Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mendieta, Eduardo. Review of David Ingram, HABERMAS. NDPR (February 2011).

Ingram, David.  Habermas: Introduction and Analysis.  Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2010.

David Ingram is no neophyte to either Habermas or Frankfurt School Critical Theory. A very good argument can be made, in fact, that Ingram belongs to what has been called 'Third Generation Critical Theory.' His 1987 book, Habermas and the Dialectic of Reason, was indispensable for a new generation of scholars trying to make sense of Habermas' two-volume Theory of Communicative Action (1981) and his Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (1984). Over the last two decades, in addition to editing volumes of the key writings by Frankfurt School critical theorists, he has written a series of books on democracy, rights, globalization, and cosmopolitanism that have traced a distinctive contribution to a more radical understanding of deliberative democracy. Such a sustained engagement with Habermas' work, in particular, and Critical Theory, in general, explains why this book is not simply an introduction.

In fact, more than an "introduction and analysis," it can be said that it is also an immanently critical assessment of Habermas' transformation of Critical Theory. In this sense, in as much as Critical Theory is a tradition whose major task is the immanent critique of reason, Ingram's book is also a contribution to the Critical Theory tradition. Ingram's book is without question the most comprehensive presentation of Habermas' corpus to date. The book is made up of eleven dense yet also clear chapters on different aspects of Habermas' thinking. Ingram is right to claim that at the heart of Habermas' system is his conception of universal pragmatics (p. 72). Universal pragmatics is the caldron in which the linguist turn of early twentieth-century philosophy was melted with action theory and functional systems analysis to provide us with a thoroughly linguistic understanding of reason. At the heart of universal pragmatics is Habermas' analysis of speech acts and the different validity claims that are raised in their performance. The chapters in which Ingram explains and reconstructs Habermas' analysis of the linguistic character of human rationality are surely some of the best I have read, not simply for how comprehensive they are but also because they do not shy away from explicit discussion of objections and problems that Habermas has either failed to address or has subsequently addressed. . . .


Snow, Dale E. Review of Yolanda Estes, et al., eds. J. G. FICHTE AND THE ATHEISM DISPUTE. NDPR (March 2011).

Estes, Yolanda, and Curtis Bowman, eds.  J. G. Fichte and the Atheism Dispute (1798-1800).  London: Ashgate, 2010.

The atheism dispute (Atheismusstreit) riveted all of learned Germany in 1799, and its consequences reverberated for many more years. The precipitating event seems curiously out of proportion to the response it engendered: Fichte, who was co-editor of the Philosophisches Journal, agreed to print an essay by F. K. Forberg entitled "On the Concept of Religion." Fearing that readers could misunderstand Forberg's ideas as an expression of his views, Fichte included an essay of his own, "On the Ground of Our belief in a Divine World-Governance." As a direct result, the journal was put under an edict of confiscation; Fichte was accused of atheism, officially censured by the authorities, and ultimately resigned from his professorship at the University of Jena.

It was in all likelihood the anonymous publication of a widely circulated pamphlet, "A Father's Letter to his Student Son about Fichte's and Forberg's Atheism," which initially drew public attention to the essays. The editors describe it accurately as "a maudlin tract" (7). It contains a litany of accusations of the ways in which Fichte's and Forberg's ideas were certain to result in corruption of the youth: they stood for atheism, political rebelliousness, and even moral licentiousness. This unfavorable publicity was more than sufficient to touch off a firestorm of criticism of Fichte, his philosophy, and his person. Fichte thought of and presented himself as Kant's heir, and for many Kant's signature achievement had been the overturning of the traditional relationship between faith and reason. This made it plausible to quickly extend the suspicion of atheism to Fichte's best-known work, The Science of Knowledge (Wissenschaftslehre) as well. Numerous publications for and against Fichte appeared in rapid succession, including F. H Jacobi's notorious "open letter to Fichte," which declared Fichte's philosophy to be tantamount to "nihilism." This is thought to be the first use of this term. The larger significance of the atheism dispute, then, can be seen in the way in which it led into a debate over the values of the German Enlightenment itself, much as the pantheism controversy of the 1780s had done.

For both Fichte's contemporaries and today's scholars, the atheism dispute and its aftermath threatened to overshadow all the other achievements of Fichte's Jena period. A recent remark of Allen Wood's is typical of this view: "The 1790s were for Fichte (and modern philosophy) a brief era of astonishing philosophical achievement. But the tale as a whole is far darker and more troubling, even tragic." Daniel Breazeale presents a more measured account in his Fichte: Early Philosophical Writings; however, his book, focused as it is on the Jena Wissenschaftslehre, contains none of the atheism controversy texts. Thus there is a real need for the collection and translation of the relevant materials necessary for the comprehension of this extraordinary episode in the history of philosophy. Even in German, it is difficult to find a readily accessible comparable compilation.

The present volume is a near-masterpiece of careful reconstruction and contextualization of the unfolding of the atheism dispute as reflected in the essays, letters, edicts, and petitions which combine to tell this remarkable story. All of the texts in this volume are appearing in English translation for the first time. The only major atheism controversy text which previously existed in English translation is Jacobi's "open letter" to Fichte. . . .


Brownlee, Timonthy. Review of David V. Ciavatta, SPIRIT, THE FAMILY AND THE UNCONSCIOUS IN HEGEL'S PHILOSOPHY. NDPR (March 2011).

Ciavatta, David V.  Spirit, the Family, and the Unconscious in Hegel's Philosophy.  Albany: SUNY Press, 2009.

