Monday, February 22, 2010

Fish, Stanley. "Must There Be a Bottom Line?" NEW YORK TIMES January 18, 2010.

Herrnstein Smith, Barbara. Natural Reflections: Human Cognition at the Nexus of Science and Religion. New Haven: Yale UP, 2010. January 19 marks the official publication of Barbara Herrnstein Smith’s Natural Reflections: Human Cognition at the Nexus of Science and Religion. The title would seem to identify the book as an addition to the ever-growing body of studies that explore the relationships and tensions between religion and science, usually with the intent either of declaring one epistemologically or morally superior to the other, or of insisting (somewhat piously) that the two are compatible if we avoid extreme claims and counterclaims, or of triumphantly announcing that science is a form of faith, or of purporting to demonstrate that religion can be explained in naturalist terms as an expression of the instinct to survive and propagate. While Smith rehearses these theses and shows limited sympathy for some of them (and disdain for some others), her object in the book is to interrogate and critique the assumption informing the conversation in which these are the standard contentions. The assumption she challenges — or, rather, says we can do without — is that underlying it all is some foundation or nodal point or central truth or master procedure that, if identified, allows us to distinguish among ways of knowing and anoint one as the lodestar of inquiry. The desire, she explains, is to sift through the claims of those perspectives and methods that vie for “underneath-it-all status” (a wonderful phrase) and validate one of them so that we can proceed in the confidence that our measures, protocols, techniques and procedures are in harmony with the universe and perhaps with God. It is within the context of such a desire that science and religion are seen as in conflict, in part because the claims of both are often (but not always) totalizing; they amount to saying, I am the Truth and you shall have no other truths before me. But if religion and science are not thought of as rival candidates for the title “Ultimate Arbiter,” they can be examined, in more or less evolutionary terms, as highly developed, successful and different (though not totally different, as the history of their previous union shows) ways of coping with the situations and challenges human existence presents. . . . Read the rest here: Herrnstein Smith's response is here:

"Argumentation: Cognition and Community," Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation, University of Windsor, May 18-21, 2010.

Keynote Speakers: David Hitchock, Department of Philosophy, 
McMaster University Paul Thagard, Department of Philosophy, University of Waterloo Karen Tracy, Communication Department, 
University of Colorado Submission Information: The Organizing Committee invites proposals for papers which deal with argumentation, especially as it intersects with cognition and/or community. Abstracts prepared for blind refereeing must be submitted electronically no later than SEPTEMBER 7, 2010 to (write ‘[your last name] OSSA abstract’ in the subject line). They should be between 200 and 250 words long. Additional information on how to prepare proposals is available on the conference website:

"That Buck Rogers Stuff: the Rhetoric of Science and Science Fiction," Rhetoric of Science and Technology Preconference, Minneapolis, May 28, 2010.

In Conjunction with the Rhetoric Society of America Conference 2010. What happens in the space between science and science fiction? In its guise as the "literature of ideas," science fiction has inspired the careers of scientists, foreshadowed the arrival of new scientific developments, and illuminated the fact/value distinction. In that respect, science fiction is itself a "rhetoric of science"; that is to say, a reflexive discourse of science. Seen from a different angle, however, "sci-fi" is a synonym for pseudo-science and the misrepresentation of scientists. This is of particular concern in an era when "science" has become a highly politicized and hotly contested theme in public discourse. To what extent and with what effect does science fiction contribute to our notions of science and its place in the public sphere? The organizers of the ARST preconference at RSA thus seek presentations that explore questions about how the rhetorics of science and science fiction are employed to unify or divide, to express concordance or difference, and to imagine the possibilities and dangers of science and technology. Submit extended abstracts or presentation proposals (no longer than 5 pages, including notes and references) as Word or PDF attachments by March 15, 2010, to Bill White, ARST Secretary, at Visit the Rhetoric of Science and Technology website here:

"Persuasion and Argumentation," Centre de Recherches sur les Arts et le Langage, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, September 7–9, 2010.

Persuasion has long been opposed to argumentation. From this standpoint, conviction would pertain only to argumentation because it is based on reason, whereas persuasion would rest on techniques of manipulation aimed at producing an effect on the audience. Perelman, for instance, even though he put emphasis on the importance of the audience, nevertheless defended a universally valid conception of rationality whose goal is to convince a universal audience, whereas persuasion is oriented toward a particular audience. Yet this opposition has been qualified by what is called, since Hamblin’s seminal work, the “pragmatic turn” of argumentation, as argumentation always occurs in a given context, limiting its scope to the context in which it occurs. Nowadays, many distinct and even conflicting conceptions are held in the field of argumentation, among which persuasion is one of the most debated. For the epistemic trend (John Biro and Harvey Siegel), persuasion and argumentation remain quite distinct, for even if it is allowed that persuasion may sometimes be the aim of argumentation, proponents of this position nevertheless consider that the validity of an argument must be evaluated through epistemic criteria only. Based on a different analysis, Marc Angenot arrived at the same conclusion in his latest book (Dialogue de sourds, 2008): for him, argumentation rarely leads to persuasion, so that they should be radically separated. At the other end of the spectrum stands Douglas Walton’s position, as he considers persuasion to be one of the different kinds of dialogue that constitute argumentation as a whole. Between these extreme positions there is room for many intermediary ones. The pragma-dialectical approach, for instance, evolved. In 2004, it insisted on the opposition between, on the one hand, the process of persuasion, centered on the effect to be produced and therefore on the rhetorical categories aimed at influencing effectively a given audience and, on the other, on the process of convincing which rests on how an arguer can resolve a difference of opinion by means of an argumentative discourse. Van Eemeren and his coauthors consider now that these two elements are always present to some degree in every argumentation. Their concept of “strategic maneuvering” is intended to take these two complementary but different aims of argumentation into account: both the dialectical objective of reasonableness and the rhetorical objective of effectiveness. Strategic maneuvering is also directed at reducing, within argumentative practice, the potential tension resulting from these opposed aims. On the other hand, according to the informal logic approach (Tony Blair and Ralph Johnson), persuasion and argumentation are not really opposed. Hence Johnson’s definition of the aim of argumentation as that of a “rational persuasion.” The objective of this conference is to review the controversial relationship between persuasion and argumentation within the different theories of argumentation. Several lines of research might be explored, among which:
  • examining the importance of context in persuasive practices, when they are considered context-dependent;
  • understanding how these practices appear in different disciplines, in so far as there are also forms of persuasion in scientific argumentation, for instance, so that persuasion would not be the prerogative only of the literary and the visual arts; a comparative study of different persuasive practices would be particularly fruitful;
  • articulating persuasion and argumentation more in detail instead of considering them as opposed. While it is clear that all persuasion processes do not fall within the province of argumentation, some could match the epistemological and cognitive criteria governing argumentation as a rational enterprise;
  • from this point of view, integrating some persuasive techniques into the field of argumentation would make it possible to take into account different kinds of discourse which are still too often excluded from the field of argumentation precisely because they would be more persuasive than argumentative: literature, advertising, political propaganda, visual argumentation.

Participants are welcome to deliver their papers in French or in English. Abstracts (c. 300 words) and provisional titles should be submitted, together with a brief résumé (one page) in Word format, to Georges Roque ( no later than February 15, 2010. The final decision of the selection committee will be communicated by February 28, 2010.

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

Keynote Speakers: Carole Blair and William Balthrop, University of North Carolina; Lenore Langsdorf, Southern Illinois University; Frans van Eemeren, University of Amsterdam, and Carol Winkler, Georgia State University. Workshops: Pragma-Dialectical Analysis and Evaluation of Argumentative Discourse Frans H. van Eemeren and Bart Garssen, Department of Speech Communication, Argumentation Theory and Rhetoric, University of Amsterdam This workshop consists of a series of four sessions. The aim of the workshop is to provide insight in pragma-dialectical argumentation analysis and evaluation. For this purpose, the workshop concentrates in the first place on the reconstruction of argumentative discourse and the identification of fallacies, not only in everyday discourse, but also in political and academic discourse. First, the basic principles are explained that are instrumental in analyzing and evaluating argumentative discourse. In the process, methodical instruments are offered for identifying differences of opinion, argumentation structures and argument schemes in oral and written discourse. Next, the problems are discussed of critically evaluating various types of discourse from a dialectical perspective. Finally, it is made clear how combining dialectical and rhetorical insight enables the analyst to identify the strategic maneuvering by which arguers try to see through their own standpoints in argumentative discours while at the same time upholding a commitment to reasonableness. The fallacies are then viewed as derailments of such strategic maneuvering. How to Study Interpersonal Arguing Dale Hample and Ioana A. Cionea, Department of Communication, University of Maryland The bulk of research on argumentation has been conducted from rhetorical or philosophical perspectives, which both make use of humanistic methodologies. Since about 1980, however, social science methods have also been applied, particularly to interpersonal arguing. This approach makes use of self-report scales, coding systems, and quantitative analysis. The purpose of this workshop is to provide participants with an introduction to the general project of studying interpersonal arguing, and to explore many of the leading instruments used in the community project. The workshop will be oriented to people who are not primarily social scientists in their approach to argumentation studies. We will begin with a general meta-theoretical overview of interpersonal arguing. We will briefly explain that interpersonal arguing can be seen as occurring in three phases: argument production, the public argument, and argument reception. This overview intends to establish a context for the various instruments and methods covered in the bulk of the workshop. Argument production methodologies include self-report measures of various personality traits, cognitive abilities, and cognitive processes. The public argument will be approached from the viewpoint of conversation/discourse analysis and pragma-dialectics, as well as some self-report and behavioral measures of emotional and other experiences. Argument reception, perhaps the least studied of the three phases, will be covered in reference to argumentative competence and some standard persuasion measures. Cultural assessment instruments and some others do not fall neatly into one of the three phases, but these instruments and some other techniques will also be covered. Argumentation, Intervention, and Democratic Invention: Rethinking the Ends of Rhetorical Scholarship Cindy Spurlock and Scott Welsh, Department of Communication, Appalachian State University Democratic deliberation and the politics of everyday life call the art of rhetoric into being. Yet, prevailing modes of rhetorical scholarship largely end in the production of personal works of academic criticism rather than in the production of publicly useable rhetorical resources. This workshop aims to collaboratively pursue new or revised approaches to the study of rhetoric that might promote the invention of the rhetorical moves and maneuvers necessary to sustaining and advancing democracy in the face of anti-democratic argumentative commonplaces. Put simply, the motivating question is: How can a critical study of rhetoric be reconnected to the art of rhetoric? More specifically, participants in this workshop will explore the question of whether and/or how an interventionist orientation toward theory and criticism may enable, constrain, or otherwise affect the development of argumentative strategies and resources for rhetorical invention that are accessible to (and able to address) publics. The Relationship between Argument and Culture: What do we know about differences and similarities across cultures and what do we need to know? Michael David Hazen, Department of Communication, Wake Forest University Information to be provided. Visit the conference website here:

"Ethics, Hospitality, and Radical Atheism," a Dialogue between Derek Attridge and Martin Hägglund, University of Oxford, March 4, 2010.

