Saturday, October 23, 2010

"German Idealism and its Critics," Nordic Network for German Idealism, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo, December 10-11, 2010.


Marcia Cavalcante (Södertörn University College)
Taylor Carman (Barnard College)
Lore Hühn (University of Freiburg)
Alastair Hannay (University of Oslo)
Michelle Kosch (Cornell University)
Marius Mjaaland (University of Oslo)
Jon Stewart (Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre, University of Copenhagen)


10:00 – 10: 15 Welcome

10:15 – 11:30 Michelle Kosch (Cornell): Fichte (and Wilhelm) on Practical Reasoning

I have elsewhere argued that Fichte, rather than Kant or Hegel, should be taken to be the main model behind Kierkegaard’s characterization of the ethical standpoint in Either/Or II. Here I offer a detailed account of one of the main reasons for thinking that: the distinctiveness of Fichte’s account of practical reasoning, coupled with the correspondence of key features of the account of practical reasoning implicit in Either/Or II to the Fichtean account.

11:45 – 13:00 Lore Hühn (University of Freiburg): "Vom Zweifel zur Verzweiflung. Kierkegaards Kritik an der Philosophie Fichtes und Hegels"

Zweifel steht ein für das cartesianische Prinzip der Erkenntnissicherung, welches in seiner daseinsanalytischen Verschärfung von Fichte wie von Hegel als Verzweiflung ausgelegt wird. Kierkegaard ist der Kritiker dieser idealistischen Tradition, insofern er die existenzielle Bedeutung der Verzweiflung von jeder theoretischen Form des Zweifels abgrenzt.

13:00 – 14:30 Lunch

14:30 – 15:45 Marius Timmann Mjaaland (University of Oslo): "Kierkegaard’s Destruction of Hegel"

There is an obvious influence from Hegel and German Idealism on Kierkegaard’s definition of Spirit in The Sickness unto Death. He describes a self-reflective relationship of opposites that could only be completed in a Third, i.e. the synthesis. Moreover, the key to achieve such a synthesis is found in consciousness of oneself by penetrating all aspects of thought, passion, and action. Yet still, the entire book sets out to prove that Hegel and the Hegelians are wrong: their effort to achieve self-consciousness through speculation is futile and produces simulacra and caricatures rather than discovering the truth of human existence. Although he applies many features from Hegel’s philosophy, e.g. the distinction between Schein and Sein and a phenomenology of Spirit, I will argue that this is the work where Kierkegaard most systematically rejects Hegel. I see it as an effort of destruction in the Heideggerian sense, thus exploring a philosophical impulse from Luther: Kierkegaard displays the basic error of Hegel’s idealism while trying to discern an alternative, critical concept of Spirit. That concept is approached from the reverse side (Kehrseite), through a detailed phenomenological analysis of the split of despair within the Spirit, thereby insisting on the open wound of negativity as a guiding methodological principle.

16.00-17.30 Marcia Cavalcante Schuback (Södertörn University College): "Tragedy and Evil - between Schelling and Kierkegaard"

The purpose of this presentation is to investigate how Schelling's and Kierkegaard's views on the modern meaning of tragedy can contribute to an understanding of the question of evil, such as developed by both thinkers. Rather than a discussion about the difference of Scheling's and Kiekergaard's systems of philosophy, the text will discuss the necessity of rethinking tragedy and the tragic understanding of difference in order to reconsider the question of evil.

17.30-20.00 Reception


10: 15 – 11:30 Taylor Carman (Barnard College): "Kierkegaard and the Limits of Ethical Reflection"

What is the substance of Kierkegaard’s critique of the ethical standpoint? Michelle Kosch has argued that the critique takes aim at the ethics of autonomy, which misrepresents the nature of agency by denying our freedom to do evil. I argue that Kierkegaard’s concept of the ethical is wider and that his criticism of it cuts deeper. The ethical is, for Kierkegaard, not just Kantian ethics, but any generally applicable system of action-guiding norms or principles. No such system can by itself make sense of the irreducible goodness of ethically unjustiable acts of faith, that is, acts based on commitments of passionate trust. Acts of faith, like acts of desperation, can violate ethical norms and yet still be good. In short, the ethical standpoint fails to appreciate the seriousness of the question, What shall I do? as distinct from the question, What should I do?

11:45 – 13:00 Jon Stewart (Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre, University of Copenhagen): "Kierkegaard and Hegel on Faith and Knowledge"

One of Kierkegaard’s main objections to Hegel’s philosophy is that it misunderstands the nature of religion by placing it on a par with various forms of scholarship and knowing. Through his pseudonymous authors, Kierkegaard stubbornly insists that faith is fundamentally different from knowledge. How would Hegel respond to Kierkegaard’s objection? I wish to argue that Hegel would find Kierkegaard’s conception of faith to be a pure formalism with no determinate content. For this reason, it cannot be properly designated as Christian faith since it has no content by which it can be distinguished from the faith of other religions.

13:00 – 14:30 Lunch

14:30 – 15:45 Alastair Hannay (University of Oslo): "Saving Kierkegaard’s Analysis of Despair"

Kierkegaard’s positing and ordering of the two main forms of despair in The Sickness unto Death depend on the notion of a power, identified as God, in which the self is ‘grounded’. The text says that, without this notion, there would be only one form of despair: not wanting to be oneself; but with it there is also a second form: wanting to be, or asserting, one’s own self, something the text describes as ‘defiance’. However, the text has it that defiance is also the ‘form’ of the despair that is not wanting to be oneself. Some commentators see this as dictated by the religious ‘premise’ prefixed to Kierkegaard’s works, thereby obscuring their relevance for a post-metaphysical age that they also anticipate. Michael Theunissen has claimed that Kierkegaard’s insights, and even intentions, are better represented in a reordering of the two main forms of despair, priority being given to the despair of not wanting to be oneself. I suggest that, containing as they do a teleology inherited from German Idealism, Kierkegaard’s insights and intentions are accurately represented in the order that he himself adopts. Whether this is to confine him, on the one hand, to either the metaphysical past or an unfashionably non-secular present, or on the other hand to present him as a still potent challenge in a post-metaphysical age, will depend partly on what sense we can find, and find acceptable, in characterizing an unwillingness to be oneself as a case of defiance as well as of despair.

15:30 Closing remarks

For further details, visit:

"East / West: Deterritorialization, Negotiation, Glocalization," 35th IAPL Conference, National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan, May 23-29, 2011.

35th Annual Conference, International Association for Philosophy and Literature.

Further details will be provided at:

"Philosophy and Ordinary Language I," Université Catholique de Louvain, May 19-20, 2011.

Since the earliest days, philosophers have always maintained ambivalent relations with language, sometimes seeing it as a natural and assured path towards truth, sometimes as an obstacle to grasping reality, or even as a positive power of illusion. Plato forcefully criticized the Sophists' rhetorical discourse, but may himself have unduly reified the universals conveyed by language. According to the well-known works of Emile Benvéniste, Aristotle is alleged to have confused the fundamental categories of reality with those of the Greek language and thus, from the outset, compromised his undertaking of constituting a first philosophy. Closer to us, among other idols, Francis Bacon, castigated those of the marketplace, a prioris conveyed by language and preventing our being in contact with things themselves. Elsewhere, the linguistic turn fostered by Moore made language the royal pathway in investigating the real. Wittgenstein, having dreamed of a more precise artificial language eliminating the ambiguities of natural language, set as his task rehabilitating ordinary language to a certain extent. Other (old and new) illustrious examples might of course be presented here: e.g. Austin, Strawson, Grice, Cavell, Kripke, Putnam, Brandom, etc.

A conference, which will be held at the Catholic University of Louvain (Université Catholique de Louvain), will seek to investigate the relations that philosophies have maintained with regard to language. Need we advocate a non-discursive access to reality to speak the truth? Should we have recourse to a technical language to do philosophy correctly or, on the contrary, is ordinary language the best way forward?