In The Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel famously argues that self-consciousness depends essentially on the recognition of others and that active engagement in practices of recognizing and being recognized by others is a necessary condition for being an agent or a self. In recent years, interpreters have worked to couple Hegel's early treatment of reciprocal recognition with the account of rational institutions that Hegel offers in The Philosophy of Right by arguing that recognition in fact requires institutional mediation. One of the primary virtues of David V. Ciavatta's Spirit, the Family, and the Unconscious in Hegel's Philosophy is that it provides a concrete account of how one particular institution, that of the family, provides an enduring framework for recognition between subjects. Indeed, Ciavatta contends that the family constitutes, for Hegel, the "most foundational, comprehensive . . . form of recognition" structuring and informing our experience of ourselves, others, and the world, and he demonstrates that this recognition is importantly unique, insofar as it is primarily unreflective and unconscious, the product more of affective relations than of reflective endorsement. (2). Ciavatta's book will be of interest to students of Hegel's practical philosophy and German idealism, to phenomenologists (especially those concerned with embodiment, intersubjective relations and sociality, and identity), and to those with interests in the intersections between philosophy and psychoanalysis.

Methodologically, Ciavatta's work falls within a long phenomenological tradition of interpreting Hegel, and he stresses "Hegel's unswerving commitment to describing the concrete, lived experience of human practical existence on its own terms" (2).  Thematically, he demonstrates that Hegel shares the view, common among phenomenologists, that the unreflective and affective dimensions of our experience disclose "certain truths about our relation to the world that can only be appreciated in [an] unreflective, lived way" (10). At the same time, Ciavatta argues that, in place of a transcendental ego, Hegel conceives of the self who experiences as essentially social and, in fact, constituted through concrete relations of recognition. By consequence, he stresses that, for Hegel, intersubjective relations inform not only our identities as selves, but even our most basic perceptual experiences. Drawing on the account of mastery and slavery in the Phenomenology as exemplary, Ciavatta claims that the slave's "very contact with the concrete world is informed and contextualized on all sides by the presence of the master, and, in particular, by his recognition of the master as the only true center of experience." (34) It is in this sense that "spirit," which Ciavatta takes to consist in "the concrete practices of recognition that join selves concretely to one another," indelibly informs and shapes our experiences of ourselves, others, and the world (37).  However, Ciavatta stresses that these enduring patterns of recognition themselves depend essentially on unreflective habits and customs, which are expressed just as much in immediate affects and feelings as they are in explicit and reflected beliefs and convictions. Ciavatta therefore argues that the habitual and customary domain of "ethical life" (Sittlichkeit) informs not merely our practical relations to one another, but also our own sense of self and our relationship to the world we encounter through perception. . . .


Cfp: The Rhetoric of Religion, MEMPHIS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY JOURNAL (Spring 2012).

The Memphis Theological Seminary Journal is seeking papers for its Spring 2012 issue. The theme of the issue is Rhetoric and Religion. We seek submissions that examine the relationships and intersections of rhetoric and religion. This includes but not limited to:

The theory and practice of rhetoric and religion
Forms of communication addressed to gods or God or gods
The religious rhetoric of any religious or non-religious (secular) tradition
God talk among different groups, cultures, or within institutions
The role of religious discourse in the public arena
The relationship between speaker and audience within a religious context
The role of rhetoric in the religious studies curriculum
Rhetorical analysis of certain religious texts, such as scripture, sermons, and theological writings
Religious rhetoric and the role of power
Rhetorical histories of any tradition, event, or time period
Rhetoricaltrajectories of religious leaders
Prophetic rhetoric
Religious rhetoric and the role of women

The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2011.

Please send all essays to Andre E. Johnson at


Open access, peer-reviewed journal that publishes studies in the history of interdisciplinary ideas. The first online issue is scheduled June 2011.

The Journal of Interdisciplinary History of Ideas has been founded in 2010 with the aim to:
•publish high quality, original research works, by scholars of different fields of specialization, based on well established, as on emerging lines of interdisciplinary historical research;
•promote the study of intellectual history as an intrinsically interdisciplinary object in its genesis;
•provide a publishing space for studies dealing with the history of ideas from a genuinely interdisciplinary research perspective;
•provide a regular forum for discussing issues pertaining to the interdisciplinary approach that characterizes the Journal.

The JiHi will feature substantive articles, shorter research notes, and surveys. Being an interdisciplinary journal, all submissions will be blind-refereed by three or more peers with different competence.

Cfp: "Forms of Domination and Emancipation," Annual Studies in Social and Political Thought Conference, University of Sussex, June 16-17, 2011.

[T]he fact above all which so demoralizes the modern world [is] that the greater the efforts made, the more terrible are the new forms in which the old social problems reappear. (C. L. R. James)

Keynote speakers include Chris Arthur (ex-Sussex) on “Dialectic of Domination and Emancipation” and Stathis Kouvelakis (Kings College London) on "The Actuality of Revolution?”

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

Forms of domination: Capital; (neo-)Liberalism; Patriarchy; Imperialism and (neo-)Colonialism; Hegemony; Ideology; Biopolitics; Discipline; Governmentality; Psychology and Psychoanalysis; Legality and Legitimacy.

Forms of emancipation: Communism and Communization; Radical Democracy; the State; Politics of Difference, Otherness, Non-Identity; Anarchism; Multitude; Psychology and Psychoanalysis; New Social Movements.

Possible thinkers include but are not limited to: Alain Badiou; Walter Benjamin; Judith Butler; Gilles Deleuze; Frantz Fanon; Michel Foulcault; Antonio Gramsci; G.W.F. Hegel; C.L.R. James; Freud and Lacan; Henri Lefebvre; Rosa Luxemburg; Karl Marx; Antonio Negri; Evgeny Pashukanis; Jacques Rancière; Edward Said; Early Frankfurt School; Neue Marx-Lektüre; Value-Form Theory; Théorie Communiste.

Some participants might also like to consider the relations between different thinkers and forms of domination and emancipation.

