Monday, January 31, 2011

Cfp: "Methods of Theorizing: Reflective Searches for Ways, Ideals and Measures," 10th Annual Meeting, International Social Theory Consortium, School of Sociology and Philosophy, University College Cork, June 16-17, 2011.

Social theory and method are inextricably bound up with one another, despite the convention of their separation and a recent tendency to differentiate them entirely by emphasizing technical training in particular methods over general education in culture and thinking. But to theorize, whether in Sociology, Philosophy, Politics, Anthropology, or in any cognate field in the Arts, Humanities and Social sciences means not simply to arrange empirical evidence, but also to seek to clarify the Ideals, Standards or Measure by virtue of a way of inquiry that is sustained and methodically pursued, so much so that we may speak of method(s) of theorizing.

Questions of method, or searches for the ‘Way’, just as the use of the powers of reason, cannot be reduced to a search for means to satisfy given ends, but must incorporate a discussion of the very ends of social and human life, including the question of meaning. Methods of theorizing are thus ways of attending to the world so as to bring into view, contemplate and articulate Standards of beauty, truth and the good life; radiant Ideals that illuminate and make possible an understanding and interpretation of our present practices and institutions, thereby enabling our education and self-transformation in light of such a Measure.

As Weber concludes in "Politics as a Vocation," “all historical experience confirms the truth – that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible.” Theorizing can thus be conceived of as the methodical reaching out for the impossible Measure. But as theoria and methodus have become differentiated we lose sight of the Ways towards recovering our Ideals just at a time when economic crisis, ecological catastrophe and political turmoil threaten to overwhelm us.

Last year’s ISTC meeting sought to transcend the cultural turn’s differentiation and proliferation of Habermasian, Foucaulian, Eliasian, subaltern, feminist, sub-disciplinary theories, a concern indicating an aspiration towards our recovering re-integrating, holistic methods of theorizing. This year’s conference continues this search for renaissance, inviting contributions seeking a reflective balance and harmony amongst the various currents in social & political thought at the fundamental level of theory and method, focus on their relation to the elusive but very real directive Ideals of human existence.

Papers are invited that speak to the topic from:
• Classical & contemporary social theory: working with our inheritance
• Methodology of Critical Theory
• Literary methods and Social Theory
• The interpretive tradition, depth hermeneutics & analysis
• The performative aspects of public life
• Media power and image magic
• Psychoanalytic method and social theory
• Phenomenology & hermeneutics
• Epistemologies and philosophies of knowledge today
• Asian philosophies and methods
• Socrates, Plato, and working with the Greeks today
• Political anthropology and reflexive historical sociology


Farrell, Thomas J. "Who Was Marshall McLuhan, and Why Is He Important Today?" OPEDNEWS January 14, 2011.

With the publication of two books in the early 1960s, McLuhan catapulted to extraordinary fame, seemingly out of nowhere. In the 1950s he had not been widely known. However, he had been known to a small group of alert admirers. But along with his fame in the 1960s and 1970s came controversy and criticism. At times, the criticism was cogent and convincing. However, the criticism directed at him was frequently off target. In any event, many of his critics wanted to throw out the baby with the bath water, as we say. This is an understandable temptation. But it is a temptation we must guard ourselves against even today as we try to sort out the wheat from the chaff in McLuhan's thought. To be sure, there is a certain amount of chaff in McLuhan's thought that should be discarded. But the wheat can nourish our thought and reflection.

McLuhan did not live to see the time when personal computers became as common in North America as television sets and radios and telephones and movies and audio recordings and sound amplification systems had become by the 1960s. Nor did he live to see the Internet. Nevertheless, once we have sorted out the wheat from the chaff in McLuhan's thought, the wheat can help feed and nurture our thinking about computers and the Internet and other forms of new media that had not yet fully emerged in his lifetime.

Read the rest here:

Cfp: "Narrative and Hypertext 2011," Workshop on Narrative Systems, School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, June 6, 2011.

This workshop aims to provide an interdisciplinary forum to bring together individuals from the humanities and science communities to share research and discuss state-of-the-art research on narrative from both a technical and aesthetic perspective. Narratives are complex creations prevalent in our entertainment, communication, and understanding of the world and its events. By building better models of narrative along with methods for generation, adaption, and presentation we enable narrative systems to become more effective but also improve our understanding of narrative structures. This workshop offers a focus for this interdisciplinary community to share research, offer solutions and contributions to the challenges faced in the study of narrative and the development of narrative systems, and offers a platform of discussion for potential collaboration for members of the hypertext community working with narrative.