E-mail addresses for submissions:;


Clarke, Bruce, and Manuela Rossini, eds.  Routledge Companion to Literature and Science.  London: Routledge, 2010.

With forty-four newly commissioned articles from an international cast of leading scholars, the Routledge Companion to Literature and Science traces the network of connections among literature, science, technology, mathematics, and medicine. Divided into three main sections, this volume links diverse literatures to scientific disciplines from Artificial Intelligence to Thermodynamics surveys current theoretical and disciplinary approaches from Animal Studies to Semiotics traces the history and culture of literature and science from Greece and Rome to Postmodernism. Ranging from classical origins and modern revolutions to current developments in cultural science studies and the posthumanities, this indispensible volume offers a comprehensive resource for undergraduates, postgraduates, and researchers. With authoritative, accessible, and succinct treatments of the sciences in their literary dimensions and cultural frameworks, here is the essential guide to this vibrant area of study.

More information is here:

Harold, James. Review of Gregory Currie's NARRATIVES AND NARRATORS. NDPR (October 2010).

Currie, Gregory.   Narratives and Narrators: a Philosophy of Stories.  Oxford: OUP, 2010.

I expect Gregory Currie's new book, Narratives and Narrators, to attain the same importance and influence in philosophical thinking about narrative that his earlier books The Nature of Fiction and Image and Mind have had in the philosophy of fiction and film, respectively. It is an ambitious, careful, and philosophically rich work containing a number of novel and important arguments. The book is not driven by a single overarching thesis; it is, rather, a wide-ranging discussion of a variety of topics associated with narrative. Currie will sometimes move from one topic to examine a loosely related issue before returning to the central thread. For example, several chapters end with appendices that offer evolutionary hypotheses which, if proven, would lend modest auxiliary support to the main argument of the chapter. Although these and other asides sometimes seem unnecessary, they are never uninteresting.

The book begins with an account of what narratives are and then moves to examine a series of philosophical problems about narrators and narratives, for example: the relationship between narrators and authors; the ubiquity of narrators thesis; the nature of point of view and how it is conveyed; the puzzle of imaginative resistance; the nature of irony and pretence; and, perhaps most surprisingly, skepticism about the notion of character, which has heretofore mostly been discussed in connection with virtue ethics and meta-ethics. An "analytical contents" section immediately following the traditional Table of Contents does an excellent job of distilling the essential argumentative pieces of the book; this is an especially helpful device for readers who may be looking to jump into the middle of the book to see what Currie has to say about one of these particular questions.

Some of the standout sections of the book include Currie's careful and moderate treatment of the nature of narrative, his refutation of the "ubiquity of narrators" thesis, and his subtle and compelling account of point of view. In each of these cases, Currie is fair to his critics and cautious in his conclusions. He builds on his conclusions in sometimes surprising ways. His theory of point of view is used as a basis for a theory of irony, which in turn leads him to a detailed reading of Hitchcock's The Birds (1963) in Chapter 9.

Read the rest here:

Heinamaa, Sara. Review of Taylor Carman, MERLEAU-PONTY. NDPR (October 2010).

Carman, Taylor.  Merleau-Ponty.  London: Routledge, 2008.

Taylor Carman's book on Merleau-Ponty is ambitious. It aims at covering Merleau-Ponty's philosophical works, from the early study The Structure of Behavior (1942) to the latest unfinished manuscript The Visible and the Invisible (1964), and explicating the main arguments and results, from the analysis of perception to discussions on language, arts, and politics.

For some decades Merleau-Ponty was a marginal figure in Anglophone philosophy which was dominated by post-analytical, post-pragmatistic, and post-structuralistic currents of thought, but today his philosophy is embraced from all sides. Carman's work belongs to the Dreyfusian school which combines Heideggerian phenomenology with American pragmatism and 20th century analytical philosophy of mind. The book may serve as a useful introduction to students who want to get a grip of the main topics and sections of Merleau-Ponty's works, but it suffers from a tendentious reading of the sources and gives a superficial picture of Merleau-Ponty's innovative inquiries into experience. More thorough and careful argumentation for the interpretative choices and the systematic views would have added to the scholarly value of the presentation.

The main problem is that Carman not only diminishes and belittles Merleau-Ponty's continuous interchange with Husserlian sources, an interchange which began in Phenomenology and continued until The Visible, but that he also states that Merleau-Ponty's relation to Husserl's classical phenomenology is oppositional and "antithetical" (e.g., 35, 37, 42-43). This is not just a problem of exegesis but more fundamentally a problem in the understanding of philosophy, its tasks and the types of results that it can offer. . . .

Read the rest:

Hattab, Helen. Review of Peter Machamer, et al. DESCARTES'S CHANGING MIND. NDPR (October 2010).

Machamer, Peter, and J. E. McGuire.  Descartes's Changing Mind.  Princeton: Princeton UP, 2009.

The great virtue of Descartes's Changing Mind is that it recognizes philosophy as a human endeavor, acknowledging that even philosophical giants, such as the much celebrated and reviled Father of Modern Philosophy, like all humans, change their minds and revise their theories over time. This is a welcome antidote to the more common tendency to take the principle of charity to imply a fundamental unity and consistency within Descartes's corpus. Machamer and McGuire are thus to be congratulated for taking on the difficult task of providing a reading of Descartes's entire corpus, spanning over two decades and five completed works, that treats it as a dynamic progression, rather than a static system. In so doing, they pay careful attention to the historical chronology, the Scholastic background, Descartes's replies to his philosophical interlocutors, and the scholarship on issues central to Descartes's mature positions. The result is a rich and controversial story that always engages the reader even if it does not always convince. . . .

Read the rest here:


Barthes, Roland.  The Preparation of the Novel: Lecture Courses and Seminars at the Collège de France.  New York: Columbia UP, 2010.

Completed just weeks before his death, the lectures in this volume mark a critical juncture in the career of Roland Barthes, in which he declared the intention, deeply felt, to write a novel. Unfolding over the course of two years, Barthes engaged in a unique pedagogical experiment: he combined teaching and writing to "simulate" the trial of novel-writing, exploring every step of the creative process along the way.

Barthes's lectures move from the desire to write to the actual decision making, planning, and material act of producing a novel. He meets the difficulty of transitioning from short, concise notations (exemplified by his favorite literary form, haiku) to longer, uninterrupted flows of narrative, and he encounters a number of setbacks. Barthes takes solace in a diverse group of writers, including Dante, whose La Vita Nuova was similarly inspired by the death of a loved one, and he turns to classical philosophy, Taoism, and the works of François-René Chateaubriand, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Kafka, and Marcel Proust.

This book uniquely includes eight elliptical plans for Barthes's unwritten novel, which he titled Vita Nova, and lecture notes that sketch the critic's views on photography. Following on The Neutral: Lecture Course at the Collège de France (1977-1978) and a third forthcoming collection of Barthes lectures, this volume provides an intensely personal account of the labor and love of writing.

Further information may be found here:

Cfp: "Human Experience and Nature: Examining the Relationship between Phenomenology and Naturalism," Royal Institute of Philosophy Conference 2011, University of the West of England, August 31-September 2, 2011.

Questions about the relationship between consciousness and the natural world have been at the centre of many philosophical debates. How can we relate first- and third-person data? Is it possible to explain exhaustively consciousness in naturalistic terms? What metaphysical view can best account for human experience? These questions have been the driving force of much recent philosophical work. Within this broad field, one issue in particular has been underexplored. This issue is the relationship between phenomenology (as a philosophical method for describing lived experience) and the broadly accepted idea that philosophy should be consistent with a naturalistic worldview.