Abstracts or questions should be addressed to:

Cfp: "New Perspectives on Hermeneutics in the Social Sciences and Practical Philosophy," International Conference on Ricoeur Studies, the Society for Ricoeur Studies and the Fonds Ricoeur, National Research University ‘Higher School of Economics,' Moscow, September 13–16, 2011.

This international conference builds on a tradition of Ricoeur scholarship established by the University of Kent conference ‘From Ricoeur to Action’ (June 2009) and the Universidade Nova de Lisboa conference ‘Reading Ricoeur Once Again: Hermeneutics and Practical Philosophy’ (July 2010). The spirit of this conference is to further promote the world-wide dialogue between academic communities and individuals studying Paul Ricoeur’s oeuvre.

The conference aims to analyze Ricoeur’s contribution to the social sciences and practical philosophy, in particular, the way hermeneutics constitutes new forms of exploration of human action and social life. The topics discussed at the conference may concern both epistemological and ontological issues of language, discourse, and textuality in contemporary social thought.

We welcome critical and constructive papers assessing the contributions of Ricoeurian philosophy in any one of these areas, including papers from scholars who are not specialists in Ricoeur and whose insights will help to interpret and rethink the perspectives of hermeneutical analysis. Areas of particular interest include but are not limited to:

Action Theory
Narrative Analysis
Event Theory
Memory Studies
Social Epistemology and Methodology
Critical Theory
Political Theory and Identity
Social and Political Imaginary
Ideology and Utopia
Theology, Religion and Society
Hermeneutics and Law
Applied Ethics
Recognition Theory
Literary Theory and Self-Understanding
The Prospects for and Limits of Human Capability

For purposes of consideration, please submit an electronic abstract only (of roughly 300-500 words) and attach a separate title page that includes the paper's title, the author's name, institutional affiliation, mailing address, and email address. Notification of acceptance will be given via email. Final papers should be thirty minutes when read aloud. Abstracts and queries should be sent to Anna Borisenkova. Email:

Cfp: "Ethics, Identity and Recognition," Latin American Conference on Paul Ricoeur’s Thought, Catholic University of Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil, November 28-30, 2011.

This Latin American Conference on Paul Ricoeur’s thought will take place at the Catholic University of Campinas (São Paulo, Brazil). It builds on the momentum created by the Conference that took place in Guadalajara last November. The main objective of this international meeting in Brazil is to invite the philosophical community to a renewed and innovative discussion around three of Ricoeur’s fundamental works: Time and Narrative, Oneself as Another, and The Course of Recognition. These three works converge on the basic question of the acting and suffering condition of the human being, which develops on the personal, interpersonal and institutional planes. This meeting intends to be a fruitful dialogue among professors and graduate students working on Ricoeur’s thought from multiple perspectives. Several national and international scholars will participate in the Congress and share their research with the Latin American community. Participants are invited to submit their abstracts according to the thematic presented above. Each submission will be evaluated through a blind reviewing process by specialists from the Conference’s Scientific Committee.

Main Subjects:

- Narrative, ethics and identity
- Ethical perspective of historical and fictional narratives
- Identity and recognition
- Ethical dimensions of recognition
- Recognition within institutions
- Institutional dimension of ethical praxis
- Otherness, ethics and recognition
- Friendship and solicitude
- Psychoanalysis and hermeneutics
- Personal identity and ethical building
- Hermeneutics of law
- Religious identity and recognition
- Philosophy and literature: time and narrative

Keynote Speakers:

Prof. Jeanne-Marie Ganegbin, PUC-SP, UNICAMP and Fonds Ricoeur (Brazil)
Prof. Richard Kearney, Boston College (USA)
Prof. Johann Michel, Université de Poitiers, EHESS(Paris) et Fonds Ricoeur (France)
Prof. Mario Presas, University of La Plata (Argentina)
Prof. Michel Renaud, University Nova de Lisboa (Portugal)
Prof. George Taylor, University of Pittsburgh and Society for Ricoeur Studies (USA)
Prof. Gilbert Vincent, Université de Strasbourg and Fonds Ricoeur (France)

Abstracts (around 300 words) can be submitted in either Portuguese, Spanish, French or English. They should be submitted through the Congress website (see below) using the “Abstract Submission” menu option by no later than May 31st, 2011.

Congress webpage:

Cfp: "In the Aftermath of German Idealism," Bergische Universität Wuppertal, May 13-14, 2011.

Keynote speakers:

  • Markus Gabriel, Universität Bonn, author of Der Mensch im Mythos and Transcendental Ontology(forthcoming by Continuum)
  • Jean-Christophe Goddard, Université de Toulouse le Mirail, author of La philosophie fichtéenne de la vie: Le transcendantal et le pathologique
  • Arnaud François, Université de Toulouse le Mirail, author of Bergson, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche: Volonté et réalité
  • Sean McGrath, Memorial University of Newfoundland, author of The Dark Ground of Spirit: Schelling and the Unconscious (forthcoming by Routledge)
  • Devin Shaw, Zane University of Ottawa, author of Freedom and Nature in Schelling's Philosophy of Art
Since the philosophical upheaval caused by Kant's transcendental philosophy, the status of what would later be called “German Idealism” has been anything but clear. On the one hand, the efforts of the major representatives of post-Kantianism only intensified the intrinsic ambiguity of the founding gesture of the tradition. Instead of simply interpreting or expanding Kant, yet all the while attempting to radicalize his original breakthrough, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel developed surprisingly different and opposing systems. On the other hand, the 19th- and 20th-century reception of Hegelianism would have another decisive effect, which would in its own way obfuscate the signification of German Idealism by drastically altering our perception of the tradition as a whole. Not only was Hegel thought to be the culmination of the operative logic of German idealism, which would for a long time prevent us from understanding the works of Fichte and Schelling in and of themselves, but there was also a primordial urge to immanently rethink Hegelian dialectics from the standpoint of historical finitude while being faithful to its fundamental insights, arguing for the implicit and irreducible potential still lurking in this movement.