5.15 pm, Thursday March 4, 2010 New Seminar Room, Wadham College, University of Oxford. Hägglund’s recent book, Radical Atheism, offers a novel and provocative account of Derrida’s thinking on life and death, good and evil, self and other. The book has already been the subject of a special issue of CR: The New Centennial Review and has prompted enthusiastic critical responses from thinkers like Ernesto Laclau and Derek Attridge. Attridge, eminent literary critic and theorist, is responding to Hägglund in his forthcoming book Reading and Responsibility, where he further develops his influential notion of the relation between deconstruction, ethics, and literature. In his response, Attridge raises the question of what difference deconstruction makes for the way we live our lives and opens the stakes of the debate through the question of hospitality. This dialogue will stage a wide-ranging discussion between these distinguished interlocutors before opening the debate to the floor. Places are limited. Please register interest with Ankhi Mukherjee ( and Sarah Senk (


This week France Culture had a series of five radio broadcasts on Foucault - Foucault: l'ombre des Lumières in the daily program of Les Nouveaux chemins de la connaissance. Here is the link to the first one:

"Film-Philosophy III," Third Annual Conference of the FILM-PHILOSOPHY Journal, University of Warwick, July 15-17, 2010.

Confirmed Plenary Speakers: James Conant, Thomas Wartenberg, Sarah Cooper, Erica Carter, John Mullarkey and Richard Dyer. We welcome proposals for 30 minute papers that explore any aspect of the relationships between film, film studies and philosophy. Proposals should up to 500 words in length and be sent to by 28 February 2010. Details of conference registration, on-campus accommodation and conference dinner arrangements can be found on the conference website at For general enquiries, please contact For details about the journal, please go to

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cfp: "Form and Genesis," Sixth Annual Conference, The Theory Reading Group, Cornell University, April 22-24, 2010.

Keynote Speakers: Adrian Johnston (University of New Mexico) and Robert Kaufman (University of California, Berkeley) Increasingly it seems that contemporary thought is confronted with two ways of explaining its objects. On the one hand, a formal approach seeks to analyze the necessary structures or defining qualities that make something what it is. On the other hand, a genetic or historical method aims to uncover the forces that give rise to form or structure in the first place. Do these modes of explanation disqualify one another, or are there compelling prospects for their integration? For example, is it possible to understand how thought or rationality can grasp its own determining processes? Or, on the contrary, is thought structurally unable to access a domain that is by nature exterior to reason, sense, or order? Broadly understood, the formal approach tends to seek logical explanations, while the genetic approach looks to materialist or genealogical accounts. The relation between these two orders of explanation has wide implications. What is the connection between logical or normative form and its temporal, material, or historical genesis? Conversely, what might an analysis of the structure of genealogy or critique tell us about the latter? Does the political critique of form as an arbitrary convention mitigate its powers of normativity? What is the relationship between form and history, or form and materiality in literary and aesthetic theory? What is the status of formalism, whether literary or logical-mathematical, in contemporary theory? Suggested topics: Speculation and critique Formalisms and historicisms The transcendental and the empirical Limits of philosophy/limits of science Form of the political Originality Events of reason Condition and cause Sense and nonsense Form and genre History and form in aesthetics Breaking form: the sublime, the unrepresentable, the iconoclastic Formation and deformation The finite and the infinite Forms of the event Structure and drive (Freud, Lacan, Deleuze, Guattari) Form and interpretation (New Critics, Deconstruction) History, genealogy, critique (Nietzsche, Foucault) Marxism and form (Benjamin, Adorno, Jameson) Forms of life (Wittgenstein, Arendt, Agamben) Please limit the length of abstracts to no more than 250 words. The deadline for submission of 250-word abstracts for 20-minute_presentations is March 1, 2010. Please include your name, e-mail address, and phone number. Abstracts should be e-mailed to Notices of acceptance will be sent no later than March 6, 2010. Visit the conference webpage here:

Death: Mary Daly (1928 - 2010).

Wikipedia Entry: Mary Daly (October 16, 1928 – January 3, 2010) was an American radical feminist philosopher, academic, and theologian. Daly, who described herself as a "radical lesbian feminist," taught at Boston College, a Jesuit-run institution, for 33 years. Daly consented to retire from Boston College in 1999, after violating university policy by refusing to allow male students in her advanced women's studies classes. . . . Benson, Jennifer. "Mary Daly and Feminist Philosophy." Philosophy Now 77 (2010):
Mary Daly, noted feminist theologian and philosopher, died on January 3rd of this year. Her fans and intellectual descendants range across disciplines, professions and continents. The feminist blogosphere offers tributes to her imagination and wildly witty tongue, and plenty of folks are still complaining about her brand of feminism. Although it’s difficult to sum up an entire career and a stack of books in one word, for Daly, ‘sin’ does a pretty good job. Sin is a feminist goal. If you haven’t heard that, you’ve been missing out. So rather than a conventional obituary, let me offer some advice for those who would like to add some sin to their bookshelves. . . . (Read the rest here:

"Hegel's Practical Philosophy: Rational Agency as Ethical Life," Kalamazoo College, February 26-27, 2010.

Friday Evening, 8:00 PM: Keynote Address: •“Hegel and the Sociality of Action.” Robert B. Pippin, Evelyn Stefansson Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, the Department of Philosophy, and the College at the University of Chicago Saturday Morning: Session 1, 8:30 -- 10:30 •“Violence in the Dialectic of Historical Learning: Questioning Pippin’s Hegel.” Richard Peterson, Chair, Philosophy, Michigan State University •"Is Hegel a Republican? Recognition, Dependence, and Non-Domination." James Bohman, Philosophy, Danforth Professor in the Humanities, St. Louis University Saturday Morning Coffee Break, 10:30 -- 11:00 Saturday Morning: Session 2, 11:00 -- 1:00 •“Recognition and the Dialectical Roots of Self-Constitution.” Hans-Herbert Koegler, Professor & Chair, Philosophy Department, University of North Florida. •“Recognition within the Limits of Reason.” David Ingram, Philosophy Department, Loyola University of Chicago Lunch 1:00 – 2:00 : Fine Art Lobby (All guests welcome) Saturday Afternoon: Session 3, 2:00 -- 4:00 •"Extra-rational agency: Kierkegaardian Freedom and the Dialectics of Repetition.” Melissa Fox-Muraton, Universite Clermont-Ferand •"Reading Pippin's Hegel back into a 19th-Century Context." David Vessey, Philosophy, Grand Valley State University Saturday Afternoon Refreshment Break, 4:00 -- 4:30 Saturday Afternoon: Session 4, 4:30 -- 6:00 •Wayne Martin, Philosophy, University of Essex. •Robert Pippin, Closing Comments Visit the conference webpage here:

Cfp: "Geographies of Black Internationalism," Institute of British Geographers, Royal Geographical Society, London, September 1-3, 2010.

The study of black internationalism examines the critical historical engagement of black thinkers and actors with global politics, and the often international channels through which such engagements have taken place. Scholarship has explored how black internationalism has functioned through movements as diverse as pan-Africanism, Négritude, Communism, Surrealism, Liberalism and differing religious movements, to name only some examples (Patterson and Kelley, 2000). We can thus conceptualise multiple black internationalisms, articulated in diverse historical and geographical settings (West, Martin and Wilkins, 2009). Particular attention has been given both to the constructed nature of racial communities and identities within black internationalism, and also the gendered and class-stratified nature such constructions have taken (Edwards, 2003; Stephens: 2005). Such work has opened a space for debate over the meanings of both 'blackness' and 'internationalism' within global cultures and politics. The study of black internationalism offers considerable opportunities for geographers working on the spatialities of anticolonialism, political activism, the (historical) geographies of social movements, and the relationship between space and politics. However, at present it remains the terrain primarily of historians and literary critics. Indeed, debates around political geography and nationalism have been accused of remaining 'woefully ignorant of . . . African diasporic movements' (Tyner, 2004: 343). This session will explore the historical and political geographies of these movements in order to think more deeply about the relationship between space and the heterogeneous politics of black internationalism. Topics for discussion might include, but are not restricted to, the following: · The 'imaginative geographies' of black internationalism; · Black internationalism and the spaces of print or public culture; · Place-based articulations of black internationalism; · The relationship between black internationalism and other political or cultural movements; · The gendering of black internationalist discourse and practice; · Geographical conceptualisations and contestations of 'black' and/or 'internationalism'; · Black internationalism's historical geographies; · Spatialities of black internationalism today; · Methodological reflections on researching black internationalisms. Proposed papers, in the form of an abstract (max. 250 words), should be submitted to Daniel Whittall at by Friday 12 February 2010.

Dockstadter, Nels. "Spinoza’s Epistemology." INTERNET ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY. Updated September 13, 2009.

The theory of knowledge, or epistemology, offered by the 17th century Dutch philosopher Benedict de Spinoza may yet prove to be the most daring in the history of philosophy. Not only does Spinoza claim to be able to know all the ways one can know something, he also claims to be able to know what everything is. Few philosophers besides Spinoza have sought and proclaimed possession of absolute knowledge quite like he had. Of the philosophers who have claimed absolute knowledge, only Spinoza has offered it, not as the reception of a divine revelation, and not as the fulfillment of a historical process, as in Hegel’s epistemology, but as a means for intuitively affirming the truth inherent within all of reality. Reality is susceptible to such an intuition, he said, because every being is a mode of it, or a way that it expresses itself. In other words, for us to come to know the “absolute” is for the absolute to come to know itself. There is thus something basically self-reflexive and introspective about Spinoza’s epistemology. At the same time, knowledge for Spinoza is always of what he calls God or Nature, which can also be understood as the universe itself. However, whether or not Spinoza’s epistemology is valid by any standard besides his own, remains a point of contention. Most philosophers believe that Spinoza’s epistemology wildly oversteps the limits of human finitude, while others believe that even if Spinoza certainly experienced something within himself that he called “the truth,” we have no real access to it ourselves. This article explores the role and function of knowledge in Spinoza’s philosophy as a whole and the methodology he uses to know things and to know knowledge. The article closely follows Spinoza’s threefold division of the different types of knowledge as presented in his Ethics. This threefold division is constituted by the distinctions among imagination, intuition, and the exercise of the intellect. . . . Read the rest here:

Malinowski-Charles, Syliane. Review of Olli Koistinen, ed. CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO SPINOZA'S ETHICS. NDPR (February 2010).

Koistinen, Olli, ed. Cambridge Companion to Spinoza's Ethics. Cambridge: CUP, 2009. This new Companion is in no way intended to replace the 1996 Cambridge Companion to Spinoza edited by Don Garrett. Rather, it is meant to complement it by providing more focused analyses of Spinoza's magnum opus at a time in which Spinoza studies have known a formidable explosion everywhere in the world, and particularly in North America during the last five years. Whereas the first Cambridge Companion covered many aspects of Spinoza's philosophy generally, this one offers analyses that will be useful to anyone teaching Spinoza's Ethics properly speaking, or to anyone trying to understand better the theories that Spinoza presented in it. Beyond only three articles referring mostly to the Ethics, specifically those devoted to Spinoza's metaphysics, to his theory of knowledge, and to his ethical theory, the reader of the first Companion also had the opportunity to learn about Spinoza's life and reception, his natural science, and his theology and biblical scholarship -- among other things. Here, by contrast, the articles follow the order of the Ethics and treat, one after the other and in depth, the main concepts that Spinoza put forth in the book in which he enclosed all his wisdom. In a nutshell, this is a much-needed Companion coming at a time when a growing number of English-speaking scholars have started to include a study of the Ethics in their classrooms, and have themselves been struggling with the difficulties of Spinoza's thought. It will provide conceptual tools as much for the more advanced as for the beginner in the study of this difficult but fascinating philosophy. Something particularly interesting about this book is the list of contributors, which includes a number of younger and very promising Spinoza scholars (e.g., Michael LeBuffe, Valtteri Viljanen, and Andrew Youpa), while also benefiting from the experience of more established academics such as Piet Steenbakkers, Susan James, and Don Garrett. This gives some fresh voices to the well-trodden themes already studied by older or more recognized contributors such as those who were included in the 1996 Companion to Spinoza, who had written the first important books on Spinoza at the time of the renewal of interest in his work in that decade as well as at the end of the preceding one -- crucial scholars such as Jonathan Bennett, Margaret Wilson, Alan Donogan, Edwin Curley, Richard Popkin, or Pierre-François Moreau. While their contributions remain jewels and a continued source of inspiration and knowledge for all Spinoza scholars, it is nice to see that some new names are being made known to readers. The choice of contributors is limited, of course, and many very valuable persons are left out, but it is an interesting start to a rather unusual practice for the Cambridge Companions. . . . Read the whole review here:

"Spinoza and Texts: Spinoza and the Arts and Humanities," Spinoza Research Network, Department of Philosophy, University of Dundee, April 7-8, 2010.


  • Dimitris Vardoulakis (University of Western Sydney), “The Politics of the Text: Writing and Singularity in Spinoza”
  • Peg Rawes (University College London), “Spinoza’s Architectural Passages: Drawing out Geometric Comportments”
  • Nicholas Halmi (Oxford), “Coleridge’s Ecumenical Spinoza”
  • Nick Nesbitt (Aberdeen), “Natura Naturans: the Spinozian Foundations of the Haitian Revolution”
  • Simon Calder (Cambridge), “George Eliot, Spinoza, and the Ethics of Literature”
  • Amy Cimini (New York University), “The Secret History of Musical Spinozism”

Registration: Attendance is free and lunch will be provided on Day 2. Advance registration is required. Please download and complete the registration form, and email it to by March 29. Further information may be found here:

Monday, February 15, 2010

McCloskey, Deirdre. "The Economic Sky Isn't Falling." PRUDENTIA December 16, 2009.

My non-economist friends keep asking me about an essay by Paul Krugman published on September 2, 2009 in the NY Times Magazine. It seems to be a summary of his old book on the "return to Depression economics." As usual with Paul, it's cute and lucid and 85% correct. And as usual the 15% that's not correct turns out to be pretty important. The basic mistake that Krugman and many economists and most journalists make is to suppose that the present bad situation (any present bad situation) is a Crisis of Capitalism. It's not. It's a routine severe recession. I don't say that it's fun (or a vacation, as my former colleagues at the University of Chicago have it). I don't say that government should do nothing to offset it. But I do say, as an economic historian, that we should realize that it's happened forty times since 1800, and every time the average person and the very poor have ended up with higher real incomes than at the previous peak. Every single time. Even during the horrible governmental foul-up 1929-1941 in the US. . . . Read the rest here:

McCloskey, Deirdre. "Prudence, You No Longer Rule My World." TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION January 14, 2010.

My first scientific eureka came when I was a sophomore at university, a very wise fool. As I started to learn the macho science of economics, I suddenly saw that mere prudence, "rationality", rules. Wow: that's so much simpler than attending to human meanings. Hurrah. Therefore, the sociologists, psychologists and anthropologists are idiots. . . . I came to understand that the point of literary study is not merely to dole out stars for greatness. For another - you can see how it might be encouraged by an interest in the rhetoric of economics - I realised that literary, philosophical and narrative sciences (those sciences humaines) exhibit forms of knowledge not attainable by first-order predicate logic, or a system of axioms rich enough to contain arithmetic. For still another, I grasped that logics and axioms depend on such knowledge. And out of all this came the gobsmacking insight that language is more than the transmittal of bits of information. Language is a way of being human - the way of being human - a mobile army of metaphors (you might say). . . . Read the rest here:

Fowler, Ryan C. Review of Seth Bernardete, THE RHETORIC OF MORALITY AND PHILOSOPHY. BMCR (January 2010).

Bernardete, Seth. The Rhetoric of Morality and Philosophy: Plato's Gorgias and Phaedrus. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1994. Rpt. 2009. This work, now nearly 20 years old, has recently been reissued in paperback. In it the late Seth Benardete reads these two seminal Platonic dialogues together as pointing to "a psychology in which the locus of moral indignation and the love of the beautiful in the human soul are properly understood" (2). For Benardete, the Gorgias is a work concerned with the rhetoric of morality, and one intended to test the efficacy of Gorgianic rhetoric. The Phaedrus represents an inquiry into the possibility of an effective philosophically-grounded rhetoric, which can also properly be called the science of eros. This interpretation, to an extent novel in 1991 though now widely accepted (see e.g., Nichols 1998, Stauffer 20061), addresses numerous issues central to Platonic studies, including the relationship between the structure of the Gorgias and the image of soul and city in the Republic, and that between the structure of Phaedrus and the concept of eros. . . . Read the whole review here:

Moore. Christopher. Review of Simon Goldhill, ed. THE END OF DIALOGUE IN ANTIQUITY. BMCR (February 2010).

Goldhill, Simon, ed. The End of Dialogue in Antiquity. Cambridge: CUP, 2008. This collection seeks to explain why dialogue--a written genre--apparently lost popularity during the Christian era. Nearly all the papers are really interesting. The book's scope--from Thucydides and Plato, to Cicero and late sympotic literature, to the rabbinic tales and the Church Fathers--is wondrous. Contrary to the claims of its précis and introduction, though, as revisions from a 2006 University of Cambridge conference, it is hardly a "general and systematic study"; it has instead the vices, and the virtues, of a broad-ranging conversation. I read this work of history as being concerned with two questions: (1) What reasons do we have for bringing together certain literary works as instances, either central or marginal, of "dialogue form"? and (2) What motivated authors to write the works of this genre, and what social trends--especially openness to political or religious dialogue--enabled such writing? The strength of this collection is in bringing together lots of discussion of works we might or might not want to call instances of "dialogue form" and lots of authors whose motivation to write dialogues is worth serious attention. The weakness is that it rarely presents the questions sharply or consistently enough for the reader to assemble some form of answer. . . . (Thanks to Ed Brandon for the link.) Read the rest here:

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

Annual Conference, British Society for Phenomenology. The conference will examine the relation between phenomenology and the work of Gaston Bachelard, Jean Cavaillès, George Canguilhem and Michel Foucault. These thinkers were part of a significant current of philosophy that ran alongside phenomenology in France from the time that Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations appeared there. The differences were often sharply drawn. Cavaillès concluded a careful reading of Husserl’s Formal and Transcendental Logic with a call to abandon the philosophy of the subject in favour of a philosophy of the concept. Others followed his lead, and the two currents appeared to diverge. Yet there remained certain proximities. Phenomenology and the French epistemological tradition share an interest in formalisation, and themes such as history, language, exteriority, and the conditions underlying the possibility of thought are passed between them at various points. At the heart of it all stands Bachelard, whose early writing on time and the philosophy of science was forcefully anti-phenomenological, yet who continued to read phenomenology closely and who could in his later writing describe his project in phenomenological terms. The speakers at this conference will address the relation between phenomenology and French epistemology through a series of reflections that draw texts or thinkers of the one current towards the other. The aim of the meeting is to understand better the points at which the two currents came closest and what continued to separate them. There will be presentations on Bachelard’s understanding of consciousness in terms of discontinuity, on a significant unpublished work by Canguilhem on the subject, on Foucault’s reading of Blanchot, on the possibility of a phenomenological reading Cavaillès, on the extent to which Foucault can be read as joining Cavaillès in an immanent critique of the phenomenological approach to truth, and finally broader and more strategic view of the relation between the two currents. There will also be a panel discussion of Johanna Oksala’s book, Foucault on Freedom. Speakers :

  • Jean-Michel Salanskis (Univeristy of Paris, Nanterre), "Phenomenology and Epistemology: War and Marriage"
  • Zbigniew Kotowicz (University of Paris), "On Gaston Bachelard: Atomism, Consciousness and Scientific Thought"
  • Kevin Thompson (DePaul University, Chicago), "Dialectic, Archaeology, Genealogy: Cavaillès and Foucault on Discontinuity and the Question of Truth "
  • Michael Roubach (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), "Time, Modality, and the Possibility of a Phenomenological Interpretation of Cavaillès"
  • Michele Cammelli (Centre Georges Canguilhem, University of Paris VII), "The Subject and Error in the Thought of Georges Canguilhem"
  • Adonis Frangeskou (Staffordshire University), "The Thought of the Outside: Towards an Archaeological Aesthetic"

Registration: Registration forms are available on the web-site of the British Society for Phenomenology ( Please note, we have had problems with the web-site over the last few days and it will not be accessible or a few days. The problems should be resolved 20th February. In the meantime, you can contact David Webb ( and he will send you a registration form directly.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Caribbean Postscripts is a series of books examining the works of the British ‘canon’ from a Caribbean perspective. The first of the series, Postcolonialisms: Caribbean Rereadings of Medieval English Discourse by Barbara Lalla, has already been published by UWI Press and there are plans to continue this initiative with future publications interrogating British texts from other periods. There is no paucity of Caribbean rewritings of British Literature; there have been numerous publications that revision The Tempest such as George Lamming’s Water with Berries and Elizabeth Nunez’s Prospero’s Daughter. There are also numerous critical essays and monographs addressing these appropriations of Shakespeare and using the colonial text to interpret the Caribbean situation. Rob Nixon’s “African and Caribbean Appropriations of The Tempest” and Margaret Paul Joseph’s Caliban in Exile: The Outsider in Caribbean Fiction are well-known examples. The aim of this collection, however, is to focus on analysing British texts from a Caribbean perspective. The premise is that the Caribbean has specific historical, social and cultural issues that can be readily applicable to a reading of British texts, and can therefore unlock these ‘canonical’ texts in new and interesting ways. You are invited to submit papers on seventeenth-century British Literature that might include the works of John Donne, John Milton, William Shakespeare, Walter Raleigh to name a few. John Donne, for example, describes the colonized lands as “islands fortunate” in “Love’s Progress”, and further praises his lover with his often quoted, “O my America, my newfound land!” Shakespeare’s Othello bemoans his skin colour and its associations in his “Haply, for I am black”; and Prospero acknowledges ownership of Caliban, again possibly in relation to his skin colour: “This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine.” Milton’s Satan, rebelling against God’s established power, declares that it is preferable to “reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.” Some of these writers may deal with issues of colonization and specifically with the ‘New World’ but this is not a pre-requisite for critical enquiry. The Series Editors of Caribbean Postscripts include Giselle Rampaul, Barbara Lalla, Jean Antoine, Jennifer Rahim, Paula Morgan Topics might include: • Domination, Resistance and the Interrogation of Established Power • Defining/Inventing the Nation • The Other • Race • Masquerade • The Trickster • Exile and Shipwreck • Journeys/Exploration • Language Deadline for abstracts: 29th March, 2010 Deadline for completed papers: 7th June, 2010 Please send to

Cfp: "C. L. R. James in Focus: Crossing Boundaries," University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, April 21, 2010.

The work of the noted Caribbean scholar C. L. R. James will be the focus of the 6th Workshop on Caribbean theory and Criticism to be held by the Department of Language, Linguistics and Literature of the Cave Hill Campus, University of the West Indies, Barbados on Wednesday April 21st, 2010. We hereby invite papers on any aspect of James’s career or work, ranging from his critical writings on Caribbean thought, politics and society, literature and popular culture to his creative writings. Some areas that this workshop seeks to discuss include (though are not limited to): James and Caribbean culture; James and Caribbean modernity; James and black nationalism; James the internationalist; James and West Indies cricket; James the philosopher; James and Marxism; James on history; James the literary theorist and critic; James’s fiction. Please send a 200 word abstract via email no later than March 19, 2010 to one of the following members of the Organising Committee: Richard Clarke ( or Andrew Armstrong ( or Nicola Hunte ( (Please include your name, title and institutional affiliation.)


  • Introduction: "Entwined Practices: Engagements with Photography in Historical Inquiry" by JENNIFER TUCKER in collaboration with TINA CAMPT
  • "Incongruous Images: 'Before, During, and After' the Holocaust by MARIANNE HIRSCH and LEO SPITZER
  • "Seeing and Saying: a Response to 'Incongruous Images'" by GEOFFREY BATCHEN
  • "Santu Mofokeng, Photographs: 'The Violence is in the Knowing'" by PATRICIA HAYES
  • "Of Fish, Birds, Cats, Mice, Spiders, Flies, Pigs, and Chimpanzees: How Chance Casts the Historic Action Photograph into Doubt" by ROBIN KELSEY
  • "Neither Fish nor Flesh" by JOHN TAGG
  • "Photographic Ambivalence and Historical Consciousness" by MICHAEL S. ROTH
  • "'When I Was a Photographer': Nadar and History" by STEPHEN BANN
  • "Photography and the Practices of Critical Black Memory" by LEIGH RAIFORD
  • "Photography and the Material Performance of the Past" by ELIZABETH EDWARDS
  • "The Evidence of Sight" by JULIA ADENEY THOMAS

Download the issue here:

Reynolds, Jack. Review of Michael Marder, THE EVENT OF THE THING. NDPR (February 2010).

Marder, Michael. The Event of the Thing: Derrida’s Post-Deconstructive Realism. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2009. It has become a pervasive prejudice, in some philosophical circles, that deconstruction is nothing more than some kind of textual or linguistic idealism. After liberating itself from the oppressive hegemony of the 'real' world, the text can surrender itself to the infinity of free-play and ignore all questions of faithful representation. Hilary Putnam notes in Renewing Philosophy, for example, that "deconstructionists think that the whole idea of representing reality . . . needs to be deconstructed" (p. 108). We think that this is incorrect, at least insofar as it purports to represent Derrida's own views, but, of course, this kind of comment does not come from nowhere. First, we must recognise that Derrida is consistently concerned with the way in which metaphysical realism seems to entail that the world is divided into objects and properties that are represented for metaphysical realism (cf. 'Sendings -- On Representation'), although this is something that also worries the later Putnam. Second, this idealist interpretation that is sometimes championed by the enthusiastic avowals of over-zealous acolytes, is also at least partly based on statements made by Derrida that prima facie give it credence, e.g., "there is nothing outside the text." It is hence perhaps fair to say that Derrida, like much of contemporary continental philosophy, has a complicated relationship to realism, often attempting to steer a middle-way between idealism and realism, and certainly being wary of epistemic realism (and the correspondence theory of truth), as well as the metaphysical suppositions of naïve realism, but not necessarily anti-realist for all that. Let us simply note here against the charge of linguistic idealism that Derrida has always been interested in that which is other than language, that which is undecontructable, and that his subsequent commentaries on his infamous remark, Il n'y a pas de hors-texte, clearly defuse it of an idealist interpretation (see 'Afterword' in Limited Inc.). In this respect, there has been a concerted effort by some to counter idealist views of deconstruction by presenting a more nuanced understanding and a closer reading of Derrida's texts. Michael Marder's The Event of the Thing: Derrida's Post-Deconstructive Realism is such a book and is therefore a valuable contribution to contemporary Derridian scholarship. In it, Marder argues that Derrida is in fact committed to a form of realism that is unequivocally opposed to the idealism with which he is often charged. He collects a conglomeration of quotes from Derrida to support this reading, and in some ways makes things more difficult for himself by focusing upon the thing, which Marder accepts at one point is "one of the most inconspicuous terms in Derridian philosophy" (p. xv). Although we are sympathetic to Marder's overall thesis, as well as to the very interesting trajectory on which it takes us (through Derrida's reflections on death, literature, art, commodity fetishism, Heidegger, etc.), there are some points of contention that we feel obliged to note, especially as they pertain to the contrast between traditional realism and the deconstructive/post-deconstructive realism that the book hinges upon. Read the rest her:

"Derrida and Religion," Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University, March 26-27, 2010.

Programme Friday Evening, 26th March: Keynote Opening Address, 6:00 p.m. : Hent de Vries (Humanities Center, Johns Hopkins University), “'et iterum de Deo': Jacques Derrida and the Tradition of Divine Names" Saturday, 27th March: General Introductory Remarks, 9:00 a.m.: Peter Gordon (History, Harvard University) Morning Session I: Derrida and Judaism, 9:15 - 11:00 a.m.

  • Joseph Cohen (Philosophy, University College, Dublin), “Abraham - alterity, sacrifice, place”
  • Sarah Hammerschlag (Religion, Williams College), "Poetics of the broken tablet: On the role of the rabbi in Derrida's readings of Edmond Jabès and Paul Celan," Moderator: Ethan Kleinberg (History, Wesleyan University)

Coffee break Morning Session II: Derrida and Christianity, 11:15 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

  • Richard Kearney (Philosophy, Boston College), "Derrida's Messianic Atheism"
  • Edward Baring (Ph.D. History (Harvard), Lecturer, Princeton University), “Derrida and Christian Existentialism” Moderator: Judith Surkis (History, Harvard University)

Lunch, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Afternoon Session I: Derrida and the Death of God, 2:30 – 4:15 p.m.

  • John Caputo (Religion, Syracuse University), "Unconditional without Sovereignty: the Weak Force of the Event and the Weakness of God in Derrida”
  • Martin Hägglund (Comparative Literature, Harvard University Society of Fellows), "Derrida's Radical Atheism" Moderator: Sean Kelly (Philosophy, Harvard University)

Coffee break Afternoon Session II: Roundtable, Derrida and Religion, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

  • Introduction: Peter Gordon
  • Opening Presentation: Amy Hollywood (Religion, Harvard University)
  • Opening Response: Sean Kelly
  • Roundtable: Hent de Vries, Richard Kearney, Sean Kelly, John Caputo, and Amy Hollywood

Co-sponsored by:

  • The Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies
  • The Humanities Center,
  • The Committee on the Study of Religion
  • The Department of Philosophy
  • The Department of Romance Languages and Literatures

Contact: Jason Beerman, A Conference Organized by the Harvard Colloquium for Intellectual and Cultural History. For more information on Intellectual History at Harvard see:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Onof, Christian J. "Sartre's Existentialism." INTERNET ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY Updated January 17, 2010.

The philosophical career of Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980) focuses, in its first phase, upon the construction of a philosophy of existence known as existentialism. Sartre’s early works are characterized by a development of classic phenomenology, but his reflection diverges from Husserl’s on methodology, the conception of the self, and an interest in ethics. These points of divergence are the cornerstones of Sartre’s existential phenomenology, whose purpose is to understand human existence rather than the world as such. Adopting and adapting the methods of phenomenology, Sartre sets out to develop an ontological account of what it is to be human. The main features of this ontology are the groundlessness and radical freedom which characterize the human condition. These are contrasted with the unproblematic being of the world of things. Sartre’s substantial literary output adds dramatic expression to the always unstable co-existence of facts and freedom in an indifferent world. Sartre’s ontology is explained in his philosophical masterpiece, Being and Nothingness, where he defines two types of reality which lie beyond our conscious experience: the being of the object of consciousness and that of consciousness itself. The object of consciousness exists as “in-itself,” that is, in an independent and non-relational way. However, consciousness is always consciousness “of something,” so it is defined in relation to something else, and it is not possible to grasp it within a conscious experience: it exists as “for-itself.” An essential feature of consciousness is its negative power, by which we can experience “nothingness.” This power is also at work within the self, where it creates an intrinsic lack of self-identity. So the unity of the self is understood as a task for the for-itself rather than as a given. In order to ground itself, the self needs projects, which can be viewed as aspects of an individual’s fundamental project and motivated by a desire for “being” lying within the individual’s consciousness. The source of this project is a spontaneous original choice that depends on the individual’s freedom. However, self’s choice may lead to a project of self-deception such as bad faith, where one’s own real nature as for-itself is discarded to adopt that of the in-itself. Our only way to escape self-deception is authenticity, that is, choosing in a way which reveals the existence of the for-itself as both factual and transcendent. For Sartre, my proper exercise of freedom creates values that any other human being placed in my situation could experience, therefore each authentic project expresses a universal dimension in the singularity of a human life. After a brief summary of Sartre’s life, this article looks at the main themes characterizing Sartre’s early philosophical works. The ontology developed in Sartre’s main existential work, Being and Nothingness, will then be analysed. Finally, an overview is provided of the further development of existentialist themes in his later works. . . . Read the rest here:

Mussett, Shannon. "Simone De Beauvoir." INTERNET ECYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY Updated January 17, 2010.

Simone de Beauvoir was one of the most preeminent French existentialist philosophers and writers. Working alongside other famous existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, de Beauvoir produced a rich corpus of writings including works on ethics, feminism, fiction, autobiography, and politics. Beauvoir’s method incorporated various political and ethical dimensions. In The Ethics of Ambiguity, she developed an existentialist ethics that condemned the “spirit of seriousness” in which people too readily identify with certain abstractions at the expense of individual freedom and responsibility. In The Second Sex, she produced an articulate attack on the fact that throughout history women have been relegated to a sphere of “immanence,” and the passive acceptance of roles assigned to them by society. In The Mandarins, she fictionalized the struggles of existents trapped in ambiguous social and personal relationships at the closing of World War II. The emphasis on freedom, responsibility, and ambiguity permeate all of her works and give voice to core themes of existentialist philosophy. Her philosophical approach is notably diverse. Her influences include French philosophy from Descartes to Bergson, the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, the historical materialism of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and the idealism of Immanuel Kant and G. W. F Hegel. In addition to her philosophical pursuits, de Beauvoir was also an accomplished literary figure, and her novel, The Mandarins, received the prestigious Prix Goncourt award in 1954. Her most famous and influential philosophical work, The Second Sex (1949), heralded a feminist revolution and remains to this day a central text in the investigation of women’s oppression and liberation. . . . Read the rest here:

Crowell, Steven. "Existentialism." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY Updated January 23, 2010.

Like “rationalism” and “empiricism,” “existentialism” is a term that belongs to intellectual history. Its definition is thus to some extent one of historical convenience. The term was explicitly adopted as a self-description by Jean-Paul Sartre, and through the wide dissemination of the postwar literary and philosophical output of Sartre and his associates—notably Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Albert Camus—existentialism became identified with a cultural movement that flourished in Europe in the 1940s and 1950s. Among the major philosophers identified as existentialists (many of whom—for instance Camus and Heidegger—repudiated the label) were Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, and Martin Buber in Germany, Jean Wahl and Gabriel Marcel in France, the Spaniards José Ortega y Gasset and Miguel de Unamuno, and the Russians Nikolai Berdyaev and Lev Shestov. The nineteenth century philosophers, Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche, came to be seen as precursors of the movement. Existentialism was as much a literary phenomenon as a philosophical one. Sartre's own ideas were and are better known through his fictional works (such as Nausea and No Exit) than through his more purely philosophical ones (such as Being and Nothingness and Critique of Dialectical Reason), and the postwar years found a very diverse coterie of writers and artists linked under the term: retrospectively, Dostoevsky, Ibsen, and Kafka were conscripted; in Paris there were Jean Genet, André Gide, André Malraux, and the expatriate Samuel Beckett; the Norwegian Knut Hamsun and the Romanian Eugene Ionesco belong to the club; artists such as Alberto Giacometti and even Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky, and Willem de Kooning, and filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard and Ingmar Bergman were understood in existential terms. By the mid 1970s the cultural image of existentialism had become a cliché, parodized in countless books and films by Woody Allen. It is sometimes suggested, therefore, that existentialism just is this bygone cultural movement rather than an identifiable philosophical position; or, alternatively, that the term should be restricted to Sartre's philosophy alone. But while a philosophical definition of existentialism may not entirely ignore the cultural fate of the term, and while Sartre's thought must loom large in any account of existentialism, the concept does pick out a distinctive cluster of philosophical problems and helpfully identifies a relatively distinct current of twentieth- and now twenty-first century philosophical inquiry, one that has had significant impact on fields such as theology (through Rudolf Bultmann, Paul Tillich, Karl Barth, and others) and psychology (from Ludwig Binswanger and Medard Boss to Otto Rank, R. D. Laing, and Viktor Frankl). What makes this current of inquiry distinct is not its concern with “existence” in general, but rather its claim that thinking about human existence requires new categories not found in the conceptual repertoire of ancient or modern thought; human beings can be understood neither as substances with fixed properties, nor as subjects interacting with a world of objects. On the existential view, to understand what a human being is it is not enough to know all the truths that natural science—including the science of psychology—could tell us. The dualist who holds that human beings are composed of independent substances—“mind” and “body”—is no better off in this regard than is the physicalist, who holds that human existence can be adequately explained in terms of the fundamental physical constituents of the universe. Existentialism does not deny the validity of the basic categories of physics, biology, psychology, and the other sciences (categories such as matter, causality, force, function, organism, development, motivation, and so on). It claims only that human beings cannot be fully understood in terms of them. Nor can such an understanding be gained by supplementing our scientific picture with a moral one. Categories of moral theory such as intention, blame, responsibility, character, duty, virtue, and the like do capture important aspects of the human condition, but neither moral thinking (governed by the norms of the good and the right) nor scientific thinking (governed by the norm of truth) suffices. “Existentialism”, therefore, may be defined as the philosophical theory which holds that a further set of categories, governed by the norm of authenticity, is necessary to grasp human existence. To approach existentialism in this categorial way may seem to conceal what is often taken to be its “heart” (Kaufmann 1968:12), namely, its character as a gesture of protest against academic philosophy, its anti-system sensibility, its flight from the “iron cage” of reason. But while it is true that the major existential philosophers wrote with a passion and urgency rather uncommon in our own time, and while the idea that philosophy cannot be practiced in the disinterested manner of an objective science is indeed central to existentialism, it is equally true that all the themes popularly associated with existentialism—dread, boredom, alienation, the absurd, freedom, commitment, nothingness, and so on—find their philosophical significance in the context of the search for a new categorial framework, together with its governing norm. . . . Read the rest here:

"The Non-Philosophy of Francois Laruelle," Department of Philosophy, Warwick University, March 3, 2010.

Sponsored by the Warwick University Philosophy Society, in association with Pli: The Warwick Journal of Philosophy. This event will take place in H0.52, in the humanities building, on Warwick main campus, from 3.30 pm to 7.00 pm.

3.30 - "Non-Philosophy in English" - Nick Srnicek (LSE), Anthony Paul Smith (Nottingham), Reid Kotlas (Dundee) - Three presentations introducing the central features of non-philosophy followed by a joint question and answer session.
5.00 - Break 5.30 - "From the First to the Second Non-Philosophy" - Francois Laruelle - Paper in French, with English translation provided by Anthony Paul Smith, followed by a question and answer session interpreted by Marjorie Gracieuse (Warwick).


  • J.K. Gibson-Graham, The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy, and J.K. Gibson-Graham, A Postcapitalist Politics; Reviewed by Richard Schmitt
  • Amy E. Wendling, Karl Marx on Technology and Alienation; Reviewed by Chris Arthur
  • Bill Martin, Ethical Marxism: the Categorical Imperative of Liberation; Reviewed by David Marjoribanks
  • Bernard Reginster, The Affirmation of Life: Nietzsche on Overcoming Nihilism; Reviewed by Meade McCloughan
  • Andrew Chitty and Martin Mcivor, eds., Karl Marx and Contemporary Philosophy; Reviewed by David McLellan

Download the reviews here:

Cfp: "Hegel: Contemporary Readings / Lecturas Contemporáneas," University of Navarra, May 5-7, 2010.

This year the traditional Philosophical Meetings (Reuniones Filosóficas), organized by the Department of Philosophy of the University of Navarra, will be dedicated to the study of philosophical topics treated by Hegel which have relevance in contemporary philosophy. The main purpose of the Congress is not the interpretation of Hegelian thought, but to consider the presence of his philosophy in the current day. The Meetings are an invitation to read Hegel from a contemporary point of view. The depth and originality of this philosopher fascinates each generation, and we all find in his philosophy a perpetual challenge for our own thought. Hegel still has great influence in metaphysics, political philosophy, aesthetics and ethics. To read Hegel is to bring back to life the classical topics of the history of thought. Confirmed Speakers: Bernard Bourgeois (University of Paris-Sorbone) Günther Pöltner (Univesity of Wien) Juan Cruz (University of Navarra) Jacinto Rivera de Rosales (UNED. Madrid) Henning Ottmann (University of München) Ignacio Falgueras (University of Malaga) Grazia Tagliavia (University of Palermo) Rafael Alvira (University of Navarra) Montserrat Herrero (University of Navarra) Admissible languages: Spanish, English, German or Italian. Paper submission to the Organizing Committee: Please send an abstract (600-800 words) before 12^th April to (MS Word or RTF) or to You will receive an answer regarding the admission of the paper in 10-15 days. If your paper proposal is accepted, a complete version paper must be sent to (MS Word or RTF) by 3rd May. Length: 3000 words.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Thomson, Iain. "Heidegger's Aesthetics." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY February 4, 2010.

Heidegger is against the modern tradition of philosophical “aesthetics” because he is for the true “work of art” which, he argues, the aesthetic approach to art eclipses. Heidegger's critique of aesthetics and his advocacy of art thus form a complimentary whole. Section 1 orients the reader by providing a brief overview of Heidegger's philosophical stand against aesthetics, for art. Section 2 explains Heidegger's philosophical critique of aesthetics, showing why he thinks aesthetics follows from modern “subjectivism” and leads to late-modern “enframing,” historical worldviews Heidegger seeks to transcend from within—in part by way of his phenomenological interpretations of art. Section 3 clarifies this attempt to transcend modern aesthetics from within, focusing on the way Heidegger seeks to build a phenomenological bridge from a particular (“ontic”) work of art by Vincent van Gogh to the ontological truth of art in general. In this way, as we will see, Heidegger seeks to show how art can help lead us into a genuinely meaningful postmodern age. Section 4 concludes by explaining how this understanding of Heidegger's project allows us to resolve the longstanding controversy surrounding his interpretation of Van Gogh. . . . Read the rest here:

Pub: BEING IN THE WORLD: the Movie.

Once upon a time there was a world full of meaning, focused by exemplary figures in the form of gods and heroes, saints and sinners. How did we lose them, or, might they still be around, in the form of modern day masters, in fields like sports, music, craft and cooking. Are these masters able to inspire us and bring back a sense of wonder, possibly even of the sacred? Join world renowned philosopher Hubert Dreyfus as he takes us on a riveting journey of ideas, tackling some of the deepest philosophical issues of our time. In this enlightening trip, Dreyfus explains what is unique about human beings that allows us to take the risks necessary to learn skills, and how an appreciation of mastery can help us recover a meaningful world. Travel to New Orleans to meet the Queen of Creole Cuisine; travel to Spain to meet the legendary poet and flamenco master Manuel Molina; enter the world of Hiroshi Sakaguchi a Japanese master craftsman, and meet a master athlete (TBD). Humans acting at their best respond faster than they can think. They converse, experience "flow", "play out of their heads", and in general are responsive and receptive to the demands of their unique situation. Masters don't deliberate and reflect, but "straight away do the appropriate thing at the appropriate time in the appropriate way." Given that spontaneous actions can reveal people at their best, why is that today people feel that, in order to act well, they must always reflect and then, like a machine, choose the most rational response? Being in the World is a celebration of human beings, and our ability, through the mastery of physical, intellectual and creative skills, to find meaning in the world around us. In this film, Hubert Dreyfus takes us on a gripping and surprising journey around the world meeting extraordinary people, showing how we go from following rules to proficiency, to becoming masters in the form artists, craftsmen, athletes, and, ultimately, unique human beings attuned to the sacred. For more information, visit:

Linker, Damon. "Why Read Heidegger." THE NEW REPUBLIC November 1, 2009.

German philosopher Martin Heidegger gets a lot of bad press. And for good reason. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Nazis, he did and said and wrote some nasty things before and after serving as the rector of Freiburg University from 1933-1934, and though he eventually distanced himself from his earlier enthusiasm for Hitler, he seems never to have ceased believing that there was an "inner truth and greatness" (those are Heidegger's own words, spoken in a lecture from 1935) to the National Socialist movement. That sounds bad, and it is. By now, scholars have demonstrated beyond just about any reasonable doubt that, judged from moral and political standpoints, Heidegger was a pretty despicable human being. But here's the thing: Heidegger also possessed the most powerful philosophical mind of the twentieth century. If he had written nothing besides Being and Time (1927), he would deserve to be recognized as Europe's greatest philosopher since the death of G.W.F. Hegel in 1831. (I realize that for many philosophy professors trained in the Anglo-American tradition, the judgment contained in the previous sentence is absurd on more than one level.) But Heidegger wrote much more than Being and Time. His collected works--including previously published books, transcripts of university lectures, private notebooks, and much else--will eventually run to over 100 volumes. There's a lot of redundancy in those books, some of it is impenetrable, but there are also frequent flashes of philosophical brilliance that rival the profoundest passages of Plato, Aristotle, and Kant. And that means that rendering a global judgment of Heidegger and his legacy is extremely complicated. Unless, that is, you're Carlin Romano. I'm referring to Romano's recent essay from the Chronicle of Higher Education in which he uses the sordid evidence of Heidegger's Nazi enthusiasms compiled in a just-translated book by French philosopher Emmanuel Faye to argue that the time has come to excommunicate Heidegger--or rather his writings and ideas--from the university. In Romano's view, "the pretentious old Black Forest babbler," the "provincial Nazi hack," should be considered "a buffoon" whose ideas are "the butt of jokes, not the subject of dissertations." I've long admired Romano's essays for the Chronicle and the Philadelphia Inquirer. But this column is an intellectual disgrace, and one that the Chronicle should be ashamed for having published. I say this as someone who's very far from being one of the "acolytes" who "bizarrely venerate" Heidegger and his ideas. I've written critically about his thought on a couple of occasions myself and am in complete agreement with Romano about the moral obscenity of Heidegger's actions (and of some of what he taught and wrote) during the 1930s. But moral disgust does not relieve a reader--let alone a critic--of the burden of intellectual engagement. . . . Read the rest here:

Keenan, John. "Heidegger, Hitler's 'Spiritual Guide.'" GUARDIAN January 20, 2010.

Martin Heidegger is widely regarded as the most influential and important philosopher of the 20th century. His most famous work, Being and Time, is a cornerstone of philosophical study, while his anti-technological and romantic pastoral views continue to strike a chord with environmental campaigners. Heidegger was also an enthusiastic Nazi whose political views, if disseminated in plain English on a street corner in this country, would result in an arrest for hate crime. Emmanuel Faye's book Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy, published in the UK this week, demonstrates that the philosopher's foul beliefs were not aberrations; they were the soil from which his philosophy grew. . . . Read the rest here:

Crispin, Jessa. "Being There." THE SMART SET December 2, 2009.

  • Faye, Emmanuel. Heidegger: the Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy. New Haven: Yale UP, 2009.
  • Maier-Katkin, Daniel. Stranger from Abroad: Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, Friendship and Forgiveness. New York: Norton, 2010.

It's long been known that Martin Heidegger was involved with the Nazi regime, and we are still wrestling with the questions this brings up. Was Heidegger really a true believer, or was he just a careerist? Does this affect the way we view his work, particularly Being and Time? Should it? What does it say about Hannah Arendt that she loved such a man? What does it say about her work examining totalitarianism and power? What does it say about the other intellectuals who defended him when the Allies won and the "denazification" (what a word) hearings began? Within the next year, there will be multiple books published, including Emmanuel Faye's Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy and Daniel Maier-Katkin's Stranger from Abroad: Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, Friendship and Forgiveness, trying to find answers to these questions. You can pick apart his work, trying to find alignments between his philosophy and the Nazi philosophy. (I won't be doing that. William James once wrote that he only felt like he truly understood Hegel when he was high on nitrous oxide. I feel the same way about Heidegger.) Heidegger's most famous work, Being and Time, was published in 1927. He didn't join the party until 1933 when he became the rector of the University of Freiburg and used his new enthusiasm to reorganize the school. Many of his critics say they have problems with his work because he never issued an apology for his time in the Nazi party. I'm guessing this is not what they actually want. How does one apologize, exactly, for 12 years spent supporting a political regime, and during the height of his career and intellectual prowess? An apology would be an insult. He did give one interview, printed posthumously, wherein he tried to justify his actions, saying he was trying to save his job. It's an obvious dodge. It doesn't explain why he informed on colleagues, or some of the work Faye cites in Heidegger justifying racism. Heidegger died without giving a real explanation to anyone, including his former lover Arendt, even after she passionately defended him and his work. But even if we had a full confessional from a repentant Heidegger, would that clear things up for us? The problem is not whether this information is available. It's that we don't know what to do with it. . . .

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"Violence in the Everyday Cultural Life of the Caribbean," Annual Conference, Caribbean Studies Association, Barbados, May 24-28, 2010.

The phenomenon of violence has become widely recognized as an increasingly intractable problem facing the Caribbean. The 2010 Conference of the Caribbean Studies Association invites scholars to explore the complexities of violence and all its implication for the region. We encourage attention to a wide range of issues including but not limited to the following: the foundational role of violence enabled by the European encounter,and its legacies; the authoritarianism of colonial and neo-colonial rule, as well as theviolence of postcolonial politics and political leadership; structural violence and its differentiated effects in the everyday lives of people; political violence; violence and cultural expressions; violence against women and children; violence, masculinity and heteronormativity; violence as spectacle; media and other representations of violence; and finally, alternatives to violence in the region and throughout its diasporas – whether through the spheres of policies, visual artifacts, street protests, community engagements, spiritual responses, or theatrical and literary interventions. We anticipate that examining the role of violence in the cultural life of the region will also lead to an exploration of the often-neglected dimension of violence, namely, the deprivation of rights for particular sectors of the population, affording an opportunity to address crucial issues relating to sexuality and the denial of full benefits of citizenship in the Caribbean. Lastly, an exploration of the role of violence in the cultural life of the Caribbean would of necessity involve the phenomenon of class exploitation and repression, important to the social reproduction of society. In short, this year’s conference theme provides a space for a full discussion of the physical, emotional, psychological, social and political exploration of the notion of violence. The policy implications of this topic are unavoidable and urgently needed; it is to this end that the subtitle poses the question, where do we go from here? As the largest and most well-established professional organization of Caribbean scholars, we should offer some input into how public policy concerning violence is formulated. The CSA could, for example, begin to investigate the cost associated with violence in the region, namely, the pressures on the public health system to address the needs of those victims of violence, prison costs resulting from conflict, the violence of poverty and unemployment, and the monopolization of violence by the state, inter alia. We welcome panel and individual submissions from people across the humanities, arts, social sciences, public policy and civil society organizations. Suggested Topics: The state’s monopoly of violence Capitalism and structural violence Representing violence Domestic and sexual violence Violence against children Violence and citizenship Violence and everyday life Transnationalism, diasporas and violence Crime, violence and the law Violence and the artistic imagination Race, ethnic cleavages and political violence Violence unleashed on the environment of the Caribbean The role of violence in the cultural life of the region We are seeking scholarly papers from individuals spanning the broadest disciplinary and methodological range whose work focuses upon the Caribbean and its Diaspora. While we consider individual papers, we encourage submissions of entire panel proposals. We also encourage and welcome graduate student submissions. While your paper/panel does not have to be on the conference theme, we do welcome submissions that address the theme, whether directly or indirectly. Further information is available here:

Cfp: 17th Annual Conference, UK Sartre Society, Institut Français, September 24, 2010.

We welcome papers (lasting about 30 minutes) on any aspect of Sartre's life or work: philosophy, psychoanalysis, literature, theatre, cinema, biography and autobiography, journalism and the media, politics, etc, as well as on comparative themes: Sartre in relation to his influences, contemporaries or successors. Please send proposals for papers (one side of A4 maximum) by 31 May 2010 to: Dr Angela Kershaw, Secretary of UKSS, Senior Lecturer, Department of French Studies, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT Email:

Death: Michael C. Leff (? - 2010).

Please see the obituary written by Michael Osborn for Michael C. Leff below: Michael Leff, chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Memphis, died Friday morning, February 5, after a brief illness. Mike was internationally known as a scholar of rhetoric, having returned only recently from China where he was working to set up a student exchange program. Among his many honors, he had been designated by the National Communication Association as a Distinguished Scholar. At his death he was president of the Rhetoric Society of America, and had been busy planning the Society’s May convention in Minneapolis up until the day before his death. Mike was the intellectual leader of a school of criticism that emphasizes close textual analysis of speeches and other rhetorical documents. For his many publications, he had been awarded the NCA’s Wichelns-Winans award, the Woolbert award for influential scholarship, and the Ehninger award for a sustained program of research. He had also received the award for Distinguished Scholarship from the International Society for the Study of Argumentation. He served as editor of Rhetorica, the journal of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric, and as the founding president of the American Society for the History of Rhetoric. While he took pleasure in the many awards he had received, Mike took most joy in watching his graduate students succeed in establishing scholarly careers of their own. He was a demanding but convivial teacher who inspired students and colleagues by his encouragement of their initiatives and by his dedication to the study of rhetoric in society. As Chaucer might have noted of him, “Gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.” Before coming to the University of Memphis, Mike had taught at the University of California at Davis, the University of Indiana, the University of Wisconsin, and at Northwestern University, where he had served as chair of the Department of Communication Studies. While in Chicago, he took special pride in teaching in the Odyssey program, designed to bring high quality liberal arts education to low income people. As a local leader here, Mike helped bring the Ph. D. program at the University of Memphis to both respectability and leadership. He developed a vision for the Department which emphasized enhancement of its outstanding program in film production, support of a program in health communication, and the encouragement of a center for the study of African American speaking of the Civil Rights era. He served on the Board of Directors for the Memphis Urban Debate League, a cause in which he passionately believed, and for FirstWorks, Inc. a Memphis-based non-profit organization that serves children who reside in some of the poorest zip codes of the city. These children have great potential for success but they have been declared at-risk by the school and juvenile court systems due to homelessness, neglect, and/or abandonment. Their cause became Leff’s cause. He also served on the Board of Directors for Humanities Tennessee, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. As a friend, Mike was simply a joyful and radiant person. He was an ideal dinner and wine-tasting companion, who entertained with a wealth of hilarious stories. In recent years he had become a dedicated fan of the Grizzlies, the NBA team in Memphis. A celebration of his life and career is being planned for the RSA convention in Minneapolis. The celebration will feature his scholarship and his teaching, but what drove both were his humanity, his humor, and his kindness. Those who wish to honor his memory are encouraged to send contributions in lieu of flowers to the Church Health Center, 1210 Peabody Ave., Memphis, TN 38104-4506. While we grieve his death, we will forever be grateful for his life. (Does anyone know his date of birth?) His faculty webpage is here: The PhilWeb page devoted to Leff is here:

Friday, February 05, 2010

Hay, Katia D. "August Wilhelm von Schlegel." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY January 14, 2010.

A.W. Schlegel (Sept. 8, 1767, Hanover – May 12, 1845, Bonn) was a German essayist, translator and poet. Although the philosophical dimension and profundity of his writings remain underrated, he is considered to be one of the founders of the German Romantic Movement, as well as one of the most prominent disseminators of its philosophy, not only in Germany but also abroad and, most notably, in Britain. Schlegel had an outstanding knowledge of art, history, literature, architecture, anthropology and foreign languages, which made him a decisive figure in the early development of comparative literature and modern linguistics, and with the creation of the journal Indische Bibliothek, he inaugurated the domain of Sanskrit studies in Germany. He also wrote poetry and drama; but he is mostly known for his critical writings and his brilliant translations of William Shakespeare.

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Roth, Michael S. "Beyond Critical Thinking." CHRONICLE REVIEW January 3, 2010.

Although critical thinking first gained its current significance as a mode of interpretation and evaluation to guide beliefs and actions in the 1940s, the term took off in education circles after Robert H. Ennis published "A Concept of Critical Thinking" in the Harvard Educational Review in 1962. Ennis was interested in how we teach the "correct assessment of statements," and he offered an analysis of 12 aspects of this process. Ennis and countless educational theorists who have come after him have sung the praises of critical thinking. There is now a Foundation for Critical Thinking and an industry of consultants to help you enhance this capacity in your teachers, students, or yourself. A common way to show that one has sharpened one's critical thinking is to display an ability to see through or undermine statements made by (or beliefs held by) others. Thus, our best students are really good at one aspect of critical thinking­—being critical. For many students today, being smart means being critical. To be able to show that Hegel's concept of narrative foreclosed the non-European, or that Butler's stance on vulnerability contradicts her conception of performativity, or that a tenured professor has failed to account for his own "privilege"—these are marks of sophistication, signs of one's ability to participate fully in the academic tribe. But this participation, being entirely negative, is not only seriously unsatisfying; it is ultimately counterproductive. The skill at unmasking error, or simple intellectual one-upmanship, is not completely without value, but we should be wary of creating a class of self-satisfied debunkers or, to use a currently fashionable word on campuses, people who like to "trouble" ideas. In overdeveloping the capacity to show how texts, institutions, or people fail to accomplish what they set out to do, we may be depriving students of the capacity to learn as much as possible from what they study. In a humanities culture in which being smart often means being a critical unmasker, our students may become too good at showing how things don't make sense. That very skill may diminish their capacity to find or create meaning and direction in the books they read and the world in which they live. Once outside the university, our students continue to score points by displaying the critical prowess for which they were rewarded in school. They wind up contributing to a cultural climate that has little tolerance for finding or making meaning, whose intellectuals and cultural commentators delight in being able to show that somebody else is not to be believed. Read the rest here:

Romano, Carlin. "Wise Men Gone: Stephen Toulmin and John E. Smith." CHRONICLE REVIEW January 24, 2010.

For what achievements should we remember a philosophy professor after the final counterexample arrives, cloaked in black, bearing a scythe? In regard to two insufficiently heralded giants who died in their late 80s this past December, let one achievement stand tallest: old-fashioned wisdom, particularly wisdom about the intellectual activity they practiced and about the illusion of technique (as the existentialist William Barrett famously dubbed it) to which that activity is perennially susceptible. Say what you will about Stephen Toulmin, a professor at the University of Southern California's Center for Multiethnic and Transnational Studies, and John Edwin Smith, a professor emeritus of philosophy at Yale University, but few thinkers understood more deeply the intellectual foibles of those drawn to philosophy's illusions of certainty, and few worked harder to keep the practice tethered to the recalcitrant world it supposedly explains. . . . . Toulmin's first, most enduring contribution to keeping philosophy sensible came in his 1958 book, The Uses of Argument (Cambridge University Press). Deceptively formalistic on its surface because it posited a general model of argument, Toulmin's view, in fact, was better described as taxonomic, yet flexible. He believed that formal systems of logic misrepresent the complex way that humans reason in most fields requiring what philosophers call "practical reason," and he offered, accordingly, a theory of knowledge as warranted belief. Toulmin rejected the abstract syllogistic logic, meant to produce absolute standards for proving propositions true, that had become fashionable in analytic philosophy. Instead he argued (in the spirit of Wittgenstein) that philosophers must monitor how people actually argue if the philosophers' observations about persuasion are to make any sense. Toulmin took jurisprudential reasoning as his chief example in The Uses of Argument, but he believed that some aspects of a good argument depend on the field in which they're presented, while others are "field invariant." The larger point of his book became clear only as it exerted its influence on his own thinking and that of others: The "philosophy of argument," a task typically relegated by philosophy departments to departments of rhetoric and communication (except when dealing with formal, symbolic logic), forms a necessary grounding for philosophy writ large. According to Frans H. van Eemeren, Rob Grootendorst, and Tjark Kruiger, in their authoritative Handbook of Argumentation Theory (Foris, 1987), Toulmin's "central thesis is that every sort of argumentation can in principle claim rationality and that the criteria to be applied when determining the soundness of the argumentation depend on the nature of the problems to which the argumentation relates." In philosophy, crowded with researchers prone to reject observations that obstruct the quest for certainty, thinkers paid less attention to that thesis than did those in rhetoric and communications, where Toulmin helped revolutionize how many viewed argument. The authors of the Handbook write that it is "very largely thanks to Toulmin that interest in argumentation theory has increased considerably since 1960, both within and outside philosophical circles." Alas, mainly outside. . . . Read the rest here:

Asma, Stephen T. "Green Guilt." CHRONICLE REVIEW January 10, 2010.