Phenomenology is a rich philosophical tradition providing a method to explore human experience and consciousness. Nonetheless, some philosophers have been sceptical about phenomenology’s contribution to philosophy and have attributed anti-naturalist and anti-scientific views to it. The aim of this conference is to ask: is this scepticism towards phenomenology justified? This conference aims to bring together prominent thinkers from phenomenology and other fields in philosophy, to discuss the relationship between phenomenology and naturalism.


Prof Dan Zahavi (Copenhagen)
Prof Thomas Baldwin (York)
Prof David Papineau (KCL)
Prof Dermot Moran (UCD)
Prof Matthew Ratcliffe (Durham)
Prof Michael Wheeler (Stirling)
Prof James Lenman (Sheffield)
Dr Jon Webber (Cardiff)
Prof Samir Okasha (Bristol)
Dr Eran Dorfman (Frei university Berlin)
Dr Iain Grant (UWE)
Prof Fredrik Sveneaus (Linköping)
Dr Seiriol Morgan (Bristol)
Prof Rudolf Bernet (Leuven)
Prof Alison Assiter (UWE)
Dr Darian Meacham (Leuven)

For further information, email:

"Transforming Humanity: Fantasy? Dream? Nightmare? Conference on Biomedical Enhancements," Center for Inquiry, Penn Center for Bioethics and Penn Center for Neuroscience and Society, University of Pennsylvania, December 3, 2010.

This conference will bring together leading scholars to address technological, moral, and legal questions relating to biomedical enhancements. Enhancements of human capacities, such as an increased lifespan or improved cognitive abilities, are a source of significant controversy. Some see them as a welcome development; others are much more skeptical. What is the realistic potential of enhancements? What are the ethical limits, if any, on enhancements? How should they be regulated?


  • Adrienne Asch (Yeshiva) and James Block (DePaul): The Mechanization of Politics: Rethinking Human Transformation
  • Allen Buchanan (Duke): Breaking Evolution’s Chains
  • Arthur Caplan (Penn): Fair or Foul: The Use of Enhancements in Sports
  • Peter Caws (George Washington): What is Humanity, that We should be Worried about Transforming It?
  • Martha Farah (Penn): Cyborgs, Superminds and Silliness: What are the Real Ethical Challenges for Neural Prosthetics?
  • James Giordano (Potomac Institute): Neuroscience, Neurotechnology, and Strivings to Flourish
  • Ronald A. Lindsay (CFI): The Ethics of Enhancements: Spurious Concerns and Genuine Uncertainties
  • Maxwell Mehlman (Case Western): Can Humanity Survive Evolutionary Engineering?
  • Jonathan Moreno (Penn): Enhancement and National Security
  • John Shook (CFI): Challenges for a Neuroscience of Moral Enhancement
  • Rosemarie Tong (UNC-Charlotte): Feminist Reflections on Looking Better and Living Longer
For more information, visit:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thomson, Iain. Review of Santiago Zabala, THE REMAINS OF BEING. NDPR (October 2010).

Zabala, Santiago.  The Remains of Being: Hermeneutic Ontology after Metaphysics.  New York: Columbia UP, 2009.

Postmodernism isn't what it used to be. As a meaningful philosophical movement (rather than a vague term of disparagement), "postmodernism" primarily designated a diverse series of Heidegger-inspired attempts to situate and guide our late-modern historical age by uncovering and transcending its most destructive metaphysical presuppositions. Ironically, however, the only major contemporary philosophers still willing to call themselves "postmodernists" have renounced that "utopian" quest for a philosophical passage beyond modernity. From their perspective, the definitive Heideggerian hope for a "postmodern" understanding of being looks like a retro-futuristic fantasy, a quaint image of what the future might have been, which (like the Jetsons or Steampunk) has now been rendered obsolete. Unfortunately, when self-described "postmodernists" abandon the attempt to identify and transcend the distinctive problems of modernity, they empty the philosophical movement of its primary meaning and purpose, allowing the label to degenerate into a vague shorthand many philosophers use merely to deride and dismiss "that-relativistic-and-trendy-nonsense-they-read-in-other-humanities-departments-instead-of-studying-real-philosophy."

The philosophers who best fit this paradoxical description -- "postmodernists" who no longer seek to get beyond modernity -- are Richard Rorty and Gianni Vattimo. One of the two leading Italian Heideggerians (Heideggerianism being the philosophical mainstream in Italy), Vattimo is probably most famous for being an openly gay and Catholic member of the European Parliament. But Vattimo's philosophical work is no less incongruous: Vattimo seeks to show that his own anti-foundationalist, post-Heideggerian hermeneutics (which he proudly calls "weak thought" and even "nihilism") provides the strongest possible foundation for a liberal-democratic political order. As a political philosophy, Vattimo's provocative work is surprisingly convincing and so deserves more critical attention in the English-speaking world. As an interpretation of Heidegger, however, Vattimo's hermeneutics suffer from a serious problem. The issue is complicated, but to put it simply: Vattimo ends up treating the "nihilistic," Nietzschean position Heidegger opposes (namely, the reduction of being to nothing but becoming) as if it were Heidegger's own view and one we should all adopt (thereby becoming proud "nihilists" ourselves).

Santiago Zabala appropriates and extends Vattimo's Nietzschean interpretation of Heidegger in his new book, The Remains of Being: Hermeneutic Ontology after Metaphysics. That Zabala takes Vattimo's view as his own starting point is not surprising; Zabala is Vattimo's student, occasional co-author, and frequent editor. Indeed, as the editor of such translations of Vattimo's work as Nihilism and Emancipation: Ethics, Politics, and Law (2004), The Future of Religion (a dialogue with Vattimo and Rorty, 2007), and Art's Claim to Truth (2008); as well as of secondary volumes on Vattimo such as Weakening Philosophy (2009) and Consequences of Hermeneutics (with Jeff Malpas, 2010), Zabala has already become a leading exponent of Vattimo's thought. The Remains of Being is a relatively small book (the main text takes up only 125 5x7 inch pages), but it is far from introductory: Zabala rarely explains technical terminology, defends his views, or criticizes the views of others. The Remains of Being remains quite lively, nonetheless, for it is written in an energetic and dynamic style, with all the apparent conviction of an apostle of a new philosophical movement and with the excesses typical of such philosophical evangelism.

Zabala's book is a good example of the "Whig history" Rorty praised and practiced, that is, a narrative told so as to empower the narrator and "place rival canons" (as Rorty put it), in Zabala's case by trying to co-opt the views of other schools of post-Heideggerian philosophy. The Remains of Being is incredibly ambitious in this respect. For example, Zabala claims that the particular hermeneutic approach he advocates ("the ontology of remnants") "is the only way to philosophize" (16, my emphasis). Similarly, he holds that:
In the globalized world, where rapid ecological and political changes have been implemented by . . . scientific applications, in order to increase social divisions that favored two world wars (today we call them oil wars), the problem of Being becomes essential, because it is the only way to seek the ground of these issues. (34, my emphasis)
Here Zabala adopts a much simplified version of Heidegger's view that the most pressing problems facing the contemporary world stem from the "forgetting of being." Because Zabala does not seem to understand the details of Heidegger's critique of metaphysics as ontotheology, however, he goes so far as to call for us "to overthrow the metaphysical and scientific traditions that have concealed the ontological nature of Being in favor of the ontic nature of beings" (39, my emphasis). Zabala thinks "science . . . is involved in the abandonment of Being" (33) because "The scientist . . . works out solutions to problems that are objectified, timeless entities" (44). That is not Heidegger's view, however, and makes little sense of such leading scientific endeavors as the search at CERN for Higgs boson particles (theorized to last for only a small fraction of a second, and so hardly "timeless entities"). Heidegger's view is that physics has taken over the metaphysical tradition's ontotheological quest to secure both the innermost core and the outermost horizon of intelligibility. (The work at CERN, when coupled with other major scientific endeavors such as the Hubble space telescope, reinforces Heidegger's view of the persistence of ontotheology. Even Stephen Hawking's recent charge that "philosophy is dead" unintentionally acknowledges that physics and cosmology have adopted metaphysics' traditional ontotheological role.) Zabala's anti-scientific view rests on a misunderstanding of Heidegger.[4]

To be fair, Zabala warns readers that his "interpretation of these philosophers, including and most of all Heidegger, does not pretend to be a faithful interpretation of their thought" (xv). According to Zabala's simplified version of Heidegger's critique of metaphysics, our "rational way of looking at the world . . . has made unavoidable the alienated, unhoused, persistently violent state of modern technological human beings" (34). The biggest surprise here is that for Zabala (his revolutionary rhetoric notwithstanding), "overthrowing" the metaphysical tradition allegedly responsible for alienation, homelessness, and violence does not mean "overcoming" it but, instead, "learning to live with it" (45)! As Zabala succinctly puts it: "overcoming metaphysics from within" means "recognizing that it cannot completely be overcome" (22). This paradoxical idea is at the heart of Zabala's The Remains of Being, and it is something Zabala takes over from Vattimo. . . .

