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Who are we? Who do we want to be?

I’m very excited about this event that we have coming up on March 27th.

What is it to be British? The idea of national identity tends to be associated with xenophobic nationalism, and so those on the political left generally give the idea a wide berth. However, this may well be mistaken.

​A new conception of our cultural identity can be forged. This event is an invitation to begin the project of imagining a different way. It provides an opportunity to reflect on notions of identity and culture, migration, nationalism and the symbols through which we express ourselves.

More information available here.

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Professor Lewis R. Gordon in Sheffield!

I’m excited to announce that Professor Lewis R. Gordon will be visiting Sheffield on 27th March 2019. I first came across his work a while ago when I was reading about black existentialist thought. I then made copious use of his monograph What Fanon Said when reading Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks with my third year phenomenologists last year. These days, when I read a philosophy book I enjoy, I write and tell the author (we don’t do enough of that – so much of philosophy is focused on picking holes in other people’s work) so I wrote and told him how much I’d enjoyed his book, which began an email conversation. I’ve been wanting to get him over for a while, and the plan has finally come to fruition!

He will be giving two talks.

‘Theodicy, Capitalism, and the Commodification of Knowledge’ 2 – 3.30pm Hicks LTB for university members (but anyone can come).

‘Seductive Racial Fallacies’ 5 – 5.45pm Quaker Meeting House (this will be part of a larger public event. More details of this event to follow shortly.)

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Lewis R. Gordon is a philosopher and musician. He is Professor of Philosophy with affiliation in Jewish Studies, Caribbean and Latin American Studies, Asian and Asian American Studies, and International Studies at UCONN-Storrs; Honorary President of the Global Center for Advanced Studies; Honorary Professor at the Unit of the Humanities at Rhodes University (UHURU), South Africa; and the 2018–2019 Boaventura de Sousa Santos Chair in the Faculty for Economics at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. He also is the drummer for the band ThreeGenerations (3Gs) and a variety of jazz and blues bands in the New England area. His many books include Bad Faith and Antiblack Racism (Humanities Press, 1995), Her Majesty’s Other Children (Rowman & Littlefield, 1997), Existentia Africana (Routledge, 2000), Disciplinary Decadence (Routledge, 2006), An Introduction to Africana Philosophy (Cambridge UP, 2008), Of Divine Warning (with Jane Anna Gordon, Routledge, 2009), and, more recently, What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to His Life and Thought (NY: Fordham UP; London: Hurst; Johannesburg: Wits UP, 2015; in Swedish, Vad Fanon Sa, Stockholm: TankeKraft förlag, 2016), La sud prin nord-vest: Reflecţii existenţiale afrodiasporice, trans. Ovidiu Tichindeleanu (Cluj, Romania: IDEA Design & Print, 2016), and, with Fernanda Frizzo Bragato, Geopolitics and Decolonization: Perspectives from the Global South (London, UK: Rowman & Littlefield International, 2018). He is about to publish a monograph Fear of Black Consciousness (Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the USA and Penguin Book in the UK) and a collection of his essays 论哲学、去殖民化与种族 (On Philosophy, Decolonization, and Race), trans. Li Beilei (Wuhan, China: Wuhan University Press). His recent articles include “Afro-Jewish Ethics?” in Explorations in Jewish Religious and Philosophical Ethics, edited by Curtis Hutt, Berel Dov Lerrner, and Julia Schwartzmann (Routledge, 2018), and “Juifs contre la Libération: Une critique afro-juive,” Tumultes (2018). He is chairperson of the International Collaborations for the Caribbean Philosophical Association, of which he was its first president. He edits the American Philosophical Association blog series Black Issues in Philosophy and co-edits the book series Global Critical Caribbean Thought. His public Facebook page is here and he is on twitter: @lewgord.

Do join us if you can!

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The Philosophy of Habit

I am co-organising The British Society for the History of Philosophy annual conference on ‘The Philosophy of Habit’ with Dr. Jeremy Dunham. It will take place at the University of Durham. You can read more here.

 

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Pragmatism and the Analytic-Continental Split

This conference at the University of Sheffield starts tomorrow, and runs until Friday.

A common story told about academic philosophy in the 20th and 21st centuries is that is divided into two opposed camps, usually called ‘analytic’ and ‘continental’ philosophy. This conference proposes to assess a third, and often overlooked, philosophical tradition, ‘pragmatism’, in the light of this division. In pragmatism, we hope to discover novel approaches to the issues that divide the analytic and continental traditions.

Typically, analytic and continental philosophies are differentiated according to origins, methodologies, styles, and concerns. Analytic philosophy emerged in the early 20th century with British thinkers such as Bertrand Russell and G. E. Moore. It was presented as a split from a broader philosophical tradition which included Kant and Hegel, and was labelled ‘continental’ with the inclusion of figures such as Husserl, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger…

This conference asks how pragmatism might allow the analytic and the continental traditions of philosophy to engage in new and useful ways. Perhaps relating pragmatism to analytic and continental philosophy can provide new suggestions regarding the methodologies, styles, roles, and topics that we think should govern philosophy. Perhaps attention to the links which classical pragmatism has to both sides might further dissolve the divide. Perhaps, as some pragmatists have hoped, pragmatism sits at the end of the development of both continental and analytic philosophy. Or perhaps a rejection of pragmatism by both traditions might forge new links between them.

The conference website is here.

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Force of Habit

LSE runs a public philosophy website called The Forum. It’s well worth a look, as it lists a number of interesting podcasts, events, and so on. The website includes The Blog, to which I was kindly invited to contribute recently. I wrote something on habit, which was loosely based on my paper “Habit and Attention”:

I wake up one Saturday morning, look at the sunshine, and decide to go for a picnic. I call my friend Ernie who agrees to meet me at the picnic spot, pack some sandwiches, and set off on my bicycle. As I go to meet Ernie, I start daydreaming, and instead of cycling straight ahead to the picnic spot, I turn off left along my habitual route to work. I quickly realize my mistake, and with some annoyance, I turn back and carry on towards the picnic spot. How should we understand my action?

An influential picture defines actions as being the product of the agent’s intentions. But it’s not clear that this explains what I do in the example above. I do not intend to cycle to work. I intend to meet Ernie at the picnic spot. Sometimes, of course, we change our minds. I might intend to go swimming, but then decide that I had better tidy the house instead. But this is not what happens in the above case. I don’t change my mind about where to go—I always intend to meet Ernie at the picnic spot.

You can read the complete piece here.

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BPA/SWIP UK Mentoring Scheme

The British Philosophical Association, and the Society for Women in Philosophy (UK) are running a mentoring scheme for women in Philosophy. The scheme is open to all women from first-year PhD level onwards who are students of philosophy or employed on a teaching and/or research contract (including fractional contracts) in a UK or Irish university. It is also open to women philosophers who are between jobs or who have completed their PhD and do not currently have – but are aiming to secure – academic employment. There’s more information on the SWIP website

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