by Victor Castellani 621–631
Book Reviews:
  • Reviews by Nick Bentley; Ronald Bogue; Peter Burke; John Danvers; Christopher Irwin; Geoff Kemp; Martyn Lyons; David Malcolm; Gordon Marino; Amy L. Mclaughlin; Brian Nelson; Christian Roy; Paola S. Timiras; Eric White 633–646
  • Books Received 647–650
The issue is accessible here (subscription required):

Monday, August 17, 2009



  • Susan H. Delagrange, "When Revision is Redesign: Key Questions for Digital Scholarship"
  • Shannon Carter and Donna Dunbar-Odom, "The Converging Literacies Center"
  • Michelle Navarre Cleary, Suzanne Sanders-Betzold, Polly Hoover, and Peggy St. John, "Working with Wikis in Writing-Intensive Classes"
  • Hugh Burns, "Resolution in 60 Seconds"



  • Collin Brooke "Slideware 2.0: Taking Presentations Beyond the Desktop"
  • Phill Alexander, Review of Nakamura's Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet
  • Jennifer DeWinter, Review of Ian Bogost's Persuasive Games: the Expressive Power of Videogames
  • Julie Platt, Review of C. T. Funkhouser's Prehistoric Digital Poetry: an Archaeology of Forms, 1959-1995
  • Wesley Venus, Review of Byron Hawk's A Counter-History of Composition: Toward Methodologies of Complexity
  • Lawrence Schwegler, Review of Eugene Thacker and Alexander Galloway, The Exploit: a Theory of Networks
  • Christopher Dean, ed. CCCC2009 Reviews

View the issue at and discuss it on Kairosnews at

"The Humanities in Medicine and Medical Education," Annual Symposium, New York Academy of Medicine, October 7-8, 2009.

Considerations of the interface between the humanities and medicine have become both more complex and more urgent in recent decades as advances in science have allowed progressively deeper understanding of disease mechanisms and therapeutic opportunities. A progressive technologic transformation of clinical practice has followed from these advances. For medical education as well as clinical practice these movements pose important questions around the directions, even the purposes, of medicine, centering on how best to manage responsibilities to the patient as a suffering person and at the same time attend effectively to the disease as a set of disordered biological processes. Continuing progress is occurring not only in the sciences and the derivative technologies, but also in understanding of the illness experience, the physician-patient dynamic and the importance of social environments as determinants of both. The question of what the humanities can bring to these issues is the focus of this conference. Emphases have varied—for some the primary focus has meant bringing the range of traditional humanities disciplines—philosophy, history, literature, the arts, narrative—into medical education, while for others primary attention to medical ethics or the behavioral sciences has been sought. Some of these considerations have been gathered under the rubric of humanism in the United States, or patient-centered medicine in the U.K. This conference will explore the insights, orientations and gifts the humanities hold for medicine as well as their implications for education and clinical care. Visit the conference webpage here:

Sommers, Christina Hoff. "Persistent Myths in Feminist Scholarship." CHRONICLE June 29, 2009.

Update: Christina Hoff Sommers, in her essay "Persistent Myths in Feminist Scholarship" (The Chronicle Review, online edition, June 29), criticized Nancy K. D. Lemon, a lecturer in domestic-violence law at the University of California at Berkeley's School of Law, for publishing errors in the popular textbook she edits, Domestic Violence Law, and for not taking seriously her continuing criticisms of the book. "One reason that feminist scholarship contains hard-to-kill falsehoods is that reasonable, evidence-backed criticism is regarded as a personal attack," Sommers charged. Following is Lemon's response to those criticisms and Sommers's rebuttal. Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. . . . Read the whole exchange here: Original Post (July 15, 2009): My complaint with feminist research is not so much that the authors make mistakes; it is that the mistakes are impervious to reasoned criticism. They do not get corrected. The authors are passionately committed to the proposition that American women are oppressed and under siege. The scholars seize and hold on for dear life to any piece of data that appears to corroborate their dire worldview. At the same time, any critic who attempts to correct the false assumptions is dismissed as a backlasher and an anti-feminist crank. Why should it matter if a large number of professors think and say a lot of foolish and intemperate things? Here are three reasons to be concerned: 1) False assertions, hyperbole, and crying wolf undermine the credibility and effectiveness of feminism. The United States, and the world, would greatly benefit from an intellectually responsible, reality-based women's movement. 2) Over the years, the feminist fictions have made their way into public policy. They travel from the women's-studies textbooks to women's advocacy groups and then into news stories. Soon after, they are cited by concerned political leaders. President Obama recently issued an executive order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls. As he explained, "The purpose of this council is to ensure that American women and girls are treated fairly in all matters of public policy." He and Congress are also poised to use the celebrated Title IX gender-equity law to counter discrimination not only in college athletics but also in college math and science programs, where, it is alleged, women face a "chilly climate." The president and members of Congress can cite decades of women's-studies scholarship that presents women as the have-nots of our society. Never mind that this is largely no longer true. Nearly every fact that could be marshaled to justify the formation of the White House Council on Women and Girls or the new focus of Title IX application was shaped by scholarly merchants of hype like Professors Lemon and Seager. 3) Finally, as a philosophy professor of almost 20 years, and as someone who respects rationality, objective scholarship, and intellectual integrity, I find it altogether unacceptable for distinguished university professors and prestigious publishers to disseminate falsehoods. It is offensive in itself, even without considering the harmful consequences. Obduracy in the face of reasonable criticism may be inevitable in some realms, such as partisan politics, but in academe it is an abuse of the privileges of professorship. . . . Read the rest here:

Bloom, Paul. "Alison Gopnik's THE PHILOSOPHICAL BABY." SLATE MAGAZINE August 10, 2009.

Gopnik, Alison. The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009.

What's going on inside a baby's bulbous head? We ask the same question about our pets, but the frustrating thing about babies is that we once knew: We all once looked out at the world through those adorably large baby eyes. In The Philosophical Baby, Alison Gopnik writes that developmental psychologist John Flavell once told her that he would give up all his degrees and honors for just five minutes in the head of a 2-year-old. I would give up a month of my life for those five minutes—and two months for five minutes as an infant. In the absence of magic, we are left with the imperfect tools of developmental psychology—observation and experiment, hypothesis and guesswork. The science of baby consciousness is a central topic of Gopnik's new book. One of the most prominent researchers in the field, Gopnik is also one of the finest writers, with a special gift for relating scientific research to the questions that parents and others most want answered. This is where to go if you want to get into the head of a baby. . . .

Read the rest here:

Cfp: Annual Meeting, Canadian Society for Continental Philosophy, King's University College, University of Western Ontario, October 15-17, 2009.

Update: This year's meeting will be hosted by the Centre for the Study and Research of European Philosophy, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at King's University College. Inaugural address / La conférence inaugurale: Linda Martín Alcoff, (SUNY Graduate Center) Invited Guests / Conférenciers invités: Ugo Perone, Università del Piemonte Orientale (with Silvia Benso and Robert Valgenti) Tilottama Rajan, University of Western Ontario Costantin Boundas, Trent University Steven Lofts, King’s University College at UWO Helen Fielding, University of Western Ontario Dawne McCance, University of Manitoba Further information is available on the conference page of the Association: Original Post (December 28, 2008): We invite papers or panels on any theme relevant to the broad concerns of continental philosophy. Please submit complete papers (no more than 4500 words) and a brief abstract (150 words). If you are submitting a panel proposal, send only a 750 word abstract for each paper. Please prepare your paper for blind review as an attachment in Word. All submissions (in French or English) must be sent electronically by June 1, 2009, to: Antonio Calcagno, CSCP Local Coordinator, If you are a graduate student, please identify yourself as such in order to be eligible for the graduate student essay prize. The winner will be announced at the annual conference and considered for publication in the following spring issue of Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy. For further information on the annual meeting, visit the association's homepage here:

"Possibility and Paradox: On Rhetoric and Political Theory," Northwestern University, April 2-5, 2009.

(This conference is over but I thought the information would be still useful to some.) International Conference for the Study of Political Thought. This conference brings together distinguished and emerging scholars in political theory, philosophy, communication, literature, history, and other areas of the social sciences and humanities who share an interest in the rhetorical character of political thought and discourse. Our discussions will focus on a wide range of issues regarding the pivotal function of rhetoric in the history of political thought and contemporary political theory. These include, but are not limited to, questions about the performative dimensions of language, the role of affect and emotion in political life, the poetics and aesthetics of political discourse and experience, the rhetorical structure of political texts, the relationship between the logic and style of political argument, between author and audience, and between what political texts say and what they do. To provide our inquiries with historical scope and interpretive depth, each of our nineteen speakers will focus on a single key figure in the history of social and political theory, from Thucydides and Plato to Hannah Arendt and Frantz Fanon. Our goal is to make the case that an understanding of rhetoric is not just relevant but central to an understanding of political thought and conduct. Visit the conference webpage here:

G. A. Cohen (1941 - 2009).

Update: "Professor Jerry Cohen, Philosopher." Times August 11, 2009.
Jerry Cohen was one of the liveliest and most imaginative minds — and wittiest lecturers — in the international philosophical community. He was best known as a leading contributor to the analytical Marxism movement of the 1980s, But when he finally acknowledged that the Marxist project was beyond rescue, he spent the rest of his career defending the egalitarian morality that he always thought was the heart of Marx’s criticisms of the unjust, arbitrary and irrational capitalist system. The culmination of those efforts, Rescuing Justice and Equality, appeared in 2008, but the brief and very accessible Why Not Socialism? will now appear posthumously in the autumn. . . . (
Original Post (August 5, 2009): Gerald Allan "Jerry" Cohen (1941-2009) was a Marxist political philosopher, formerly the Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, All Souls College, Oxford. In 2008-2009 he will be Quain Professor of Jurisprudence, University College London. Born into a communist Jewish family in Montreal, Cohen was educated at McGill University, Canada (BA, philosophy and political science) and the University of Oxford (BPhil, philosophy) where he studied under Isaiah Berlin and Gilbert Ryle. Cohen was formerly assistant lecturer (1963-1964), lecturer (1964-1979) then reader (1979-1984) in the Department of Philosophy at University College London, before being appointed to the Chichele chair at Oxford in 1985. Several of his former students, such as Alan Carter, Will Kymlicka, John McMurtry, Michael Otsuka, Seana Shiffrin and Jonathan Wolff have gone on to be important political philosophers in their own right. Known as a proponent of Analytical Marxism and a founding member of the September Group, Cohen's 1978 work Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence defends an old-fashioned interpretation of Marx's historical materialism often referred to as 'economic determinism' or 'technological determinism' by its critics. In Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality, Cohen offers an extensive moral argument in favour of socialism, contrasting his views with those of John Rawls and Robert Nozick, by articulating an extensive critique of the Lockean principle of self-ownership as well as the use of that principle to defend right –as opposed to left– libertarianism. In If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich? (which covers the topic of his Gifford Lectures) Cohen addresses the question of what egalitarian political principles imply for the personal behavior of those who subscribe to them. . . . Read the full Wikipedia Entry here:

"A Very Special Business Angel." THE ECONOMIST August 13, 2009.

Hunt, Tristram. The Frock-Coated Communist: the Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels. London: Allen Lane, 2009. Also pub. as Marx’s General: the Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels. New York: Metropolitan, 2009. WHEN the financial crisis took off last autumn, Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, originally published in 1867, whooshed up bestseller lists. The first book to describe the relentless, all-consuming and global nature of capitalism had suddenly gained new meaning. But Marx had never really gone away, whereas Friedrich Engels—the man who worked hand in glove with him for most of his life and made a huge contribution to Das Kapital—is almost forgotten. A new biography by a British historian, Tristram Hunt, makes a good case for giving him greater credit. . . . Read the rest here:

Cfp: "Food Theory," PRE/TEXT: A JOURNAL OF RHETORICAL THEORY (forthcoming).

Nourish. Taste. Cultivate. These are terms familiar to writing and rhetorical studies as descriptions of writing. They are also terms relevant to food. In our current state of mass media (TV, the Internet, film, radio) the conflation of composing and food consumption has become de facto. Roland Barthes once wrote that "the Author is thought to nourish the book." Indeed, food production has become a type of rhetorical exercise: Anthony Bourdain adventures around the world, chefs compete against one another on cable television, while Michael Pollan and films like Food Inc. and Supersize Me warn us of the problematic global practices inherent in corporate foods. Often lost in this circulation of ideas and expression is food theory. As Barthes’ comment reveals, the language of theory is often intertwined with that of food and food-related imagery. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari used the rhizome metaphor, Michel Foucault tied agricultural practices to the rise of power formations, Michel de Certeau situated food as a "practice of everyday life," Julia Kristeva called food an abjection, and Jean François Lyotard writes of eclecticism as a trait of contemporary culture that includes, among other things, eating at McDonalds. The time, therefore, has come for critical approaches to both mass media interest in food and theoretical approaches to food. This special issue of Pre/Text calls for articles that push the connection between critical theory and food. Instead of a theory about food, however, what might it mean to explore a food theory? How could theory be not just about food, but based in the language, ideas, concepts, and ideologies of food? How, in other words, is food rhetorical? This special issue of Pre/Text will explore food as a theoretical framing. We invite proposals that address the idea of "food theory." Please send 250 word proposals to the guest editors by Dec 1: Jeff Rice and Jenny Rice

Political Linguistics, Department of Pragmatics, University of Łódź & Institute of Applied Linguistics, Warsaw University, September 17-19, 2009.

