Monday, May 31, 2010
"Time in Culture: Mediation and Representation," Centre of Excellence in Cultural Theory, University of Tartu, October 28-30, 2010.
Pub: RHETORIC, TECHNOLOGY AND THE MILITARY. KAIROS: A JOURNAL OF RHETORIC, TECHNOLOGY AND PEDAGOGY 14.3 (2010).
Cfp: "Reading Ricoeur Once Again: Hermeneutics and Practical Philosophy," Universidade Nova de Lisboa, July 7–10, 2010.
"Between History and Narrative: Colloquium in Honor of Hayden White," University of Rochester, April 24-25, 2009.
Further information may be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Fiction-Narrative-History-Literature-1957-2007/dp/0801894808/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275343607&sr=1-3.
Bakewell, Sarah. "Montaigne, Philosopher of Life, Part 4: Borrowing the Cat's Point of View." GUARDIAN May 31, 2010.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
"Right, History and Religion: Readings on Hegel's PHILOSOPHY OF RIGHT," Universidade Salamanca, Spain, September 22-24, 2010.
Morrison, Richard. "Philosophy Hasn't Been this Newsworthy since Wittgenstein Threatened Popper." TIMES May 21, 2010.
"Nietzsche and Phenomenology," Canadian Philosophical Association, Concordia University, May 30, 2010.
Bakewell, Sarah. "Montaigne, Philosopher of Life, Part 3: Believer and Doubter." GUARDIAN May 24, 2010.
Friday, May 21, 2010
- Vice-Chancellor of the University, Michael Driscoll, firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise, Waqar Ahmad, email@example.com;
- Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic, Margaret House, firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Dean of the School of Arts & Education, Ed Esche, email@example.com.
Further information is available here:
Sign the petition here: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-middlesex-philosophy.html.
Yet this omission is telling, as it highlights an unfortunate tendency (recently diagnosed by David Damrosch) among certain English professors to equate literature in general with literature written in English. This disciplinary bias, less prejudice than habit, can distort their scholarship – the authors that they admire tend to be far more catholic in their reading. But this pattern also raises a larger academic question: Why do we still partition the literary canon according to nationalist traditions? Is this really the most intellectually satisfying and authentic approach to literary studies? . . . Bloom is certainly no provincial, and his own, published version of The Western Canon includes German, Spanish, French, and Italian works – although this canon, too, is heavily tilted toward English authors. But can this be avoided? No doubt French scholars would produce a version of the canon equally tilted toward the French, just as scholars from other nations would privilege their own authors. To an extent, this literary patriotism is normal and understandable: every culture values its heritage, and will expend more energy and resources promoting it. From the viewpoint of literary history, however, such patriotism is also intellectually wrongheaded. To be sure, writers are often marked most strongly by their compatriots: one must read Dante to understand Boccacio, Corneille to understand Racine, or, as Bloom would have us believe, Whitman to understand T. S. Eliot. But such a vertical reading of literature (which Bloom himself mapped out in The Anxiety of Influence) overlooks the equally – sometimes far more – important horizontal ties that connect authors across national borders. T. S. Eliot may have been “hopelessly evasive about Whitman while endlessly revising him in [his] own major poems,” yet by Eliot’s own admission, the French school of symbolist poetry had a far greater impact on his work. Some of Eliot’s first published poems, in fact, were written in French. Conversely, the French novelist Claude Simon may have endlessly revised Proust, but his own major novels – such as La Route des Flandres and L’Herbe – owe far more to William Faulkner. Such examples could be multiplied ad infinitum: they are, in fact, the stuff that literary history is made of. . . .
Students wishing to study English Romanticism ought to have more than Wikipedia-level knowledge about German Idealist philosophy and Romantic poetry; students interested in the 18th-century English novel should be familiar with the Spanish picaresque tradition; and so on and so forth. Comp lit alone cannot break down the walls of literary protectionism. The fact that we even have comp lit departments reveals our ingrained belief that “comparing” literary works or traditions is merely optional. Despite Bloom’s own defense of a “Western canon,” such a thing no longer exists for most academics. This is not because the feminists, post-colonialists, or post-modernists managed to deconstruct it, but rather because our institutions for literary studies have gerrymandered the canon, department by department. Is it not shocking that students can major in English at many colleges without ever having read a single book written in a foreign language? Even in translation? (Consider, by contrast, that history majors, even those desirous to only study the American Revolution, are routinely required to take courses on Asian, African, and/or European history, in many different time periods, to boot.) Given that English is the natural home for literary-minded students who are not proficient in another language, it is depressing that they can graduate from college with the implicit assumption that literature is the prerogative of the English-speaking peoples, an habeas corpus of the arts.