Read the rest here:

Pub: Zinn, Jens, ed. RISK AS DISCOURSE. CADAAD JOURNAL 4.2 (2010).

  • Jens O. Zinn, "Risk as Discourse: Interdisciplinary Perspectives" (pp. 106-124)
  • Reiner Grundmann and Ramesh Krishnamurthy, "The Discourse of Climate Change: a Corpus-based Approach" (pp. 125-146)
  • Georg Marko, "Heart Disease and Cancer, Diet and Exercise, Vitamins and Minerals: the Construction of Lifestyle Risks in Popular Health Discourse" (pp. 147-170)
  • Agnes Sandor, "Automatic Detection of Discourse Indicating Emerging Risk" (pp. 171-179
  • Catherine F. Smith and Donna J. Kain, "Making Sense of Hurricanes: Public Discourse and Perceived Risk of Extreme Weather" (pp. 180-196)
  • Sissel H. Jore and Ove Nja, "Risk of Terrorism: a Scientifically Valid Phenomenon or a Wild Guess? The Impact of Different Approaches to Risk Assessment" (pp. 197-216)
Download the essays here:

Cfp: "New Practices of Philosophy: Taking Philosophy Beyond Disciplinary Bounds," Center for the Study of Interdisciplinarity, University of North Texas, March 7-9, 2011.

20th century philosophy took up the mantle of a discipline, embracing academic specialization; philosophy was written-by-and-for-professional philosophers. In the current age of accountability a disciplinary approach to philosophy faces a number of challenges. Philosophers (and others across the academy) are asked to justify their relevance to society—relevance that can perhaps be demonstrated
by philosophers working across and beyond the disciplines: for instance, in partnership with other disciplines, especially scientists or engineers, or through working with policy makers. Does disciplinary philosophy need to be complemented by inter- and transdisciplinary philosophic work?

This conference seeks to attract philosophers who are developing new (often interdisciplinary) models for philosophic engagement, as well as scientists, policy makers, and others who are interested in the role that philosophy can or should play in collaborative situations. Our goal is to foster a community of practice for developing new approaches of engaged philosophy, a community that includes scientists, social scientists, and policy makers. Participation is sought in the following areas:

1. Philosophy in the Field: Science, Technology, Ethics, Policy
Here the focus is on philosophers, scientists, engineers, and policymakers working on questions at the intersection of science, philosophy, and policy, e.g., bioethics, nanotechnology, environmental ethics, military ethics, etc. Participants can offer theoretical accounts of this work or present case studies in engaged philosophy, participating in panel discussions on how such work can be improved in the future.

2. Theorizing the Institution and Practice of Philosophy
Participants will explore different institutional embodiments of philosophical practice such as: philosophers as synthesizers of disciplinary knowledge, participants in interdisciplinary collaborations; or as generalists who are able to translate the insights of the academy for the world at large. Presenters are welcome to propose to run a panel or a workshop format.

3. Training the Next Generation of Philosophers and Philosophical Thinking
Participants will describe actual or possible ways to train the next generation of philosophers (whether within philosophy or in other disciplines) in how to conduct engaged philosophy. Examples of such
efforts could include experiences working with funding agencies, sponsoring internships, or other means of integrating interdisciplinarity into graduate or undergraduate education.

These areas are suggestions. We welcome contributions to other topic areas such as:
• Philosophy of interdisciplinarity: themes, goals, requirements, and critiques
• Questions on the nature of expertise
• Are there types of knowledge production that require interdisciplinary approaches?
• Questions of legitimation of new modes of philosophizing
• Philosophical aspects and elements in global change studies, technology assessment, sustainability research, social-ecological research, engineering ethics and policy consultancy
• Quality control and assessment of interdisciplinary collaboration
• Critical thoughts on knowledge production and knowledge society
• Neoliberal critiques of interdisciplinarity
• Problems of interdisciplinary communication
• Where is the philosopher’s home when he/she comes back from the field?

For further information, visit:

Owen, David. Review of Axel Honneth, PATHOLOGIES OF REASON. NDPR (October 2010).

Honneth, Alex.  Pathologies of Reason: On the Legacy of Critical Theory.  Trans. James Ingram.  New York: Columbia UP, 2009.

In this remarkably subtle volume of essays, Axel Honneth reflects on the tradition of which he is a distinguished contemporary representative, moving between historically guided reflection on systematic issues concerning the form and viability of the project of critical theory and insightful studies of aspects of the work of thinkers who inform this project (Kant and Freud) or directly contribute to it (Adorno, Benjamin, Franz Neumann, Alexander Mitscherlich, Albrecht Wellmer). Given the dialectical character of Honneth's engagement with the tradition of Critical Theory, one should not distinguish sharply between these two activities, and although the essays gathered in this volume can be read as free-standing pieces, they are more valuably engaged as a self-conscious reflection by Honneth on the conditions of his own activity as a Critical Theorist, that is, on the demands of the tradition within which he works and the contemporary requirements of maintaining this tradition. These essays, thus, reflect the working through of the relationship of inheritance and originality within which Honneth's intellectual activity is situated.

I will approach this collection initially in terms of the significance of the forms of self-reflection exhibited here for Honneth's own philosophical project (focusing on chapters 2-3 and the appendix) before turning to two more specific aspects, namely, Honneth's concern with psychoanalysis and its relationship to democratic politics (chapters 7-9) and his sympathetic reconstructions of the contemporary import of aspects of Adorno's work (chapters 5-6 with a side glance at chapter 10). . . .

Read the rest here:

"The Unity of the Philosophical in Question: a Workshop on Continental and Analytic Philosophy," University of Dundee, October 27, 2010.


2 - 3
  • Sherah Bloor (LaTrobe University), “The idea of the divide as a dual perspective upon ‘the whole’”
  • Ricky Sebold (LaTrobeUniversity), “Are Continental philosophers idealists?”
3 - 4

  • Simon Glendinning (LSE), “The unity of the philosophical in question: interference and opacity within philosophical communication today”
4 - 5

  • Jack Reynolds (LaTrobe University), “Analytic Versus Continental? A methodological aporia?”
5 - 6

  • James Chase (University of Tasmania), “Steering clear of Rorty”
6 - 6:30

  • Closing remarks
For further information, contact James Williams,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cfp: "French Theory: Reception in the Visual Arts in the United States Between 1965 and 1995," University of Louvain, May, 2011.


There are many American artists, active in the second half of the twentieth century, whose practice and theory have been infuenced by philosophy, literary studies and social sciences. In this regard, several French scholars have benefited from early sustained interest. Among these are major figures such as Lévi-Strauss, Barthes, Bourdieu, Foucault, Lacan, Althusser, Lyotard, Baudrillard, Derrida or Deleuze. Many thinkers whose writings have come to constitute the corpus of the so-called French Theory. This symposium intends to study the reception of this French thought in the field of the American visual arts from 1965 until 1995.

