Saturday, July 31, 2010

Singer, Peter. "Is it Okay to Cheat in Football?" PROJECT SYNDICATE June 28, 2010.

Shortly before half-time in the World Cup elimination match between England and Germany on June 27, the English midfielder Frank Lampard had a shot at goal that struck the crossbar and bounced down onto the ground, clearly over the goal line. The goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, grabbed the ball and put it back into play. Neither the referee nor the linesman, both of whom were still coming down the field – and thus were poorly positioned to judge – signaled a goal, and play continued.

After the match, Neuer gave this account of his actions: “I tried not to react to the referee and just concentrate on what was happening. I realized it was over the line and I think the way I carried on so quickly fooled the referee into thinking it was not over.” To put it bluntly: Neuer cheated, and then boasted about it. By any normal ethical standards, what Neuer did was wrong. But does the fact that Neuer was playing football mean that the only ethical rule is: “Win at all costs”?

In soccer, that does seem to be the prevailing ethic. . . .

Read the rest here:

Brooks, David. "The Moral Naturalists." NEW YORK TIMES July 22, 2010.

Where does our sense of right and wrong come from? Most people think it is a gift from God, who revealed His laws and elevates us with His love. A smaller number think that we figure the rules out for ourselves, using our capacity to reason and choosing a philosophical system to live by.

Moral naturalists, on the other hand, believe that we have moral sentiments that have emerged from a long history of relationships. To learn about morality, you don’t rely upon revelation or metaphysics; you observe people as they live. . . . 
Read the rest here:

Jorgensen, Larry M. "Seventeenth Century Theories of Consciousness." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY July 29, 2010.

In the seventeenth century, “consciousness” began to take on a uniquely modern sense. This transition was sparked by new theories of mind and ideas, and it connected with other important issues of debate during the seventeenth century, including debates over the transparency of the mental, animal consciousness, and innate ideas. Additionally, consciousness was tied closely to moral identity, with both French and Latin lacking even a linguistic distinction between consciousness and conscience (i.e., a moral sensibility). This semantic shift marked a philosophical division between the psychological or phenomenal aspects of thought and a moral sensibility as well. The discussions on all of these topics were rich and varied in the seventeenth century—the article below provides a view from forty thousand feet. . . .

Read the rest here:


This year marks the centenary of the death of the great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy wrote works of fiction that had considerable philosophical depth. In fact he thought his most famous book, War and Peace, was not a novel at all but an examination of social and political ideas. This week we take a look at Russian philosophical thinking, mainly in the 19th and early 20th century.

Listen here:

Teachout, Terry. "The Conversion of David Mamet." COMMENTARY (July - August 2010).

Mamet, David.  Theatre.  London: Faber and Faber, 2010.

American theater is a one-party town, a community of like-minded folk who are all but unanimous in their strict adherence to the left-liberal line. Though dissenters do exist, they are almost never heard from in public, and it is highly unusual for new plays that deviate from the social gospel of progressivism to reach the stage, whether in New York or anywhere else.

All this explains why David Mamet, America’s most famous and successful playwright, caused widespread consternation two years ago when he published an essay in the Village Voice called “Why I Am No Longer a ‘Brain-Dead Liberal’” in which he announced that he had “changed my mind” about the ideology to which he had previously subscribed. Having studied the works of “a host of conservative writers,” among them Milton Friedman, Paul Johnson, Thomas Sowell (whom he called “our greatest contemporary philosopher”), and Shelby Steele, Mamet came to the conclusion that “a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than that idealistic vision I called liberalism.”

For the most part, members of the American theater community responded to the publication of “Why I Am No Longer a ‘Brain-Dead Liberal’” in one of two ways. Some declared that Mamet’s shift in allegiance was irrelevant to the meaning of the plays on which his reputation is based. Others claimed to have suspected him of being a crypto-conservative all along, arguing that the essay merely proved their point.

Now Mamet has published a book of essays called Theatre (Faber and Faber, 157 pages) in which, among other things, he seeks to integrate his new way of thinking into his view of the art of drama. Although Theatre is not so much a political treatise as a professional apologia, it seems likely that those of his colleagues who write about it (to date, most have ignored it completely) will focus on its political aspect, in which they will doubtless find much to outrage them. . . .

Read the rest here:

Grayling, A. C. "A Man for All Seasons." PROSPECT MAGAZINE June 21, 2010.

Bakewell, Sarah. How to Live: a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer. London: Chatto and Windus, 2009.

A reason for the enduring attraction of Montaigne’s Essays is that they do what all classics do: they illuminate the universal in the particular. In one way this should be a surprise, because Montaigne was a highly individual man and, by his own account, a rather unsuccessful one. He frankly confessed his inabilities and shortcomings, his dislike of business, his yearning for solitude, his regret at being forgetful and not very clever, his physical lacks (he was short and had, he tells us, a small penis). Yet his frankness is refreshing and full of human truth. He found a method of writing suited to the character of his mind—an aleatory, divagatory, exploratory method which meandered along with his thoughts, making his essays unsystematic and random, full of unexpected, entertaining detours.

Sarah Bakewell adopts Montaigne’s own method to give an account of him and his views. Because Montaigne’s great question was Socrates’s question—“how to live?”—she arranges her portrait of him around the answers he offered. The outcome is an instructive journey around Montaigne, exemplifying his charm and the universality of his appeal. . . .

Read the rest here:


Heidegger, Martin.  Phenomenology of Intuition and Expression. Trans. Tracy Colony. London: Continuum, 2010.

Phenomenology of Intuition and Expression is a crucial text for understanding the early development of Heidegger’s thought. This lecture course was presented in the summer semester of 1920 at the University of Freiburg. At the center of this course is Heidegger’s elaboration of the meaning and function of the phenomenological destruction. In no other work by Heidegger do we find as comprehensive a treatment of the theme of destruction as in this lecture course. Culminating in a destruction of contemporaneous philosophy in terms of its understanding of ‘life’ as a primal phenomenon, this lecture course can be seen to open the way towards a renewal of the meaning of philosophy as such. This hugely important philosophical work is now available in English for the first time.

Further information is here:

Earlie, Paul. Review of David Mikics, WHO WAS JACQUES DERRIDA?. MOR July 6, 2010.

Mikics, David. Who Was Jacques Derrida? An Intellectual Biography. New Haven: Yale UP, 2010.

Before he ever puts pen to paper, the biographer of Jacques Derrida is faced with an immense stumbling block: a body of work which is in many ways anathema to the art of biography. For David Mikics's Who Was Jacques Derrida? - which claims to be the first objective account of the life and work of 'the most famous North African thinker (along with Albert Camus) since Augustine' - the stakes are dauntingly high. Derrida spent the greater part of his philosophical career demonstrating the dangers inherent in simplifying or unifying the meaning of a text or a corpus; the same holds true, no doubt, for the art of biography.

David Mikics surmounts this difficulty by largely jettisoning biographical detail from the pages of Who Was Jacques Derrida? The reader looking for the standard staples of biography - a robust genealogy, the drama of intellectual apprenticeship, lurid details of trysts and other romantic entanglements - will be for the most part disappointed. Mikics's primary focus is the structural and genetic relationship between Derrida's texts: a task he takes up with admirable skill and scholarly rigour. . . .

Read the rest here:

Pub: Jacques Derrida, COPY, ARCHIVE, SIGNATURE. NDPR (July 2010).

Derrida, Jacques.  Copy, Archive, Signature: a Conversation on Photography. Trans. Jeff Fort. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2010.

This book makes available for the first time in English—and for the first time in its entirety in any language—an important yet little-known interview on the topic of photography that Jacques Derrida granted in 1992 to the German theorist of photography Hubertus von Amelunxen and the German literary and media theorist Michael Wetzel. Their conversation addresses, among other things, questions of presence and its manufacture, the technicity of presentation, the volatility of the authorial subject, and the concept of memory. Derrida offers a penetrating intervention with regard to the distinctive nature of photography vis-à-vis related technologies such as cinema, television, and video. Questioning the all-too-facile divides between so-called old and new media, original and reproduction, analog and digital modes of recording and presenting, he provides stimulating insights into the ways in which we think and speak about the photographic image today. Along the way, the discussion fruitfully interrogates the question of photography in relation to such key concepts as copy, archive, and signature. Gerhard Richter introduces the volume with a critical meditation on the relationship between deconstruction and photography by way of the concepts of translation and invention. Copy, Archive, Signature will be of compelling interest to readers in the fields of contemporary European critical thought, photography, aesthetic theory, media studies, and French Studies, as well as those following the singular intellectual trajectory of one the most influential thinkers of our time.

Further information may be found here:

Irwin, T. H. Review of Jerome Schneewind, ESSAYS ON THE HISTORY OF MORALITY. NDPR (July 2010).

Schneewind, Jerome B. Essays on the History of Moral Philosophy. Oxford: OUP, 2010.

The essays on historiography are intended to cast doubt on 'the supposition that there is enough significant continuity in the concerns of moral philosophers to warrant discussions of progress and regress in the discipline' (107). Supporters of this supposition are said to believe in a 'single aim' of moral philosophers throughout history. In opposition to the belief in a single aim Schneewind maintains that Aristotle, Sidgwick, the Stoics, Hobbes, Bentham, and Parfit have different aims (120-1). He argues that these different aims make it futile to treat the Socratic question 'How should one live?' as a sufficiently determinate statement of the single aim of moral philosophy (120). . . .