However, the history of German idealism did not in any way end there. In the 20th century we have seen seen a countless number of virulent attacks against “traditional” metaphysics arise as different philosophical schools demanded us to give up “dead” and “outdated” notions like system and totality, German Idealism often being seen the as the epitome of excessive, unbridled reason. Yet, in the face of these so-called “devastating” critiques, classical German philosophy has not been sentenced to death and banished to the abyssal forgetfulness of a forever lost past. Not only has there been an intense increase of secondary literature in the past decades, but a multitude of contemporary philosophers are returning to this moment in order to develop their own thought.

The status of German Idealism remains more ambiguous and uncertain than ever: even two centuries after its emergence, we find ourselves – still or again – in the aftermath of German Idealism and feel its effects deep within the internal pulsations of philosophy itself.  Therefore, the goal of this conference is to open up an space within which one approach the reception of German Idealism and address its philosophical heritage. The unifying theme will be the following constellation of questions: Why do we constantly go back to German Idealism and cannot simply rid ourselves one and for all of its fundamental concepts? What could German Idealism teach us today? Are there still non-cultivated resources lurking within the thought of Kant, Fichte, Hegel and Schelling? Are we only able to unearth these resources today by passing through their internal and external critiques? Should we take the risk and plunge headfirst into the tradition in attempting to reactualize it?

Proposed topics are (but in no way limited to):

- The immediate reception of German Idealism (Jacobi, Reinhold, Schulze, Maïmon, Marx, the Schellingian, Feuerbachian, Kierkegaardian, Schopenhauerian or Marxist critique of Hegel)
- The tole of concepts such as “finitude,” “system,” “totality,” “liberty” or “subjectivity” in German Idealism and its reception
- The category of contingence in Schellingian and Hegelian dialectics
- Contemporary rereadings of Hegel (Frankfurt School, Butler, Jameson, Malabou, Nancy, Pippin, Žižek)
- The current resurgence of Schelling (Grant, Gabriel)
- The appropriation of Hegel by representatives of analytical philosophy searching for a new grounding for epistemology (McDowell and Brandom)
- Critique of the notion of history and post-Hegelian philosophies of history
- Contemporary usage of German Idealism in practical philosophy
- Critiques of German Idealism from within different philosophical movements (phenomenology, Heidegger, Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze – and so on unto infinity)
- New interpretations of Kant, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel

Send a short abstract (200-400 words) for a 20-30 minute presentation to be given in English, French or German to Joseph Carew ( and Daniel Pucciarelli ( by the 15th of April.

Pamental, Matthew. Review of Molly Cochran, ed. CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO DEWEY. NDPR (March 2011).

Cochran, Molly, ed.  Cambridge Companion to DeweyCambridge: CUP, 2010.

John Dewey (1859-1952) was America's leading public philosopher for well over half a century. His collected writings take up thirty seven volumes, with several additional volumes devoted to lecture notes provided by his students, and three volumes of correspondence, all published by Southern Illinois University Press. Thus it is inevitable that any collection of writings about Dewey and his thought will be incomplete. In particular, while Dewey's engagement as a public philosopher is mentioned both in Robert Westbrook's intellectual biography and Richard Bernstein's and Molly Cochran's discussions of Dewey's vision of democracy, his public philosophy receives no sustained attention comparable to his epistemology and logic, for example. Given Dewey's commitment to the ideal of philosophy as a tool for resolving the "problems of men," this is a significant lacuna. That said, however, the collection of essays in Cochran's The Cambridge Companion to Dewey ranges impressively -- both widely and deeply -- over Dewey's corpus, including all of Dewey's major works, his intellectual development, and his significance as a philosopher of democracy. In what follows, I will lay out the themes discussed in each section and make a few critical remarks along the way.

Included in the present volume are an introduction by the editor and Westbrook's intellectual biography, followed by thirteen chapters. Cochran helpfully divides these chapters into five sections. The first section consists of chapters by Ruth Anna Putnam, Richard M. Gale, Isaac Levi, and J. E. Tiles, and investigates Dewey's naturalism and logic of inquiry. The second section consists of two essays, by Mark Johnson and Matthias Jung, on Dewey's philosophy of mind and action. In the third section, Jennifer Welchman and James Bohman treat Dewey's ethics, moral and social philosophy. The fourth section is a bit of a catch-all, including essays by Sami Pihlström on Dewey's naturalistic philosophy of religion, Richard Eldridge on Dewey's aesthetics, and Nel Noddings on Dewey's philosophy of education. The final section consists of essays by Bernstein and Cochran on Dewey's conception of democracy and its application to international affairs. . . .


Monday, March 07, 2011

Morgan, Michael L. Review of Sam B. Girgus, LEVINAS AND THE CINEMA OF REDEMPTION. NDPR (February 2011).

Girgus, Sam B.  Levinas and the Cinema of Redemption: Time, Ethics, and the Feminine.  New ork: Columbia UP, 2010.

The question that I kept before me as I was reading this book and preparing to write this review is whether philosophers can learn anything valuable from it. After all, it is a book written by someone who has published extensively on film, it treats various Hollywood and European films that are classics and certainly worthy of attention, and it purports to engage with the work of an important twentieth-century philosopher as part of its project. To be sure, one can learn something even from a book that has significant deficiencies, but what I have been asking myself is something different. It is whether a philosopher could learn anything positive from the book. Does the book say helpful and interesting things about Emmanuel Levinas? Does it show us how to explore films in the light of Levinas's philosophical work? Does it read films in a way that is philosophically novel and interesting, about film itself or about these particular films? I wish that I could answer "yes" to one or more of these questions, but I cannot. The most I can say is that in the course of reading what Girgus has to say about Levinas and the nine or so films he discusses, one is provoked to reflect upon a number of problems and issues concerning Levinas and film, and although Girgus has nothing particularly helpful to say about most of them, it is worthwhile to have them called to our attention.