PL2009's aim is to convene scholars from a wide range of disciplines, interested, broadly speaking, in the rich and heterogeneous but thus yet to become better demarcated area of intersection of language/discourse and the political sphere (i.e. politics, both in its institutionalized and everyday dimensions). The general purpose is to explore and deepen ways of analyzing language as a political instrument, a political theme, and a political domain. PL2009 will be a forum for presentation of papers addressing the following issues:
  • the use of language in political rhetoric, advertising, media discourse, propaganda, persuasion, etc.;
  • language and processes of ideological symbolization; including folk linguistic ideologies, normative use of language and language-based reproduction of ideologies;
  • language of the state, viz. language policies and language planning at various stages of the information flow, including the art of document design and press releases;
  • rhetoric of political systems and political changes;
  • language of political institutions;
  • linguistic thought (its development and directions) in the light of past and present political transformations;
  • politics in language pedagogy;
  • societal multilingualism, linguistic pluralism and linguistic minority policies;
  • language change and variation in political discourse: transformations at the lexical (terminology, neologisms, semantic shifts), morpho-syntactic, and text/discourse-pragmatic levels;
  • language contact in the political domain: borrowing processes, style-shifting, code-mixing;
  • globalisation of political discourse: homogenisation of social and linguistic knowledge in the political milieu;
  • hybridisation of generic/discursive structures, text types, and interactive strategies across languages and cultures;
  • mulitimodality and unification patterns in political communication;
  • historical/diachronic transformations in political genres;
  • intertextuality and mediation in political communication;
  • axiological aspects of political discourses (valuation in political texts);
  • language attitude research: social attitudes to political discourse(s);
  • literary reflections of political communication;
  • translating/interpreting the language of politics;
  • directions in language training of politicians.


The conference will feature between 4 and 6 plenary lectures given by world-leading specialists in political discourse analysis and related disciplines.

Visit the conference webpage here:

Ideology, Identity & Interaction, 3rd International Conference, Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis, University of Łódź, September 13-15, 2010.

In line with previous CADAAD conferences, this conference aims to promote new directions in cross-disciplinary critical discourse research. We welcome contributions from all areas of critically applied linguistics. We especially encourage papers which assess the state of the art and explore new methodologies in critical discourse research oriented toward the general theme of ideology, identity and interaction. Possible areas of analysis include but are by no means limited to the following: Identities in discourse Political communication Language in the news Language in the new media Discourse of advertising Institutional discourse Language and globalisation Business communication Scientific discourse Health communication Language and ecology Papers will be allocated 20 minutes plus 10 minutes for questions. The language of the conference is English. Abstracts of no more than 350 words (excluding references) should be sent by email as a Word attachment to by 15 January 2010. Please include name, affiliation, email address and paper title in the body of the email. All abstracts will be accepted subject to review by an international Scientific Committee. Notification of acceptance decisions will be communicated via email by the end of February 2010. Plenary Speakers: Professor Paul Chilton (Lancaster University) Professor Seana Coulson (University of California, San Diego) Professor Anna Duszak (University of Warsaw) Professor Bob Hodge (University of Western Sydney) Professor Martin Reisigl (University of Vienna)V isit the conference page here:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Oldeschulte, Rudy. Review of Sergio Benvenuto, et al., eds. IN FREUD'S TRACKS. MOR (July 2009).