Read the rest here:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Neo-Pragmatism, Language and Culture: Perspectives on Rorty and Brandom," University of Oslo, October 28-29, 2010.

In connection with a visit of Professor Yajun Chen (Nanjing University), the Nordic Pragmatism Network and the University of Oslo will arrange a workshop on neo-pragmatism. The theme of the workshop is Richard Rorty’s and Robert Brandom’s views on world culture and language, emphasizing their commonalities and differences.

The main speaker of the workshop, Professor Chen, studied at Harvard, and has spent the last year as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Pittsburgh in collaboration with Robert Brandom. He is a distinguished representative of the growing revival of pragmatism in China, which already has important historical connections with the pragmatist tradition. Dewey spent two years in China at the beginning of the nineteen twenties, lectured to huge crowds, and had several pupils who survived the cultural revolution. Today there is a Dewey Centre in Shanghai. Eight decades later, Rorty also went to China (in 2004), for a visit which resulted, among other things, in the publication of Rorty, Pragmatism and Confucianism (edited by Yong Huang, SUNY Press, 2009).

The workshop is intended to provide an opportunity for ”learning by doing”, that is, the composing of articles/essays/books on the subject of the workshop: contributions may take the form of work in progress — even mere abstracts of forthcoming papers are welcome. Each speaker will be assigned 30 minutes including discussion. For those who might wish to participate in the program without presenting work, assignation as moderator or respondent is an option.

The organizers invite paper proposals to the workshop. Please send an abstract of 150-300 words to by 1 August 2010.

Visit the conference website here:

"Action and Interaction," Nordic Pragmatism Network, University of Uppsala, Sweden, June 1-2, 2010.

(This conference has obviously already taken place but I include it as some may find it interesting.)

From the pragmatist point of view, action is central to all philosophical problem-solving: philosophical – also conceptual and theoretical – issues are never unrelated to action. While philosophy of action is also part of other philosophical approaches, the pragmatist stance can only be comprehended as a philosophy of action.

What exactly does this mean? The full implications of pragmatism's emphasis on action still call for discussion and exploration. What is the distinctively pragmatic understanding of action? How does this understanding distinguish pragmatism from other traditions? What are the consequences of the pragmatist view to contemporary philosophical reflection on fields such as science, religion, ethics, education and anthropology?

One implication of the pragmatist view concerns our understanding of our relationship with reality. The classical pragmatists, John Dewey and William James in particular, argued that the connection between human beings and the world they inhabit is centrally a dynamic, two-way relationship: both the acting subject and the world are changed in and by the action process.

A closely related, second implication concerns our conception of the self and subjectivity. According to the pragmatists, the human self not merely engages in action but is a product of action. In this vein, George Herbert Mead showed how human subjectivity is born in interaction and thus rests on intersubjectivity.

A third pragmatist implication is relevant for both moral and political philosophy: pragmatism’s focus on agency makes it eminently suitable for dealing with social and political issues. Existence is action – to exist is to be an acting, responsible being. This understanding of human activity opens up new ways to reflect on moral, social and political responsibility, such as that given rise to by our relationship to the environment or contemporary religious diversity and multicultural society.

Revolutionary as these ideas were a century ago, some of them have recently been rediscovered in other fields of study, such as cognitive science. The basic character of action and interaction has for a long time held the attention of pragmatist philosophers. Now the notion of thought as necessarily embedded has gained ground outside of pragmatism and attracted renewed interest.

The Third Nordic Pragmatism Conference focuses on pragmatism's view of action with the goal of clarifying its meaning and characteristics, its relation to other philosophical approaches as well as its consequences in different fields of philosophical work.

Visit the conference website here:


Symposia: “Individuals” (Guest editor: Anthony J. Graybosch, California State University, Chico):
  • Susan Haack, "The Differences that Make a Difference: William James on the Importance of Individuals"
  • Rosa M. Calcaterra, "Epistemology of the Self in a Pragmatic Mood"
  • Rossella Fabbrichesi, "The Body of the Community: Peirce, Royce, and Nietzsche"
  • Robert Main, "From Fancy Amoeba to Fallible Self: Peirce’s Evolutionary Theory of Human Persons"
  • Olav Bryant Smith, "The Social Self of Whitehead’s Organic Philosophy"
  • Jeroen Gerrits, "Disagreement as Duty: On the Importance of the Self and Friendship in Cavell’s Moral Philosophy"
  • Andrea Punzi, "The Practice of the Circle: Individual, World, Permanence in Ralph Waldo Emerson"
  • Heidi White, "William James’s Pragmatism: Ethics and the Individualism of Others"
  • Anthony J. Graybosch, "Saints? (in Lieu of a Preface)"

  • Sami Pihlström, "Nordic Pragmatism"
  • Susi Ferrarello, "On the Rationality of Will in James and Husserl"
  • Barbara Thayer-Bacon, "A Pragmatist and Feminist Relational (E)pistemology"
Book Reviews:

  • Sami Pihlström and Henrik Rydenfelt, Pragmatist Perspectives. Acta Philosophica Fennica 86, The Philosophical Society of Finland, Helsinki, 2009;
  • Jacquelyn Ann K. Kegley, Josiah Royce in Focus (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2008).
Download the essays here:

Young, Julian. Review of Jonathan R. Cohen, SCIENCE, CULTURE AND FREE SPIRITS. NDPR (July 2010).

Cohen, Jonathan R. Science, Culture, and Free Spirits: a Study of Nietzsche's Human, All-too-Human. Amherst, NY: Humanity, 2010.

Jonathan Cohen's thoughtful interrogation of Human, All-too-Human asks many of the right questions. Often (though perhaps not always) it gets the answers importantly right. As Cohen remarks, there are relatively few studies of individual Nietzsche texts, and Human, marking as it does the transition from the early, metaphysical romanticism to the naturalism that characterised the remainder of his career, is surely a crucial work. Cohen's study does not, however, attempt to be comprehensive. There is no discussion of Human's praise for the 'noble' religion of the Greeks, its account of the role of art in a reformed culture, its advocacy of euthanasia and eugenics, its critique of the modern state,[2] its advocacy of the disappearance of petty nationalisms in a united Europe, nor of its ambition that a reformed Western culture should take over the entire globe. Nor does Cohen discuss either Assorted Opinions and Maxims or The Wanderer and His Shadow which together, in 1886, became volume II of an expanded Human, All-too-Human. Instead, he discusses, as his title promises, the interrelated themes of science, culture and free-spiritedness as they appear in the original 1878 work. Human, All-too-Human: Central Themes might be an alternative title. In addition to examining these -- indeed central -- themes there is a discussion of the 'literary integrity' of the work (chapter 6). Here, Cohen is at pains to show that the work is no mere rag-bag of 'aphorisms' but has a literary, even logical, structure. He makes the original and plausible suggestion that the model for the 1886 expansion of Human into a two-volume work was Schopenhauer's 1844 addition of a volume II to the 1818 The World as Will and Representation. A final chapter argues, correctly in my view, that the basic relationship between science, culture and free-spiritedness established in Human remains with Nietzsche for the rest of his career. . . .

Read the rest here:

Pub: INFORMAL LOGIC 30.2 (2010).

Table of Contents:


  • "A Pragma-Dialectical Response to Objectivist Epistemic Challenges" by Bart Garssen, Jan Albert van Laar (122-141)
  • "Truth and Argument Evaluation" by Patrick Bondy (142-158)
  • "Why Fallacies Appear to be Better Arguments Than They Are" by Douglas Walton (159-184)
  • "The Metaphoric Fallacy to a Deductive Inference" by Michael P Berman, Brian A Lightbody (185-193)
Download the articles here:

Pub: Michael N. Forster, AFTER HERDER.

Forster, Michael N.  After Herder: Philosophy of Language in the German Tradition.  Oxford: OUP, 2010.

Philosophy of language has for some time now been the very core of the discipline of philosophy. But where did it begin? Frege has sometimes been identified as its father, but in fact its origins lie much further back, in a tradition that arose in eighteenth-century Germany. Michael Forster explores that tradition. He also makes a case that the most important thinker within that tradition was J. G. Herder. It was Herder who established such fundamental principles in the philosophy of language as that thought essentially depends on language and that meaning consists in the usage of words. It was he who on that basis revolutionized the theory of interpretation ("hermeneutics") and the theory of translation. And it was he who played the pivotal role in founding such whole new disciplines concerned with language as anthropology and linguistics. In the course of developing these historical points, this book also shows that Herder and his tradition are in many ways superior to dominant trends in more recent philosophy of language: deeper in their principles and broader in their focus.

Table of Contents:



1: Johann Gottfried Herder
2: Herder’s Philosophy of Language, Interpretation, and Translation: Three Fundamental Principles
3: Gods, Animals, and Artists: Some Problem Cases in Herder’s Philosophy of Language
4: Herder’s Importance as a Philosopher
5: Herder on Genre
6: Herder and the Birth of Modern Anthropology
7: The Liberal Temper in Classical German Philosophy: Freedom of Thought and Expression


8: Johann Georg Hamann
9: Hamann’s Seminal Importance for the Philosophy of Language?