Topics include:

- Models of Narrative
- Systems for the Presentation of Narratives
- Adaptive and Personalised Narratives
- Narrative Analysis
- Narrative Generation
- Narrative as a method of Knowledge Capture
- Social Media as Narrative
- Narrative as a lens on identity
- Argumentation and Rhetoric
- Interactive Fiction
- Cinematic Hypertext
- Authorial support systems
- Novel applications of narrative systems
- e-Literature




"Psychologism, Psychologising and De-Psychologisation" by ÁNGEL GORDO & JAN DE VOS

Part I: Disciplinary, legal and sociocultural overflow: from psycho-logism to psychologisation

"Psychologised life and thought styles" by FERNANDO ÁLVAREZ-URÍA, JULIA VARELA, ÁNGEL GORDO & PILAR PARRA
"Psychologisation processes viewed from the perspective of the regulation of healthcare professions in Spain" by ROBERTO RODRÍGUEZ
"The psychologisation of work: the deregulation of work and the government of will" by EDUARDO CRESPO & AMPARO SERRANO
"Psychologisation and the construction of the political subject as vulnerable object" by KEN MCLAUGHLIN
"Beyond psychologisation: individual and collective naturalising stigmatisations" by RAFAEL GONZÁLEZ
"From the bodhi tree, to the analyst‘s couch, then into the MRI scanner: the psychologisation of Buddhism" by ELLIOT COHEN

Part II: De-psychologising policies/politics

"The rational of an emotional society: a Cartesian reflection" by MARC DE KESEL
"‘Sincerely Yours’‘ – ‘What do you mean?’ Psychologisation as symptom to be taken seriously" by FRANK VAN DE VEIRE
"Je Te mathème!: Badiou‘s de-psychologisation of love" by CARLOS GUILLERMO GÓMEZ CAMARENA
"The disappearance of psychologisation?" by OLE JACOB MADSEN & SVEND BRINKMANN
"Beyond Psychologisation: the Non-Psychology of the Flemish Novelist Louis Paul Boon" by JAN DE VOS
"Rebel Pathologies: from Politics to Psychologisation…and back" by MIHALIS MENTINIS

Download the essays here:

"Habit and Second Nature," Annual Conference, British Society for Phenomenology, St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, April 15-17, 2011.


3.45 pm Ben Morgan (Oxford University): "Heidegger's Habits"
5.30 pm David Wood (Vanderbilt University): "Reinhabiting the Earth"


10.00 am Mark Sinclair (Manchester Metropolitan University): "Ravaisson and Phenomenology"
11.45 am Philip Goodchild (Nottingham University): "Thinking Nature: On Habit and Virtue"
4.15 pm Claudia Baracchi (The New School of Social Research and Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca) "The Work of Being: Aristotle and the Architecture of the Human"
6.00 pm THE WOLFE MAYS MEMORIAL LECTURE: John Milbank (Nottingham University), "Hume's New Habit and How it Relates to Aristotle's Older One"


10.00 am Johanna Oksala (University of Helsinki): "The Neoliberal Subject of Feminism"
11.45 am Matthew Ratcliffe (Durham University): "Habit and the Phenomenology of Negation"


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Nulty, Timothy J. Review of Jack Reynolds, et al., eds. POSTANALYTIC AND METACONTINENTAL. NDPR (January 2010).

Reynolds, Jack, James Chase, James Williams, and Edwin Mares, eds.  Postanalytic and Metacontinental: Crossing Philosophical Divides.  London: Continuum, 2010.

This important book is one of the better anthologies currently available on the relationship, or lack thereof, between the typically disparate traditions of analytic and continental philosophy. The anthology contains essays that offer broader general assessments of methodological differences between traditions as well as a number of very good essays on specific points of convergence or divergence between the traditions. The editors and authors are to be commended for their diligence in avoiding two common mistakes when characterizing these traditions -- either an essentialism which denies the possibility of meaningful dialogue between traditions or a deflationary view prone to ignoring important methodological and substantive differences between analytic and continental philosophy. Indeed, the editors, in their introduction, offer strong considerations for rejecting both of these characterizations while providing examples of their prevalence in the literature. This anthology is a valuable resource for those currently engaged in comparative work and for those who want to understand these two traditions beyond the usual superficial and frequently unjustified characterizations. In what follows, I will provide a brief summary of each of the major sections first and then return to examine in greater detail some of the chapters. . . .

Read the rest here:

Ansell-Pearson, Keith. Review of Francois Raffoul, THE ORIGINS OF RESPONSIBILITY. NDPR (January 2010).

Raffoul, François.  The Origins of Responsibility.  Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010.