Call for Papers:

There are many American artists, active in the second half of the twentieth century, whose practice and theory have been infuenced by philosophy, literary studies and social sciences. In this regard, several French scholars have benefited from early sustained interest. Among these are major figures such as Claude Lévi-Strauss, Roland Barthes, Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, Jean-François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida or Gilles Deleuze. Many thinkers whose writings have come to constitute the corpus of the so-called French Theory. The influence of this French thought in the American universities, from the mid-1970s on, notably contributing to the emergence of the Cultural studies, has been the subject of several studies, including the important and recent work by Francois Cusset. However, the reception of such a thinking in the specific field of the visual arts has not yet been the subject of systematic research, with the exception of a few and relatively dispersed studies. Among the laters are some essays by Sylvère Lotringer considering artistic practice posterior to the mid-1970s, and by Sande Cohen. Still, it turns out that some artists could gradually have access to various pieces of this corpus as soon as the second half of the 1960s, thanks to first translations, conferences, travels or the presence itself of one or the other author on the territory. Thus, this symposium intends to study the reception of this French thought in the field of the visual arts from 1965 until 1995. A year that marks the eve of a movement of critical evaluation of the influence of these authors on the American intellectual field initiated by the now famous “Sokal affair”, among other events. To understand this episode, three issues or topics can be brought to the fore.

The first one concerns the ways and means by which the dissemination of the ideas of these French authors occurred. How and by the mean of which historical events did the artists happened to get in touch with their writings ? Is it possible to define different and subsequent phases of dissemination of authors in the United-States (such as : Lévi-Strauss, Barthes ; then Foucault, Lacan, Bourdieu and Lyotard ; and finally Baudrillard, Deleuze and Derrida ; phases to be revised during the symposium)? Did some English artists and reviews play a role in the relaying and spreading of these ideas?

A second issue deals with the reception of the French thought among artists. For instance, is it possible to figure out the understanding the first artists could possess of structuralism and post-structuralism in the second half of 1960s ? Is it possible to define the chronological moment of a real reception ? Besides, what is also at stake are the different cultural, intellectual and even political conditions that might have provided a convenient environment or cradle for the rise of this French thought in the United-States. Or, to the contrary, what were the conditions that might have impede its reception and absorption. It will also be of interest to study which texts, which concepts and which theories, the American artists decided to retain and to use, and therefore to study the changes this thought underwent owing to these uses.

Finally, a third issue will focus on the application or use made by the artists of the lessons gained from these French authors. Through a series of case studies, covering the period of the three decades, we expect to uncover the benefits and changes experienced by visual practices thanks to the French Theory. What’s more, from a more historiographic point of view, what needs to be reassessed is the relevance of the critical use critics and art historians themselves might have made of this same thought when studying these very artistic practices.

Keynote speakers already confirmed are:

Victor Burgin (Goldsmiths College, University of London)
François Cusset (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre)
Sylvère Lotringer (University of Columbia, New York)
Laura Mulvey (Birbeck University, London)
Peter Osborne (Middelsex University)
Jean Michel Rabaté (Pennsylvania University)
John Rajchman (University of Columbia, New York)

Proposals for papers in French or English, with a short résumé, will be accepted at Proposals are limited to 400 words. The deadline for submissions is October 15, 2010.

Charles Taylor, "A Secular Age." WHY? RADIO, October 10, 2010.

Even the most religious of people understand that their belief is only one option of many; a different attitude than those who lived 500 years ago when theological commitments were so automatic as to not be questioned. What caused this radical cultural shift? This is the question Charles Taylor seeks to answer in his new book A Secular Age. In doing so, he asks about the nature of religion, the meaning of secularism, and the history of how much of the world shifted from the former approach to the latter. Join WHY? as we ask about this innovative and important topic, and connect it to Taylor's long career of influential philosophical study. WHY?'s host Jack Russell Weinstein says," I'm overwhelmed by the opportunity to talk with Charles Taylor. His work has been so important to me, but even more so, conversations with him, early in my career, helped focus my thoughts for a decade or more. I can say with confidence that not only is he a kind and accessible person, but he is also one of the smartest people I have had the good fortune to meet and learn from."

Charles Taylor is one of the most important and influential philosophers alive today. His 1992 book Sources of the Self continues to impact a great deal of contemporary philosophy, sociology, anthropology, and other disciplines. Taylor is Professor Emeritus at McGill University, a recipient of the prestigious Templeton Prize, the author of more than a dozen books, and countless scholarly articles.

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Pub: Frederic Jameson, REPRESENTING CAPITAL.

Jameson, Frederic.  Representing Capital: a Reading of Volume One.  London: Verso, 2010.

A radical rereading of Marx’s central work by the prolific cultural theorist and philosopher. Representing Capital, Fredric Jameson’s first book-length engagement with Marx’s magnum opus, is a unique work of scholarship that records the progression of Marx’s thought as if it were a musical score. The textual landscape that emerges is the setting for paradoxes and contradictions that struggle toward resolution, giving rise to new antinomies and a new forward movement. These immense segments overlap each other to combine and develop on new levels in the same way that capital itself does, stumbling against obstacles that it overcomes by progressive expansions, which are in themselves so many leaps into the unknown.

Marx’s fundamental concepts are not presented philosophically, or in social-scientific terms, but rather as a series of figures produced by the development of the text. Jameson grasps Marx’s work as a representational problem and an experiment in constructing the figure or model of the inexpressible phenomenon that is capital.
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Prizes: University of Kentucky Eighth Annual Prize Essay Competition in European Philosophy from Kant to the Present.

QUESTION: Has Western philosophy been built on the exclusion of certain groups of people?

This topic may be addressed historically, systematically, or through any combination of these two approaches. The winning essay will receive a prize of $1000 and, upon recommendation of the selection committee, be published in Inquiry. The author of the winning essay will also be brought to the University of Kentucky in the Fall of 2011 to present it.

Essays will be judged by a process of blind review. Submissions should be appropriately formatted for such a process, with the author's name and other identifying information appearing only on a separate cover sheet. Essays should be double spaced, in English, and no more than 8000 words in length. Past and present faculty and students at the University of Kentucky are ineligible to compete. Submissions should not have been previously published or submitted for publication.

The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2011. Essays should be submitted in triplicate in typed (hard copy) form to Ms. Katie Barrett, Department of Philosophy, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0027 USA. No electronic submissions please.

"The Problem of Relativism in the Sociology of (Scientific) Knowledge," University of Siegen, March 22-23, 2011.

Are knowledge and our epistemic norms culturally and socially relative? What would be the consequences of such a relativism for traditional topics in philosophy? Questions like these are the focus of recent discussions in epistemology and philosophy of science. Moreover, they have also been intensively discussed in the sociology of knowledge since 20th century.

The aim of the conference is to dicuss the problem of relativism in the sociology of (scientific) knowledge from historical (Mannheim, Fleck) as well as systematic perspectives. By bringing together leading philosophers and sociologists working in the field, the conference's objective is to develop a genuine interdisciplinary exchange. A special focus lies on recent discussions, for example, on Naturalism, Incommensurability, and the Strong Programme.