10: Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher
11: Schleiermacher’s Hermeneutics: Some Problems and Solutions
12: Herder, Schleiermacher, and the Birth of Foreignizing Translation

For further information, visit:

Eldridge, Michael. Review of David L. Hildebrand, JOHN DEWEY. NDPR (July 2010).

Hildebrand, David L. John Dewey: a Beginner's Guide. Oxford: Oneworld, 2008.

The most recent addition to the genre that includes books by Sidney Hook (1939), Richard Bernstein (1966), James Campbell (1995), and Raymond Boisvert (1998), Hildebrand's introduction is a knowledgeable and clearly written exposition of John Dewey's thought for those with little or no philosophical preparation and/or no background in Dewey.

Thus it is of interest to academic philosophers for its value as a course text but also to others, philosophers or not, who are just coming to Dewey. Either way it is a reliable -- and readable -- guide to Dewey's thought, making use of the immense amount of recent Dewey scholarship. One should, however, not expect a critical assessment, despite the blurb on the back cover that says "This concise and critical look at Dewey's work". The author explicitly says in the preface that his primary purpose was "to give the most detail of the widest range of Dewey's views" (xi). It is a well-informed work of exposition with only occasional challenges to others' interpretations. . . .

Read the rest here:


Margolis, Joseph.  The Cultural Space of the Arts and the Infelicities of Reductionism. New York: Columbia UP, 2010.

In this book, the indefatigable Joseph Margolis combines his lifelong interest in works of art as cultural objects with his theory of persons themselves as cultural objects into a polemic against both reductionism in the philosophy of mind and what he calls "piecemeal reductionism" in recent aesthetics. What he means by this is that much prominent work in recent aesthetics, from the philosophies of painting developed by Arthur Danto, Richard Wollheim, and Kendall Walton to the theories of literary interpretation put forth by such as Noël Carroll, Jerrold Levinson, and Robert Stecker, is tacitly based on a philosophy of mind that reduces the intentionality and intentional behavior of persons to purely physical properties, or extensionality, although the aestheticians do not attempt to defend such general reductionism, and thus, according to Margolis, put forth their views in aesthetics without adequate metaphysical foundations altogether.

The book is thus divided into two parts, an attack upon "the infelicities of reductionism" in general (the prologue "First Words" and the "Interlude" of chapter 3), which for Margolis is paradigmatically exemplified in the work of Daniel Dennett, and a critique of various of the positions of the "piecemeal reductionists" in aesthetics (chapters 1-2 and 4-5, separated by the "Interlude" on "Reductionism in the Philosophy of Mind"). I think that Margolis's critique of reductionism in the philosophy of mind should be taken seriously. But I do not find Margolis's attempt to impute the positions in recent and contemporary aesthetics that he discusses to reductionist, physicalist, or extensionalist assumptions in the philosophy of mind very convincing, and indeed in several cases it seems to me that Margolis almost willfully misreads positions about the cultural and historically-situated character of artworks that are actually quite close to his own. This is not to say that Margolis does not have valuable criticisms to make of some of the aesthetic theories he considers, especially Walton's theory that what we do with works of art is to play games of "make-believe" with them. But it is to say that these theories do not obviously depend upon general reductionism in the philosophy of mind, and that the success of Margolis's criticisms does not depend on the success of his general critique of such reductionism. . . .

Read the rest here:


Scholars generally know – but very rarely work on – Ferdinand de Saussure essentially as a linguist and author of the Course in General Linguistics, a book widespread in XXth century, but empty of any significance for actual research. In fact, he is considered as a subject for handbooks of History of
Linguistics, not at all as a reference for actual debate in philosophy of language. Nonetheless, this issue of RIFL will present Saussure as a philosopher of language. Namely, we are interested in the relation between language faculty (biologically rooted) and languages/les langues (as the fundamental, but not the only, semiological objects), and in how this relation determines human nature. This perspective on Saussure as a philosopher (of language) is not shared by many historians of linguistics (who think that Saussure’s legacy is once and for all circumscribed), neither by mainstream philosophers of language (who would deny to Saussure every relevance for their studies). We think they all are mistaken.

The aim of this issue of RIFL is that of testing the impact of a Saussurean approach on the main themes of contemporary philosophy of language, as:

• relation between language and mind, language and cognition, language and emotions and language and body
• language(s) acquisition
• social and institutional nature of language
• relation between language and other definitional characters of human being

The manuscripts should have a theoretical rather than an experimental focus. Papers from the following areas are accepted: philosophy of language, semiotics, history of philosophy, anthropology, sociology and social sciences, psychology, neuroscience. Submissions may be in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish and Russian. All submissions must be prepared for blind review. The author's name, the institutional affiliation and the title’s paper must be placed in a separate file. Papers must be sent as Microsoft Word file (.doc or .rtf) to:

Instructions for Authors:

Max length: 40000 characters (including spaces) for articles (included bibliography); 20000 characters (including spaces) for interviews; 10000 characters (including spaces) for reviews.

Deadline submission: 15th October 2010

Notification of acceptance: 15th November 2010

Final version due: 9th December 2010

Issue publication: December 2010

For further information:;

"Schopenhauer: What is Moving the World," University of Frankfurt, September 22-24, 2010.

Arthur Schopenhauer’s philosophy is received all over the world and also beyond the limits of philosophical inquiry. With its incorporation of elements of Buddhist and Hindu thought it proves to be open-minded in respect to foreign culture and mentality. On the other hand it shows great respect for the results of sciences and for the relevance of Religion for morality. With aspects of interculturality, interdisciplinarity and modernity of Schopenhauer’s philosophy the program of the congress is divided in ten sessions: ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, science, hermeneutics, psychology, Asiatic philosophies, religion, mysticism, and reception. In addition there will be a workshop on editions and translations of the works of Schopenhauer. Congress languages are German, English and French.

For more information contact the Schopenhauer-Gesellschaft e.V. ( or the Schopenhauer Research Center (

Friday, July 16, 2010


  • Simon Goodman, “'It’s Not Racist To Impose Limits On Immigration': Constructing The Boundaries Of Racism in the Asylum And Immigration Debate," pp. 1-17;
  • Bernhard Forchtner, "Jürgen Habermas’ Language-Philosophy and the Critical Study of Language," pp. 18-37;
  • Martin Mölder, "Meanings of Democracy in Estonia: an Analysis of Focus Group Discussions," pp. 38-53;
  • Steffi Retzlaff, "The Representation of the European Union in the Canadian Media during the Climate Change Debate 2007," pp. 54-72;
  • Jacinta Ndambuki and Hilary Janks, "Political Discourses, Women’s Voices: Mismatches in Representation," pp.73-92;
  • Esmat Babaii, "Opting Out or Playing the ‘Academic Game’? Professional Identity Construction by Off-Center Academics," pp. 93-105.
Download the essays here:

"Foucault, the Family and Politics," University of Cambridge, November 12, 2010.

Foucault writes of how the internal power-dynamics of the family interact with the social politics of society as a whole. On the one hand, social politics impact family structure and dynamics in many ways, including legal judgements, medical interventions, and social work. On the other hand, members of families call on discourses and institutions from society at large in order to manage or change the operation of the family. The conference will begin by examining the theme of the family in Foucault’s life and texts; it will then use his ideas to explore the politics of the family more generally in the contemporary world. . . .

Visit the conference website here:

"Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies," Humanities Center, Harvard University, October 14-16, 2010.

Bernie Rhie writes:

As some of you know, Richard Eldridge and I are coediting a collection of newly commissioned essays — entitled Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies: Consequences of Skepticism — which will explore the relevance of Cavell’s writings for literary theorists and critics (to be published in 2011 by Continuum). Over the past few months, we’ve been organizing a 3-day conference related to this volume, which will take place at Harvard’s Humanities Center, October 14-16, 2010.

The primary focus of the conference will be the presentation and discussion of draft versions of the commissioned chapters for the volume. But it will begin, the evening of October 14th, with a celebration of the publication of Cavell’s forthcoming philosophical autobiography, Little Did I Know: Excerpts from Memory (Stanford Univ. Press, forthcoming in October). Following an introduction by the Center’s director, Homi Bhabha . . . there will be brief responses to selected passages from Cavell’s memoir, presented by five distinguished philosophers who have close, and long-standing ties, to Prof. Cavell:

•Norton Batkin (Bard College)
•James Conant (University of Chicago)
•Arnold Davidson (University of Chicago and University of Pisa)
•Paul Franks (University of Toronto)
•Sandra Laugier (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)

After their brief presentations, there will be a discussion and Q&A session (open to members of the audience) moderated by Nancy Bauer (Tufts University). Prof. Cavell will attend the Oct. 14 event (as well as the rest of the conference), and plans to be available to sign copies of his memoir after the evening’s discussion comes to a close.

The next two days of the conference — Friday Oct. 15 and Saturday Oct. 16 — will consist of presentations of the commissioned chapters (grouped into panels of two or three papers at a time), each set of papers to be followed by some comments and/or questions from an invited respondent. We will be sure to allot substantial time for discussion of each set of papers. . . .

See the schedule at the conference website here:

Fuller, Steve. Review of Theodore L. Brown, IMPERFECT ORACLE. NDPR (July 2010).

Brown, Theodore L. Imperfect Oracle: the Epistemic and Moral Authority of Science. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 2009.

