16thAnnual International Conference on Philosophy 6th Annual International Symposium on Religion & Theology 24-27 May 2021, Athens, Greece Tentative Program (Athens Local Time) (Note: each presentation includes at least 10 minutes for questions and discussions if available)
Monday 24 May 2021
11.30-12.00 Opening and Welcoming Remarks:
Gregory T. Papanikos, President, ATINER.
Lars Samuelsson, Associate Professor, Umeå University, Sweden. Niclas Lindstrom, Associate Professor, Umeå University, Sweden. Title: : A Counterfactual Argument for Environmentalists to Endorse Non-Instrumental Value in Nature.
Environmentalists care about nature. Often, they reason and act as if they consider nature to be valuable for its own sake, i.e., to have non-instrumental value (often referred to as intrinsic value). Yet, there is a rather widespread reluctance, even among environmentalists, to explicitly ascribe such value to nature. One important explanation for this is probably the thought that such value, at least when attached to nature, is mysterious in one way or another. Anthropocentrists within environmental ethics have argued that the idea of non-instrumental value in nature is problematic in various ways (see Samuelsson, 2010a, for references), and some so called environmental pragmatists have maintained that a focus on non-instrumental value in nature among environmentalists is counter-productive (see Samuelsson, 2010b, for a critical account of such environmental pragmatism). In addition, Bryan Norton’s influential convergence hypothesis states that from a practical point of view it makes no or little difference whether we ascribe non-instrumental value to nature, given the depth and variety of instrumental value that it possesses (Norton, 1991, 237-43). Several environmental ethicists have provided replies to this pessimistic outlook on the prospects for non-instrumental value in nature (e.g., Callicott, 1995; McShane, 2007). In this paper we add to this list of replies by providing a counter-factual argument, applying to anyone who genuinely cares about nature, for ascribing non-instrumental value to it. Even if we accept, for the sake of argument, something like the convergence hypothesis, relying on nature’s instrumental value for preservational purposes is risky business for environmentalists. We can easily imagine a scenario where some crucial instrumental value that is in fact (now) possessed by some preservation-worthy natural entity (such as a species or a diverse and unique ecosystem) is absent. Yet, even under such circumstances, environmentalists would generally want to preserve this entity. In other words, the convergence hypothesis can only be contingently true, and once we acknowledge this fact it becomes clear that giving up on the non-instrumental value of nature means losing an important source for providing arguments to the effect that we ought to preserve certain natural entities. In the paper we develop this argument, go through some possible replies to it and briefly consider the theoretical costs that might be involved in ascribing non-instrumental value to nature. We argue that with respect to most accounts of such value, whatever theoretical costs one might claim to be involved in ascribing such value to nature, these costs are not higher than the costs of ascribing it to anything else.
12:30-13:00 Yih-Hsien Yu, Professor, Tunghai University, Taiwan. Title: Moral Education, Global Ethics and Tianxia.
It is with little doubt that the continuation of modern civilization in the 21st century under the mentality of scientism brought by the immense progress of science and technology, the movement of globalization backing up by capitalistic economic systems, democratic and bureaucratized society, and postmodern vogue appeal to the general populace, have threatened moral education in China. Living in an anti-humanistic and anti-traditional era, what role can we expect moral education to play this century? What could be the civil function of moral education? This paper attempts to respond to these questions by fusing the concept of “global ethics” with the Chinese notion of “tianxia” or “Under-Heaven,” to find a way out of the predicament of moral education in China.
Claudia Simone Dorchain, Assistant Professor, BAGSS College, Germany. Title: Sophism and Narcissism, Structural Parallels.
Crime is a language. How can that be? To answer this question, we first have to examine what language is. According to Wilhelm von Humboldt, language is the form in which thought enters consciousness. Von Humboldt was thinking of the individual languages, for example the members of the Indo-European or Finno-Ugrian language family, even though – especially in his time – there were already efforts of scholars to find or invent universal languages. Besides the individual languages and their complements, pictorial acts of speech or pictorial narratives are especially memorable, which we encounter in myths and fairy tales of the world. The symbolism of myths is, according to C.G. Jung, a part of the collective subconscious of mankind. Symbology and semiotics are not only interesting ways of categorizing the elements of that subconscious, but at the same time academic fields of research are of growing interest. In a global world, complex language systems are not only created by single languages and their mixture or code-switching, but are increasingly complemented or even replaced symbolically. This is how metalanguages emerge, which are polyglot-symbolic – already a reality in social media, where language mixtures combined with icons represent messages. However, the symbolic language does not extend to messages on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. More obscure, and at the same time with a much longer tradition, is the symbolic language of crime. So let’s investigate, what is crime? Crime is, according to the Cambridge dictionary, “an illegal act”, i.e. a violation of the law. Violations are all over the world, albeit with different classifications, categorized as minor crimes and capital crimes. If we look at capital crimes such as rape or murder, we see more than just a violation of the law: we recognize a symbolic language in which the act of violence and the victim of violence become symbolic. The violence itself may be silent, as Hannah Arendt claims, but the crime itself is the symbolic illustration of violence that comes from the subconscious and speaks powerfully to the subconscious. Crime is a code. Globally, individual criminals and also organized crime communicate with each other through the way they tyrannize people, take them hostage, torture, rape and murder. Secret services read political murders as a sign among themselves which sanction was executed against the victim, hyperviolence dismantles the body and makes the dead person a non-person even posthumously. It is no coincidence if political executions take place, the body is always the “tableau vivant” and the violence of crime a language. Connoisseurs see in this an occult symbolic syntax and semantics, which would be readable, if more people would understand what is hidden in plain sight. Why don´t we see, why don´t we decipher what is said in the symbolic language of crime, which transgresses the act of crime and gives an additional complex meaning? Understanding polyglot-symbolic languages can be very important in a global society: it is time to write an international dictionary of crime and to enumerate its syntax and semantics.
Antonio Queiros, Professor, University of Lisbon, Portugal. Title: The New Scholastic and the Critique of Environment Reason.
Political philosophy cannot ignore the importance of the scientific definition of the concepts. We believed that the preconceived notion that reserve to philosophy the query about “what it means to be” and assigns to the domain of science to study of “phenomenological causes”, can lead to the old Mechanicism and to a kind of a new scholastic. Separate Science and Philosophy, in this context, meaning not recognize the dialectic between the two different kinds of thinking. The Rectification of Names, a philosophical movement promote by the philosophy of Confucius (China, 551 BC-479 BF) was an imperative to build a conceptual language that represent the flux of “the truth of things”, above all during the troubled times and the civilization crises. Never in the History of mankind a financial and economic system had so powerful to control the state and the conscience of the people, concentering and controlling the social media and social networks: a global alienation is their consequence. First of all, is necessaire analyses the concept of “economy” that replaced the historical concept of “political economy”. The single thought separates economy and politic, to drive economy to own political aims, disregard the heritage of Adam Smith, Ricardo, Marx, or Keynes. Banks drive its core business from the credit support of industry, commerce and services, and families to the creation of derivative products, investing in public-private partnerships and sovereign debt speculation. World Debt-to-GDP ratio rose to 318% in 2018 (Bloomberg), a record of $247 trillion of USA, what mean that 2/3 of the value of derivative products is speculative. That dysfunction of real economy and the excess of offer, will be the causes of new financial and economic crises, feeding a cycle that is more and more close and violent. When the financial markets market was deregulated, emerging hidden Hedge Funds that enter in unfair competition with traditional banks, consequently the banks adopted much of strategies of Financial Funds_ operating from fiscal paradises. Never in the cycle of fall down of the empires, could the masters of those imperial states have access a so terrible weapons_ electronic weapons, biological weapons, nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, that they are already used and will be used to perpetuate its hegemony and resist to the end, supported by the moral doctrine of utilitarianism. In a second time will be discussed the conceptual of perpetual peace, from the thinking of Kant to the actual transformation of the war.
Raphael Shuchat, Senior Lecturer, Bar ILan University, Israel. Title: Mystical Paradigms and the Quest to Understand the Human Anima.
Bertrand Russel in his book ‘The Problems of Philosophy’ states that one of the reasons Philosophy is less known to the general populace than science is due to the fact that any discipline of philosophy that crossed over to science was removed from it. So natural philosophy became physics, and discussions of the universe became astronomy and discussions of the soul became philosophy. The latter discipline is of special interest since it is the only metaphysical discipline that survived Kant’s criticism in his ‘Critique of Pure Reason’. However, the discussions of the soul over the ages have always begun with paradigms. Aristotle in his Di Anima quotes the paradigms of Anaxagoras, Democritus, Plato, Diogenes and others in his discussion on the soul. Paradigms help to focus the discussion and they can be accepted or rejected whether in their entirety or partially. The discussion of the soul and its functions is a discussion that lies on the border of observation and intuition. These discussions of Aristotle’s Di Anima, were developed by thinkers in the middles ages like Al-farabi, Averroes, Maimonides and Aquinas, and prepared the early groundwork for the field of psychology which began in the 19th century. Even today, the study of Psychology begins with the theories of personality over the centuries which were the paradigms of understanding the human self. These theories were added to by modern psychologists such as William James, Freud, B.F Skinner and Carl Jung and others. Every model has its strength and weaknesses. At the same time that Al-farabi and Maimonides were commenting on Aristotle’s model of the soul, the kabbalah emerged in Provence and Gerona. Since philosophy and Mysticism were standing face to face in Spain it forced the kabbalists to use philosophic terminology in forming their paradigms of the soul. Mysticism, despites its claim to otherworldly revelations, is observed and studied by the researcher as a human phenomenon. The mystics were extremely interested in understanding the human soul and the self. The models they formulated whether intuitive or through meditative experiences are they way they created paradigms for understanding the soul. These paradigms can be either accepted or rejected just like the early theories of personality, but need to be considered. It is my feeling that these paradigms can be useful tools as novel ways to understand the human soul. In my presentation I will bring a few examples of how mystical models from Kabbalistic works in the middle ages , can be used to both challenge some of the underlying concepts of our understanding of Man, as well as serve us as tools to aid in understanding the human psyche, its balances and imbalances. In my talk I will focus on three or four examples of how this model interacts with the Aristotelian one but at the same time offers alternative ways of seeing Man.
Ionut-Alexandru Barliba, Researcher, “Gh. Zane” Institute of Economic and Social Research, Romanian Academy, Iași Branch, Romania. Title: Existential Authenticity and the Challenges of a Post-Modern Society.
Authenticity is a guiding concept in existentialism, as it provides the basis of a proper understanding of peculiar existentialist themes and notions such as anxiety, individuality, otherness, freedom, selfhood, self-consciousness or responsibility. Basically, authenticity regards our own most inner self, our sheer individuality. However, authenticity is not a natural given, but a challenge for the individual to embark on a journey towards becoming a true self. What does it mean to have true self? When introducing his central concept of the Individual, the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard necessarily opposes it to the abstract and empty notions of the masses. According to Kierkegaard, this kind of groups are formed by mere numerical members who don’t take individual responsibility for their deeds. In his view, the public or the crowd only create social pressure through leveling, a dominant phenomenon of modern times. Starting from Kierkegaard’s fundamental distinction, we will discuss the fate of the postmodern concept of authenticity that has been slowly stripped off its initial meanings in the philosophical discourse, one that, on the surface, still resembles its existentialist meanings, but the contents were adjusted to accommodate a sort of free-floating, versatile, opportunistic view of the human being, one that means whatever the speaker wants it to mean, and promises to be radically liberating. This “new kind” of authenticity implies, among other meanings, the requisite of reaching a different, superior version of the self, following the assumption that people are born and grow into a sort of imperfect, flawed, inferior, rigid state, that they need to transcend. The pressure to restore or discover an ideal of authenticity that is just a placeholder can be easily transformed into an ideological device, a political instrument. In this respect, we draw on views that treat authenticity as central to understanding various populist movements of our times as well. We believe that what might operate as an antidote to the empty contemporary popular understanding of authenticity is to link it to the ideal of a good life, one that comes with the idea of responsabilization and continuous questioning of one’s current commitments.
16:00-16:30 William O’Meara, Professor, James Madison University, USA. Title: Marx’s Theory of Knowledge.
This paper develops a commentary on Marx’s Theses I and Il on Feuerbach, using suggestions of Engels in order to suggest three key elements in Marx’s theory of knowledge. Then the paper uses insights of Lukacs in order to evaluate the overly deterministic aspect of Engel’s interpretation of history and knowledge. The key points in Theses I and Il are that knowledge should be rooted in human sensuous activity and that objective truth is found in such practical activity in which we prove the reality and power, the this-sidedness of our thinking in practice. Knowledge involves either (l) predicting, or (2) controlling, or (3) creating the future course of events either in nature or in history. If human action can achieve its purpose in an action, then the idea of the object either predicted or controlled or created is true to the extent that it successfully guides human activity. Successful practical activity either (1) enables us to adjust our own actions to the future events that we successfully predict as Engels points out when the Copernican solar system received a striking proof when one man calculated and deduced the necessity of the existence of an unknown planet on the basis of the Copernican system as an organization of the data of astronomy and then another man actually found that planet, or (2) enables us to modify the future natural events that we successfully control as Engels points out when in the century chemists became able to produce organic chemicals such as urea from inorganic chemicals, or (3) enables us to create future, human events in history that fulfill our human needs and aspirations. Whereas Engels offers a deterministic view of this future, Lukacs’ reading of Marx emphasizes our human freedom in creating the future.
Dylan Skurka, PhD Student, York University, Canada. Title: Righteous Propaganda: On Hip-Hop’s Response to Police Brutality.
On June 28, 2015, rapper Kendrick Lamar performed his hit song “Alright” on top of a graffitied police car at the BET Awards. Soon after, he garnered widespread criticism for the subversiveness of the performance and the song’s explicitly hostile lyrics towards America’s law enforcement. In this paper I entertain and respond to two arguments I explicate from these grievances: that (1) both “Alright” and Lamar’s performance of it encourage hostility towards America’s law enforcement in its entirety for police brutality when most officers are not guilty of this offence and (2) Lamar appeals to his mass audience’s emotions when the issue at hand ought to be resolved through rational discourse. After undermining the first concern by establishing that police brutality is a structural problem that is much bigger than the individual officers who actually engage in it, I reject the second concern using Jason Stanley’s conception of good propaganda. Utilizing this framework, I assert that the performance in question must appeal to its audience’s emotions because concerns of racial minorities, such as police brutality, are largely ignored by the dominant culture when expressed through rational discourse. I conclude that the widespread criticism of Lamar is misguided and that his “Alright” performance is ultimately something that is morally praiseworthy.
Tennyson Samraj, Professor, Burman University, Canada. Title: Epistemic Awareness of Doxastic Distinctions: Delineating Types of Beliefs in Belief-Formation.
Epistemic claims are accompanied with the awareness of doxastic distinctions. Doxastic distinctions are made based on justification, ambiguity, and the sources of truth. Understanding the types of beliefs help us in knowing (1) why we accept beliefs with or without evidence: against or regardless of evidence and (2) why we have to accept certain beliefs and why we choose to accept certain beliefs. Part of belief-formation is to be aware of how we come to know what we believe. It is one thing to challenge our claims and quiet another to enquire how we come to know and believe what we know. The intent of this paper is to present doxastic distinctions to help us understand the basis of belief-formation. As long as epistemic claims are accepted, the means used to arrive at those beliefs must be respected. Every doxastic distinction not only defines belief-formation but also defines the role and limits of epistemic awareness in belief-formation. Understanding the history of doxastic distinctions is important. Plato defined knowledge as justified true belief. Aristotle defined beliefs in terms of reality when he argued that “to say what is as is and to say what is not as is not is truth; and to say what is as is not and to say what is not as is falsity”. In the medieval times, because of the question of ambiguity they defined beliefs as being either de dicto or de re. Since Hume and Kant’s time the academic world based on how we come to know what we know defines beliefs as a priori or a posterior. Presently, depending on whether beliefs are sense-evident or self-evident, beliefs are either synthetic or analytic. Depending on whether beliefs are supported by other beliefs or not, beliefs are either basic or non-basic. Depending on whether beliefs are true in a given world or true in all possible worlds, beliefs are either contingent or necessary. Depending on whether what we know is caused or chosen, beliefs are either volitional or non-volitional. Depending on how beliefs are ascertained, beliefs are either confirmable or falsifiable. Depending on the ambiguity of a sentence, beliefs are either de dicto or de re. Depending on whether beliefs are defined as true or false, beliefs are considered either ‘closed’ or ‘open’. When we recognize the different types of beliefs: we (1) understand why we accept beliefs with or without evidence; against or regardless of evidence, and (2) know when to define beliefs as justified true belief and when to define beliefs as justified belief-decisions.
20:30-22:30 Greek Night
Tuesday 25 May 2021
08:00-11:00 Urban Walk
11:30-12:00 Rui Maia Rego, PhD Student, University of Lisbon, Portugal. Title: The Problem of Moral Luck (Bernard Williams and Thomas Nagel).
In mythology, Oedipus is determined by destiny or fate to a set of actions. If he is not responsible for his fate or luck, will he be responsible for his crimes? Can moral judgments be independent of luck, chance or fortune? Following an example proposed by Nagel: two agents (with the same intention, desire, belief, etc.) shoot someone. The first agent hits his target. The second agent does not hit, because, luckily, a bird crossed the path of the bullet fired. Both agents wanted to hit the target, but by chance or luck interference only one hits. Do we judge both agents in the same moral way? The moral responsibility of an agent over his actions seems inseparable from a principle of control of the agent over his actions, however, when we analyse the object of the moral judgment (agent, actions) the evaluation over it varies according to elements of luck (constitutive, circumstantial, resulting, causal fortune). The distinctions around moral luck, discussed in this presentation, will allow us to return to a problem inherited from ancient philosophy — the tension between morality and luck — to which contemporary philosophy returns. Does luck introduce a paradox into the core of moral judgments (Thomas Nagel’s thesis), which limits any conception of morality (as Bernard Williams argues)? In this presentation we defend the need to consider morally agents and actions, regardless of whether they are subject to luck.
12:00-12:30 Seweryn Osowski, PhD Student, Pontifical University of John Paul II, Poland. Title: Catholic Church in a dialog with Messianic Jews.
This work aims to show the history and development of dialog between Catholic Church and Messianic Jews. The Messianic Jewish Movement is a new religious phenomenon which has started at 70s. It includes Jewish and non-Jewish believers who profess Jesus as the Messiah and the mainstream Christian doctrines, while keeping the Jewish way of expressing their faith. The presentation is based on a research which presents the history of the Messianic Jewish – Roman Catholic Dialogue Group which has started over twenty years ago under the leading of Cardinal Georges Marie Martin Cottier and blessing of pope John Paul II. The work also shows some of the most important leaders representing Messianic and Catholic side involved in the dialog.
12:30-13:00 Gintaras Sungaila, PhD Student, Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania. Title: The Divine Liturgy as an Object of Philosophical Reflection in Greek Patristic Thought.
The Divine Liturgy is an unusual topic both for the contemporary philosophy and for the history of philosophy. This paper discusses how it became an important object of philosophical reflection in the writings of the Greek Church Fathers. It presents the context and history of emergence of the genre of liturgical commentary and analyses the philosophical nature of some of the commentaries. The unusual philosophical nature of those texts is explained by two circumstances: first of all, that many people who worked with liturgical texts were themselves philosophers. They lead a philosophical way of life which was an important idea in Ancient philosophy. On the other hand, they were practitioners of Alexandrian method of biblical exegesis which they applied in their liturgical commentary. It allowed them to introduce philosophy into interpretation of the Divine Liturgy. The paper analyses examples from Patristic commentaries.
13:00-13:30 Marie-Julie Maitre, Associate Professor, Tamkang University, Taiwan. Title: Is the Xiantiantu of Shao Yong Binary? Analyzing a Consequence of its Analogy with the Binary Arithmetic of Leibniz.
The French Jesuit Joachim Bouvet (1656–1730) studied the Yijing (Book of Changes), one of the five Chinese Classics which is known as a system of notation of acts of divination. He especially focused on the Xiantiantu, a diagram of Shao Yong (1011–1077) that he attributed to the mythical emperor Fuxi (2900 BCE). This diagram is an organized system of the bagua or the sixty-four hexagrams according to the Fuxi, or Xiantian order. While exchanging letters with the German philosopher G. W. Leibniz (1646–1716), the latter explained his binary arithmetic, or dyadic, whose first written record is the De Progressione Dyadica dated March 15, 1679. It is a binary number system for noting all numbers with only two digits – 1 and 0 – that are used instead of ten as the basis of a scoring scale. The missionary then discovered an analogy between this new calculation and the diagram of the Xiantiantu. When one replaces 0 and 1 with the broken lines of the yin and the unbroken lines of the yang, the two systems are analogues. That the Xiantiantu could be considered as binary matters because it has implications in the history of binary arithmetic, or more broadly, in the history of logic since it could be seen as an early form of binary arithmetic practice. This analogy has raised and still raises the question of whether the Xiantiantu is binary. When scholars questioned whether Shao Yong’s diagram was binary, they came up with conflicting answers. Some consider the hexagrams to be analogous to binary digits, some claim that the very structure of Yijing was binary, and some place the Xiantiantu at the beginning of the history of binary calculus. Others, on the contrary, think that the different construction of the two systems, as well as the “wrong” reading direction used by Bouvet and Leibniz – opposite to the one used in China – creates this analogy, and therefore would invalidate this identity. Consequently, the two systems would be of different nature, mathematical for the dyadic, symbolic and philosophical for the Xiantiantu. These elements of contradictory answers call for a clarification of the question of whether the Xiantiantu is binary. This presentation aims to clarify the question whether the Xiantiantu of Shao Yong is binary. I show that the Xiantiantu is binary because first, it is constituted by two elements – the yin and the yang. Second, it is binary as a numerical system – using 0 and 1 is facultative. Indeed, one hypothesis presents the Yijing as an arithmetic system because the hexagrams helped for calculating before being used for divination. Third, against the counterargument of the different construction of the two systems, I argue that their construction is reversed – the division by two for the Xiantiantu, and the multiplication by two for binary arithmetic. This eventually creates the same pattern readable from one or the opposite direction. This new analysis solves the problem of the opposite reading direction used by Bouvet and Leibniz.
13:30-14:00 Ettore Barbagallo, Lecturer, Technical University of Kaiserslautern, Germany. Title: Consciousness and Awareness. A Phenomenological Approach to the “Hard Problem of Consciousness”.
The study of consciousness is more and more obviously considered as a prerogative of natural sciences, in particular of experimental psychology and neuroscience. Especially the latter is expected to accomplish a revolution in this research area, eventually allowing us to explain consciousness. However, there is a blind spot in this project that some neuroscientists decide to take seriously, while other tend to ignore: any quantitative analysis of consciousness presupposes a non-quantitative pre-understanding of consciousness, that is the (prescientific) subjective experience of it. This is an inevitable truth for every approach neuroscientists intend to embrace in order to explain consciousness, even for reductionist strategies. The first aim of my talk is to point out an historical task that philosophy can—and actually must—take on, that is the task of showing that this prescientific presupposition of the scientific research on consciousness (i.e. subjective experience) is not a negative limit or a residual qualitative dimension that we have to remove or at least bypass in order to provide an objective and purely quantitative account of the brain functions underlying consciousness. The experienced consciousness is and will necessarily remain the uncircumventable condition of the studied consciousness, and philosophy, as autonomous research field, has to demonstrate that it is a productive and fruitful condition of every research, not an obstacle we should overcome. To accomplish this philosophical task, I propose the phenomenological distinction between “consciousness” and “awareness” claiming that what neuroscience does want to study and explain is not consciousness but awareness (and all its possible states). From the phenomenological point of view I want to develop, consciousness is not rooted in the brain and is therefore a universal feature of life (from unicellular life to plants and animals). What is then awareness? And how can the phenomenological distinction between consciousness and awareness provide a solid foundation for neuroscientific and psychological studies of the brain and experience? The second main aim of my talk is to offer a description of awareness based on the ancient Greek concept of θαῦμα (thaûma) which is usually translated as “astonishment” and constitutes according to Plato and Aristotle the origin of philosophy. I would like to show that philosophy itself forms the realm in which awareness and hence thaûma achieve a high state of manifestation. Awareness is not only what philosophy can investigate but what philosophy explicitly practices, or in other words, awareness is not only something philosophy can study and examine as an object but something philosophy is or embodies.
Paolo Scolari, Assistant Professor, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy. Title: For Money/For Food. Friedrich Nietzsche and the Waning of Culture.
Nietzsche was fascinated by the problem of culture since his youth, and to this day his thoughts on the subject are still surprisingly fresh and relevant. His polemics on culture are recorded especially in the Basel conferences, published under the title On the Future of Our Educational Institutions, and in the third part of his Untimely Meditations, entitled Schopenhauer as Educator. According to Nietzsche, the most serious problem afflicting modern culture is its loss of independence. People are dealing no longer with an independent culture that is practised for its own sake, but with a culture that is subordinate to a purpose, heteronomous and deprived of its freedom. A useful culture. Useful, perhaps, as the modern-day catchphrases tell us, for finding a job, for money, for food. Useful, that is, for something. In the end, Nietzsche’s diagnosis brings us to a single, inevitable conclusion: whenever it is considered as a means to something else, for whatever purpose, culture is tragically doomed to founder. Extravagant and non-conformist as always, here Nietzsche shows his characteristic inclination to polemic, expressing himself at times forcefully and uncompromisingly, and more given to pars destruens than to pars construens. Frequently, however, his philosophy is expressed in all its persuasive power as it brings us back to a starting-point that focuses not so much on what it proposes as what it demolishes. More than a century later, his critique of culture appears to us, as citizens of the 21st Century, surprisingly contemporary, hitting extremely close to home. If we are able to hear them, we are sure to be provoked and shaken by Nietzsche’s warnings. At least in some respects, they will force our civilisation to take a good look at itself and, once again taking up the challenge, to bring constant rebirth out of its wanings. Main themes: 1. Culture that ‘serves’, 2. Employees of culture, 3. On the wave of Schopenhauer, 4. The God of money, 5. Cultural commerce, 6. “Current men”, 7. Culture puts food on the table, 8. Educated to work, 9. Beyond utility?
Simon Glynn, Professor, Florida Atlantic University, USA. Title: The Hermeneutic Structure of Perception.
According to the “common (non)sense” view of perception, our sensory experiences are regarded as reflections of, and consequently as corresponding to, material reality, upon which their veridicality depends. However, as Husserl, following Hume, demonstrated, contra Kant, there cannot, even in principle, be empirical knowledge of the existence of such a supposedly experience transcending, or quasi noumenal, realm of “things-in-themselves,” much less of its nature. Nevertheless however, Husserl’s “phenomenological reduction” — by which he attempts to rid philosophy of all such empirically unjustified assumptions by restricting it to providing supposedly “radically empirical” or purportedly presuppositionless descriptions of the phenomenal realm of things and events etc. as they appeared to us in our supposedly immediate and direct experiences or perceptions – was, as Merleau-Ponty pointed out, inevitably doomed to failure. And not on account of the aforementioned empirically unsubstantiable belief, but because, as Heidegger and his fellow hermeneuticists, recognizing, as per Kant, that the sensible and the intelligible are inextricably intertwined, concomitantly insist, all perception is already conceptually mediated. In which case, our descriptions of our perceptions are interpretations in the light of our (pre) conceptions, which is to say of our presuppositions. While insofar as Derrida, echoing de Saussure, has pointed out that concepts are constituted in language, then consequently the perceptions they mediate are linguistically delineated, and, analogously to the Structuralists’ account of language, it is the intrinsic coherence of our perceptions, rather than their correspondence to an experience transcending reality, which determines their veridicality.
Omid Payrow Shabani, Professor, University of Guelph, Canada. Title: On Resistance as Evinced by the Iranian Politics.
Along fundamental rights such as liberty and property The Declaration of Rights of Man in 1789 also envisions a right to resist operation. Irrespective of one’s place on the political spectrum, resistance has been an alternative both to submission and to revolt. After briefly sketching a historical and theoretical account of resistance I will propose three criteria to separate good resistance from bad resistance. The criteria are that resistance ought to be non-violent, progressive, and civil. I finally move to apply these criteria to three instances of resistance in the current political situation in Iran. In this context, I would argue, resistance is an alternative to both revolution and reform.
Farhan Lakhany, PhD Student, University of Iowa, USA. Title: ‘This’.
Trying to reconcile the data of conscious experience with a materialist understanding of the world is notoriously difficult and stands as a one of the final bulwarks to an ever creeping, mechanistic view of reality. Resolving this tension has usually prompted one of two responses: the materialist will dig in their heels and attempt to deflate the data of conscious experience or the non-materialist will point to the necessity to move beyond a materialist world view and a so-called science worship. On their surface, neither of these options are particularly palatable and with this paper, I attempt to take a step back from the debate and examine the assumptions that undergird the discussion. To this end, I look closely at Frank Jackson’s Mary argument and try to isolate certain presuppositions about the mechanisms by which the data of conscious experience is acquired by examining the role of mental ostention in Jackson’s analysis. After isolating and looking closely at mental ostention, I then provide a late-Wittgenstenian analysis of mental ostention and the way it is deployed in Jackson’s argument. I cash this out by articulating what I call “grammatical affordances”. With the notion of a “grammatical affordance”, I argue that Jackson is taken in by a certain way of speaking which leads him to believe that more should be able to be said about qualitative experience than can in fact be said and thus leads to the philosophical problems he articulates. Once we notice this error, we can work towards dissolving the philosophical problem of qualia and attempt to make progress in this debate