In the course of the book's seven chapters Girgus discusses: Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and It's a Wonderful Life (1946); John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath (1940); John Huston's The Misfits (1961); Robert Rossen's The Hustler (1961); Edward Zwick's Glory (1989); Philip Kaufman's The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988); Federico Felini's La Dolce Vita (1959); and Michelangelo Antonioni's L'avventura (1960). He also briefly comments on Michael Curtiz's Casablanca (1942), Rossen's Body and Soul (1947), and Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949). He organizes his discussions of the films according to themes he finds in Levinas. For example, he uses the Capra films to show how the redemptive element in these films can be articulated using Levinas's notion of transcendence and responsibility to the other person, and he uses Levinas's notion of the face in order to clarify how to understand particular facial shots of Henry Fonda, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, and Denzel Washington. His treatment of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, La Dolce Vita, and L'avventura attempts to use Levinas in order to clarify what the films tell us about art, ethics, love, sexuality, and gender. His most detailed and most comprehensive commentaries on the films are the last three, the European films. Girgus's basic project, then, is to identify and clarify themes in Levinas's philosophy in certain American films and to show how these themes are represented in European films that are also examples of what Girgus calls a "cinema of redemption." . . .

Read the rest here:

Cfp: Film-Philosophy Conference 2011, Liverpool John Moores University, July 6-8, 2011.

Film-philosophy continues to grow as an important discipline within the fields of both Film Studies and Philosophy. We invite researchers in this area to submit proposals for the 2011 Film-Philosophy Conference to be held in Liverpool, UK.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

Professor Gregory Currie (University of Nottingham)
Dr. David Martin-Jones (University of St Andrews)
Dr. Lucy Bolton (Queen Mary, University of London)
Dr. Havi Carel and Dr. Greg Tuck (University of the West of England and editors of the book New Takes in Film-Philosophy)

We are open to any topics on the subject but would particularly welcome papers in the following areas:

- Film and phenomenology
- The ontology of fiction in film
- Fictionalism and film
- Significant auteurs
- New approaches to film and philosophy
- Considerations of individual films
- The debate between continental and analytic philosophy in relation to film
- Films about philosophy or philosophers
- Animals on film
- Science and film-philosophy
- The methodology of film-philosophy
- Philosophy of film adaptation
- Film-philosophy and computer games
- Cognitivism
- Film style
- Genre
- Media convergence
- Philosophy and film economics

Abstracts should be 200 - 300 words long and papers, including clips - which we strongly encourage - should not exceed 25 minutes. We accept panel submissions with a maximum of three speakers and a length of 90 minutes.

Deadline for proposals: 18 March 2011

Both individual and panel proposals must be submitted through the conference website (no initial cost involved):

Hanson, Jeffrey. Review of Rick Furtak, ed. KIERKEGAARD'S CONCLUDING UNSCIENTIFIC POSTSCRIPT. NDPR (March 2011).

Furtak, Rick Anthony, ed.  Kierkegaard's Concluding Unscientific Postscript: a Critical GuideCambridge: CUP, 2010.

One of the most noteworthy features of Kierkegaard's Concluding Unscientific Postscript: A Critical Guide is that it lives up to its subtitle. This collection truly is a guide to the work as a whole. That it serves as such is no small achievement, and it is surely a credit to the editor, Rick Anthony Furtak, that he kept the contributors from niggling with details that could have only limited interest to the most specialized scholar of (Kierkegaard's pseudonym) Johannes Climacus' writings. The dozen essays collected here (none penned by a Dane, interestingly) speak to the largest themes of this notoriously difficult and overlong work and stay admirably focused on what the reader needs to keep in mind very generally to come to grips with the text. None of these essays is narrowly focused on any minor issue or local question; instead each one concerns a major point, generally one that has implications for understanding the Postscript as a whole or even more broadly, the Climacan authorship. In what follows I touch on some of the essays that resonated most powerfully on my reading, in part doubtless because they speak to my own interests in the text. Inability to address all of them does not imply any criticism of those that space demands I omit. . . .


Cfp: "Literature as Communication," Philosophy of Communication Section, European Communication Research and Education Association and the Literary Communication Project, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland, September 2-3, 2011.

Not only among literary theoreticians and critics, but also among students of rhetoric, communication and media, stylisticians, discourse and dialogue analysts, historians of the book, and social and cultural philosophers and historians, there is a growing tendency to see literary activity as one among other forms of human communication. The symposium will provide a forum in which to assess both the broader and more detailed implications of this trend for our understanding of literature’s place within the lives of individuals and communities.

The symposium will assume a nominalistic and broad definition of literature. Literature, that is to say, will be viewed as consisting of all those texts which, either now or in the past, have been referred to as literary, and as not necessarily restricted to merely poems, plays and novels.

Papers on the following kinds of topic will be especially welcome:

•Literary-communicational insights in current work within any of the disciplines mentioned above: new paradigms.
• Literary communication as community-making.
•Literary communication as philosophical reflection.
•Literary-communicational ethics; for instance, the relevance of Keats’s remark that “we hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us”.
• The communicational workings of implied writers and implied readers
•Communicational similarities and contrasts between singly, collectively and anonymously authored texts
•Manuscript culture, book culture, digital culture: the consequences for literary communication.
•The politeness (or otherwise) of literary writers
•The communicational dimensions of literary styles and / or genres


"The Populist Front: On the Role of Myth, Storytelling and Imaginary in Populist Movements," Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht, March 18, 2011.

