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.

July 19 seminar – Ashley Woodward on Lyotard’s Aesthetics

Dr Ashley Woodward (Dundee University), “Lyotard’s Post-phenomenological Aesthetics”

Abstract:

This paper argues that unity can be given to the great diversity of Lyotard’s writings in aesthetics and philosophy of art if the itinerary of his thought is seen as a post-phenomenological arc. His reflections in this area take off from an encounter with the phenomenological aesthetics of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Mikel Dufrenne (supervisor of his Doctorat d’etat) in the late 1960s, traverse various approaches to art and aesthetic perspectives, and significantly return to some reflections on phenomenological themes in his late works. This arc can be seen as almost neatly delimited by two critical reviews of Dufrenne’s works, one from 1969 and one from 1996. From both Merleau-Ponty and Dufrenne, Lyotard inherits a concern with the sensible materiality of artworks. Yet with both, he is critical of a philosophy of nature which seems to ground their approaches to aesthetics. Lyotard’s post-phenomenological arc can be seen as taking him increasingly further away from such a philosophy of nature, which to him seems to mark the phenomenologists’ works with a romantic aesthetic which he believes is out of step with the times, and with which the artworld has definitively broken. This is reflected in his increasing interest in constructivist and conceptual strategies in artworks, where rational composition seems to take precedence over gestural immediacy, and conceptual meaning seems to dominate over sensible presence. This break from the romantic aesthetic in art, Lyotard suggests, is mirrored by the crisis of foundations in science, in which rational knowledge can no longer be grounded in perceptual givens. Together, these views cast doubt on the idea that there is a ‘nature’ which might be expressed through art or science. Lyotard’s commitment to the sensible materiality of artworks persists, however, and is reasserted in his late aesthetics, where we see themes from Merleau-Ponty and Dufrenne re-emerge.

Bio:

Ashley Woodward is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Dundee, Honorary Fellow at Deakin University, and a founding member of the Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy. He has published widely on contemporary European philosophy and his most recent book is Lyotard: The Inhuman Condition. Reflections on Nihilism, Information, and Art (Edinburgh University Press, 2016).

Where and when:

Tuesday 19 July, 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.

Philosophy seminar tomorrow, July 12

Dr Laura Schroeter (University of Melbourne), Dr Francois Schroeter (University of Melbourne), “Deflationary Normative Naturalism”

Abstract:

Two core objections have been raised against naturalism about normative properties. According to non-naturalists, (1) normative properties are sui generis and cannot be reduced to causal-explanatory properties posited by the natural sciences, and (2) normative properties are “objective, universal and absolute” (Enoch). We explain how a deflationary form of naturalism can accommodate (1). We then explain how (2) involves implicit commitments about the way normative terms acquire their reference. We propose an independently plausible principle for assigning reference that can vindicate (2) while adhering to deflationary naturalism.

Bio:

François Schroeter (Dr Habil Fribourg) is a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne. His research focuses on issues in moral psychology, metaethics, moral theory and Kantian ethics. Laura Schroeter (PhD Michigan) is currently a lecturer at the University of Melbourne. Previously she was an Austrialian Research Fellow at Melbourne and a postdoctoral fellow at the ANU. She works primarily on the nature of concepts and theories of reference. The two are currently working on a monograph on normative concepts.

Where and when:

Tuesday 12 July, 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 on June 7: Jack Reynolds

Prof. Jack Reynolds (Deakin University), “Scientific Realism and Phenomenology: A Show down?”

Abstract:

Since Quentin Meillassoux’s influential critique of phenomenology, there has been renewed interested in understanding whether phenomenology is antithetical to scientific realism and instead supports versions of scientific anti-realism, whether instrumentalism, van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism, or Fine’s NOA. This paper works through the options here, and argues against views (like Meillassoux’s and Brassier’s, but also endorsed by many phenomenologists) that hold that phenomenology and scientific realism are mutually exclusive or forced into a “show down”. I contend that where a show down exists it is due to commitments that are sometimes (perhaps often) associated with scientific realism, but are not strictly required by the position (e.g. adopting a view from nowhen; a mechanistic conception of nature and the relation between parts and wholes; an objectivist aim to eliminate or replace the first-person perspective, etc.).

Bio:

Jack Reynolds is Professor of Philosophy and Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University. He has written four books: Chronopathologies: The Politics of Time in Deleuze, Derrida, Analytic Philosophy and Phenomenology (2012), Analytic Versus Continental: Arguments on the Methods and Value of Philosophy (2010, with James Chase), Merleau-Ponty and Derrida: Intertwining Embodiment and Alterity (2004), and Understanding Existentialism (2006). He has also co-edited various books, including Phenomenology and Science (2016), Sartre: Key Concepts (2013), Continuum Companion to Existentialism (2011), Postanalytic and Metacontinental: Crossing Philosophical Divides (2010), and Merleau-Ponty: Key Concepts (2008). He is currently writing a book on the relationship between phenomenological philosophy and the empirical sciences (and hence on meta-philosophy). In arguing for the compatibility of weak forms of methodological naturalism with phenomenology, he contests many of the standard interpretations of this relationship. It is forthcoming with Routledge and titled Phenomenology, Naturalism and Science: A Hybrid and Heretical Proposal.

Where and when:

Tuesday 7 June, 4.00pm to 5.30pm, Burwood Campus, C2.05 (*** Please note the seminars are now back in C2.05 ***)

jack reynolds

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.

 

Philosophy Seminar – Monima Chadha, May 24

Monima Chadha (Monash University), “No-Self and the Phenomenology of Ownership”

Abstract:

Abhidharma-Buddhist philosophers put forward a revisionary metaphysics which lacks a “self” in order to provide an intellectually and morally preferred picture of the world. I argue for a strong reading of the no-self view as a variety of no-subject or no-ownership view. The Buddhists are not just denying the diachronically unified and extended self but also minimal selfhood insofar as it associated with a sense of ownership and agency. The view is deeply counterintuitive and the Buddhists are acutely aware of this fact. Accordingly, the Abhidharma-Buddhist writings and contemporary reconstructions of the view are replete with attempts to explain the phenomenology of experience in a no-self world. The paper defends the no-ownership view using resources from contemporary discussions about sense (or lack thereof) of ownership.

Bio:

Monima Chadha is currently Head of Philosophy and Graduate coordinator of the Philosophy Program at Monash University, Australia. Her principal research area is the cross-cultural philosophy of mind, specifically the Classical Indian and Contemporary Western Philosophy of mind. Over the last few years, she has been at the forefront of research to integrate insights on mind, consciousness and the self from across these philosophical traditions and the cognitive neurosciences. The aim of this research is to create a cohesively universal philosophical framework to understand these entities and also to enrich each of these traditions by leveraging insights from the other. This work has regularly featured in leading academic journals like Philosophy East and West; Asian Philosophy; Phenomenology and Cognitive Sciences; and Consciousness and Cognition. Currently she is writing a book on the philosophical evolution of mind in Buddhism and its centrality to the doctrine in the absence of self. In 2013, she was awarded the Contemplative Studies Fellowship by the Mind and Life Institute and Templeton Foundation, USA.

Where and when:

Tuesday 24 May, 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.