Confirmed Speakers:

Maria Baghramian (Dublin) - "Contested Truths, Constructed Realities"
Barry Barnes (Exeter) - "Relativism as an Extension of the Scientific Project"
Martin Endreß (Trier) - "Methodological Relationalism"
Eva-Maria Jung (Münster) - "Theoretical and Practical Knowledge Revisited"
Hubert Knoblauch (Berlin) - "Relativism, Meaning and Explanations in the New Sociology of Knowledge"
Richard Schantz (Siegen) - "Realism, Naturalism and Relativism"
Markus Seidel (Münster/Siegen) - "Karl Mannheim, Relativism and Knowledge in the Natural Sciences - a deviant interpretation"
Harvey Siegel (Miami) - "Is Relativism Really Incoherent? On Some Recent Arguments For and Against"
Claus Zittel (Florenz/Olsztyn) - "Thinking Styles in Action. Fleck's Concept of Style and the Problem of Relativism"

Visit the conference website here:

Wilberg, Jonah. Review of Greg Shirley, HEIDEGGER AND LOGIC. NDPR (October 2010).

Shirley, Greg.  Heidegger and Logic: the Place of Lógos in Being and Time.  London: Continuum, 2010.

In his inaugural address at Freiburg University in 1929, Heidegger explicitly challenged the central place given to logical principles in neo-Kantianism, on the basis of a radical account of 'the nothing'. Two years later, Carnap used the tools of symbolic logic to show how Heidegger's assertions about the nothing were illogical and thus meaningless, like much of traditional metaphysics. With Anglo-American philosophers today increasingly interested in the methodology and history of the analytic tradition, it is appropriate that increasing attention is being paid to this emblematic confrontation between Carnap and Heidegger and the philosophical issues emerging from it. Among Heidegger scholars in particular, a fascinating debate has arisen about whether Heidegger's opposition to the methods of modern symbolic logic went as far as Carnap and those following him have claimed.

Greg Shirley's Heidegger and Logic aims to take this debate to the next level, in large part by providing the first sustained treatment of the relevant aspects of Heidegger's early philosophy. Shirley traces Heidegger's treatment of logical issues back to his very earliest work and its neo-Kantian context. He provides a sophisticated interpretation of Heidegger's account of the copula, truth, negation and the nothing in the period surrounding Being and Time. He also gives a detailed interpretation of Heidegger's lecture course on 'The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic', showing that for Heidegger the normativity of formal inference is grounded in the for-the-sake-of structure of the world. . . .

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Cfp: "MacIntyre as Critic and Educator," 5th Annual Conference, International Society for MacIntyrean Philosophy, Providence College, July 28-31, 2011.

In classical antiquity, the pursuit of truth was seen as more than an academic exercise. It was a search for, and choosing of, a way of life. Alasdair MacIntyre’s thought has been portrayed as an attempt to recover for the contemporary world the wisdom of ancient and medieval philosophy and to provide, using Marx, St. Thomas and others, a thorough critique of the problems of modernity. The goal of this conference is to explore the ways in which Alasdair MacIntyre’s philosophy contributes to criticism that can engender new approaches to living and to education broadly understood.

Papers and panels related to the conference theme are welcome. Possible topics may include:

· Is MacIntyre’s philosophy sufficient of itself to offer us a “way” of living?
· Is it (only?) a way of enquiring?
· Is it a way of teaching?
· Is there such a thing as a MacIntyrean? What does this term mean when it is associated with a philosopher? An economist? A theologian? A political theorist? An educator?
· Can there be such a thing as a MacIntyrean curriculum?
· Is there a canon and if so, what is MacIntyre’s place in it?
· How has MacIntyre’s thought changed the way we approach the social sciences?
· What does MacIntyre’s critique of modernity reveal for the way we must live in the contemporary world?
· What does his critique reveal about the way we do philosophy? The social sciences?
· What is critical education? What role do educators have to the general public? What is MacIntyre's relationship to Dewey or Friere?
· What is Catholic Social Teaching? Can we teach social justice?
· What is the relationship between education and critical social action? Should educators join with social groups like labor unions?
· What does it mean to be a public intellectual?

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2nd Ed.: Paul Feyerabend, AGAINST METHOD.

Feyerabend, Paul.  Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge.  London: Verso, 1975.  2nd Ed. 2010.

Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994) was one of the twentieth century's most famous philosophers of science, and remains an influential figure in this field and in the sociology of scientific knowledge.

Against Method examines the deficiencies of many widespread ideas about scientific progress and the nature of knowledge. Feyerabend argues that scientific advances can only be understood in historical context. He looks at the way the philosophy of science has consistently overemphasized practice over method, and considers the possibility that anarchism could replace rationalism in the theory of knowledge.

Feyerabend’s book ranks alongside classic works such as Karl Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery, and Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. However, in seeking to outline an anarchist theory of scientific knowledge, Against Method challenges these canonical theoretical models by making a radical new contribution to the philosophy of science.

First published in 1975, the book stands as an intellectual testament to the ferment of the 1960s, challenging as it does many of the reigning orthodoxies within the philosophy of science. The book’s original publication sparked considerable argument within a number of academic disciplines, and its central arguments are still relevant today, given the considerable popularity enjoyed by the “new rationalism” propounded by popular scientists such as Richard Dawkins.

This updated edition of the classic text includes a new introduction by Ian Hacking, one of the world’s most important contemporary philosophers of science. Hacking reflects on both Feyeraband’s life and personality as well as the broader significance of the book for current discussions.

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Ball, Terence. Review of Robert B. Talisse, DEMOCRACY AND MORAL CONFLICT. NDPR (October 2010).

Talisse, Robert B.  Democracy and Moral Conflict. Cambridge: CUP, 2009.

[I]f there once was a fairly seamless American consensus (which I rather doubt, as I shall later explain), there is no longer. This is the ragged backdrop against which Robert Talisse attempts to argue a new and compelling case for democracy in post-consensus America and elsewhere. He writes that at present "our popular democratic politics is driven by insults, scandal, name-calling, fear-mongering, mistrust, charges of hypocrisy, and worse" (p. 1). Hardly Habermas's "ideal speech situation" in which "the forceless force of the better argument" carries the day![3]

Philosophers, political theorists and others who try to account for and make sense of such discord are at a loss to do so in any wholly satisfactory way. Oversimplifying somewhat, two general accounts have emerged of late. The first is "the clash of civilizations account, which holds that the world is on the brink of . . . a global conflict between distinct and incompatible ways of life." This is the view advanced in very different ways in Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations (1996) and in Benjamin R. Barber's Jihad vs. McWorld (1995). There are global and local variants of this view; according to the latter, a clash of civilizations or a "culture war" is being waged within the United States.

A second account -- "the democracy deficit narrative" -- holds that a once-widely shared commitment to democracy is in decline, as citizens draw ever-sharper lines dividing them from their fellow citizens, which makes it ever more difficult to find common ground or to compromise (pp. 1-2). According to these two accounts, politics is thus either a politics of difference driven by a kind of "us vs. them" tribalism or by a militant moralism -- which is of course different from morality -- that brooks no quarter and no compromise.

Under these conditions of moral pluralism and fundamental clashes of conviction, the stage seems set for a Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes. If this war is to be avoided, Talisse argues, we shall as democrats have to forgo any claim to base our commitment to democracy on prior moral commitments, since those very commitments are in contention and conflict. Talisse opts instead for an epistemic defense of democracy. His contention is that even though we disagree morally, we are all pretty well in agreement epistemically. This is because we subscribe to a real but largely unconscious and unargued "folk epistemology" (about which more in a moment). Before expounding and defending that bold and even audacious claim, however, he has some spade-work to do. . . .

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Cfp: "The Unacceptable," Department of Media, Music and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University, April 29-May 1, 2011.

It wasn’t so long ago that with heroin chic and SM clubbing what had been considered unacceptable became a voguish pretext for mass marketing. Now, with global hysteria about violent computer games and increasing calls for internet censorship, the unacceptable is being reinvented as an object of policing.

The issue of what is ‘fit to’ present has always haunted culture, especially in its relationship with social institutions: the proscription of heresy, the erasure of bodies (because of their age, gender or race), the silencing of sexualities, the purging of languages, the classification of desires as pathologies …. marking things as well as the practice of everyday life. Conversely, resistance to the banning of texts and practices has long been one of the hallmarks of movements for liberalisation.