In this book François Raffoul seeks to undertake a major reconsideration of the concept of responsibility, drawing upon the rich resources offered by trajectories in continental thought, notably Nietzsche, Sartre, Heidegger, Levinas, and Derrida. His fundamental contention is that we need to think responsibility less in terms of denoting a sphere of power and control, revolving around the establishment of a sovereign subject, and more in terms of our exposure to an event that does not emanate from us but which does call us. According to Raffoul we need to think responsibility not in terms of a spontaneous initiation but rather as a response. This suggests to him that the phenomenological senses of responsibility are closer to a problematic of answerability than to one of accountability and the latter's dependence on a 'metaphysical' conception of the subject. As such, the argument represents what is now a familiar set of moves within continental philosophy, namely, dethroning the imperial claims of a philosophy of the subject and replacing this with a thinking of the event. However, the chief danger of such a move is that it runs the risk of instituting a new set of oppositions -- for example, between activity and passivity, between control and letting be, etc. -- and becomes blind to those situations where sovereign subjects might be needed in order to assume power and exercise control. I am not convinced that sovereignty can be so easily dispensed with, and in some cases in this study, Nietzsche for example (the philosopher of will to power!), the argument seems far-fetched and over-determined.

The book is highly challenging. One of the main challenges consists in Raffoul's insistence that a fundamental rethinking of the question at hand, the nature and status of responsibility, needs to take place outside of the terms of familiar debates in moral philosophy, such as that between the competing claims of free will and determinism and the identification of responsibility with the sphere of the voluntary. Instead, Raffoul favours a phenomenological approach in which the terms of major debates within ethics prove themselves to be inadequate. Furthermore, the opposition between free will and determinism remains caught up in metaphysics and is merely an 'ontical' distinction and thus an obstacle to a proper ontological inquiry (concerned with the phenomenological 'being' of responsibility). The key claim of the book, then, is that, as classically and typically understood, responsibility is wedded to a questionable metaphysics of the free and autonomous subject and we need to start to think the possibilities of a responsibility without reference to such a subject. For Raffoul, the way forward lies in opening up, with the aid of his chosen continental thinkers, the senses of the Latin 'respondere', meaning responsiveness and answerability. The focus is to switch attention away from the subject that creates ethics for itself to an examination of the nature of the ethical claims that call us. . . .

Read the rest here:

Pub: HISTORY AND THEORY (October 2010).

JONAS GRETHLEIN, “Experientiality and ‘Narrative Reference’ with Thanks to Thucydides” takes up the recent interest in experience and its relation to narrative, and does so with great flair and illumination. Postmodernist theorists declared the idea of experience dead, but this idea has recently seen a renaissance, seeming to offer the possibility of reaching beyond linguistic discourse. Indeed, some theorists, in their attempt to overcome the “linguistic turn,” have pitted experience against narrative. But Grethlein convincingly argues that the relation between experience and narrative is more complex than is widely assumed, and in the process he sheds light on techniques that historians can and should use to render history more accessible and more open.

HUAIYIN LI, “From Revolution to Modernization: the Paradigmatic Transition in Chinese Historiography in the Reform Era,” offers a rigorous, informative analysis of exactly what the title promises, namely, the way Chinese historiography has changed from embodying Marxism to adopting Modernization Theory, but all the while keeping an unchanged commitment to serving present political needs in the way the past is interpreted.

BENJAMIN ALDES WURGAFT, “The Uses of Walter: Walter Benjamin and the Counterfactual Imagination” notes that many authors, both scholarly and otherwise, have asked what might have happened had Walter Benjamin survived his 1940 attempt to escape Nazi-occupied Europe. In answering this question Wurgaft not only shows important dimensions of Benjamin and his work, but also explores the larger question of why few intellectual historians ask explicitly counterfactual questions in their work—and why they should. The essay can only be described as elegant, both in conception and in its writing.

The issue also contains a comprehensive “Retrospective” of a historical classic, Norbert Elias’s The Civilizing Process: Sociogenetic and Psychogenetic Investigations. The article offers an overview and assessment of this work by two authors—ANDREW LINKLATER and STEPHEN MENNELL—who know more about Elias’s work than perhaps anyone else in the world, and who write with great insight about both the details of Elias’s work and also about the larger intellectual implications of it. If you want to understand the meaning and import of this great book, this is the place to look.

The issue also contains a number of wide-ranging, provocative review essays:
WILLIAM M. REDDY on Daniel Lord Smail, On Deep History and the Brain;
RAYMOND MARTIN on Allan Megill, Historical Knowledge, Historical Error: a Contemporary Guide to Practice (free download here:;
HARRY HAROOTUNIAN on Christopher L. Hill, National History and the World of Nations: Capital, State, and the Rhetoric of History in Japan, France, and the United States


Cfp: "Voice," Annual Meeting, American Society for the History of Rhetoric (ASHR), National Communication Association, New Orleans, November 17­-20, 2011.