But wait a minute: how dare I criticize English curriculums for not including foreign works, when the major granted by my own department, French, is not exactly brimming with German, Russian, or Arabic texts, either? To the extent that French (or any other foreign language) is a literature major, this point is well taken. But there are differences, too. First, it is far more likely that our students will have read and studied English literature at some point in high school and college. They will thus already have had some exposure, at least, to another national canon. Second, and more importantly, a French, Spanish, or Chinese major is more than a literature major: it is to no small degree a foreign language major, meaning that the students must master an entire other set of linguistic skills. Finally, language departments are increasingly headed toward area studies. German departments routinely offer classes on Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, none of whom are technically literary authors. Foreign language departments are sometimes the only places in a university where once-important scholarly traditions can still be studied: Lévi-Strauss’s Tristes tropiques probably features on reading exam lists more often in French than in anthropology departments. A model for such an interdisciplinary department already exists in Classics. . . .
What, then, is to be done? . . . Get the answer here: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2010/02/16/edelstein.
A one day workshop addressing the cognitive value of literature
- Mark Rowe 11 a.m. 'Poetry, Philosophy and the Language of Power'
- Richard Gaskin 2 p.m. 'The Cognitive Value of Literature'
- Peter Lamarque 4 p.m. 'A defence of the "no truth" theory of literature against recent attacks'
The humanistic tradition in literature may be encapsulated in two claims, one about truth and the other about knowledge. Samuel Johnson said that ‘the value of every story depends on its being true. A story is a picture either of an individual or of human nature in general; if it be false, it is a picture of nothing’. And Dylan Thomas remarked that ‘A good poem . . . helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him’. For centuries these claims passed as the merest common sense, but in recent decades they have come under increasing attack, not only from outside the tradition of analytic philosophy, but also by practitioners of that style of thinking. Deconstructionists, as is familiar, have long challenged the presupposition of humanism that literary texts have a stable and determinate meaning; but more recently a number of analytic or analytically inclined philosophers have argued that, although texts do have such meaning, and although they have value, perhaps even value of a broadly cognitive sort, they do not propound or express true (or false) propositions, and so do not serve as a means of transmitting propositional knowledge to the reader. The issue concerns not so much concise, individual aperçus that, as everyone acknowledges, works of literature may contain—passing observations or bits of advice that hit the nail on the head—but rather the meaning of a work of literature taken as a whole (or a significant part thereof). Is the humanist right in maintaining that these larger stretches of literary discourse can in some way contain, or embody, truths that a reader with a suitable background can come, by engaging appropriately with the text, to know? That is the topic of this one-day workshop. Peter Lamarque, who has written a number of important books and articles in this area, will be one of the speakers: Lamarque’s published position is broadly sympathetic to some form of cognitivism, but hostile to propositionalism about literary value. Mark Rowe and Richard Gaskin, the other two speakers, have published work that is more favourable (but in different ways) to the letter of humanism, as explicated above. Visit the conference webpage here: http://www.liv.ac.uk/philosophy/events/conferences/language_truth_and_literature/index.htm.
Monday, May 17, 2010
"Kant and Colonialism: Historical and Critical Perspectives," University of Oxford, September 30-October 2, 2010.
The conference will explore the relevance of Kant's critique of colonialism to an appropriate reconstruction of Kant's cosmopolitan theory in recent global justice debates. The focus will be on Kant's unusually critical stance towards European colonialism on the one hand and the uneasy relationship between contemporary liberal theory and its colonial heritage on the other. In considering Kant’s cosmopolitanism within the context of his critique of colonialism and related anthropological reflections, the conference will query the tendency among many current liberal cosmopolitans to interpret Kant's account as a version of their own favoured unrestrained ‘moral universalism’. A philosophically and historically more nuanced reading of Kant's cosmopolitan thinking against the background of emergent European colonialism may encourage a more modest, more self-critical liberal approach to current global issues, such as fair trade, migration, and humanitarian intervention.
Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
Prof. Dr. Pauline Kleingeld, University of Leiden, “Kant on race and economic globalization: On just trade and free trade”
Prof. Dr. Peter Niesen, Technische Universität Darmstadt, “Restitutive justice in international and cosmopolitan law”
Prof. Sankar Muthu, University of Chicago, “World citizenship and global connections in Enlightenment political thought”
Prof. Howard Williams, “Tensions in Kant's theory of colonialism”
If you would like to give a paper, please submit electronic copies of the title and a summary (350-500 words) of your proposed contribution to Lea Ypi (Lea.Ypi@nuffield.ox.ac.uk) and Katrin Flikschuh (K.A.Flikschuh@lse.ac.uk); please also include an abbreviated CV with your submission. Analytical and historical approaches to the conference theme are equally invited. The deadline for submission is 31 May 2010. We aim to reach a decision within 6 weeks of the deadline.
"The Port-Royal GRAMMAIRE GENERALE ET RAISONNEE: 350th Anniversary," Maison Française d'Oxford, May 19-20, 2010.
"Nietzsche and Naturalism," School of English, Communication and Philosophy, Cardiff University, September 20-21, 2010.
Bakewell, Sarah. "Montaigne, Philosopher of Life, Part 2: Learning Not to be Afraid." GUARDIAN May 17, 2010.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Dostal, Robert. Review of Kristin Gjesdal, GADAMER AND THE LEGACY OF GERMAN IDEALISM. NDPR (May 2010).
Inasmuch as for God all things are possible, it may be said that this is what God is: one for whom all things are possible. . . . God is that all things are possible, and that all things are possible is the existence of God.This alludes to a teaching that is recorded in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke. When Jesus tells his disciples that 'it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,' they ask, in amazement, 'Who then can be saved?' Jesus replies, "With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible". Kierkegaard seems to have been fascinated by this biblical text, for he echoes it in several of his works, including Fear and Trembling. However, in The Sickness Unto Death he goes beyond it, claiming not just that all things are possible for God, but that God is this possibility – and that believing in God means believing in possibility. For Kierkegaard, possibility is integral to human life – and his own use of pseudonyms and fictional characters enables him to dramatise different philosophical or existential possibilities. In The Sickness Unto Death he states that the human being is a synthesis of possibility and "necessity", which in this case means actual, concrete existence. At any moment in time, in any situation, there are facts of the matter: right now, for example, I am sitting at home in Manchester, writing; it is raining. But we also reach out into the future to envisage various possibilities: if I finish my work in time, and if it stops raining, I might go out for a walk this afternoon. Even the past is haunted by possibility, since things might have happened differently. Possibility fills each present moment with meaning. Of course, some possibilities are more significant than others. But Kierkegaard's point is that human existence is not confined to concrete, factual actuality, but opens out onto the dimension of possibility. This, he thinks, is what makes us free – but it also gives rise to anxiety. If the human being is a synthesis of possibility and necessity, then both of these aspects are equally important. When he discusses despair in The Sickness Unto Death, Kierkegaard identifies several different forms of despair. In one case, a person lacks concrete actuality: he loses himself in imagining, reflecting on and dreaming about different possibilities, without actualising any of them. In the opposite case – which seems to be the most common – a person loses himself in concrete things. This is the despair that lacks possibility. . . . Read the rest here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/may/03/religion-philosophy-kierkegaard-possibility-god.
Monday, May 10, 2010
most men live without ever becoming conscious of being destined as spirit. . . . There is so much talk about wasting a life, but only that person's life was wasted who went on living so deceived by life's joys or its sorrows that he never became decisively and eternally conscious as spirit, as self.Kierkegaard insists that this lack of awareness of one's true nature always involves the will: it is not, in fact, simply a matter of ignorance, for it involves self-deception. Moreover, this is not just an individual tendency, but one that is embedded within modern society. As he writes in The Sickness Unto Death,
A self is the last thing the world cares about and the most dangerous thing of all for a person to show signs of having. The greatest hazard of all, losing the self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss – an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. – is sure to be noticed.Of course, there is a great irony here, given that modern culture is widely held to be characterised by individualistic, self-serving attitudes, and by a cult of personality and celebrity. For all our talk of self-fulfilment and self-realisation, the "selves" we seek to preserve and promote are often not spiritual beings, but "consumers" whose desires need to be satisfied, or even commodities to be consumed. According to Kierkegaard's criteria, these are not genuine selves at all. Kierkegaard suggests that the distinctive feature of modern life is "abstraction", which in this instance means a mode of relationship that is emptied of personal feeling and significance. . . . Read the rest here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/apr/26/kierkegaard-philosophy-christianity.