Understanding how bodies, images and practices are judged unacceptable is key to understanding how culture, communication and creativity fit into society.

Issues include:

• What is now unacceptable?
• Did the unacceptable ever go away or did it merely shift from what was outlaw to an object of voyeurism?
• How does what is deemed unacceptable reflect racial, gender and sexual fault-lines of a society?

Topic Areas:

• Body modification
• Pornography
• Transgression in the arts
• Political censorship\youth culture and behaviour
• Free speech
• Hate speech
• Excommunication
• Sexual subculture
• Outlaw fashions
• Social networking sites
• Political and aesthetic avant-gardes
• Gangs
• Imposture
• Homophobia
• Drug culture
• Infidelity
• Secret lives
• Welfare dependency
• Internet censorship
• Religious cults
• Violence
• Worklessness
• Control of school and high education curriculums
• Obesity
• Behavior in Public Space
• Racism

For further information, visit:

Monday, October 04, 2010

Romano, Carlin. "Cosmology, Cambridge Style: Wittgenstein, Toulmin, and Hawking." CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION September 26, 2010.

In his new book, Hawking, the celebrated author of A Brief History of Time (Bantam, 1988), declares on the first page that "philosophy is dead" because it "has not kept up" with science, which alone can explain the universe. "It is not necessary to invoke God," the authors write, "to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going." Hawking sound-bited the hard stuff for interviewers: "Science makes God unnecessary," he told Good Morning America. Something simply came out of nothing.

If you've followed the science-religion debate in recent times, there's nothing new about such claims. Many scientists take Hawking's side, some do not. Almost everyone agrees that, as Hawking told ABC News, "One can't prove that God doesn't exist." The Templeton Foundation, which specializes in prodding believers and nonbelievers to discuss such things in civilized ways, has published all sorts of booklets, like "Does Science Make Belief in God Obsolete?," in which some eminent scientists answer "Yes" and others answer "No."

Why, then, the uproar? Largely because Hawking has been anointed by the media as possibly "the smartest man in the world" (ABC News) and the "most revered scientist since Einstein" (The New York Times)—a genius, and so on. A genius, presumably, must be right about everything. Especially if he managed to sell nine million copies of a book.

Hawking's latest claims also sparked attention because A Brief History of Time ended with his observation that, if we could achieve a unified theory in physics, we would "know the mind of God." While Hawking's fellow atheists took that coda as a play on Einstein's earlier use of the phrase, many believers chose to read it as open-mindedness toward a possible creator, making this new book a sharp U-turn.

The ironic part of the current media tizzy is that philosophical Cambridge—that lesser-known slice of the university historically eclipsed by the Nobel accomplishments of its physicists—long ago showed why Hawking's orotund pronouncements about God are, to be charitable, simplistic. In fact, it is Cambridge's greatest contributors to 20th-century philosophy—Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) and his most trenchant disciple, the Cambridge-trained physicist and philosopher of science Stephen Toulmin (1922-2009)—who inoculated us against the naïve view that science shows God does not exist and is irrelevant to cosmology.

Before one gets edgy over Hawking's latest ex cathedra squawk, then, consider a thumbnail version of what Wittgenstein and Toulmin taught us about religion, science, and cosmology. Their message to Hawking? Scientists eager to delete God exceed their job description. . . .

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Cfp: Fleming, Paul, et al., eds. Special Issue on Hans Blumenberg. TELOS (forthcoming).

The American reception of Hans Blumenberg's work reached a highpoint in the 1980s with Robert M. Wallace's remarkable translation of three monumental volumes: The Legitimacy of the Modern Age, Work on Myth, and The Genesis of the Copernican World. Since then, interest in Blumenberg's work in the United States has remained steady but small. With the forthcoming translations of Paradigms for a Metaphorology (Cornell UP, translated by Robert Savage) and Care Crosses the River (Stanford UP, translated by Paul Fleming), we would like to use this resumed interest in Blumenberg as an opportunity to reconsider his work and the importance of his thought for today. We invite essays on all aspects of Blumenberg's oeuvre, especially topics that have received less attention in the United States, such as metaphorology, anthropology, and non-conceptuality (first developed in the afterword to Shipwreck with Spectator), as well as essays that reconsider, for example, his earlier thought on secularization or modernity in light of recently published posthumous works, such as his correspondence with Carl Schmitt or the volume on Ernst Jünger. Finally, we encourage essays that examine Blumenberg the writer, Blumenberg the stylist, where one takes into account the polemical and playful, the anecdotal and metaphorical aspects of his writing.

We seek submissions of a maximum 6,500 words (7,500 with notes) by June 1, 2011. Articles should conform to Telos style and formatting guidelines. Please direct inquiries and abstracts to Paul Fleming, Department of German, New York University (

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Bertram, Chris. "Jean Jacques Rousseau." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY September 27, 2010.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau remains an important figure in the history of philosophy, both because of his contributions to political philosophy and moral psychology and because of his influence on later thinkers. Rousseau's own view of philosophy and philosophers was firmly negative, seeing philosophers as the post-hoc rationalizers of self-interest, as apologists for various forms of tyranny, and as playing a role in the alienation of the modern individual from humanity's natural impulse to compassion. The concern that dominates Rousseau's work is to find a way of preserving human freedom in a world where human beings are increasingly dependent on one another for the satisfaction of their needs. This concern has two dimensions: material and psychological, of which the latter has greater importance. In the modern world, human beings come to derive their very sense of self from the opinion of others, a fact which Rousseau sees as corrosive of freedom and destructive of individual authenticity. In his mature work, he principally explores two routes to achieving and protecting freedom: the first is a political one aimed at constructing political institutions that allow for the co-existence of free and equal citizens in a community where they themselves are sovereign; the second is a project for child development and education that fosters autonomy and avoids the development of the most destructive forms of self-interest. However, though Rousseau believes the co-existence of human beings in relations of equality and freedom is possible, he is consistently and overwhelmingly pessimistic that humanity will escape from a dystopia of alienation, oppression, and unfreedom. In addition to his contributions to philosophy, Rousseau was active as a composer and a music theorist, as the pioneer of modern autobiography, as a novelist, and as a botanist. Rousseau's appreciation of the wonders of nature and his stress on the importance of feeling and emotion made him an important influence on and anticipator of the romantic movement. To a very large extent, the interests and concerns that mark his philosophical work also inform these other activities, and Rousseau's contributions in ostensibly non-philosophical fields often serve to illuminate his philosophical commitments and arguments. . . .

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Klein-Lacan Dialogues Seminar Series, Psychoanalysis Unit at University College London, the Centre for Psychoanalysis at Middlesex University and the Research Department at the Royal College of Art, University College London, October 23, 2010-June 18, 2011.

The seminars are geared at comparing and contrasting some main psychoanalytic concepts as they have been developed by these two schools of thought. Speakers will address the issues from both a theoretical and a clinical perspective.


Introduction, 23 October 2010
Symbolic Function, 20 November 2010
Ego, 4 December 2010
Object, 15 January 2011
Body, 12 February 2011
Trauma, 12 March 2011
Autism, 9 April 2011
Affect, 21 May 2011
History-Archives, 18 June 2011
For more information, visit:

"The Government of Self and Other: On Foucault's Lectures at the Collège de France, 1982/3," Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University, December 2, 2010.


Mathieu Potte Boneville (Collège International de Philosophie, Paris)
John Marks (French, Nottingham University)
Johanna Oksala (Philosophy, Dundee University)
Miguel de Beistegui (Philosophy, University of Warwick)

Further information will be provided here:

Cfp: J. L. Austin Centenary Conference, Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University, April 5-7, 2011.