The American Society for the History of Rhetoric invites submissions of program proposals and competitive papers. ASHR welcomes work that examines both the theory and practice of rhetoric in all periods and languages, and that deals with the relation between rhetoric and politics, law, philosophy, religion, poetics and other cultural issues and contexts.

The Society welcomes papers related to NCA’s convention theme “Voice,” understood in a multi-faceted manner. However, submissions need not be restricted to this conference theme. All submissions relevant to the interests of the Society are welcome.

For further information, visit the Association website:

Johnston, Adrian. Review of Fabio Vighi, ON ZIZEK'S DIALECTICS. NDPR (January 2010).

Vighi, Fabio.  On Žižek's Dialectics: Surplus, Subtraction, Sublimation.  London: Continuum, 2010.

With his On Žižek's Dialectics: Surplus, Subtraction, Sublimation, Fabio Vighi provides an interesting and suggestive addition to the rapidly growing body of literature on the internationally renowned Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalytic theorist Slavoj Žižek. Although Vighi's title might lead a potential reader initially approaching this book to expect a sustained discussion of Žižek's Hegelianism specifically -- Hegel is a crucial source of inspiration for Žižekian thought in all its various dimensions (along with Kant, Schelling, Marx, Lacan, and Badiou) -- Vighi devotes the bulk of his attention to critical analyses of the Lacan-inflected facets of Žižek's reflections on matters political. What distinguishes Vighi's intervention from other available treatments of politics à la Žižek is his main thesis that the purported lack of a practical program corresponding to Žižekian theorizations of various recent and contemporary political phenomena is a virtue rather than a vice. . . .

Read the rest here:

Higgins, Charlotte. "T. S. Eliot Prize Goes to Derek Walcott for 'Moving and Technically Flawless Work.'" GUARDIAN January 24, 2010.

In a "bumper year" for English-language poetry, Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, who was embroiled in scandal two years ago, was tonight named winner of the TS Eliot prize for the best new collection of poems published in the UK or Ireland. He took the prize against competition from an eclectic group of poets, including fellow Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, Iraq war veteran Brian Turner and Sam Willetts, whose debut collection came after 10 years lost to addiction to and recovery from heroin. Valerie Eliot, widow of TS Eliot, awarded Walcott £15,000 at a ceremony at the Wallace Collection, London. The winning collection, White Egrets, was described by the chair of judges, poet Anne Stevenson, as "moving and technically flawless.". . .

Read the rest here:

Roberts, Julian. Review of WALTER BENJAMIN. NDPR (January 2010).

Steiner, Uwe.  Walter Benjamin: an Introduction to his Work and Thought.  Trans. Michael Winkler.  Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2010.

Is concern with Walter Benjamin a form of political activism? Should it be? This question has divided commentators since the 1960s, when Benjamin served not only as a banner for the student revolt, but also -- in direct contrast -- as a model for the sober scholarship gradually returning to the German universities.

Undoubtedly the latter view has prevailed, if only in the sense that Benjamin today is a staple of the Ph.D. industry. Steiner's book, which in essence is a chronological catalogue of Benjamin's oeuvre, rather confirms this. There is nothing wrong with this, in principle. Certainly there is only a limited amount of mileage to be extracted from Benjamin's career as a martyr, moving though it may be. And his work provides little direct guidance for the class struggle.

Despite this, criticism of the universities, or more generally of intellectual practice in general, underlies Benjamin's whole project. From our perspective, it is not just the oft-lamented failure of Frankfurt University to recognise Benjamin's talents which need concern us. German universities were at the forefront of the whole Nazi "movement", as indeed were other major components of public culture including the legal system and even, in part, the Churches. All these institutions, little changed, still exist. Is it possible to do justice to Benjamin's work without raising questions which bear directly on modern academic life? This is an issue which Steiner, consistent with the sober approach taken by his book, does not pursue. Related topics which have to be mentioned because of their prominence in Benjamin's work, such as the "Strategist in the Literary Struggle", are firmly consigned to scare quotes. At the end of his book, when Steiner raises the question of Benjamin's "relevance", he rather despairingly finds it in the fact that academics seem forever able to discover "new and hitherto overlooked aspects in his oeuvre".

This strikes me as a little disappointing, and it certainly raises the question of what Steiner might have missed in his subject. If one thing is missing in Steiner's basically thorough account, it is not the leftist political background, which he explains quite fully, but something rather different, namely theology. . . .

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Cfp: "Philosophy and . . .," Joint Conference 2011, Society for European Philosophy and Forum for European Philosophy, York St John University, August 31-September 3, 2011.