Welcome & Introduction

  • Jorinde Seijdel - editor-in-chief Open: Cahier on Art and the Public Domain
  • Merijn Oudenampsen - guest editor Open 20
First Panel: Populism in Theory

  • Rudi Laermans & Koen Abts - Sociologists, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, "The Populist Triangle: People, Leader, Establishment"
  • Oliver Marchart - Political Theorist, Universität Luzern, "Populism in Political Theory and Visual Culture"
  • Sara R. Farris - Political Theorist, Universität of Konstanz, "Populism Unveiled: The Defence of Women as the Founding Myth of the New-Right"

Lunch break

Second panel: Imagery & Myth

  • John Kraniauskas - Latin American Studies, Birkbeck University London, "Eva Peron as the Image of Peronism"
  • Sven Lütticken – Art Critic, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, "A Heteronomous Hobby: Report on the Netherlands"
  • Aukje van Rooden - Philosopher / Literary Theorist, Universiteit Utrecht, "The Myth of Modern Politics"

Tea and coffee break


  • Steve Lambert – Artist / Intelligent Troublemaker, "Constructing Small Scale Temporary Utopias"
  • Screening of the film Museum Songspiel, Followed by Q & A with filmmakers Chto Delat – Art Collective, Sint Petersburg / Moscow

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

LaZella, Andrew. Review of Jon Stewart, IDEALISM AND EXISTENTIALISM. NDPR (February 2011).

Stewart, Jon.  Idealism and Existentialism: Hegel and Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century European Philosophy.  London: Continuum, 2010.

The world of Continental philosophy has been shaped by two irreconcilable schools: German idealism on the one hand and phenomenology/existentialism on the other. If they can be called a tradition at all, it is not one of shared inheritance, but of continued revolt. Phenomenology/existentialism disdains German idealism's goal of seeking systematic totality insofar as it loses sight of the lived-experience of the individual human being. True, the idealist would argue that such lived-experience has not been lost, but preserved, albeit in a higher form and according to its immanent rational structure. For phenomenology/existentialism, however, such rational preservation renders inert and lifeless the very dynamism and spontaneity that characterized lived-experience in the first place. The distinction between the two can be simplified to various sets of irreconcilable dichotomies: systematicity vs. individuality, rational necessity vs. freedom, and so on.

This is the misconceived caricature that Jon Stewart's Idealism and Existentialism seeks to shatter. In this work, Stewart challenges this purported truism of irreconcilable antagonists by displaying the wealth of factors the two schools share, even if not always with the same intentions or toward the same results. The text is divided into three parts: The first covers Hegel and German idealism, exploring myths surrounding Hegel as an "arch-rationalist" in addition to more technical studies on the Phenomenology of Spirit. The second part takes up the relation between Hegelian idealism and the forms of proto-existentialism found in Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche, targeting points of contact between supposed antagonists. The third part turns to a study of existentialism proper, with particular emphasis on the thought of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty.

For reasons to be discussed below, the thesis proposed in the introduction does little to unite this work into an integrated whole, and instead the chapters remain a series of loosely related studies. Stewart himself notes: "While the individual chapters each pursue their own goals with respect to specific texts or concepts, they are united in their attempt to reveal in one way or another the long shadow cast by Kant and Hegel over the subsequent history of European thought" (2). At times, the thesis shines through the individualized studies. With all but one chapter having been published previously, however, these stand-alone studies only indirectly reinforce each other to form a unified project. Although various elements of the text succeed, the project of bringing the two traditions closer together remains underdeveloped, making for a somewhat loosely stitched-together patchwork whose overall contribution could be enhanced by greater communication among the chapters themselves. . . .

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Gauthier, Jeffrey A. Review of Kimberley Hutchings, et al., eds. HEGEL'S PHILOSOPHY AND FEMINIST THOUGHT. NDPR (February 2010).

Hutchings, Kimberley, and Tuija Pulkkinen, eds.  Hegel's Philosophy and Feminist Thought: Beyond Antigone?.  London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010.

Appearing some fifteen years after Patricia Mills's groundbreaking Feminist Interpretations of Hegel, this volume shows how far feminist scholarship on Hegel has progressed in that time. The anthology offers a diverse yet intersecting set of essays addressing both the significance of Hegel for feminist thought and the problems that his account of gender poses for feminists. While the earlier text brought together a set of previously published articles, Kimberley Hutchings and Tuija Pulkkinen's anthology consists almost entirely of new scholarship (only two articles were previously published, and only one before 2009). Moreover, with most of the contributors writing from a clearly continental approach to philosophy, and most having also been participants in two conferences dedicated to Hegel and feminist philosophy in 2003 and 2006, the new volume has a thematic unity that was lacking in the earlier anthology. The book is divided into two equal parts. The five essays of Part I engage the broad question of the relevance of Hegel for feminism, and those in Part II offer frameworks for interpreting Hegel's specific writings on women and gender in the Phenomenology of Spirit and Elements of the Philosophy of Right. The book concludes with the transcription of a brief e-mail discussion among Hutchings, Pulkkinen, Nancy Bauer, and Alison Stone on the significance of Hegel for feminist politics. . . .

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

This conference aims to bring together prominent thinkers from phenomenology and other fields in philosophy, to discuss the relationship between phenomenology and naturalism. This relationship may vary from one field to another. It may be that phenomenology is compatible with naturalism in the philosophy of science, while the two approaches are incompatible in ethics. It would be interesting to examine whether this is the case and if so, why?

The conference aims to capture phenomenology’s main ideas in an accessible and non-jargonistic way, in order to provide an introduction to this rich tradition to philosophers working in other traditions. The conference also aims to examine phenomenology’s metaphysical underpinnings. It will ask: does phenomenology have a metaphysical commitment, and if so, what kinds of metaphysical commitments are compatible with phenomenology? Is there a restriction on the type of metaphysical view one may hold while practising phenomenology?

A final theme in the conference will be the question whether phenomenology is compatible with naturalism. A case in point is cognitive science, where the application of phenomenology has recently become popular, sometimes without sufficient attention to what conflicts there might be between phenomenology and the naturalistic basis of cognitive science. The invited speakers hold very different views on this issue. The conference will close with a roundtable discussion of this issue.