Confirmed speakers so far are:

John Searle (Berkeley)
Jennifer Saul (Sheffield)
Paul Snowdon (UCL)

Papers on any aspect of Austin's philosophy, or on applications of his ideas to contemporary problems, are welcome. If you would like to present a paper, please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words by e-mail to Presentations will be 30 minutes, plus 15 minutes for questions. We welcome submissions from graduate students.

Please submit your abstract on or before December 15th

Pub: Angus Nicholls and Martin Liebscher, eds. THINKING THE UNCONSCIOUS.

Nicholls, Angus, and Martin Liebscher, eds.  Thinking the Unconscious: Nineteenth-Century German Thought.  Cambridge: CUP, 2010.

Since Freud's earliest psychoanalytic theorization around the beginning of the twentieth century, the concept of the unconscious has exerted an enormous influence upon psychoanalysis and psychology, and literary, critical and social theory. Yet, prior to Freud, the concept of the unconscious already possessed a complex genealogy in nineteenth-century German philosophy and literature, beginning with the aftermath of Kant's critical philosophy and the origins of German idealism, and extending into the discourses of romanticism and beyond. Despite the many key thinkers who contributed to the Germanic discourses on the unconscious, the English-speaking world remains comparatively unaware of this heritage and its influence upon the origins of psychoanalysis. Bringing together a collection of experts in the fields of German Studies, Continental Philosophy, the History and Philosophy of Science, and the History of Psychoanalysis, this volume examines the various theorizations, representations, and transformations undergone by the concept of the unconscious in nineteenth-century German thought.

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Sinhababu, Neil. Review of Robert Pippin, NIETZSCHE, PSYCHOLOGY AND FIRST PHILOSOPHY. NDPR (September 2010).

Pippin, Robert.  Nietzsche, Psychology, and First Philosophy.  Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2010.

Robert Pippin's goal in Nietzsche, Psychology, and First Philosophy is

to present a comprehensive interpretation of what Nietzsche means by 'psychology,' what the relationship is, as he understands it, between such a psychology and traditional philosophy, and why he thinks such a psychology is (indeed is, as he says, 'now') so important, why it is 'the path to the fundamental problems.' (xi-xii)
One might expect to find an account of this psychology in the first chapter, titled "Psychology as the 'Queen of the Sciences.'" Here Pippin characterizes Nietzsche's psychology as standing outside the tradition of philosophical psychology from Plato to Hume to Davidson, with philosophers defending positions on such issues as the roles of reason and passion in directing action:

Nietzsche does not appear to want simply to add another position to this list. Indeed, his main point seems to be that there is no general philosophical psychology. His view, which I will be exploring in these chapters, is that views of the soul and its capacities vary with beliefs about and commitments to norms; normative commitments are subject to radical historical change; and so what counts as soul or psyche or mind and thus psychology also changes. The "soul" is merely the name for a collective historical achievement, a mode of self-understanding, of one sort or another, what we have made ourselves into at one point or another in the service of some ideal or other. When we describe to one another what the soul is, we mean thereby to propose an ideal, usually something like psychic health. Hence also the deep interconnection or inseparability between psychology and genealogy.  (3)
The view seems to be that psychological claims are in some way grounded in normative claims. Here we might ask Pippin how exactly normative commitments are connected to psychological claims, how historical changes play into this relationship, and how the resulting psychology will explain our thoughts, feelings, and actions. (If Pippin leaves us with a psychology that cannot accomplish this explanatory task, we might ask what makes it psychology at all.) Given satisfactory answers to these questions, we might ask for textual evidence that Nietzsche held such a view and for independent reasons to accept it. . . .

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Pellauer, David. Review of Scott Davidson, ed. RICOEUR ACROSS THE DISCIPLINES. NDPR (September 2010).

Davidson, Scott, ed.  Ricoeur across the Disciplines.  London: Continuum, 2009.

One may wonder what a collection of essays bearing this title finally has to contribute to specifically philosophical inquiry. It may well be able to show that a philosopher, Ricœur, has had an influence on people working in different fields, or that his writings have influenced efforts in those disciplines, or even, more positively, that there may be something to learn from them that will help in making sense of or evaluating Ricœur's own efforts. In fact, one finds a bit of all three of these possibilities in this work, which means it will be read in different ways by different readers. The most obvious audience will be those concerned with Ricœur's work. People working in different fields may find one or two of the essays relevant to their particular research interests. In the end, though, what this volume shows best is how a philosopher's work can reach across all too often taken for granted disciplinary boundaries in suggestive or even provocative ways. Unfortunately, given the book's price it is more likely to be consulted piecemeal or read cover to cover only as a book taken from a library rather than to find a wide readership, even among dedicated Ricœur scholars. But that seems to be the fate of most essay collections these days. Like similarly priced monographs, perhaps such volumes will find a happier future in the online world, if a more reasonable pricing structure can be determined.

In his introduction, editor Scott Davidson proposes following a suggestion by the Italian philosopher Domenico Jervolino that Ricœur's work can be understood as a way of doing philosophy through language, where this approach is organized in terms of a three stage development that runs from symbols through texts to translation. Each of these stages "develops and expands the treatment of language contained in the preceding paradigm" (2). It is the final stage, translation, that most speaks to the question of the plurality of disciplines and "the task of the interdisciplinary scholar" (5) who serves two (or more) masters in facing the challenge of making two (or more) discourses communicate. Unfortunately, there is no contribution from translation studies to back up this assertion. Still, Davidson's claim is that the contributions in this book do "make a compelling case for the interdisciplinary scope and appeal of Ricœur's work" (10). The question must be to what extent the papers included go much beyond indicating that such an appeal exists. Some succeed better than others, as can be seen from a brief look at what is on offer.

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Recognition has been a key philosophical notion since the early works of Fichte and Hegel and recognition studies nowadays draw philosophers and social scientists alike, trying to understand the intersubjective nature of human interaction. Paul Ricoeur himself made a significant contribution to the development of these studies with his 2004 book The Course of Recognition, where he tries to understand the rule-governed polysemy of the uses of recognition in philosophy. In doing this he sketches his own hypothesis of recognition as the mutual exchange of symbolic gifts. With this last, seminal book, Ricœur is simultaneously showing his readers the latest developments of his philosophical career, summarizing the different semantical developments of the notion of recognition in philosophy and ultimately proposing a paradigm of recognition rather different from the ones proposed by the Hegelian or neo-Hegelian philosophies. We wish to understand the importance of Ricœur’s voice in this debate and also to grasp the way his late philosophy changes radically with the focus on recognition.

We are primarily interested in contributions that add genuine insight into Ricoeur’s writings and the existing scholarship on the subject but not in paraphrases or summaries of his thought. We welcome, in particular, contributions that involve comparisons between authors (Ricoeur/Hegel, Ricoeur/Charles Taylor, Ricoeur/Axel Honneth, Ricoeur/Marcel Hénaff …) or the significant connection between recognition and specific topics such as justice, multiculturalism, institutions. Contributions explaining the significance of recognition within Ricoeur’s thought (for example, how does recognition unfold in his philosophy even before The Course of Recognition, what are the implications of the conceptual change from the notion of attestation to that of recognition, to name just a few possibilities) are also welcome. Any proposal trying to apply the notion of recognition, in connection with Ricœur’s work, to the realm of praxis, or to try to correct Ricoeur’s proposals on recognition, in order to better apply them ethically or politically, will also be welcome.

Submissions can be from any disciplinary perspective and can include any aspect of Ricoeur’s work, but they must have a clear connection to the selected theme for this particular issue.

In addition to papers on the proposed theme, the journal also seeks book reviews of recent works on Ricoeur’s thought or other works associated with perspectives taken up in his work. Book reviews and articles on various topics (to be published under the heading of « Varia ») are accepted on an ongoing basis.

Deadline: January 30, 2011.

Length: Submissions should be no more than 50,000 characters in length (including endnotes).