Benvenuto, Sergio, and Anthony Molino, eds. In Freud's Tracks: Conversations from the Journal of European Psychoanalysis. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield--Jason Aronson, 2008. This collection of interviews, previously published in the Journal of European Psychoanalysis, is both fascinating and unique in its array of contributions from philosophers, psychoanalysts, historians, intellectuals, and literary critics. Several of the contributors have also practiced as political activists, a 'revolutionary philosopher', and even an economist. Each is tied in some respect to psychoanalysis -- either clinically or theoretically. Many of the contributor's works were not available in English prior to their publication in the JEP. Indeed, many of the individuals interviewed are likely unknown to many, if not most, American readers. Contributors come from Europe, from South America, and a few from individuals that have since immigrated to the United States -- and the conversations are offered with a view toward that premise of the psychoanalytic enterprise of inquiry and understanding. This book is divided into three sections, with fifteen individual interviews. The three sections attempt to divide the interviews into historical perspectives, psychoanalytic views from the philosophical and political arena, and lastly from clinical practice and societal issues. The goal of the collection is based on the philosophy underlying the Journal itself -- that of bringing together the divergent, even "fractious" views about the theoretical alliances and the clinical practice of psychoanalysis. The editors hope to "help propagate multiple forms of thinking into a galaxy ready, and yearning, to be revitalized." . . . Read the rest here:


Gattei, Stefano. Thomas Kuhn's 'Linguistic Turn' and the Legacy of Logical Empiricism. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008. Gattei's contribution is essentially an approach from the history of ideas as well as philosophical engagement. He unpacks Kuhn's notion of incommensurability and makes it accessible; he shows how the ideas have come together, how different individuals have contributed and how the debate has developed over time. This book is written by a philosopher who understands the issues and the nuances of key ideas, and who has also taken time to engage with the material from an historical perspective. . . . Read the whole review here:

Cfp: "Crisis of Meaning," Philosophy Programme, Murdoch University, November 27, 2009.

The Murdoch Philosophy Program, in conjunction with the Krishna Somers Foundation, the Murdoch School of Social Sciences and Humanities and the Faculty of Arts and Education, invites abstracts of 250 words for twenty-minute papers in any field of philosophy, or related disciplines. In choosing 'Crisis of Meaning' as the theme of this year’s Colloquium, we hope to encourage contributions from a range of disciplines that consider philosophical questions relating to the nature of meaning and truth, and their significance in human lives. Papers might examine the theme along broad philosophical lines, for example, in terms of humanistic compared with scientific forms of meaning, historical and timeless understandings of meaning, phenomenology, hermeneutics, language and interpretation, the meaning of meaning itself, philosophy and truth. Papers might also approach the theme as a question, exploring, for example, the notion that every generation sees itself as having a crisis of meaning (or of circumstance), asking what it means to think of something as a crisis and whether this idea is especially appropriate in particular contexts or whether it is an essential part of the human condition. Alternatively papers might offer a philosophical examination of a currently perceived crisis, whether philosophical, social, political, psychological, etc., in contexts such as ‘ethics’, ‘the good life’, ‘sustainability’, ‘education’, ‘welfare’, ‘rationality’, ‘communication’, ‘depression’, etc. Deadline for abstracts: October 20, 2009. Contact: Dr Lubica Ucnik, Philosophy Program, School of Social Sciences and Humanities Murdoch University, Western Australia 6150

Lennon, Thomas M. Review of Todd Ryan's PIERRE BAYLE'S CARTESIAN METAPHYSICS. NDPR (August 2009).

Ryan, Todd. Pierre Bayle's Cartesian Metaphysics: Rediscovering Early Modern Philosophy. London: Routledge, 2009. Bayle poses special difficulties of interpretation. The principal difficulty lies less in the literal meaning of individual texts than in the overall account of what he actually believed and what he was trying to achieve. So great is the difficulty that some of us have taken to referring to the "Bayle enigma". Was he a Christian believer? If so, of what sort? Was he a secret atheist? A mere skeptic? An existentialist? The list goes on. Ryan does not claim to have solved the enigma, but his book does have as its "principal aim . . . to provide the detailed analysis that might help lay the groundwork for resolving the Bayle enigma, [the] choice of topics being guided by the conviction that Bayle can thought of as a Cartesian skeptic" (p.5). . . . Read the whole review here:

Depew, David. Review of Larry Hickman, et al., eds. JOHN DEWEY BETWEEN PRAGMATISM AND CONSTRUCTIVISM. NDPR (August 2009).

Hickman, Larry A., Stefan Neubert, and Kersten Reich, eds. John Dewey Between Pragmatism and Constructivism. New York: Fordham UP, 2009. The book begins with a lapidary life of Dewey by Hickman and a review of literature by and about him by Neubert. Stikkers, who specializes in "connections between pragmatism and Continental thought", then offers an account of the initial reception of pragmatism in German-speaking countries (270). It started with the Austrian Wilhelm Jerusalem's uptake of Peirce's appeal to community agreement in knowledge claims. Jerusalem thought he saw the relevance of Peirce's idea to turn-of-the-twentieth-century German-language discussions of the sociology of knowledge. He went on to correspond with William James, translate his Pragmatism, and, in published articles, to identify correctly early pragmatism's core belief that "metaphysical concepts express the world reality of a live creature who orients itself to its environment" (79). For Jerusalem and other German-speaking philosophers the American pragmatists were Lebensphilosophen. Relying almost entirely on Jerusalem's interpretations and translations, Max Scheler approved of the American pragmatists' stress on life as the locus of meaning, value, and knowledge, but seems to have viewed their empiricism as ruling out the intuitionism that his own Lebensphilosophie required. Things went downhill from there. Heidegger's critique of Lebensphilosophie rejected naturalism of every sort and a fortiori the American sort. Soon James's clever metaphor about the meaning of a term being its cash value was being taken at face value. Pre-World War II German philosophers, including Heidegger, took pragmatism to be a defense of capitalist ideology on a par with the Communists' blather about dialectical materialism. German interest in American pragmatism has had to contend with this image ever since. If this isn't much of an issue in the present volume it is because the Cologne school has relied on Hans Joas's more or less successful efforts to correct this misunderstanding, as Stikker reports (76). Nonetheless, the old rift between German philosophy and American naturalism is worth bearing in mind because it resurfaces in this volume as the central bone of contention between these latter day American and German Deweyans. . . . Read the review here:

Monday, August 10, 2009


Vol. 7. Special Volume 2: Aesthetics and Race: New Philosophical Perspectives I. Looks and Images II. Framing Encounters III. The Global and the Cosmopolitan IV. Taste V. Ethics and Politics Visit the journal homepage here:

Gibson, Eric. "Why Dictators Love Kitsch." WALL STREET JOURNAL August 8, 2009.

'Kitsch' has become a byword in the culture for anything over-the-top or tacky. In art, it’s meaning is more specific. It refers to works trafficking in facile, base or false emotions—most often sentimentality—and whose imagery is off-the-shelf and formulaic, a debased version of a once-original aesthetic idea. Need to conjure that warm-and-fuzzy feeling? Cue the fiery sunset. Looking to express fragile innocence? Bring on the shoeless urchin carrying the bird with the broken wing. Totalitarian kitsch puts those ideas in the service of the state. It is the official art of authoritarian governments, aimed at extending state control through propaganda. Totalitarian kitsch exists to glorify the state, foster a personality cult surrounding the dictator and celebrate ceaseless and irrevocable social and economic progress through images of churning factories and happy, exultant workers. It does so using the corrupted language of academic realism—heavily muscled supermen and women and colossal scale. Pyongyang’s “Monument to Party Foundation” consists of three hands each emerging from a circular platform and holding, respectively, a hammer, a hoe and a brush. The hands alone are over 150 feet tall. Such art isn’t produced by the proverbial starving artist in a garret but on an assembly line, like Mansudea Studio in Pyongyang. . . . Read the rest here:

Smith, Stephen: "The Poetry of Persuasion: Early Literary Theory and Its Advice to Legal Writers."

Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors 6 (2009). Abstract: This article will address the possibility and necessity of aesthetic pleasure as a part of persuasive endeavors. It will do so through a review of early literary theorists’ statements about what poetry does artistically, and how it does it. It will seek insight from these theorists by extracting from their writings those precepts that seem most useful to the legal writer. This is a selective and non-comprehensive review of the work of a variety of early theorists. It would be impossible to extract from each writer every “helpful hint” he might provide. Moreover, in assembling a variety of suggestions and commands from writers over the centuries, this article does not presume to be mining new concepts in writing practice. The ideas are not necessarily unfamiliar ones, but come from early, perhaps original sources.The article also attempts to go from these past exhortations to some sort of present-day pertinence. How can the advice be employed in a legal writer’s practice? While the aphorisms of early theorists are invaluable, situating them in practical context may be helpful. Download the paper here:

Open Access Book Series in Critical and Cultural Theory.

Open Humanities Press (OHP), in collaboration with the University of Michigan Library’s Scholarly Publishing Office (SPO), is launching five new open access book series, edited by senior members of the OHP Editorial Board. The series are:

Further information is here: