Deakin Philosophy Seminar – May 23

Catherine Legg (Deakin University), “Idealism Operationalized: Charles Peirce’s Theory of Perception

Abstract:

Neopragmatism has been accused of having ‘an experience problem’. This paper begins by outlining Hume’s understanding of perception according to which ideas are copies of impressions thought to constitute a direct confrontation with reality. This understanding is contrasted with Peirce’s theory of perception according to which percepts give rise to perceptual judgments which do not copy but index the percept (just as a weather-cock indicates the direction of the wind). Percept and perceptual judgment thereby mutually inform and correct one another, as the perceiver develops mental habits of interpreting their surroundings, so that, in this theory of perception, as Peirce puts it: “[n]othing at all…is absolutely confrontational”. Paul Redding has argued that Hegel’s “idealist understanding of logical form” ran deeper than Kant’s in recognising that Mind is essentially embodied and located, and therefore perspectival. Peirce’s understanding arguably dives deeper still in distributing across the space of reasons (and thus Being) not just Mind’s characteristic features of embodiedness and locatedness, but also its infinite corrigibility.

Bio:

Catherine Legg has recently joined the Deakin University Philosophy Program as a Senior Lecturer. Her current research bridges ontology, philosophy of language, semiotics, logic, and AI. Peirce’s notion of iconicity has been a particular focus, with key papers: “The Problem of the Essential Icon” (American Philosophical Quarterly, 2008) and “The Hardness of the Iconic Must” (Philosophia Mathematica, 2012).

Where and when:

Tuesday, 23 May, 4.00pm to 5.30pm, Deakin Burwood Campus, 221 Burwood Hwy, Room C2.05

Virtual Meeting Point: ARTSED VMP SHSS. Direct dial number: (+613) 5223 9354 

On joining a VMP, see here.

The seminar is free to attend and all are welcome.

For any inquiries, please email Daniela Voss: d.voss@deakin.edu.au

Hosted by the European Philosophy and History of Ideas Research Group (EPHI) and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Deakin Philosophy Seminar – May 9

Dr Alex Ling (Western Sydney University), “Trash or Treasure? Alain Badiou and the Problem of Cinema”
 
Abstract:
Cinema appears to present a significant problem for Alain Badiou. While recognising that philosophy is obliged to engage with cinema in so far as it presents a unique ‘philosophical situation’, he nonetheless notes that even great films can be compared – ‘with only slight exaggeration’ – to the treatment of waste. In making sense of this strange situation, the paper first provides a broad overview of Badiou’s understanding of cinema itself – taken in the generic sense, as an art almost entirely defined by its relation to other arts – before drawing out some of the artistic and philosophical consequences of his position. In particular, the paper isolates two central problems cinema poses to his ‘inaesthetic’ program (specifically surrounding the crucial concepts of ‘singularity’ and ‘immanence’), as well as a number of challenges it presents his philosophical system as a whole.
 
Bio:
Alex Ling is Research Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies at Western Sydney University. He is the author of Badiou Reframed (I.B. Tauris, 2016) and Badiou and Cinema (Edinburgh University Press, 2011), and co-editor and translator of Mathematics of the Transcendental (Bloomsbury, 2014).
 
Where and when:
Tuesday, 9 May, 4.00pm to 5.30pm, Deakin Burwood Campus, 221 Burwood Hwy, Room C2.05
 
Virtual Meeting Point: ARTSED VMP SHSS. Direct dial number: (+613) 5223 9354 
On joining a VMP, see here.
 
The seminar is free to attend and all are welcome.
 
For any inquiries, please email Daniela Voss: d.voss@deakin.edu.au
 
Hosted by the European Philosophy and History of Ideas Research Group (EPHI) and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

 

Deakin Philosophy Seminar – April 4

Dr Helen Palmer (Kingston University, London):
Queer Defamiliarisation in New Materialist Times
 
Abstract:
This paper will introduce some terms from new materialism in order to consider the question: what might relational, entangled, enfleshed defamiliarisation look like? I draw together Shklovsky’s original provocations on defamiliarisation as a methodology for perception and Braidotti’s recent positing of defamiliarisation as a ‘critical distance’ (2013, 88) to propose ways that we might reinvigorate, politicise and queer this term in contemporary thought. I use here the supposed ‘paradox’ of feminist thought, namely that feminism creates the sexual difference it seeks to eliminate, and then present the ways that this paradox is in fact affirmed within new materialist philosophies. I present defamiliarisation reinvigorated here with the added political dimensions of agency, orientation and power; as an embodied and multivalent process which is critical at the same time as it is creative.
 
Bio:
Helen Palmer is a writer, performer and lecturer at Kingston University. She is the author of Deleuze and Futurism: A Manifesto for Nonsense. She has recently published articles on new materialism and gender, and is currently writing a book called Queer Defamiliarisation and a novel called Pleasure Beach. 

 

Where and when:

Tuesday, 4 April, 4.00pm to 5.30pm, Deakin Burwood Campus, 221 Burwood Hwy, Room C2.05 

Virtual Meeting Point: ARTSED VMP SHSS. Direct dial number: (+613) 5223 9354 
On joining a VMP, see here.
 
The seminar is free to attend and all are welcome.
 
For any inquiries, please email Daniela Voss: d.voss@deakin.edu.au
 
Hosted by the European Philosophy and History of Ideas Research Group (EPHI)  and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Philosophy Seminar – March 21

Dr Robert Boncardo (University of Sydney), “Sartre, Lacan, the Ego”
 
Abstract:
In the years following the Second World War, Jacques Lacan made a number of brief but decisive remarks about existentialism, which was then at the high point of its mediatic popularity. While existentialism had emerged from a critical engagement with the German phenomenological tradition, for Lacan it was essentially no different to Anglo-American ego psychology — the other target of his post-War polemic — insofar as it also allegedly mistook the subject for the ego. Specifically, Lacan argued that Jean-Paul Sartre had built the entirety of his philosophy on the basis of the constitutive misrecognitions of the ego. Most egregiously, Lacan claimed, Sartre had unthinkingly accepted its illusory claims to autonomy.
             
However, what is most striking about these arguments is that they can only seem incongruous to any serious reader of Sartre. While they frame him as the victim of the ego, these criticisms spectacularly miss the fact that Sartre dedicated much of his early phenomenological writings to demonstrating how the psychology of his time had been trapped in the ego’s snare.
 
How can Lacan have made Sartre his enemy when there was every reason to think they were engaged in a similar struggle? In the scholarship to date, commentators have often remarked upon the striking similarity between the claims the two make about the ego, particularly with respect to the ego’s status as an object. None, however, have explored these claims in adequate detail. Similarly, whether endorsing it or dismissing it, scholars have frequently commented on the devastating critical exposition Lacan provides of existentialism in his famous essay on the mirror stage. Yet none have ever wondered why Lacan comments so critically on Sartre in the very same essay where their similarities are most evident. In this paper, I will address these questions and aim to take the debate forward through a close conceptual analysis of these two difficult bodies of thought.
 
Bio:
Robert Boncardo has completed a doctorate in French Studies at the University of Sydney and Aix-Marseille Université.
 
Where and when:
Tuesday, 21 March, 4.00pm to 5.30pm, Deakin Burwood Campus, 221 Burwood Hwy, Room C2.05
 

Virtual Meeting Point: ARTSED VMP SHSS. Direct dial number: (+613) 5223 9354 On joining a VMP, see here.

The seminar is free to attend and all are welcome.
 
For any inquiries, please email Daniela Voss: d.voss@deakin.edu.au
 
Hosted by the European Philosophy and History of Ideas Research Group (EPHI) and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Petra Brown Seminar – September 27

Dr Petra Brown (Deakin University), “Natality: Arendt’s challenge to the Kampfgemeinschaft (battle-community)”

Abstract:

The term ‘Kampfgemeinschaft’, variously translated as ‘battle-community’, ‘fighting-community’ or ‘struggle in common’ was a term that was invoked after World War I to explain the bonds and camaraderie formed by soldiers in the trenches. In the postwar years, the term was taken up by a broader German population, including intellectual thinkers such as Heidegger, who developed philosophies through the prism of struggle, sacrifice and destruction that focused on human mortality as the defining part of human existence.  While Heidegger emphasised the idea of polemical dialogue, of struggle amongst one another in the face of death in order to define one’s own ‘authenticity’, Arendt’s idea of community requires neither the focus on death, nor the sense of struggle against an enemy in order to become ‘authentic’. For Arendt, authenticity begins through recognising one’s own interdependence in a community.  This is evident through examining a concept that lies at the heart of her political philosophy: the concept of natality. This paper examines to what extent Arendt’s concept of natality challenges the adoption of a ‘battle-community’ mentality as a basis for philosophy and whether it is able to provide an alternative vision of community in a plural age.

Bio:

Petra Brown is an academic in philosophy at Deakin University, Australia.  Research interests and expertise are in the area of philosophy of religion, religion and ethics, German mid-20th century philosophy, political philosophy, Carl Schmitt, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Soren Kierkegaard. My PhD, Bonhoeffer: Kierkegaard’s Single Individual in a State of Exception, was completed in early 2013. Publications include, ‘The Sons destined to Murder their Father: Crisis in Interwar Germany’ in Crisis and Reconfigurations, Springer, forthcoming  2016, co-authored with Ian Weeks, ‘Hans Mol, Science, and Narrative Identity’, in Sacred Selves, Sacred Settings: Reflecting Hans Mol, Douglas Davies (Ed) Ashgate, 2015, and ‘Against Fundamentalism: The Silence of the Divine in the work of Karen Armstrong’ in Secularisation and Its Discontents. Perspectives on the Return of Religion in the Contemporary West, Springer, 2013. Hannah Arendt’s political philosophy and theology, particularly in the context of her German peers is a new research interest.

Where and when:

Tuesday 27 September, 4.00pm to 5.30pm, Burwood Campus, C2.05 (*** Please note the seminars are now back in C2.05 ***)

The seminar is free to attend and all are welcome.

For any inquiries, please email Sean Bowden: s.bowden@deakin.edu.au

Hosted by the European Philosophy and History of Ideas Research Group (EPHI) and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Seminar – September 13

Harry Redner, “What Wittgenstein got wrong about language”

Harry Redner was Reader at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and has been visiting professor at Yale University, University of California–Berkeley, and Harvard University. He is the author of Beyond Civilization; Totalitarianism, Globablization, and Colonialism; The Tragedy of European Civilization, and other books.

Where and when:

Tuesday 13 September, 4.00pm to 5.30pm, Burwood Campus, C2.05 (*** Please note the seminars are now back in C2.05 ***)

The philosophy seminars are free to attend and all are welcome.

Upcoming seminars in September include:

  • Sept 20: Jon Roffe, “Deleuze’s Perverse Theory of Literature”
  • Sept 22: Karyn Lai, “Agency and Performance in Confucian Philosophy”
  • Sept 27: Petra Brown, “Natality: Arendt’s challenge to the Kampfgemeinschaft (battle-community)”

For any inquiries, please email Sean Bowden: s.bowden@deakin.edu.au

Hosted by the European Philosophy and History of Ideas Research Group (EPHI) and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Matt Sharpe seminar – August 30

A/Prof Matthew Sharpe (Deakin University), “A kind of divine fire: Prerogative Instances and the Topical Tradition”

Abstract:

Brian Vickers has literally written the book on Francis Bacon’s mastery of classical and renaissance rhetoric. Equally, work exists examining the relationship between Bacon’s conception of natural history and the ars memoria, for a long time taught as one of the five canons of classical rhetoric (Lewis 2009). This paper wants to pursue a passing, unpursued remark in Stephen Gaukroger’s study of Bacon, noting the comparison between what Bacon in the Novum Organum II calls ‘prerogative instances’ – roughly, specific kinds of phenomena whose artful singling out and observation in a given object domain will speed the induction of true generalisations – and the rhetorical ‘topics’: argument forms recommended by the classical rhetoricians under the canon of ‘invention’ as a means of ‘discovering means of persuasion’ about some subject. Two observations lie in the background of the analysis. First, these rhetorical texts – as Bacon remarks in Advancement II – represent the most extraordinary compendium of discerning phenomenological observations concerning practical sagacity and moral psychology: a compendium which Bacon was consummately aware of, and which lie in the background of his diagnoses of the ‘idols of the mind’. Second, one register of Bacon’s ‘new inauguration’ indeed involved challenging the Aristotelian conception of natural philosophy as solely contemplative: rather involving what he terms a ‘kind of [theoretical] sagacity’, in order to seek out the true forms and causes of things. Several claims are suggested by the comparison and contrasts between the rhetorical topics and Baconian instances. The modes of cognition operative in what we term the human sciences are not wholly foreign to or from those at the basis of the Baconian scientific culture. Indeed, the latter owes great debts to the humanistic culture Bacon and his contemporaries inherited and transformed. Scientific inquiry is indeed not an art, and in the 19th and 20th centuries has largely broken free from the social sciences (the ‘second culture’); but scientific observation involves forms of heightened attentiveness to the natural world that are not wholly foreign, or closed to some modes of artistic creativity.

Bio:

matt sharpe

Matthew Sharpe teaches philosophy at Deakin. He has an abiding interest in Bacon and the epistemological break[s] associated with the birth of the modern scientific culture.

Where and when:

Tuesday 30 August, 4.00pm to 5.30pm, Burwood Campus, C2.05 (*** Please note the seminars are now back in C2.05 ***)

The seminar is free to attend and all are welcome.

For any inquiries, please email Sean Bowden: s.bowden@deakin.edu.au

Hosted by the European Philosophy and History of Ideas Research Group (EPHI) and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The Ethics of Conspiracy Theory

Gunpowder plotFriday 9th September 2016

Level 2, Burwood Corporate Centre, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood.

A  ‘work-in-progress’ workshop held as part of the philosophy collaboration between Deakin and Western Sydney University.
Robison

Important work has been done – particularly by Australasian philosophers – over the last two decades on the epistemology of conspiracy theories. There has been an emerging consensus in this literature that conspiracy theories, regarded as a class of explanation for observed events, are not intrinsically irrational, though they may involve unfalsifiable beliefs or form the core of degenerating research programs. However, there has been less attention paid to the ethical questions raised by conspiracy theory regarded as a practice or tradition of explanation. Do conspiracy theories corrode social and interpersonal trust? Do they violate norms of accusation and license harmful behaviours? Or are they a useful counterweight to the power of epistemic authorities? This workshop will bring together philosophers working on this topic to consider this ethical dimension.

9:30am Welcome
9:45-10:45pm David Coady (UTas) “Cass Sunstein, Conspiracy-Baiting, and the Industry of Conspiracy Theory Expertise”
11:00-12:00pm Matthew Dentith (Auckland) “When are we obliged to investigate conspiracy theories?”
12:00-1:00pm Lunch
1:0-2:00pm Patrick Stokes (Deakin) “Auxiliary Accusations: On Some Moral Costs of Conspiracy Theorising”
2:15-3:15pm Chris Fleming (WSU) “Conspiracy Theory as Folk Sociology”
3:15-3:30pm Wrap up

All welcome, please email patrick.stokes@deakin.edu.au by 6th September if you’re planning to attend.

Philosophy seminar – August 9

Dr Miriam Bankovsky (La Trobe University), “Hegel’s influence on the young Alfred Marshall: Realising the self through institutions of economic liberalism”

Abstract:

Alfred Marshall is often designated as a key forerunner to neoclassical economics. His 1890 Principles of Economics was not only used as an orthodox undergraduate textbook in British sandstone universities until the 1960s, it has also been claimed by Chicago School economists Milton Friedman and Gary Becker as the key formative influence in the development of the supply-demand “revealed preference” theory that underpins orthodox price theory. However, the reduction of Marshall’s work to a neoclassical conception of the individual as a rational utility maximiser overlooks the social philosophy that underlies Marshall’s economics, which is instead oriented towards an ethics of “self-realisation” and self-reliance, in the form of a normative “standard of life” (an index of human capacity or “higher faculties”). In contrast to the neoclassical misrepresentation of Marshallian economics, this paper draws attention to the pervasive impact of Hegel on British 19th century economists, and details the influence of Hegel’s Philosophy of History on the younger Marshall’s History of Civilisation, which reveals a social philosophy of self-realisation through modern institutions that also informs Marshall’s later Principles. The paper features the influence of two Hegelian ideas, namely, historical progress as the gradual institutionalisation of the consciousness of freedom, and the perfectible march of history from East to West, ideas that permit Marshall to argue that modern institutions of economic liberalism are ethical because they not only promote self-reliance (equivalent to Hegel’s subjective freedom) but also an orientation towards the general good (equivalent to Hegel’s objective freedom). However, the ethical concern for universal self-realisation in Marshall is also shown to inherit an ideological and unsavoury defence (mirroring Hegel’s own views) of the Victorian family’s role in supporting liberal economic institutions. Marshall’s neo-Hegelian ethics of self-realisation is thus shown to exemplify both the promise and dangers involved in the attempt to ascribe ethical objectives to economics.

Bio:

Miriam BankovskyMiriam Bankovsky is a Senior Lecturer and Australian Research Council DECRA fellow in Politics at La Trobe University. Reflecting a sustained interest in socio-economic justice, her research crosses three disciplines (philosophy, politics and economics), and two philosophical sub-disciplines (continental and analytic). After initially focusing on analytic and continental conceptions of justice in a broadly Kantian tradition, Miriam’s current project extends this plural approach into economics, challenging the orthodox conception of well-being as the satisfaction of rational preferences, and instead exploring alternative non-utilitarian and recognitive accounts of interpersonal well-being. Bookended by the work of Marshall and Becker, she is now working on a critical account of the way in which orthodox economics makes sense of “ethical” other-regarding preferences in the family.

Where and when:

Tuesday 9 August, 4.00pm to 5.30pm, Burwood Campus, C2.05 (*** Please note the seminars are now back in C2.05 ***)

Virtual Meeting Point: ARTSED VMP SHSS. Direct dial number: (+613) 5223 9354

On joining a VMP, see here.

The seminar is free to attend and all are welcome.

For any inquiries, please email Sean Bowden: s.bowden@deakin.edu.au

Hosted by the European Philosophy and History of Ideas Research Group (EPHI) and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.