Theodore Brown is the ultimate academic all-rounder. A distinguished research chemist, author of a best-selling chemistry textbook, founding director of what is arguably America's leading research unit that actually lives up to its 'interdisciplinary' remit (University of Illinois' Beckman Institute), a vice chancellor for research and the author of a respectable, liberal-minded book on metaphor as the lifeblood of scientific creativity (Brown 2003). In fact, were it not for his apparent lack of interest in geopolitical manoeuvring, Brown's career might be comparable to that of another indefatigable 20th century American chemist, James Bryant Conant, the mentor of Thomas Kuhn.

But as readers of this journal would have asked of Conant, how is Brown as a philosopher? Whatever verdict one wishes to deliver on Conant as a philosopher of science, it is clear that he treated the positivist and pragmatist philosophies of his day more as inputs than authorities. Thus, Conant freely picked and mixed what he needed from them to clarify and justify the benevolent but elite role that he would have science play in the Cold War era. In contrast, Brown appears to be only as good as the intellectual agents he works with. Consequently, there are few interesting emergent properties from their combination. Brown's deferential approach means that his book could be easily mistaken for a lightly revised Ph.D. thesis by an above average student of naturalised analytic philosophy. Put a bit more positively, while this book is priced as if it were a specialist monograph, it could have been marketed in paperback as an introductory textbook in applied epistemology and ethics of contemporary science.

To his credit, Brown begins by asking some of the right questions about the foundations of science's epistemic and moral authority. Unfortunately he fails to see the need to range far beyond the precincts of contemporary analytic epistemology and constructivist sociology of science into the heart of political theory. . . .

Read the rest here:

Williams, Robert R. Review of G. W. F. Hegel, INTRODUCTION AND ORIENTAL PHILOSOPHY. NDPR (July 2010).

Hegel, G. W. F.  Introduction and Oriental Philosophy.  Ed. and trans. Robert F. Brown.  Vol. 1 of Lectures on the History of Philosophy 1825-6.  Oxford: OUP, 2009.

The new translation from Oxford University Press is the first critical edition of Hegel's Lectures on the History of Philosophy available in English. It supersedes in many respects the previous translation. The merit and value of the new translation can be best appreciated by comparing it with the older, less expensive version. Haldane's and Simson's work is not bad as a translation, but it is more than 100 years old, and its irremediable defect is that it is a translation of the second German edition, the least desirable edition of Hegel's History of Philosophy Lectures. Since the Haldane translation has been very influential and widely reprinted, a word of explanation is in order. . . .

Read the rest here:

Cfp: "The Power of the Word: Poetry, Theology and Life," Heythrop College, University of London, June 17-18, 2011.

Religion has always been part of Western literary traditions. Many canonical literary texts engage extensively with theology and religious faith and practice, and theological and spiritual writers make liberal use of literary genres, tropes and strategies. Recent work in philosophy of religion, theology, the study of religions and literary criticism has once again brought to the fore issues which arise when literature, faith, theology and life meet, whether in harmony or in conflict. This international conference aims to: · foster a dialogue among scholars in theology, philosophy, spirituality and literature and between these and creative writers;
· discuss the ‘truth’ of poetry and the ‘truth’ of theology in relation to each other;
· reassess the idea of poetry as a criticism of life;
· discuss the relationship between faith, theology and the creative imagination through an examination of theoretical issues and the study of specific texts;
· examine the importance of poetry for personal and social identity, social cohesion and relations between faiths and cultures.

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Gianni Vattimo (University of Turin)
Professor Helen Wilcox (University of Bangor)
Professor M. Paul Gallagher (Gregorian University, Rome)
Professor Paul Fiddes (University of Oxford), tbc.

Other Invited Speakers:

Professor John Took (UCL),
Professor Jay Parini (Middlebury College, Vermont),
Olivier-Thomas Venard (Professor Ecole Biblique, Jerusalem),
Dr Antonio Spadaro (Gregorian University, Rome),
Dr Stefano Maria Casella (IULM University, Milan),
Dr Florian Mussgnug (UCL).

The organisers invite scholars currently working in the subject field to offer panel papers (30 minutes plus 10 minutes discussion) to address the following titles and themes.

Titles and themes of panels:

1. Why poetry matters:
· The activity of reading
· ‘Tolle, lege’: reading as transformative
· Poetry and the development of the reader
· The purpose and value of religious poetry
· Is religiously committed literary criticism possible, desirable, necessary?
· Specific writers and texts

2. Poetry, faith, religion and theology:
· Faith and the poet
· Poetry and poets in theological perspective
· Religious experience and the experience of poetry
· Devotional poetry
· What makes a work of poetry theologically or religiously significant or relevant?
· Metaphor, symbol, faith and theology
· Is the writer/poet as such theologically significant?
· Specific writers and texts

3. Poetry and the mystical:
· Relationships between mysticism and poetry
· Mystical poetry
· Poets as mystics, mystics as poets
· Specific writers and texts

4. Imagination, faith and theology:
· The place of imagination in religion, faith, theology, spirituality
· The ‘sacramental imagination’; poetry as sacramental
· Reason and imagination in faith and theology
· Theology, spirituality and the poetic imagination
· Specific writers and texts

5. Poetry and sacred texts:
· ‘Secular’ and ‘sacred’ poetic texts
· ‘Secular’ poetry and sacred texts
· Specific writers and texts

6. Poetry and society:
· Does poetry make anything happen?
· Poetry, literary criticism and ethics
· Poetry and politics
· Specific writers and texts

Please email abstracts of 500 words max. by Friday 14 October 2010 to: and

Cfp: "Keeping it Real: Narratives of Ordinary and Extraordinary People Across Media," Narrative Research Group, Media School, Bournemouth University, September 3, 2010.

The Narrative Research Group based in the Media School at Bournemouth University is hosting an interdisciplinary one-day symposium that will examine the representation of real people across media. Invited speakers include professionals, practitioners and scholars working with stories about real people in journalism, literature, visual media, online spaces and popular culture. It is hoped that the symposium will provide a forum to bring together those interested in the intersections between narrative theory and media/cultural studies. Please see the attached draft programme for further details.

This event is free to attend, and coffee and lunch will be provided on the day. However, as spaces are limited, you will need to register in advance by contacting the convenors, Bronwen Thomas ( and Julia Round ( before Wednesday 25 August.

Ruiz, Nicholas III. "What Is a Philosopher?" KRITIKOS 7 (May-June 2010).

I have always preferred the concept of a theory-fiction, to explain what the CSR rationalists have hijacked and deem 'philosophy.' Philosophy, is something else. When Jean Baudrillard described his work as theory-fiction, it was because he knew philosophy was a far more activist endeavor. And Baudrillard was the first to admit he was no activist.

On the other hand, there are careerists, and other associated objectivists involved in didactic dissemination of what passes as philosophy ('teachers' of philosophy, etc.). It is such a conglomerate institution that is apt, while stuffed with administrators, and administrative hopefuls, to believe and cultivate the metaphysics of accounting. This Baudrillard described as a particularly inane attempt to control the totality and distribution of orthodox postulates - conspicuously engaging in the analysis of the world, largely, so as to control it, while plump with the ambition, expectation, obsession - and phantasm - of material world possession. All variances of megalomania under the pettifogger rubric, quibbling over trifles and the like.

No, philosophy requires something different - something to the effect of putting your money where your mouth is, no? Alas, we entertain very few philosophers these days...plenty of writers, though. Of every sort and genre: fiction, non-fiction, theory-fiction, creative and otherwise.

Now is about the time someone will remember a certain Sartre, and his writing 'commitment': "...the freedom of writing implies the freedom of the citizen. One does not write for slaves. The art of prose is bound up with the only regime in which prose has meaning, democracy. When one is threatened, the other is too. And it is not enough to defend them with the pen." [2]

Hence a philosopher, generally is not an academic, which begs the question - "Where are the philosophers?" - as they are largely not, in the corporatist academy. Yes, a philosopher may teach, but that cannot be her primary practice, otherwise she risks being simply that, a teacher. However meritorious teaching may be, 'tis another endeavor indeed, as we've just established. And now, we have entered the realm of philosophy, and philosophers, with a word: risk. . . .

Read the rest here:

Barnes, Barry. Review of Massimo Pigliucci, NONSENSE ON STILTS. NDPR (July 2010).

Pigliucci, Massimo. Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2010.

The title serves well as an indication of the genre to which this book belongs. Directed to the general reader, it is an attempt by a philosopher of science to assist her in dealing with the problem of demarcating science from non-science. For the author this is a moral problem and not simply a technical or aesthetic one: belief in science is conducive to our good, whereas belief in non-science or pseudoscience, of which instances are worryingly abundant, is conducive to harm and has to be opposed. Thus, we shall not go too far wrong if we identify Pigliucci as a science warrior and his book as a contribution to the literature of the science wars.

The content is certainly as this would lead us to expect. The usual suspects are attacked: postmodernists, humanist intellectuals, religious fundamentalists and the like. The usual examples appear: UFOs, paranormal phenomena, and of course criticisms of evolution. A potted history of science from Aristotle's time is laid on (innocent Whiggism for the most part), and a flatpack philosophy of science (naturalist and verificationist). More idiosyncratic and slightly more interesting are discussions of science in the media ('it's crazy out there') and of think tanks ('Caveat Emptor!'). And the author is a little less respectful than usual of heroic figures in science and philosophy, scorning to conceal the sheer viciousness of Isaac Newton, for example, and hinting that Plato/Socrates may well have been an overbearing old bore whose notion of dialogue bears scant resemblance to our own. None of this, however, alters the fact that for anyone who has encountered this sort of thing before little of philosophical interest is likely to be learned from the present example, unless it is through reflection on the function and design of such texts themselves. . . .

I suspect that there is no way of presenting the knowledge and methods of the sciences to general readers that does not fail in some important respect. And the comparison of these with alternatives, whether those that engage in competition with the sciences, or those that pretend to be sciences themselves, or those that rub along with them, peacefully co-existing at other locations in our elaborate division of technical and intellectual labour, is inordinately difficult, as Pigliucci is obviously well aware. But he does not even try to meet the challenge this implies, choosing instead for the most part a facile approach that covers its limitations with the truculent style and affectation of contempt for one's fellow human beings increasingly encountered in the literature of the science wars. The sciences deserve better than this. . . .

Read the rest here:

"Heidegger and Cognitive Science," Phenomenology and Philosophy Research Group (EPiPHENy), University of Edinburgh, October 27, 2010.

Phenomenological philosophy is experiencing a resurgence in use among contemporary philosophers of mind, particularly those interested in the intersection of cognition and embodiment. We can account for some of the increased popularity with recent neurological research that describes isomorphisms and dissociations that were previously postulated by the phenomenological tradition. It seems likely that other interesting empirical work can benefit both from phenomenological interpretation and conceptual schemas. The work of a key figure of the phenomenological tradition, Martin Heidegger, has played a role in the history of cognitive science, but we contend that there are further depths to be plumbed that can yield new and valuable insights for modern philosophers working in this field.

Michael Wheeler has argued that not only is a shift towards a more Heideggerian approach warranted among the cognitive sciences, but that current empirical work is already shifting in that direction – and philosophers have to catch up. Criticizing this approach, Matthew Ratcliffe, rejects the idea that Heidegger’s ideas can be naturalized to the extent for it to be useful to the natural sciences. The work of both philosophers will be published in a collected volume edited by Michael Wheeler and Julian Kiverstein, forthcoming later this year. We have secured the support of the aforementioned philosophers in participating in the workshop.

The workshop seeks to introduce key Heideggerian ideas to the participants in a conceptually clear manner - hoping to scrupulously avoid the obscurism sometimes attributed to continental thinkers – and link them to contemporary empirical research and philosophical debate. Emphasis will be placed on the ramifications pro and con for adopting a Heideggerian stance towards philosophy of mind and cognitive science.

Visit the conference website here:

Friday, July 09, 2010

Bottone, Angelo. Review of Peter Ives, et al., eds. GRAMSCI, LANGUAGE AND TRANSLATION. PHILOSOPHY OF TRANSLATION BLOG July 6, 2010.

Ives, Peter, and Rocco Lacorte, eds. Gramsci, Language and Translation. Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2010.

This anthology brings together key articles translated into English for the first time from Italian debates concerning Antonio Gramsci's writings on language and translation as central to his entire social and political thought. It includes recent scholarship by Italian, German and English-speaking scholars providing important contributions to debates concerning culture, language, Marxism, post-Marxism, and identity as well as the many fields in which Gramsci's notion of hegemony has been influential. Given the growing literature on the role of language and so-called 'global English' within process of globalisation or cultural and economic imperialism, this is a timely collection.

Franco Lo Piparo is often cited as the key source for how Gramsci's university studies in linguistics is at the core of his entire political theory, and yet none of this work has been translated into English nor have the debates that it spawned. Lo Piparo's specific thesis concerning the "non-Marxist roots" of Gramsci's originality and the critical responses to it have been almost unknown to non-Italian readers. These debates paved the way for important recent Italian work on the role of the concept of 'translation' in Gramsci's thought. While translation has become a staple metaphor in discussions of multiculturalism, globalization, and the politics of recognition, until now, Gramsci's focus on it has been undeveloped. What is at stake in this literature is more than Gramsci's understanding of language as one of the many themes in his writings, but the core of his central ideas including hegemony, culture, the philosophy of praxis, and Marxism in general. This volume presents the most important arguments of these debates in English in conjunction with the latest research on these central aspects of Gramsci's thought.

The essays this volume rectify lacunae concerning language and translation in Gramsci's writings. They open dialogue and connections between Gramscian approaches to the relationships among language, culture, political economy, and historical materialism with other Marxist and non-Marxist thinkers such as Walter Benjamin, Valentin Volosinov, Mikhail Bakhtin, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jurgen Habermas, Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. It provides novel arguments concerning Gramsci's theories and the relationships among power, politics, language, consciousness, and capitalism. . . .

Read the rest here:

Fodor, Jerry. "Why Pigs Don’t Have Wings." LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS October 18, 2007.

In fact, an appreciable number of perfectly reasonable biologists are coming to think that the theory of natural selection can no longer be taken for granted. This is, so far, mostly straws in the wind; but it’s not out of the question that a scientific revolution – no less than a major revision of evolutionary theory – is in the offing. Unlike the story about our minds being anachronistic adaptations, this new twist doesn’t seem to have been widely noticed outside professional circles. The ironic upshot is that at a time when the theory of natural selection has become an article of pop culture, it is faced with what may be the most serious challenge it has had so far. Darwinists have been known to say that adaptationism is the best idea that anybody has ever had. It would be a good joke if the best idea that anybody has ever had turned out not to be true. A lot of the history of science consists of the world playing that sort of joke on our most cherished theories.

Two kinds of consideration now threaten to displace natural selection from its position at the centre of evolutionary theory; one is more or less conceptual, the other is more or less empirical.

Read the rest here:

Godfrey-Smith, Peter. "It Got Eaten." LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS July 8, 2010.

In 1959 the psychological doctrine known as ‘behaviourism’ was at the peak of its influence. Pioneered in the early 20th century by Edward Lee Thorndike, Clark Hull and J.B. Watson, behaviourism rejected explanations of action in terms of mysterious inner processes such as ‘thought’ and tried to explain behaviour purely in terms of the organism’s conditioning by experience. By the middle of the century, the behaviourist approach had been developed in a detailed and radical form by B.F. Skinner. Skinner explained learning in terms of reinforcement: organisms produce novel behaviours spontaneously, and those that are positively reinforced are more likely to occur in similar circumstances in the future. This view, developed in work on rats and pigeons, was extended to cover human language in Skinner’s 1957 book Verbal Behaviour. A young linguist, Noam Chomsky, published a review of Verbal Behaviour two years later. It was perhaps the most devastating book review ever written.

Chomsky argued that Skinner’s theoretical vocabulary could be applied to human linguistic behaviour only in an empty, post hoc way. He also thought that Skinner’s behaviourism had a simple architectural flaw: it held that external factors – especially experiences of reinforcement – were of ‘overwhelming importance’ in the explanation of behaviour. Hardly any role was given to what Chomsky referred to simply as ‘the internal structure of the organism’. It is unusual to do serious damage to a scientific research programme with a set of general arguments – not by citing experimental or mathematical results, but by looking at the basic ideas and revealing a crack in the foundations. Though the impact of the review itself is sometimes exaggerated, this is the effect Chomsky had on the behaviourist study of humans.

Jerry Fodor now hopes to do something similar to Darwinism in biology. Fodor has been making sceptical remarks about Darwinian ideas for decades. Three years ago he wrote a direct attack on Darwinian evolutionary theory in the LRB,* and he has now published What Darwin Got Wrong, along with Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini. Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini believe that they can replicate Chomsky’s demolition job on Skinner because ‘Skinner’s account of learning and Darwin’s account of evolution are identical in all but name.’ As we shall see, ‘identical’ is quite a stretch, but there is a real analogy. First, both theories draw on an externalist or ‘outside-in’ pattern of explanation, in which the structure or behaviour of living things is seen as a consequence of their environments. Second, both rely on a process that can be described loosely as ‘trial and error’. New variations are produced in a spontaneous and unintelligent way, and a few successful variants are kept while others are discarded. This resemblance between the theories was recognised by Skinner himself, who saw Darwinism and behaviourism as dovetailing together. And Chomsky, the great critic of behaviourism, shows no enthusiasm for mainstream evolutionary theory, especially when applied to psychological traits.

Opposing attitudes towards externalist explanations point to a fissure running through the history of science and philosophy. This is part of what distinguishes the ‘empiricist’ from the ‘rationalist’ tradition, with the former (Locke, for example) explaining the contents of the mind in terms of what is given in experience, and the latter (Leibniz) insisting on the self-propelled power of thought. Which side of the divide one places oneself on is partly a matter of intellectual temperament; but Skinnerian behaviourism and Darwinism are still scientific theories, answerable to empirical evidence. The partial similarity in pattern does not mean they must stand or fall together. They are about different things; one may be right and the other wrong. . . .

Read the rest here:

Second International Conference on Logic, Argumentation, and Critical Thinking, Centre for the Study of Argumentation and Reasoning, Faculty of Psychology, Diego Portalés University, Santiago, October 7-9, 2010.