Recently while I was brushing my teeth, my 6-year-old son scolded me for running the water too long. He severely reprimanded me, and at the end of his censure asked me, with real outrage, "Don't you love the earth?" And lately he has taken up the energy cause, scampering virtuously around the house turning off lights, even while I'm using them. He seems as stressed and anxious about the sins of environmentalism as I was about masturbation in the days of my Roman Catholic childhood. Not too long ago, at a party, a friend confessed in a group conversation that he didn't really recycle. It was as if his casual comment had sucked the air out of the room—I think the CD player even skipped. He suddenly became a pariah. A heretic had been detected among the orthodox flock. During the indignant tongue-lashing that followed, people's faces twisted with moral outrage. Many people who feel passionate about saving the planet justify their intense feelings by pointing to the seriousness of the problem and the high stakes involved. No doubt they are right about the seriousness. There are indeed environmental challenges, and steps must be taken to ameliorate them. But there is another way to understand the unique passion surrounding our need to go green. Friedrich Nietzsche was the first to notice that religious emotions, like guilt and indignation, are still with us, even if we're not religious. He claimed that we were living in a post-Christian world—the church no longer dominates political and economic life—but we, as a culture, are still dominated by Judeo-Christian values. And those values are not obvious—they are not the Ten Commandments or any particular doctrine, but a general moral outlook. . . . Read the rest here:

Hagengruber, Ruth. Review of Ulrich Steinvorth, RETHINKING THE WESTERN UNDERSTANDING OF SELF. NDPR (February 2010).

Steinvorth, Ulrich. Rethinking the Western Understanding of the Self. Cambridge: CUP, 2009. This book presents a courageous analysis of the philosophical concept of the self and its marked influence on Western history and civilisation. According to Steinvorth, the Cartesian concept of the self is a decisive kernel from which the ideas of freedom of the individual, free will and human rights originate. His argumentation unfolds well and traces the understanding of the self back to the beginnings of Western philosophy, citing some of its most influential representatives on the way. While discussing Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, Kant, Hegel, Freud, Wittgenstein and Hannah Arendt, Steinvorth presents several important concepts of Western reasoning, including individualism, subjectivism, freedom, collectivism and utilitarianism. The book could well be seen as a short introduction to the history of Western philosophy. However, Steinvorth's analysis does not only look back. While in the first three Parts of the book the concept of the self and its history are discussed in some detail, Parts IV and V extend the discussion to the future and to a global view on values. Although the thesis that the self is the crucial concept of Western civilisation is clearly presented in Steinvorth's study, it is much more than a comprehensive analysis of the self and its conceptual efficacy in history. Instead of providing a one-dimensional introduction, the book provides a history of opposing concepts, argues along differing viewpoints and discusses several opponents and criticisms. It underlines why the philosophical concepts presented are not only limited to Western culture -- an important point to which too little attention is usually paid in contemporary discussion. Culture is a mishmash of elements and influences, be they intellectual, national, or traditional; the philosophical argument presented in this book is consequently not constrained to cultural borders. Not everyone born in the West clings to these values, and not all non-Westerners completely deny them. . . . Read the whole review here:

Cfp: "Great Expectations: Multiple Modernities of Law," Annual Critical Legal Conference, University of Utrecht, September 10-12, 2010.

Social developments demand, now more than ever, a critical perspective on law and legal scholarship. These developments relate to the financial and economic crisis, the conti­nuing humanitarian wars, the rising intolerance towards others and the perceived threat they pose. They can be captured in the notions of multidimensio­nal globali­sation and enforced individualisation. The former pertains to global society, trans­cending the nation-state, whereas the latter pertains to a wide range of decisions one must make about many aspects of individual life. Both notions contri­bute to and reflect an ever-increasing societal complexity with which we deal in many different ways and law is one of these ways. Fundamental is how law is used to deal with complexity. The ongoing discussion about human rights is illustrative in this regard. A critical legal perspective is required to expose “normative abuse” of law. The main theme of this conference is to re-affirm, in our global age, this critical pers­pective on law and its relationship with politics. Indeed, the conference re-affirms the critical political condition we are in as scholars. To conceptualise this condition is to take issue with the concept of moder­nity. The question is whether to speak of a single modernity (be it a reflexive moderni­ty, a liquid modernity, a second modernity, a post-modernity, etc.) or whether we should consider the possibility of what Eisenstadt terms “multiple modernities”. If so, what does this concept pertains to? Does it help us in understanding and criti­cising modern law and legal scholarship and their manifestations in different legal systems? Furthermore, does it help us in understanding and dealing with (global) contemporary problems from the perspective of human rights as a manifestation of global law, penetrating legal systems around the world? A critical attitude, hence, is not merely directed at others, as in submitting other modernities (and their legal systems) to the test of Western modernity and law. Rather, it also, or perhaps, in particular, expects an attitude of self-criticism, i.e. a reflexive attitu­de. The main theme touches, in this way, on many different issues pertaining to law and society, comparative legal studies, law and culture, concepts of positive law, the administration of law and its organisation. It also raises questions of methodology as it crosses disciplinary boundaries. The opening address will be given by Prof. Gunther Teubner. Prof Teubner is Professor of Private Law and Legal Sociology, Principal Investigator, Excellence Cluster "The Formation of Normative Orders", Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main and Centennial Visiting Professor, London School of Economics. Visit the conference webpage here:

Cfp: EROS 2010, 3rd Biennial Conference in the Human Condition Series, Nipissing University, Muskoka Campus, May 21-22, 2010.

“On the face of it at least, our civilization possesses no ars erotica. In return, it is undoubtedly the only civilization to practice a scientia sexualis…” Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction. Though a human nature may not exist, there is comfort in the notion that a unifying force should subsist within all humankind: that is the will to live. Sigmund Freud thoughtfully named the driving impulse Eros. If humankind does possess, as a matter of our continuance as a species, an impulse for life, a drive to overcome all adversity in order to reproduce itself, what does this say of the human condition? How can desire, pleasure and love lead to social bonds that ensure the perpetuation of the species in healthy abundance? What types of relations cultivate worth and esteem in the individual, and how can destructive elements of these same tropes damage the psyche and dissolve the very relations that lead to a healthy self-concept? More specific to historical circumstances, how have male, hetero and white notions of love led individuals to abandon their genuine selves? How does pathos reveal itself in minds and in societies and how can we know when there is satisfaction in love or if an alternative object has been found through sublimation? The Human Condition Series invites you to consider the concept of Eros, and to share original and revisited thoughts which transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries. We encourage expressions about how culture, habit, language, science and art, embody, remedy or fail Eros. Without prescription, we urge theorizations and analyses which seek to look beyond the here and now towards the possibilities to come. Themes include but are not limited to: •The concept of Eros in the work and scholarship of Luce Irigaray •Heroines and Heroes of Eros •The Eros of War •The Eros of Motherhood •Representation, construction, reproduction or analysis of Eros, Chaos or other mythological deities •Subject/Identity formation and constructions of gender, sex and sexuality •Eros and parthenogenesis in history and literature •Categories of normativity, disorder, pathology or deviance in desire •Eros as nature, power, cosmology, mythology, and society. •Eros and the transformation of consciousness, near-death and dreamlike states. •Sacred marriage, immortal/mortal love •Sex tourism, sex trafficking •From Eros as mythos to Eros as logos •The sensuous in the human world •Eros and Gaia in the marketing of holistic healing •Contemporary Families and Eros •Eros in women’s literature as a distinct tradition •The role of Eros in different religious and spiritual traditions •Semiotic approaches to Eros and culture, place, space, time. Featured Speaker, Luce Irigaray We are delighted to have Luce Irigaray deliver an original presentation for the EROS Conference via satellite from Paris. In Thinking the Difference, she writes “Poor Eros!…What has become of us, that we are so poor in love?” [1], inviting reconsideration of the Freudian position that relationships must be broken for civilization to exist. In her view, relations must be restored if we are to save ourselves and the earth from total annihilation. Irigaray’s ideas challenge the necessity of breaking the bonds of love, for it is human ties, like those shared by mother and daughter that are the “missing pillars of our culture”. Film Feature Eros (2004) is the collection of three short films exploring the subjects of love, sexuality, and desire: Il filo pericoloso delle cose, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, Equilibrium, directed by Steven Soderbergh, and The Hand, directed by Kar Wai Wong. Apply to Present If your work addresses these themes specifically or the topic of Eros in general, please submit a working title, an abstract of 300-400 words, and a short biography, before January 25th, 2010, to or Selected presenters will be notified by February 25th, 2010. Presenters are required to submit a 10-15 page summary paper and pay early bird registration by April 1st in order to appear on the conference schedule. Presenters will have until June 25th, 2010 to prepare their manuscripts for submission to the double-blind review process for possible publication. For further inquiries regarding the Eros conference please contact: Toivo Koivukoski, Associate Professor of Political Science Nipissing University, North Bay Campus 100 College Drive Northbay, ON P1B 8L7 Canada.