Deakin Philosophy Seminar – September 26

Andreas Hetzel (University of Hildesheim, Germany), “Breaking Out of the Cycle of Fear: Exodus Politics”
 
Abstract:
Participants in those protests, which gave rise to the Arab Spring and to the Gezi-movement, repeatedly mentioned a decisive moment, of which it is difficult to say whether it preceded or rather resulted from the occupation of public spaces: breaking the cycles of fear. The paper explores the role of fear in the affective economy of subjectification techniques, and, apart from that, indicates, why and under which conditions the breaking of a cycle of fear may be regarded as a political event. For this purpose, the paper draws on concepts of an exodus-politics, as it has been outlined in Walzer’s and in Virno’s respective accounts of the biblical exodus-myth. For the exodus constitutes both for Walzer and for Virno a model for a ‘presentic,’ inner-worldly eschatology, which appreciates the departure from Egypt in terms of an in-subordination, that is, of a liberation from a fear, which has been identified as an instrument of domination and eventually disenchanted. At the same time, this in-subordination constitutes a new and genuinely political subject, which is associated by confidence and not by fear anymore.
 
Bio:
Andreas Hetzel is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hildesheim (Germany). Previously, he was Full Professor at Fatih University (Istanbul), Interim Professor at the University of Magdeburg (Germany), visiting Professor in Vienna (Austria), and Private Lecturer in Darmstadt (Germany). His research interests include social and political philosophy, cultural theory, environmental ethics, pragmatism, and classical rhetoric. Currently he focuses on the philosophical relevance of rhetorical concepts of speech and on Ethics of Biodiversity. He is co-editor of the journal Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Philosophie and of the book series Contemporary Discourses on the Political. He published a book on culture as praxis (Zwischen Poiesis und Praxis. Elemente einer kritischen Theorie der Kultur, 2001) and a book on language between classical rhetoric and modern pragmatics (Die Wirksamkeit der Rede. Zur Aktualität klassischer Rhetorik für die moderne Sprachphilosophie, 2011).
 
Where and when:
Tuesday, 26 September, 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 PHI research group and the School of Humanities and Social Science.

 

One-Day Workshop – September 25

Between the Individual and the Collective: Processes of Sociopolitical Formation”
 

The dichotomy of the individual and the collective has been a classic problem of philosophy and political theory since the beginning. Perennial questions have emerged around the nature and the viability of social bonds. Are social relations forged by consent to a social contract? Are they the expression of a common will of the people? Do they require the abandonment of natural rights and individual freedom? The sense of conflict or contradiction between the individual and the collective, the one and the many, has been a constant source of theoretical difficulty. There have been numerous attempts in contemporary theory to deal with this dilemma by rethinking traditional categories such as the ‘humanist individual,’ ‘the mass’ as an aggregate of isolated units, or ‘the people’ as a substantial metaphysical entity. One approach, for example, is to explore a mode of subjectivity that in some way is always-already part of a de-essentialised community. The political question then becomes that of enhancing the capacities of this subjectivity for thought, action, self-expression and practical freedom. According to this view, the non-social individual is an abstraction. In order to overcome the duality individual/collective, further categories such as the ‘group-individual,’ ‘transindividual,’ ‘multitude’ or ‘generic humanity’ have been put forward.
This workshop will explore conceptions of the political subject and ask what may constitute collective subjectivities in the twenty-first century. Is the subject still the locus of a radical left politics of collective transformation and systemic change? What are the practical conditions requisite to the realisation of political subjectivity? Do changes in modes of production caused by cultural and economic globalisation and technological development provide an opportunity for emancipatory struggles, or do they rather make it more difficult to resist a hegemonic world-capitalism? What are the possibilities and limitations of articulating collective politics today? How can we theorise a collective that is more than simplistic unity, other than a ‘natural’ or national identity, and that remains inclusive and open to continuous extension? The workshop invites contributions that pose and critically examine these and related questions.

Program:

10.00-10.50 Charles Barbour (University of Western Sydney): ‘The Secret Society: Testimony, Perjury, and Oath in Derrida’s Later Work’

10.50-11.35 Miguel Vatter (University of New South Wales): ‘Dignity and Humanity: Averroistic, not Christian’

11.45-12.30 John Morss (Deakin University): ‘We Is A Thing: On the Political Grammar of Peoplehood’

13.30-14.15 Robert Boncardo (University of Sydney): ‘The Individual as Constitutive Power: Jean-Paul Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason

14.15-15.00 Sean Bowden (Deakin University): ‘The Expression of Collective Intentions in Unstructured Groups’

15.10-15.55 Daniela Voss (Deakin University): ‘Simondon and Transindividuality’

15.55-16.40 Andreas Hetzel (University of Hildesheim, Germany): ‘Transformations of Natural Right: Hegel’s Contribution to a Philosophy of a Non-Exclusive Community’

Where and when:
Burwood Corporate Centre (BCC), Deakin Burwood Campus, 221 Burwood Hwy, Burwood VIC 3125
*Please ask at the reception for room details*

Monday, September 25, 2017
From 10.00am to 5.00pm

The seminar is free to attend and all are welcome.

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

The event is hosted by the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation and the PHI research group at Deakin University.

Deakin Philosophy Seminar – September 12

Petra Brown (Deakin University), “Hannah Arendt: Natality as Ethical Education”
 
Abstract:
In recent years, higher education across the globe has been increasingly marketized, accompanied by a technocratic approach that views education as a utilitarian tool in service of economic ends. Rationalization and standardization are prioritized over individual discipline traditions, particularly in the arts and humanities where character-formation and developing subjectivity are considered key aspects of education. As a result, key skills and qualities that enable civic and democratic life are effaced. This paper addresses the contemporary crisis of education through the work of Hannah Arendt, and her critique of education in the context of her phenomenological account of subjectivity in modernity, particularly through her concepts of action and natality, and her description of the changing social and relational structure of modernity. It critically examines Arendt’s vision of education in the context of the organization of human life, particularly as she relates it to political freedom, and outlines some examples of how Arendt might be applied to the challenges that face the contemporary university.
 
Bio:
Petra Brown is an academic at Deakin University, Australia. Her research expertise is in religion and ethics, political theology, German mid-20th century philosophy, Carl Schmitt, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Soren Kierkegaard. New research interests include reading the political philosophy of Hannah Arendt through a feminist perspective, in particular Arendt’s critique of sovereignty and violence, and her vision of a political community that is grounded on the idea of ‘natality’ as the founding basis for human relationships. (petra.b@deakin.edu.au)
 
Where and when:
Tuesday, 12 September, 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 PHI research group and the School of Humanities and Social Science.

Buddhist Studies in India

Ari’s image from inside a hand-painted Tibetan Buddhist temple, Vajra Vidya, in Sarnath

One of Deakin’s philosophy students, Ari Moore, has just published an account of her experience on our Buddhist Studies in India study tour:

I would recommend the Buddhist Studies in India tour to anyone with a few philosophy units under their belt, an interest in world religions, and a thirst for adventure. If you have the chance to study in India with Deakin, don’t think twice – it’s the trip of a lifetime.  

Read all about Ari’s time in India here.

Deakin Philosophy Seminar – August 29

Christopher Watkin (Monash University), “Not More of the Same: Michel Serres and the Question of Alterity in Recent French Thought
 
Abstract:
The themes of difference and alterity are commonly thought to characterise French thought in the second half of the twentieth century, with canonical thinkers such as Lévinas, Derrida and, latterly, Nancy elaborating diverse ethical positions that nevertheless each accord a privileged and positive place to otherness. In recent years, however, a new philosophy of sameness has emerged, most prominently in the thought of Alain Badiou, claiming that the ethics of alterity is bankrupt, disingenuous and dangerous, and that it is identity and sameness, not difference and alterity, that are of positive ethical value. In this talk I introduce into this debate the thought of Michel Serres, in the light of which we can see that Badiou shares more in common with his supposed opponents than either he or they are ready to admit. For all that distinguishes Badiou’s position from that of his antagonists, they share the fundamental assumption that either identity or difference should be coded positively, but not both equally. In a move more radical than Badiou’s own intervention, Serres offers a different account, one in which neither sameness nor difference is ethically privileged over the other. Couched in the language of asymmetry, parasitism, inclination and enantiomorphy, Serres’s approach shows us how we can move on from the conflict between identity and alterity to a more scientifically informed and, I argue, more ethically compelling account of the relation between identity and alterity.
 
Bio:
Christopher Watkin lectures in French Studies at Monash University. His recent publications include French Philosophy Today: New Figures of the Human in Badiou, Meillassoux, Malabou, Serres and Latour (Edinburgh, 2015) and Difficult Atheism: Post-Theological Thinking in Alain Badiou, Jean-Luc Nancy and Quentin Meillassoux (Edinburgh, 2011). He is currently preparing a book-length critical introduction to the thought of Michel Serres. He blogs at christopherwatkin.com and you can find him on Twitter @DrChrisWatkin.
 
Where and when:
Tuesday, 29 August, 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.
 
A live video of the presentation will be tweeted. Please see
http://www.twitter.com/DrChrisWatkin
 
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 PHI research group and the School of Humanities and Social Science.

 

Deakin Philosophy Seminar – August 1

 

Lisa Guenther (Vanderbilt University): “An Abolitionism Worthy of the Name: From Death Penalty Reform to Prison Abolition”

In Derrida’s lectures on the death penalty, the United States figures as “both exemplary and exceptional.”  Derrida acknowledges the racist structure of state violence in the United States, and he cites data and specific cases to support this point, but he does not develop a critical analysis of race or racism in the lecture series.  Drawing on the work of incarcerated intellectual Mumia Abu-Jamal, critical race theorists Cheryl Harris and Angela Davis, and contemporary prison abolitionists, I argue that racism is an issue, not only in the particular context of the United States, but also for the logic of the death penalty that Derrida proposes to deconstruct.  Derrida’s own account of indemnity, interest, and condemnation in the Tenth Session is incomplete without a supplementary analysis of black civil death and the construction of whiteness as property.  In conclusion, I argue that an abolitionism worthy of the name would have to move beyond the death penalty, towards the (im)possible project of prison abolition and the abolition of white supremacy.

Bio

Lisa Guenther is Queen’s National Scholar in critical prison studies at Queen’s University, Canada.  Her most recent book, Solitary Confinement: Social Death and its Afterlives, develops a phenomenological critique of solitary confinement by drawing on the work of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty and Levinas, as well as legal and historical documents in the history of the U.S. penitentiary system. Currently she is working on a book that is tentatively entitled, Life Against Social Death: From Reproductive Injustice to Natal Resistance. The book explores the structural and historical connections between reproductive politics and the politics of mass incarceration and capital punishment in the United States. Guenther facilitates a discussion group with men on Tennessee’s death row called REACH Coalition.

Where and when:

Tuesday, 1 August, 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 PHI research group and the School of Humanities and Social Science.


Deakin Philosophy Seminar – July 25

David Macarthur (University of Sydney), “Naturalism and Other Minds: On the Invisibility of Everyday Psychology
 
Abstract:
The standard functionalist account of the mind treats the mind as a set of functional states. In the context of what is popularly called “naturalism” this becomes the thesis that the mind is a set of states that are objects of scientific study. Our everyday psychological vocabulary is seen as part of a “folk theory” of the mind – a proto-scientific theory that can be revised or replaced by scientific theories that are seen as more empirically adequate. In this talk I oppose this orthodoxy and argue instead that everyday psychology becomes invisible when looked at from a scientific point of view. Within a different liberal naturalism, I take up the question “Do we (directly) observe other minds” and suggest that the reason we are inclined to answer in the negative is not because other minds are hidden but, rather, like artworks, they can be hard to read.
 
Bio:
David Macarthur is an Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of Sydney. He works at the interfaces of contemporary pragmatism, Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language and psychology and the philosophy of art. In addition to these topics, he has published articles in leading philosophy journals and books on liberal naturalism, metaphysical quietism, skepticism, common sense, perception, ordinary language, philosophy of architecture, and philosophy of photography and film. He has co-edited three collections of papers with Mario De Caro (Roma Tré): Naturalism in Question (Harvard, 2004); Naturalism and Normativity (Columbia, 2010); and Philosophy in an Age of Science: Physics, Mathematics and Skepticism (Harvard, 2012); and recently edited Hilary & Ruth-Anna Putnam, Pragmatism as a Way of Life: The Lasting Legacy of William James and John Dewey (Harvard, 2017).

Where and when:
Tuesday, 25 July, 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 PHI research group and the School of Humanities and Social Science.

 

Deakin Philosophy Seminar – July 18

Prof Joseph S. O’Leary (Sophia University Tokyo), “Dialectical Negation in Nagarjuna and Hegel: An East-West Encounter on the Terrain of a Wider Rationality”

Abstract:

In their quest to overcome dualistic fixations (those of Abhidarma scholasticism in one case, those of Kant and his followers in the other) both Nagarjuna and Kant use a dialectical method whereby the fixated standpoint runs aground on its own inner contradictions. In both cases the mind itself heals the mind’s self-inflicted wounds.

In Hegel, sacrifice of rigid self-understanding is a constant motor of the spirit’s advance to freedom, so the logical dialectic is both powered by and empowers a spiritual journey. Nagarjuna’s negative dialectic, analogously, is an instrument of freedom as it dismantles one substantialist delusion after another, especially the illusions of self-identity.

While the cumulative, spiral-shaped movement of Hegel’s dialectic generates a systematic vision that has no equivalent in Nagarjuna, it leaves in its wake a graveyard of delusions just as Nagarjuna does, and it forges a seamless unitary style of thinking as Nagarjuna also does. In Hegel the discredited positions live on as dissolved and transformed within higher and freer forms of thinking, and in Nagarjuna they are retained as conventional truths that can usefully be deployed in appropriate contexts.

For Nagarjuna the final destiny of thought is a nirvanic “quiescence of fabrications.” For Hegel it is the ‘Idea,’ defined as the total integration of the Concept with the concrete realities that are its content. Even at this level, the two thinkers are not totally foreign to one another, but can generate reciprocal illumination, or reciprocal critique or deconstruction.

The encounter of these two cardinal thinkers of East and West respectively places Hegel’s achievement in a more universal perspective while it vindicates the philosophical coherence of Mahayana Buddhist insights. 

Texts: Nāgārjuna, Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, ch. 25: ‘Examination of Nirvana.’ Hegel: some paragraphs from the last chapter of the Phenomenology of Mind, ‘Absolute Knowing.’ 

Bio:

Joseph S. O’Leary, an Irish Roman Catholic theologian, has lived in Japan since 1983 and worked at Sophia University, Tokyo, and Nanzan University, Nagoya. Publications include Philosophie occidentale et concepts bouddhistes (Presses Universitaires de France, 2011) and Conventional and Ultimate Truth (University of Notre Dame Press, 2017).

Where and when:

Tuesday, 18 July, 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 PHI research group and the School of Humanities and Social Science.

Deakin Philosophy Seminar – June 13

Dr Nikolai Alksnis (La Trobe University), “Hegel, Kepler, and the Science of Affordances
 
Abstract:
In Chemero’s (2009) attempt to propose an anti-computationalist theory of mind, he invokes the idea of Hegelian explanation: the drawing on irrelevant, a priori, information to justify an empirical claim. Just as Hegel used Plato’s ideas of perfection to conclude the number of planets in the solar system, for Chemero, the computationalists, and similar, are in danger of doing the same: bringing in the irrelevant abstract ideas to justify empirical facts about the mind and intelligence. A similar appeal to historical figures can be found by Chemero in partnership with Raja and Biener (2017). Here the idea is that the mechanists moves of Descartes, Kepler, and Newton better fit with the ecological approach of J.J. Gibson, then to the comptuationlism of Turing (1953) and later Fodor (1975, 2008). The issue is, such an analysis seems to leave little room for the abstract cognitive object favoured by Chemero, that of the affordance (Gibson 1977, 1979). By adapting Fodor’s explicitness principle (Fodor 1987) I will show the difficulties the theory of affordances has to be an explanatory part of the cognitive story. Furthermore, it will show how we can combine Chemero and Fodor’s critiques but in doing so, there seems to be little room for either the concept of mental representations, as supported by Fodor, or affordances, as favoured by Chemero.

Bio:
Dr. Nikolai Alksnis specialises in alternative theories of mind, making several contributions to the enactivist research project. This talk is a product of a recent trip to the Centre for Philosophical Psychology at the University of Antwerp, where he also explored new ways to understand the nature of computation.


Where and when:
Tuesday, 13 June, 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 – June 6

Dr Talia Morag (Deakin University), “On Alief and the Interpretation of the Implicit Association Test
 
Abstract:
In this paper I examine Tamar Gendler’s influential notion of alief, a mental state that is posited to explain behaviours, such as racist biased behaviours, that persist despite a person’s explicit contrary judgment. Taking into account Eric Mandelbaum’s critique of alief, we are left with a notion that corresponds precisely to what the Implicit Association Test is widely interpreted to test. I claim that what remains of aliefs is nothing other than quasijudgmentalism in the philosophy of emotion. If this is right then this account of implicitly biased behaviours is non-explanatory and should be rejected. We must conclude, then, that whatever the Implicit Association Test is testing for, it is not an alief. Finally I briefly outline a proposal for an alternative interpretation of what the test it testing for.
 
Bio:
Dr Talia Morag is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University. She works on philosophical psychology, especially the philosophy of emotions and the philosophical foundations of psychoanalysis. Recently her book Emotion, Imagination, and the Limits of Reason was published by Routledge (2016). She is the founding director of Psyche + Society, which organises public conversations about social issues from a philosophical perspective enriched by psychoanalytic insights.
 
Where and when:

Tuesday, 6 June, 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.