•Prof Thomas Baldwin (York)
•Prof Rudolf Bernet (Leuven)
•Dr Eran Dorfman (Berlin)
•Dr Iain Grant (UWE)
•Prof James Lenman (Sheffield)
•Dr Michelle Montague (Bristol)
•Dr Darian Meacham (Leuven)
•Prof Dermot Moran (UCD)
•Dr Seiriol Morgan (Bristol)
•Prof David Morris (Concordia)
•Prof David Papineau (KCL)
•Prof Matthew Ratcliffe (Durham)
•Prof Galen Strawson (Reading)
•Prof Fredrik Svenaeus (Södertörn)
•Dr Jon Webber (Cardiff)
•Prof Michael Wheeler (Stirling)
•Prof Dan Zahavi (Copenhagen)


Cfp: "The Ethical Challenge of Multidisciplinarity: Reconciling ‘the Three Narratives’ -- Art, Science, and Philosophy," 13th Conference, International Society for the Study of European Ideas, University of Cyprus, July 2–6, 2012.

Language—and by extension our story telling activities in general—enables us to confront the contingencies of life by answering the immediate question: what’s happening and what is going to happen next. Science also attempts to answer this question. However, there appears to be—at least in the western cultural tradition—a fundamental tension between the literary-artistic and the scientific projects: whereas the artist seeks to recreate human experience, thereby evoking basic ethical issues, the scientist seeks ethically-neutral, evidence-based facts, as the constituents of our knowledge of reality. It is thus left to others—to the philosopher, theologian, critic, or historian—to bridge the theoretical and ethical gaps between the world of ‘fiction’ and the world of ‘fact’, of art and science. Among other things, the ever increasing rate of production of scientific data in the modern age poses a new multidisciplinary challenge: how to address the unresolved/unresolvable tensions between the language of normativity and the language of facticity.

The organizers of the 13th ISSEI Conference invite scholars from various academic fields to discuss the ethical challenge of multidisciplinarity by characterizing the scope, effects and implications of the discontinuities among ‘the three narratives’: to consider how artists, scientists, and philosophers have articulated, explained and responded to them and/or have attempted to reconcile them.

The conference is divided into five sections:

1. History, Geography, Science
2. Politics, Economics, Law
3. Education, Sociology, Women’s Studies
4. Literature, Art, Music, Theatre, Culture
5. Religion, Philosophy, Anthropology, Psychology, Language


"Non-Human Narratives," Bournemouth University, April 27, 2011.

10.00-11.00 Panel 1: Negotiating the Posthuman Landscape

"Consuming the Climate: Re-thinking Meat and Dairy Consumption in the Politics of Climate Change" – Julie Doyle, University of Brighton
"The Machine Starts: Computers as Collaborators in Writing" – Joe Flintham, Bournemouth University

11.15-12.15 Panel 2: Extratextual Approaches to Nonhuman Narratives

"Costume as Character Arc" – Craig Batty, Bournemouth University
"Knit One, Bite One: Feminine Handicrafts and Vampire Fan Art" – Brigid Cherry, Saint Mary’s University College, London

12.15-1.15 Lunch

Exhibitions and workshops by members of Bournemouth University’s Narrative Research Group(NRG)

1.15-2.15 Plenary Address

"Stories, Minds, and Media: Nonhuman Experiences in Graphic Narratives" – David Herman, Ohio State University

2.15-3.15 Panel 3: Animals in the Movies

"Will the Real Bonzo Please Stand Up: Making and Unmaking Animal Stars in Hollywood" – Claire Molloy, University of Brighton
"Animal Saintliness: Creaturely Life in the Films of Robert Bresson" – Anat Pick, University of East London

3.30-4.30 Panel 4: Inhuman Narratives

"Complexity and Ambiguity: An Examination of the Monster and the Monstrous within Contemporary ‘Neo-nasty’ Horror Films" – Shaun Kimber, Bournemouth University
"A Critical Stylistic Approach to True Crime Serial Killer Narratives" – Christiana Gregoriou, University of Leeds

Meyer, Matthew. Review of Monika M. Langer, NIETZSCHE'S GAY SCIENCE. NDPR (February 2011).

Langer, Monika M.  Nietzsche's Gay Science: Dancing Coherence.  London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

For many years, Nietzsche studies in the English-speaking world were populated by comprehensive interpretations that focused on concepts, such as the will to power, the overman, and the eternal return, that were thought to be central to Nietzsche's philosophical project. More recently, however, a handful of scholars have turned away from this thematic approach to Nietzsche's thought by focusing their scholarly efforts on the careful analysis of individual texts. The most notable example of this trend has been the recent explosion of work on Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morals by prominent scholars such as Daniel Conway, Lawrence Hatab, Christopher Janaway, Brian Leiter, and David Owen. In line with this movement, Monika Langer now offers a commentary on another of Nietzsche's more popular texts, The Gay Science (GS). Although Langer's work is a welcome addition to the secondary literature for its comprehensive, section-by-section approach to GS, her overly narrow focus on the contents of the individual aphorisms to the exclusion of broader reflections on the complex genesis of the text, the role the text plays in Nietzsche's free-spirit project, and the potential relationship of the text to his larger oeuvre compromises the depth and quality of her commentary. . . .

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Hackett, Jeremiah. Review of Philip Tonner, HEIDEGGER, METAPHYSICS AND THE UNIVOCITY OF BEING. NDPR (February 2011).

Tonner, Philip.  Heidegger, Metaphysics and the Univocity of Being.  London: Continuum, 2010.

This book is a study of Heidegger's works, early and late, in the light of the idea of the univocity of being. The central thesis is that, allowing for differences of context, project, history, and the Kehre or turn in Heidegger's ways from Phenomenology to Thought, one can argue for the consistent presence of the notion of univocity of being in all of his works. "I aim to show that there is an underlying univocal sense of being in Heidegger's philosophy" (p. 65). This is the explicit thesis of the book, which is repeated in every chapter. It claims to be a radically new thesis. The evidence for this thesis is gathered from many of Heidegger's works, beginning with the Habilitation text and ending with the later works. There is an Introduction, a conclusion and an appendix. . . .

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Pub: Goodfellow, Aaron, ed. Religion and Sexuality. BORDERLANDS 9.3 (2010).


  • Aaron Goodfellow, "Religion/Sexuality: Politics/Affects"

  • Veena Das,  "Sexuality, Vulnerability, and the Oddness of the Human: Lessons from the Mahabharata"
  • Naveeda Khan, "Images That Come Unbidden: Some thoughts on the Danish cartoons controversy"
  • Éric Fassin, "Celibate Priests, Continent Homosexuals: What the exclusion of gay (and gay-friendly) men from priesthood reveals about the political nature of the Roman Catholic Church"
  • Deepak Mehta, "Self-Dissolution, Politics and the Work of Affect: The life and death of Sufi Baba"
  • Bhrigupati Singh, "Asceticism and Eroticism in Gandhi, Thoreau and Nietzsche: An essay in geo-philosophy"
  • François-David Sebbah, "Erotic Face and Ethical Face After Levinas"

  • Dinesh Joseph Wadiwel, "A Human Right to Stupidity" (Jacques Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign Volume 1, trans. Geoffrey Bennington, Chicago and London: Chicago University Press, 2009.)
  • Vineeth Mathoor, (Anouar Majid, We Are All Moors: Ending Centuries of Crusades against Muslims and Other Minorities, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.)
  • Guy Lancaster, "Promoting Conflict or Peace through Identity" (Nikki Slocum-Bradley (ed.), Promoting Conflict or Peace through Identity, Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2008.)

Cfp: "Nature, Freedom and History: Merleau-Ponty after 50 Years," Irish Phenomenological Circle, Newman House, Dublin, June 22-24, 2011.

On the 4th of May 2011 year it will be 50 years since Merleau-Ponty’s untimely death at the age of 53. With this conference we wish to gather an international team of prominent scholars to pay tribute to Merleau-Ponty’s achievements by providing new perspectives on his groundbreaking work and by confronting questions that his philosophy raises for us today. The conference will be focused on, though not exclusively, the later works.


Thomas Baldwin (Universtiy of York)
Étienne Bimbenet (Université Jean Moulin, Lyon 3)
Mauro Carbone (Université Jean Moulin, Lyon 3)
Taylor Carmen (Columbia University)
Sara Heinämaa (University of Helsinki)
Burt Hopkins (Seattle University)
Kwok-ying Lau (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Leonard Lawlor (The Pennsylvania State University)
Timothy Mooney (University College Dublin)
Dermot Moran (University College Dublin)
Ted Toadvine (University of Oregon)


Cfp: "TOTALITY AND INFINITY: a Work of Ruptures," Société Internationale de Recherches Emmanuel Levinas, Library of Alliance Israélite Universelle, Paris, May 9-11, 2011.

Today it is universally acknowledged that Totality and Infinity is one of the most influential philosophical works of the 20th century. This can be ascribed to the twofold nature of the book itself. On the one hand, it engages resolutely in the debates sweeping the history of philosophical thought, in particular in the form it has taken in our times. On the other hand, it created an initial rupture in this tradition that extended rapidly to other domains well beyond the sole confines of philosophy, and defined Totality and Infinity as a work of ruptures –the title of this conference.

In Ethics and Infinity, Levinas acknowledges his debt to Rosenzweig, stating that "this is where I encountered a radical critique of totality for the first time". In Rosenzweig, Levinas explains that he discovered "a completely different path towards the search for what is meaningful". This initial rupture, the impetus for all the others, ascribes to ethics, defined on the basis of the relation to the Other and no longer as a search for perfection, the status of a "first philosophy", thus breaking with a tradition that since Aristotle had applied this term to general metaphysics or more specifically to ontology.

This led Levinas first to specify what he would retain and the ways in which he would depart from other philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Descartes, Leibnitz, Spinoza, Kant, Bergson, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, Buber, to mention only a few of the key names that appear in Totality and Infinity.

Let us abandon pure philosophy: this rupture led Levinas to reject any form of theology which presents itself as a dogma, mysticism, or even as knowledge of God or an attempt to attain such knowledge. Theological statements are now only considered to have meaning when they apply to human relations.

The principles of the Rights of Man are no longer based on the notion that all human beings share a fundamental nature, a nature which must be respected and whose wellbeing must be protected, but rather on "the rights of the other man", with no reference to a shared concept encompassing the self and the other.

The prime essence of language does not reside in the exchange of information or even in its dimension as dialogue since this is where the dissymmetry in the relation to the Other is occluded, the Other who here is a formal You rather than an intimate You.

These are only a few examples of the ruptures, the outcomes of what could well be termed the 'revelation of the face' of the Other, to use Levinas' phrase. In fact, the entire set of notions describing what is human, underwent a transformation of its meaning and its relations, in particular in politics, science, technology, teaching, and love.

Speakers : Flora Bastiani, Benoît Chantre, Hugues Choplin, Cristian Ciocan, François Coppens, Pascal Delhom, Corinne Enaudeau, Arnaud François, Miguel Garcia Baro, Christian Godin, Georges Hansel, Joëlle Hansel, Eric Hoppenot, Malgorzata Kowalska, Robert Legros , Marie-Anne Lescourret, Nicolas Monseu, Yasuhiko Murakami, Michel Olivier, Jean-François Rey, Jean-Michel Salanskis, Jan Sokol, Jacques Taminiaux.