Keynote Speakers:

Joan Copjec (University at Buffalo)
Graham Harman (American University, Cairo)
Michèle Le Doeuff (Centre National de la Recherche Scientific, Paris)

In a year when the UK has seen devastating cuts in the funding of the arts and humanities, it would be easy to be pessimistic about the future of Continental Philosophy. Yet, while reflection on the challenges ahead is certainly necessary, recent events also offer us the opportunity to respond to those who dismiss European Philosophy, not only with a vigorous defense, but also a demonstration and celebration of the profound impact it has had and continues to have on an enormous range of other disciplines. So, while this year’s conference follows recent tradition in not having a theme, and thereby welcomes proposals from the broadest range of European philosophical thought, we particularly welcome papers and other contributions that explore the limits of what can be placed together with, and within, the category of philosophy.

“PHILOSOPHY & . . .” is here offered as an opening onto the interdisciplinary terrains upon which European philosophy engages, provokes, interrupts and enriches (as it, in turn, is engaged, provoked, interrupted and enriched by them): …. politics; visual culture; performance art; art practice; architecture; literature; music; film/video; theatre; dance; science; feminism; cultural studies; psychoanalysis; and much more….

Anyone interested in presenting a paper, proposing a themed panel, or offering a different type of contribution, should submit a one page abstract to Gary Peters: The deadline for submissions is May 6, 2011. Please include your name, affiliation (if any, and please note that we wish to encourage proposals from independent scholars), your email and postal address. Decisions regarding the programme will be made by June 3.

Cfp: "The Political Animal," Third Annual Meeting, Pacific Association for the Continental Tradition (PACT), Seattle University, October 7-8, 2011.

Abstracts of 500 words (or complete papers) addressing any aspect of the problem of “the political animal” can be submitted through email to Jason Wirth ( The deadline for submissions is April 15, 2011. The aim of PACT is to create a platform for philosophical dialogue on the
West Coast. The annual conference alternates between Seattle (Seattle University) and San Francisco (University of San Francisco).  PACT takes “Continental Philosophy” in its broadest sense, and everyone with an interest in continental thinking is invited to send in a submission and to participate. For more information, please contact: Jason Wirth or Gerard Kuperus

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Selfhood, Authenticity and Method in Heidegger’s BEING AND TIME: Four Seminars," February - November, 2011.

Although Heidegger’s Being and Time is often cited as one of the most important philosophical works of the last century, its second division has largely been ignored, especially by commentators from the analytic tradition. But an increasing appreciation of the philosophical and theological influences that shape Heidegger’s thought has led to a re-examination of this difficult second division and the suspicion is growing that there is something of real philosophical substance in its concerns; in particular, its discussion of ‘authenticity’ is coming to be seen as having significant implications for how we ought to understand, for example, intentionality and autonomy. In 2011, the Universities of Southampton, Oxford and Essex will host a series of seminars which will extend these fascinating in-roads that are beginning to be made into the difficult hinterland of Heidegger’s magnum opus.

9th February 2011
Christ Church, Oxford University

Taylor Carman (Barnard, Columbia), ‘Heidegger on the Necessity and Finality of Death’
Daniel Dahlstrom (Boston), ‘Authenticity and the Absence of Death’
Denis McManus (Southampton), 'Being-towards-death and One’s Own Best Judgment'

23rd March 2011
University of Southampton

Steven Galt Crowell (Rice), ‘Being Answerable: Reason-Giving as Authentic Discourse’
Stephen Mulhall (Oxford), ‘Nothingness and Phenomenology: Heidegger and Sartre’
Peter Poellner (Warwick), ‘Sartre and Heidegger on Authenticity and Intersubjectivity’

18th May 2011
University of Southampton

Hubert Dreyfus (Berkeley), ‘Authenticity and the Phenomenology of Action’
Béatrice Han-Pile (Essex), ‘Heidegger on Freedom in Being and Time’
Charles Guignon (South Florida), ‘Authenticity, Phenomenology, and the Question of Being’

16th November 2011
University of Essex

Clare Carlisle (Liverpool), ‘Repetitions: Kierkegaard, Heidegger and the Question of Being’
George Pattison (Oxford), ‘Guilt, Death and Nothingness in Luther, Kierkegaard and Being and Time’
Mark Wrathall (California, Riverside), ‘Demanding Authenticity of Ourselves’

Organisers: Denis McManus, George Pattison, amd Béatrice Han-Pile
For further information, visit:

Kavka, Martin. Review of Richard A. Cohen, LEVINASIAN MEDITATIONS. NDPR (January 2010).

Cohen, Richard A.  Levinasian Meditations: Ethics, Philosophy, and Religion.  Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 2010.

This volume collects seventeen of Cohen's essays published during the last twelve years on the French Jewish phenomenologist Emmanuel Levinas. The essays are divided into two sections. The first section, "Ethics as First Philosophy," covers thematic material similar to that in Cohen's 2001 book Ethics, Exegesis and Philosophy: the critical stance that Levinas takes toward other figures in the phenomenological and philosophical traditions. (This section also contains a wonderful little essay on Levinas's frequent, and frequently ignored, citations to Shakespeare.) The second section, "A Religion for Adults," contains essays on the place of Judaism, and the relationship between Judaism and philosophy, in Levinas's writings. Yet this latter section is not an inessential appendage to the first; rather, it is its sequel. Levinasian Meditations, in its structure, embodies a claim frequently found in scholarship on Levinas, namely that Judaism and its other-centered ethics, through its countercultural stance, can play a role in saving the modern West from the historical evils that have resulted from the West's tendency either to create social commonalities through political violence or to erase social difference through genocide and ethnic cleansing. Those who read these essays seriatim will quickly infer that many of them are, at least in part, responses to unnamed others who have offered dismissive responses either to Cohen's approach to Levinas or to Levinas's philosophy tout court. It strikes me as very possible that readers of Levinasian Meditations will misinterpret it as a result. . . .

Read the rest here:

Dawes, Simon. "Interview with David Macey on Fanon, Foucault and Race." TCS ANNUAL REVIEW (January 2011).

Simon Dawes interviews David Macey about his contribution to the Special Section on Frantz Fanon in the current issue of the TCS Annual Review, and about his 2009 article in the TCS Special Issue on Michel Foucault.

Read more to find out why (and for whom) Fanon is a source of embarrassment, the link for Foucault between race and the legitimacy of power, and why we should all be reaching for our copies of Fanon and Aimé Césaire.

Read it here:

Batnitzky, Leora. "Leo Strauss." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY December 1, 2010.

Leo Strauss was a twentieth-century German Jewish émigré to the United States whose intellectual corpus spans ancient, medieval and modern political philosophy and includes, among others, studies of Plato, Maimonides, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Spinoza, and Nietzsche. Strauss wrote mainly as a historian of philosophy and most of his writings take the form of commentaries on important thinkers and their writings. Yet as he put it: “There is no inquiry into the history of philosophy that is not at the same time a philosophical inquiry” (PL, p. 41). While much of his philosophical project involved an attempt to rethink pre-modern philosophy, the impetus for this reconsideration and the philosophical problems that vexed Strauss most were decidedly modern. Strauss especially worried about the modern philosophical grounds for political and moral normativity as well as about the philosophical, theological, and political consequences of what he took to be modern philosophy's overinflated claims for the self-sufficiency of reason. . . .

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Osborne, Peter. "Walter Benjamin." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY January 18, 2011.

Walter Benjamin's importance as a philosopher and critical theorist can be gauged by the diversity of his intellectual influence and the continuing productivity of his thought. Primarily regarded as a literary critic and essayist, the philosophical basis of Benjamin's writings is increasingly acknowledged. They were a decisive influence upon Theodor W. Adorno's conception of philosophy's actuality or adequacy to the present (Adorno 1931). In the 1930s, Benjamin's efforts to develop a politically oriented, materialist aesthetic theory proved an important stimulus for both the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory and the Marxist poet and dramatist Bertolt Brecht.

The delayed appearance of Benjamin's collected writings has determined and sustained the Anglophone reception of his work. (A two-volume selection was published in German in 1955, with a full edition not appearing until 1972–89; English anthologies first appeared in 1968 and 1978; the four-volume Selected Writings, 1996–2003.) Originally received in the context of literary theory and aesthetics, the philosophical depth and cultural breadth of Benjamin's thought have only recently begun to be fully appreciated. Despite the voluminous size of the secondary literature that it has produced, his work remains a continuing source of productivity. An understanding of the intellectual context of his work has contributed to the recent philosophical revival of Early German Romanticism. His essay on ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technical Reproducibility’ remains a major theoretical text for film theory. One-Way Street and the work arising from his unfinished research on nineteenth century Paris (The Arcades Project), provide a theoretical stimulus for cultural theory and philosophical concepts of the modern. Benjamin's messianic understanding of history has been an enduring source of theoretical fascination and frustration for a diverse range of recent philosophical thinkers, including Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben and, in a critical context, Jürgen Habermas. The ‘Critique of Violence’ and ‘On the Concept of History’ are important sources for Derrida's discussion of messianicity, which has been influential, along with Paul de Man's discussion of allegory, for the poststructuralist reception of Benjamin's writings. Aspects of Benjamin's thought have also been associated with the recent revival of political theology, although it is doubtful this reception is true to the tendencies of Benjamin's own political thought. . . .

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"Transgression and the Sacred," an International Philosophy and Literature Conference, University College Dublin, February 22-23, 2011.

“The sacred world depends on limited acts of transgression” (Georges Bataille, Eroticism)

Transgression refers to a crossing over, the exceeding of bounds or limits, the infringement or violation of a law or convention. For Bataille, it is through acts of transgression that we experience the sacred. The profane world is the world of the taboo, while the subject of a taboo, that which the taboo prohibits, is sacred. Yet, transgression does not deny or destroy the taboo; it exceeds the taboo but also completes it.

In our post-enlightenment age transgression and the limit have replaced the older dichotomy of the sacred and the profane. If transgression and the sacred depend on limits what are the limits that still exist in the modern world? If we live in a largely limitless world has the sacred now disappeared?

Or, do we now in fact now live in a post-secular world? How has the sacred been reorganised or reconstituted in modern philosophical and literary discourse? How might transgression be important in rediscovering the sacred, as Foucault declares in his ‘Preface to Transgression’, “In that zone which our culture affords for our gestures and speech, transgression prescribes not only the sole manner of discovering the sacred in its unmediated substance, but also a way of recomposing its empty form, its absence”.

Bataille’s ideas on transgression and the sacred derive largely from the anthropology of religion. The word ‘sacred’ derives from the Latin sacer, meaning to set apart. The sacred is separated from the profane by a taboo or limit. Therefore we want to examine the importance of liminality, the scapegoat, sacrifice, pollution, and sacred transgressors such as Hermes and Trickster in the history of philosophy and literature.

We would also like to consider theological conceptions of the sacred. Bataille’s conception of the sacred is anti-Christian and denies any form of transcendence or salvation; Christianity is the least religious of all religions for him as it denies the impure aspect of the sacred – eroticism, excess, excretion, horror, death. But what is the relationship between transgression and the sacred in Christianity and the major religions and how is this relationship represented in philosophy and literature? Rudolph Otto refers to the numinous in which the Other, the wholly other or the transcendent, appears as a mysterium tremendum et fascinans - that is, a mystery before which man both trembles and is fascinated, is both repelled and attracted. How might such a deification and demonising of the Other be problematised in philosophy and literature?

We welcome papers that engage exclusively with philosophy or exclusively with literature and literary theory, or papers that combine the two disciplines - the literary analysis of philosophy or the use of philosophy as a theoretical framework for the analysis of literary texts.

Topics may include (but are not limited to) the following:

The scapegoat
Violence and the sacred
Gothic and horror fiction
Shamans and tricksters as sacred transgressors
Liminality – border-crossing, the sacred and the spatial conditioning of transgression
The stranger / the Other
Wild men, sacred savages and holy fools
Derrida and messianicity
Lyotard’s The Confessions of Augustine
The Carnivalesque
Hallucinogens, altered states of consciousness and sacred visions
Blasphemy and censorship
Gender studies and Queer theory
The writings of The Marquis de Sade, Georges Bataille, Maurice Blanchot, Michel Foucault
Transgressive Literature and genre
Levinas on the sacred and the holy
Transgressing form and textual boundaries, transgressing sacred texts
Modernism / postmodernism

For further information, contact: to .

Cfp: "Writing Philosophy's History," Department of Philosophy, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Irish Philosophical Society, April 15-16, 2011.

Keynote speaker: Professor Jonathan Rée

The conference addresses questions concerning philosophy's relationship to its own past. This should not to be seen as an opportunity for historians of philosophy to focus narrowly upon specific questions relating to texts or thinkers in the history of philosophy, nor should it be seen as an engagement with the philosophy of history. The purpose of the conference is much broader and more evidently methodological. It is designed to consider the ways philosophers conceptualize their own past and how this influences their interpretations of past texts (and their conceptions of the current tasks of philosophy). Amongst other things the conference focuses upon the following topics and questions:

* The relationship between philosophy and the history of philosophy.
* Methodological issues relating to the ways the history of philosophy is conceived.
* The history of philosophy as a hermeneutical task.
* Why is philosophy concerned with its past?
* Which theories of history are appropriate to the history of philosophy?
* Can one do philosophy without doing the history of philosophy?
* How is the philosophical canon constituted?
* How central figures in the history of philosophy have conceived of the history of philosophy.
* The history of philosophy as either a rationally or historically reconstructive enterprise.
* The history of the history of philosophy.
* The philosophy of the history of philosophy.
* Marxist and psychoanalytic approaches to the history of philosophy.
* The history of philosophy and postmodernism
* The history of philosophy in relation to issues of gender, class, and race.
* The role of biography and autobiography.

Send an abstract of up to 750 words, formatted for anonymous review, and sent by email to Dr. Chris Lawn ( and Dr. Catherine Kavanagh ( by MARCH 11, 2011. In addition, on a separate sheet please include contact details. Notification of the committee's decision regarding submissions will be emailed no later than MARCH 25, 2011.


Hezekiah, Gabrielle A.  Phenomenology's Material Presence: Video, Vision and Experience.  Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2010.

Phenomenology’s Material Presence draws on recent work in phenomenology, embodiment, and cinema and extends the field by examining metaphysical presence in postcolonial cinema. Where other scholarship has assimilated insight from individual phenomenological thinkers, Phenomenology’s Material Presence utilizes the methods of these thinkers—Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty—to produce a richly textured and poetic essay that brings them into conversation. Through a meditation on three experimental videos by Trinidadian filmmaker Robert Yao Ramesar, this book makes the case that video performs an act of phenomenological inquiry. Phenomenology’s Material Presence extends our theorizing in both film studies and philosophy. Further information on the book is available here:
See also her presentation in the Norman Jewison Series at York University, Toronto: Gabrielle A. Hezekiah speaks on Phenomenology’s Material Presence:
Gabrielle A. Hezekiah addresses key questions raised in her new book, Phenomenology’s Material Presence: Video, Vision and Experience. How do aesthetic practices engage with experience? How do we arrive at a description of that experience? What does phenomenological method offer in the way of description and what is to be gained by the use of phenomenology as a distinct approach to moving image theory? Can video be shown to perform – rather than illustrate – philosophical methods and concepts? In her talk, Hezekiah will draw on the experimental video documentaries of Trinidadian filmmaker Robert Yao Ramesar and the insights of philosophers Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Her presentation includes screenings of Ramesar’s videos Heritage: A Wedding in Moriah, Mami Wata and Journey to Ganga Mai. Admission is free and all are welcome.  For further information, visit:

"Nietzsche the Kantian? Reading Nietzsche and Kant on the Sovereign Individual, Freedom and the Will," Institute for Philosophy, Leiden University, February 11-12, 2011.

This workshop is the first of a series on Nietzsche’s relation to Kant to be held in various European universities. It aims to illuminate the relations between Nietzsche and Kant in the field of ethics by engaging with recent debates in the English-language literature over their conceptions of ‘sovereignty’, ‘freedom’ and the ‘will’. It will respond critically to the currently popular idea that, despite his criticisms of free will, moral responsibility, intentional causality and the ‘subject’ itself, Nietzsche affirms a ‘Kantian’ sense of agency that admits certain positive senses of freedom, responsibility and intentional causality and bases a positive ethics on it. The workshop will concentrate on Nietzsche’s later writings and will challenge the current emphasis on the ‘sovereign individual’ passage of On the Genealogy of Morality by opening up the discussion to Nietzsche’s treatments of ‘will’, ‘freedom’ and ‘sovereignty’ elsewhere in his published and unpublished work. The workshop will also attempt to correct the caricature of Kant that Nietzsche himself and his commentators often present and to thus provide for more sophisticated and fruitful engagements with Kant and Kantian positions. It will consist of 30-45 minute presentations of papers, some of which will be pre-circulated among participants at the beginning of February, followed by an open discussion guided by chairs.

Contact Herman Siemens (

Cfp: "The Crisis of Public Education and the Transformation of Society," Shifting the Geography of Reason VIII, Caribbean Philosophical Association, Rutgers University, September 28-30, 2011.


Plenary session commemorating 50 years of Frantz Fanon's passing with Mireille Fanon-Mendès France, Lewis Gordon, Nigel Gibson, Drucilla Cornell, and others TBA

Boaventura de Sousa Santos on the crisis of the university

Panel on the crisis of the humanities with Walter D. Mignolo, Nelson Maldonado-Torres, and other participants TBA

Plenary session awarding the 2011 Frantz Fanon and Nicolás Guillén Prizes: the 2011 Frantz Fanon Award winners are: Susan Buck-Morss for Hegel, Haiti, and University History, and Marilyn Nissim-Sabat for Neither Victim nor Survivor: Thinking Toward a New Humanity (attendance confirmed).

2011 Nicolás Guillén Award winner: Junot Díaz (attendance confirmed).

As always, we invite submissions (papers, panels, roundtables) that explore race and racism, gender, colonization and decolonization, sexuality, imperialism, and migration, social and intellectual movements, and related areas, not only in the Caribbean, but globally. We accept proposals in English, French, and Spanish.