Cfp: "Objectivity and the Practice of Science," Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science, Tilburg University, October 5, 2010.
Cfp: "Humans and Other Animals: Challenging the Boundaries of Humanity," University of Manchester, June 11-12, 2010.
Cfp: "After Kant: Beyond Idealism and Naturalism," Late German Philosophy Project, Institute of Philosophy, University of London, December 2-3, 2010.
Saturday, May 08, 2010
"Abstraction, Universality and Money," 7th Annual Conference, Marx and Philosophy Society, Institute of Education, University of London, June 5, 2010
- Richard Seaford (Exeter), "Money, Abstraction, and the Genesis of the Psyche"
- Alberto Toscano (Goldsmiths), "The Dead Pledge of Society: Methodological Problems and Political Consequences of 'Real Abstraction'"
- Christopher Arthur, "Abstraction, Universality and Money"
- Jan Sailer (Freiburg), "Securities: The Purest Form of Abstract Wealth"
- Nick Gray (Sussex), "Abstraction, Universality, Money and Capital"
- Marina Vishmidt (Queen Mary, University of London), "Art in and as Abstract Labour"
- Brian Fuller (York, Toronto), "Materialism and Dialectic: Reading Marx after Adorno"
- Tim Carter (Sussex), "Alienation and Domination in Marx and Wittgenstein"
- Chris Allsobrook (Sussex), "The Ideological Normative Grounds of Immanent Critique"
Further details: http://www.marxandphilosophy.org.uk/society.
- Faye, Emmanuel. Heidegger: the Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy. Trans. Michael B. Smith. New Haven: Yale UP, 2009.
- Maier-Katkin, Daniel. Stranger from Abroad: Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, Friendship and Forgiveness. New York: Norton, 2010.
It may seem surprising that so many books continue to be written debating Martin Heidegger’s Nazi affiliations, since the fact that Heidegger was a Nazi has never been in dispute. How could it be, when the great philosopher took office as rector of Freiburg University in April 1933 specifically in order to carry out the Gleichschaltung, or “bringing into line,” of the school with Hitler’s new party-state? Didn’t he tell the student body, in a speech that November, that “the Führer and he alone is the present and future German reality and its law”? After the war, didn’t he go out of his way to minimize Nazi crimes, even describing the Holocaust, in one notorious essay, as just another manifestation of modern technology, like mechanized agriculture? Yet by the time of his 80th birthday, in 1969, Heidegger had largely succeeded in detaching his work and reputation from his Nazism. The seal was set on his absolution by Hannah Arendt, in a birthday address broadcast on West German radio. Heidegger’s Nazism, she explained, was an “escapade,” a mistake, which happened only because the thinker naïvely “succumbed to the temptation . . . to ‘intervene’ in the world of human affairs.” The moral to be drawn from the Heidegger case was that “the thinking ‘I’ is entirely different from the self of consciousness,” so that Heidegger’s thought cannot be contaminated by the actions of the mere man. The history of Heidegger scholarship over the last 20 years has been the gradual demolition of this forgiving consensus endorsed by Arendt. . . . Read the rest here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/09/books/review/Kirsch-t.html?pagewanted=all.
While neither Plato nor Heidegger looks for the truth of beings in beings themselves, Plato turns to logoi and how the truth of being manifests itself therein, whereas Heidegger insists on attempting to see and say being directly in a way that bypasses both beings and logoi. (335)Gonzalez characterizes this as a root difference in their very approaches to thinking being: Plato recognizes that our best efforts will remain 'dialectical/dialogical'; Heidegger persists in aiming towards a 'phenomenological/tautological' approach (345). Due to this fundamentally different orientation, Heidegger is never able to really do justice to Plato's thought. . . . Read the whole review here: http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=19488.