Keynote Speakers:

Eveline Feteris, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Chris Reed, University of Dundee, Scotland
Luis Vega, UNED, Spain
Michael A. Gilbert, York University, Canada

The International Conference Logic, Argumentation and Critical Thinking II is a new academic effort of our Centre to continue what was started with the first Conference in January 2008. Just as with the first Conference, in which we were together with researchers from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Spain, The Netherlands, United States, and Uruguay, in this second conference we are not only trying to deepen and update the production of knowledge in the fields that this conference covers, but we are also trying to contribute to a positive valuation of different proposals that develop critical thinking and promote social debate with a standard of reasonableness.

This Conference, organized by the Centre for the Study of Argumentation and Reasoning (CEAR) of the Faculty of Psychology at Diego Portales University, would like to generate tools, approaches and solutions to apply in those fields in which the uses of reason is fundamental: communication, law, education, etc.

We do not have an official theoretical position, but rather we value the diversity of angles and proposals. We invite the scientific international community, which works in the topics of the Conference, to participate and share its knowledge, experience and current challenges.

ABSTRACTS prepared for blind refereeing must be submitted electronically no later than August 16, 2010, to Cristián Santibáñez: Abstracts should be between 200 and 250 words long, in APA format.

Further information is here:

Power, Nina. "Axiomatic Equality: Rancière and the Politics of Contemporary Education." EUROZINE July 1, 2010.

Is it necessary to presuppose the intellectual equality of those you teach? To be an educator at all it seems likely that one would have at least an implicit theory of mind, such that one knows what one is doing (or, at least, what one aspires to be doing) when standing at the front of the classroom. Is education merely the transplanting of gobbets of information onto the blank slate of a student's mind (we could call this the Lockean approach), or are we drawing out forms of rational and creative capacity possessed (equally?) by students qua rational beings? Jacques Rancière contributes much to this debate, particularly in his work on the unusual educator Joseph Jacotot in The Ignorant Schoolmaster. This paper attempts to analyse the possibility of what could be called the "utopian rationalism" of Jacotot (and of Rancière himself), within the context of the modern university. Rancière's work will be read alongside that of Pierre Bourdieu and Ivan Illich as other crucial figures in the understanding of the way in which educational achievement relates to certain assumptions about what teaching involves. Ultimately, it may be that the modern university is antithetical to any possibility of establishing true equality among its players – Rancière's position at times invokes the possibility of a radically de-institutionalized autodidacticism that predicates all learning merely on the basis of the will of those desiring to learn. This stance is the very opposite of the Lockean approach, which emphasizes the passivity of the student-receiver. Can the contemporary university bear the weight of Rancière's challenge? . . .

Read the rest here:

Wieseltier, Leon. "Non-Event." THE NEW REPUBLIC June 30, 2010.

For my sins, I have been reading Alain Badiou. (The intellectual’s work is never done.) He is, in his own words, “the most widely read and translated French philosopher in the world.” More banally, he is the very latest professor of liberation; and more banally still, the very latest professor of liberation from liberalism. In his conceptually delirious way, he mocks “the presumed ‘rights of man’” and “the humanism of human rights” in favor of an “emancipatory politics.” If the word “democracy” can still be salvaged, it is only by means of “a detour through the Idea of communism.” Badiou regards it as his “thrilling task” to “give new life to the communist hypothesis.” He adduces “the People’s War of Liberation in China, from 1927 to 1949” and “Bolshevism in Russia, from 1902 to 1917” and “the Great Cultural Revolution [in China], at any rate from 1965 to 1968” as examples of “a new practice of collective emancipation.” He lists “the first sequence of the Iranian revolution” and the Zapatistas in Mexico admiringly alongside the Solidarity movement in Poland. He once wrote a commentary—“guided by the idea of the eternity of the True”—on Mao’s writings on Stalin. This slavish devotion to historical cataclysm, this guiltless affiliation of progressivism with barbarism, is derived from the mysticism of “the event” in his masterwork (“I was quite aware of having written a ‘great’ book of philosophy”) Being and Event, a rancidly overdeveloped and almost risibly arcane system of ontology according to which “truth procedures” in art, science, politics, and love are melodramatically inaugurated by a rupture in the normal order of things and new possibilities are violently disclosed. Badiou’s “event” is something between a revolution and a revelation, and it expresses his deep contempt for the transcendences that may be had in unclimactic, unecstatic, unapocalyptic experience, in events that are not “events.” The human subject is “nothing other than an active fidelity to the event of truth,” or “a militant of truth.” This is not at all postmodernism (which is all the good that can be said of it); it is a godless theology in which Badiou’s elect, in the radiance of l’événementiel, march to free us from “our ‘democratic’ totalitarianism” and attain “the emancipation of humanity in its entirety.” In sum, a heartless bastard. . . .

Read the rest here:

Brill, Sarah. Review of Max Statkiewicz, RHAPSODY OF PHILOSOPHY. NDPR (July 2010).

Statkiewicz, Max. Rhapsody of Philosophy: Dialogues with Plato in Contemporary Thought. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 2009.

Like many of the contemporary thinkers with whom he engages, Max Statkiewicz diagnoses the impact of Platonism on contemporary western thought as a function of a selective reading of Plato's critique of poetry, one which overlooks the complexity of the dialogues' treatment of representation. Thus, at its most general, his Rhapsody of Philosophy: Dialogues with Plato in Contemporary Thought comprises a series of meditations upon Gilles Deleuze's oft-quoted claim that Plato himself made the first step in overturning Platonism. More specifically, the book has two trajectories: to illustrate an element of Platonic thought (its "rhapsodic" dimension) that has not been sufficiently attended to by what Statkiewicz identifies as the two main camps of Plato scholarship (the traditional and the dramatic) and to draw out the connection between this element and the work of a number of contemporary theorists, a connection which should point the way toward a fuller dialogue between ancient and contemporary thought. What Statkiewicz means by "rhapsodic" unfolds throughout the book, but is presented in the introduction as "the mode of thinking -- Plato's mode, replayed in the texts of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, Luce Irigaray, Deleuze, Nancy, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe -- that challenges the dominance of univocal interpretation, as well as the corresponding treatise format, in the modern philosophical tradition" (4).

According to Statkiewicz, both the approach to the dialogues that seeks rigorously maintained propositions and the approach that emphasizes the dramatic and dialogic character of Plato's work share the assumption that an interpretation of the dialogues rises and falls with one's capacity to uncover the intention of Plato the author. Because the variety of voices and gestures that appear in the dialogues defy reduction to the single voice of Plato, appeals to authorial intent overlook the radical polysemia of the dialogues; that is, according to Statkiewicz, such appeals overlook their rhapsodic character. What is gained, then, in attempting a rhapsodic dialogue with Plato, is resistance to a trend that fails to do justice to the dialogues themselves and that forecloses the possibility of "authentic dialogue" with Plato: "Only a genuinely rhapsodic reading will be able to respect the integrality of a dialogue and at the same time set into play its mimetic character" (14).

Thus, to take up a metaphor Statkiewicz uses in his introduction, this book fights a battle on many fronts. In between its "Polemic Introduction" and its "Rhapsodic Conclusion," its four chapters develop the book's main themes by presenting the engagement of a variety of thinkers with passages from the Republic, the Phaedrus, the Sophist and the Timaeus. . . .

Read the rest here:

Cfp: "The Crisis of the Human Sciences: False Objectivity and the Decline of Creativity," Gulf University for Science and Technology, Kuwait, March 6-8, 2011.

Centralization and over-professionalization can lead to the disappearance of a critical environment capable of linking the disciplines to the “real world.” The humanities need to operate in a concrete cultural environment able to influence procedures on a hic et nunc basis and should not entirely depend on normative criteria whose function is often to hide ignorance behind a pretentious veil of value-neutral objectivity.

For example, in sociology, the growth of scientism has fragmented ethical categories and distorted discourse between inner and outer selves. Philosophy is suffering from an empty professionalism current in many philosophy departments in industrialized and developing countries where boring, ahistorical, and nonpolitical exercises are justified through appeals to false excellence.

In all branches of the humanities absurd evaluation processes foster similar tendencies as they create a sterile atmosphere and prevent interdisciplinarity and creativity. An invidious technicization of theory plays into the hands of technocrats. Due to the centralization of editorial power in the hands of large university presses of anglophone countries, the content, quality, and range of modern publishing has become only too predictable.

How do people working in the humanities respond to the crisis in their respective disciplines? Papers including either meta-scientific considerations or concrete observations are welcome.

Keynote Speakers:

Lewis Gordon (Temple University)
Richard Shusterman (Florida Atlantic University)
Muhsin Jassim al-Musawi (Columbia University)
Khaldoun al-Naqeeb (Kuwait University)
Visit the conference website here:

Brown, Helen. "Slavoj Zizek: the World’s Hippest Philosopher." DAILY TELEGRAPH July 5, 2010.

The 61-year-old Slovenian who is headlining this year’s London Literature Festival is a Tasmanian Devil of a talker. Spluttering, lisping and pawing frantically at his face, he can spin you from Heidegger to Hershey bars (by way of Hitchcock and Hizbollah) in synapse-shortcircuiting seconds. He is, by turns, a brilliant and buffoonish critic of global capitalism. Once he winds himself into an intellectual whirlwind you just have to sit back and wait while he sucks up and spits out 21st century culture.

In the hour we talk topics include his “growing admiration for the works of Agatha Christie — she worked through every formula!” and his condemnation of the 3D blockbuster Avatar as “racist”. He locates “a wandering Jew” at the centre of Wagner’s work and hears a beautiful, minimalist communism in the music of Eric Satie. He points out that the “close doors” button in a lift doesn’t speed the closing of the doors, it is just there to give the user the illusion of action. Voting in a modern Western democracy, he feels, is much the same. He pauses to pant, sigh and throw up his palms. But he is not pausing now. A provocateur whose work inhabits the place where Lacanian psychoanalysis meets Marxist philosophy is going to have something to say about sex. . . .

Such passion, in a man whose work forms a shaky, cartoon rope-bridge between the minutiae of popular culture and the big abstract problems of existence, is invigorating, entertaining and expanding enquiring minds around the world. Žižek (pronounced Gee-gek, with two soft g’s, as in “regime”) has now written more than 50 books and seen his work translated into 20 languages. His lectures rack up hundreds of thousands of YouTube views.

A master of counterintuitive thinking and a man in thrall to paradox, he has been attacked for being a crypto-Stalinist defending terror and for spreading bourgeois lies about communism, for being both anti-Semitic and spreading Zionist lies. He is both a serious revolutionary and an absurdist prankster. An atheist who has made a spirited case for Christianity. His work has been published in serious Leftist journals and in a catalogue for US fashion retailers Abercrombie & Fitch.

Although he tells me “I hate students. They want to ask a question? ---- off!”, he holds two academic posts – as president of the Society for Theoretical Analysis of Ljubljana and as international director of the Birkbeck Institute of Humanities in London – and has starred in two documentaries: Žižek! (2005) and The Pervert’s Guide to the Cinema (2006). . . .

Read the rest here:

McIntyre, Ronald. Review of David Hyder, et al., eds. SCIENCE AND THE LIFE WORLD. NDPR (July 2010).

Hyder, David, and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, eds.  Science and the Life-World: Essays on Husserl's Crisis of the European Sciences.  Stanford: Stanford UP, 2009.

This collection of essays addresses themes in Husserl's last work, the unfinished Crisis of the European Sciences, written in the years 1934-37. (The Crisis as we now have it, including several important appendices, was not published until 1954, although the first two parts were published in 1936 and the influential appendix called "The Origin of Geometry" in 1939.)

In relation to Husserl's earlier work the Crisis includes a number of new themes, or themes newly emphasized and developed, that are important not only to phenomenologists but also to philosophers and historians of science. Perhaps the central notion in the Crisis -- and certainly the most famous -- is what Husserl calls the "Lebenswelt," the "life-world." The life-world is key to Husserl's account of what he sees as "the crisis" of the European sciences and its diagnosis. This account leads Husserl to articulate a conception of "Europe" defined by the ideal of rationality and the universality of knowledge, and of the history of European science and mathematics since the time of the ancient Greeks as a pursuit guided by this ideal. The pursuit would seem to have reached its goal with the advent of what Husserl calls "Galilean science," in which nature is described in terms of purely objective, mathematical laws. But Husserl sees this victory as Pyrrhic, for reasons I will discuss shortly. The Crisis also introduces a new emphasis on "historicity": Husserl explicitly recognizes science as an historical cultural product, and his analysis of its current state leads him to an unusual kind of search for the life-world "origins" of formal geometry and mathematical natural science -- a search that is partly "historical" and partly "ahistorical" or conceptual.

These are the main themes addressed in the twelve essays the volume comprises. David Hyder's "Introduction," which gives a helpful overview of each of the essays and their relations to one another, groups the essays under three main headings: Husserl's theory of science and the notion of the life-world (essays by David Woodruff Smith, Dagfinn Føllesdal, Ulrich Majer, and Ian Hacking), the theory of history implicit in the Crisis (David Carr, Michael Friedman, Rodolphe Gasché, Eva-Marie Engelen, and Michael Hampe), and the dissemination and application of Husserl's theory of science in the Crisis (Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, David Hyder, and Friedrich Steinle). However, as is characteristic of Husserl's work, all of the themes of the Crisis are interrelated, and each of the essays overflows whatever area one might assign it to. I will discuss them in relation to the themes I noted above. . . .

Read the rest here:

Friday, July 02, 2010

Margolis, Joseph. "The Human Self is a 'Natural Artifact.'" ROROTOKO January 11, 2010.

Margolis, Joseph.  The Arts and the Definition of the Human: Toward a Philosophical Anthropology. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2008.

I show how looking at paintings and reading literature depend on how sensory perception and understanding are formed and transformed by the way in which we ourselves are first formed, culturally, as selves, and how an adequate account of our ability to engage with the arts (and other selves) requires a quite distinctive theory of what it is to be a self or person—what I call a philosophical anthropology.
The theory I sketch characterizes the human self as a culturally emergent, hybrid transformation of the native biological powers of Homo sapiens effected by the human infant’s ability to internalize and master the language of an environing society and whatever other abilities that makes that transformation possible. The underlying idea, that the human self is (in this sense) a “natural artifact,” has quite radical possibilities; however I apply the idea to familiar but quite ordinary puzzles regarding our interest in the fine arts. . . .

Read the rest here:

"Manchester Historian Deciphers Hidden 'Plato Code.'" BBC NEWS June 29, 2010.

A science historian in Manchester claims to have deciphered secret messages hidden in the ancient writings of the philosopher Plato. Dr Jay Kennedy from the University of Manchester has revealed that the legendary Greek philosopher Plato used a regular pattern of symbols to give his books a musical structure. Plato's books had a key role in establishing the foundations of Western culture. But the existence of a so-called 'Plato Code' has long been disputed. By unravelling Plato's 'hidden' messages, Dr Kennedy believes he has thrown a new light on the origins of science, mathematics, music, and philosophy. . . .

Read the rest here:

Further information on Kennedy's research may be found here:

Hedoin, Cyril. "Towards a Paradigm Shift in Economics." LA VIE DES IDEES June 17, 2010.

In his article "Who Are These Economists, Anyway?," James K. Galbraith sets out to list the economists he believes were sufficiently clairvoyant to foretell the financial crisis. Galbraith argues that they are not found where expected, in other words at the heart of economics, but instead are located in the margins, or even altogether outside of academic economics.

As he tells his reader up front, Galbraith’s list of economists is not exhaustive, and it clearly based in part on his own knowledge and his sense of the field. He jumbles together names like Dean Baker, Hyman Minsky, Wynne Godley and Gary Dimsky, figures of different intellectual origins but who, according to Galbraith, were all able to foresee the financial crisis (or in the case of Minsky, who died in 1996, to have provided theoretical tools for analyzing the mechanisms of financial instability). These authors also share the fact that they are not from the profession’s center, from what has been called « the mainstream », or, more awkwardly, « neoclassical theory ». The basic framework of Galbraith’s argument is that this reveals—or makes even more obvious—the fact that economics has been headed down the wrong path for years. He maintains that, as a consequence, it is important for the field to take advantage of the financial crisis to reorient itself, even if it means making a definitive break with conventional science. As Galbraith concludes, « It is therefore pointless to continue with conversations centered on conventional economics. The urgent need is instead to expand the academic space and public visibility of ongoing work that is of actual value when faced with the many deep problems of economic life in our time. […] The point is not to argue endlessly with Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The point is to move past them toward the garden that must be out there, that in fact is out there, somewhere ».

Galbraith’s position is interesting, and at least it is constructive because he is attempting to ground himself in (while also showcasing) analyses that, although on the periphery of economics, are trying to offer alternatives to the dominant approach. As I will note later in my response, numerous economists have expressed dissatisfaction with the current state of the discipline, particularly with the field of macroeconomics. The best known—but by no means the only—of these critics is Paul Krugman (2009), a point on which I concur with Galbraith. Nevertheless, my point of view differs from his in that, while we agree that the science of economics is in need of change, we locate the seeds of this much-needed reorientation differently, and I maintain that internal evolution at the discipline’s heart is more likely than a « scientific revolution » energized by the its margins. . . .

Read the rest here:

Chamberlain, Lesley. Review of Daniel Maier-Katkin, STRANGER FROM ABROAD. THE INDEPENDENT July 2, 2010.

Maier-Katkin, Daniel. Stranger from Abroad: Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, Friendship and Forgiveness. New York: Norton, 2010.

Martin Heidegger and Hannah Arendt have many enemies, Heidegger because of his Nazi flirtation and Arendt as a critic of the Jews. We have known for some time, from their letters, that Heidegger, who reinvented philosophy in the 1920s, and Hannah, his star pupil who went on to become a leading political philosopher in the US, were briefly lovers in her teens. The tendency, which Daniel Maier-Katkin, an American human-rights professor magnificently resists, has been to use their early relationship further to indict what came later. In fact, their correspondence tells an exemplary tale of friendship and forgiveness in which the banality of human nature is redeemed. . . .

Read the rest here:

Lennon, Kathleen. "Feminist Perspectives on the Body." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY June 28, 2010.

In terms of the history of western philosophy, the philosophy of embodiment is relatively recent. For much of this history the body has been conceptualised as simply one biological object among others, part of a biological nature which our rational faculties set us apart from, as well as an instrument to be directed and a possible source of disruption to be controlled. Problematically for feminists, the opposition between mind and body has also been correlated with an opposition between male and female, with the female regarded as enmeshed in her bodily existence in a way that makes attainment of rationality questionable. “Women are somehow more biological, more corporeal, and more natural than men” (Grosz 14). Such enmeshment in corporeality was also attributed to colonised bodies and those attributed to the lower classes (McClintock 1995, Alcoff 2006, 103). Challenging such assumptions required feminists to confront corporeality in order to elucidate and confront constructions of sexual difference.

In developing philosophical frameworks for making sense of sexual difference feminist philosophers have provided accounts of the relationship between subjectivity, corporeality and identity which are applicable to other aspects of our corporeal existence. As Margrit Shildrick and Janet Price comment “What is required, and what has emerged over subsequent years, is a theory of embodiment that could take account not simply of sexual difference but of racial difference, class difference and differences due to disability; in short the specific contextual materiality of the body” (Price and Shildrick 1999, 5). Feminist theorists are therefore currently in active conversation with critical race theorists (Alcoff, Gilman, Gooding-Williams), theorists of (dis)ability (Inahara, Garland Thompson, Thomas, Wendell), and theorists concerned with aging, health and illness (Mairs, Toombs). Their concerns have also required an engagement with the philosophy of biology, as naturalising reductions of embodiment have been resisted, while the distinctive materiality of our embodied situations in the world has nonetheless been respected (Bleier, Fausto-Sterling, Birke). . . .

Read the rest here:

Rée, Jonathan. "Variety." NEW HUMANIST 25.4 (2010).

I love William James. He’s just about the only philosopher who didn’t end up as either a pettifogging nit-picker or an overbearing egomaniac with delusions of genius. He was generous too – witty, honest, modest and flexible – and more interested in promoting productive conversations than hogging the last word. He was also a brilliant writer. At first glance, his prose may look like an easy outpouring of spontaneous colloquialisms, but in fact he took great pains to make it cover lots of rough ground without any hard words and without any tired ones either. He was a brilliant phrase-maker too: inventor of “subliminal consciousness”, the “divided self” and the “sick soul”, of “mental states”, the “stream of consciousness” and, last but not least, “religious experience.” . . .

Read the rest here:

"Derrida -- the Father of Deconstruction." THE PHILOSOPHER'S ZONE June 26, 2010.

Did you know there's a recipe out there for deconstructed Caesar salad? Or that you can buy a pair of deconstructed jeans? But deconstruction is not really about ripping the hems or serving all the ingredients separately instead of together in a bowl. It's a way of reading philosophical texts and this week we examine the work of the man who coined the term (and sometimes wished he hadn't): the French philosopher Jacques Derrida.

Download the audio or read the transcript here:

Knies, Kenneth. Review of Nicolas De Warren, HUSSERL AND THE PROMISE OF TIME. NDPR (June 2010).

De Warren, Nicolas. Husserl and the Promise of Time: Subjectivity in Transcendental Phenomenology. Cambridge: CUP, 2009.

The topic of de Warren's study, inner-time consciousness, is hardly discussed in phenomenological circles without an invocation of its "notorious difficulty." Indeed, Husserl never ceased returning to what he himself often called the most difficult of all phenomenological problems. The difficulties of time-consciousness, moreover, do not concern a particularly vexing topic within a defined field and method of philosophical research. As de Warren's title indicates, the very promise of phenomenology as transcendental philosophy hinges upon its ability to describe the concrete experiencing in which all possible domains of transcendent being are displayed. This experiencing is itself temporal in its nature or "sense of being" (30). Coming to terms with the difficulties of time-consciousness is thus necessary if descriptions of phenomenologically defined themes are not to remain ignorant of the most basic structures inherent in experience itself. This task that Husserl has bequeathed to his followers is complicated by the fact that his on-going efforts to understand time not only trace a course of self-criticism but also attain a dizzying level of abstraction and diagrammatic modeling. The danger is that engaging the analytic difficulties of Husserl's account will empty the time problem of its profundity. The question that was to lead phenomenological investigation into the most intimate core of subjectivity would instead occupy the mind with logical constructions and conceptual puzzles that fail to resonate with our unceasing sense of ourselves as living through time.

Phenomenologists, historians of modern philosophy, and philosophers of time should all benefit from de Warren's confrontation with the difficulties of time-consciousness. De Warren's study operates with an impressive density of insight at multiple levels. It explains the methodological importance of time-consciousness for Husserl's philosophical program. It clearly presents the historical developments in the questioning of time most relevant to Husserl's inheritance of the problem from Brentano. It identifies the special difficulties posed for phenomenology by the question of time, and traces one path along which Husserl made progress in resolving them. Finally, it indicates how Husserl's mature understanding of time contributes to an account of inter-subjectivity and genesis within a transcendental framework. In all of this, de Warren confronts the complexity of Husserl's descriptions without losing sight of the fact that they are meant to answer to and make comprehensible our rich awareness of being in time. This book is a bold traversal of territory scouted and surveyed by pioneers like Bernet, Brough, Held, Lohmar, Kortooms, Sokolowski and Zahavi. It is not simply an exercise in Husserl scholarship, but an original "take" on what Husserl was grappling with in thinking about time. Its lack of encyclopedic breadth in its treatment of Husserl is more than made up for in its direct articulation of a compelling, if contentious, philosophy of time. . . .

Read the rest here:

May, Todd. Review of Jacques Ranciere, DISSENSUS. NDPR (July 2010).

Ranciere, Jacques.  Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics.  Ed. and trans. Steve Corcoran.  London: Continuum, 2009.

Whenever a French philosopher begins to become fashionable, one can expect a growing cascade of translations of his work. Not only will the major and minor texts appear, but also various sorts of collected writings. The general purpose of the latter is often ostensibly to provide an introduction to the thinker's work, but many of these collections often turn out to be hodge-podges of writings with no coherent internal connection whose real goal is to shore up the failing fortunes of a small press.

This is emphatically not the case with the collection under review. Steven Corcoran has provided a timely and coherently organized collection of Rancière's short writings, one that can stand as a solid introduction to the author's thought. Corcoran comes to the task already conversant with Rancière's work, having translated two other works of Rancière's, Hatred of Democracy and Aesthetics and its Discontents, as well as a number of books by Rancière's intellectual colleague Alain Badiou.

Constructing an introduction like this one to Rancière's work presents a singular challenge. One can mark two distinct but related periods in his "mature" work, which cover two distinct but related themes: politics and aesthetics. The former period might be said, a bit arbitrarily, to begin with the 1987 appearance of The Ignorant Schoolmaster, and culminates with Disagreement, published in 1995. The latter period perhaps starts with the 1998 publication of Silent Speech (forthcoming in English) and continues to the present day. Such a dating is a bit arbitrary, however, since there are aesthetic writings from before 1998 and political writings from after that date. There is a distinct shift of emphasis that occurs in Rancière's writings around the late 1990's, however, and the task of a good collection would be to capture both periods and the thematic interaction between them. The writings gathered here, which date from 1996 to 2004, perform both tasks admirably. . . .

Read the rest here:

Christie, Drew. Review of Joseph Margolis, PRAGMATISM'S ADVANTAGE. NDPR (July 2010).

Margolis, Joseph.  Pragmatism's Advantage: American and European Philosophy at the End of the Twentieth Century.  Stanford: Stanford UP, 2010.

In more than thirty books over forty years Joseph Margolis has crafted an admirable body of thought, key themes of which include Heraclitian flux, constructivism without idealism, the metaphysical importance of the natural/cultural divide, the inadequacy of putative attempts at foundational and transcendental arguments, a sophisticated relativism, and the importance of legitimation (as opposed to foundational justification). He is always careful to position himself in relation to the brightest historical and contemporary stars. Margolis is at his best when he develops a single theme in detail: e.g., Science without Unity: Reconciling the Human and Natural Sciences (1987). He provides an overview in Historied Thought, Constructed World (1995). Margolis's oeuvre deserves more attention. Unfortunately, his latest book is too general and too partisan to convince. By contrast, Robert Brandom offers a comparatively detailed and constructive approach to many important concerns they share.

The volume under review, a spirited, polemical comparative evaluation of analytic, continental and pragmatist philosophies, finds pragmatism the most promising of the three. Margolis believes that pragmatism earns the advantage because it presents "a Darwinized Hegel," a recognition of the metaphysical divide between cultural and natural entities, and an appreciation of the constructed, encultured, and artifactual nature of the self. Margolis sees analytic philosophy as encumbered with materialism, scientism, reductionism, and extensionality. With regard to continental philosophy, he complains of unwarranted transcendentalism and a tendency toward abstruse, gnomic declarations.

Margolis like Richard Rorty believes that there something is fundamentally wrong with both analytic and continental philosophy. Margolis maintains "The whole of Western philosophy was, I think, becalmed, traumatically affected by the Second World War and the cold war, and by and large, almost nothing got through the conceptual haze that was not a recycling of the seemingly successful inquiries of the first half of the century" (x). However, where Margolis and Rorty see a muddle, many other philosophers see vibrant, diverse traditions. This more positive framing of the situation sees analytic, continental and pragmatist philosophies as vigorous ongoing traditions. By analogy, one can appreciate the best within the classical, jazz and rock music traditions without having to choose among them. Each tradition has things to learn from the other and there are wonderful fusion works. However, there is no call for a grand musical synthesis, a single best style of music making. My point is that one need not follow Margolis in either his dismal assessment of contemporary philosophy or his demand that we pick a winner among the various schools. . . .

Read the rest here: