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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Art and the Image: Insights from Merleau-Ponty and the Phenomenological Tradition

What is an image? What does an artist do when she creates one? Images are of things. However, there are different ways for one thing to be of another. Names, for example, are of their bearers. But images don’t seem to be of things in the same way that names are. Images are likenesses of their objects. Yet not just any likeness of an object will count as an image. An accidental likeness, such as a crack in the rock that resembles a crow, is not an image. Neither is an image an object that is qualitatively identical to another – a stamp bearing the Queen’s head is identical with another such stamp, but this does not make one an image of the other. Images instead translate their objects into different media (a portrait of the Queen translates this flesh and blood person into canvas and paint). An understanding of images requires a grasp of what it is for one object to translate another, and what is involved in this process of translation. This workshop takes Merleau-Ponty’s work on the image as the starting-point from which to explore these ideas.

Location: University of Nottingham (main campus)
Highfield House, room A11

Date and time: Wednesday 23rd October, 1—4.30pm

1—1.45 ‘Image: for the Eye and in Mind’ Komarine Romdenh-Romluc (Philosophy)

1.45—2.30 ‘Witness the Gift of Seeing’ Derek Hampson (Artist)

2.30—3 Break

3—3.45 ‘Mind the Gap: Architecture and the Image’ Jonathan Hale (Architecture)

3.45—4.30 ‘Living and Breathing the World’ Aimie Purser (Sociology)

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The Significance of Phenomenology

The Department of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, and the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis are putting on a really interesting series of lectures and graduate seminars, which will culminate in a one-day workshop.

The project of phenomenology begun by Edmund Husserl in the early twentieth century continues to flourish and inspire new generations of philosophers. Phenomenology has been subject to powerful and important critiques from a variety of directions, but the rich analyses of intentionality, intersubjectivity, embodiment and being-in-the-world found in the writings of classical phenomenologists remain influential for a number of contemporary debates within philosophy, and strikingly also in neighbouring humanities and social science disciplines as well as in the medical sciences. The lecture series will comprise speakers from around Europe and from a variety of philosophical backgrounds either directly or indirectly engaged with phenomenology. We’ve asked them to reflect on what phenomenology means to them, and in what way phenomenology continues to be of vital significance both in philosophy and beyond today.

There is more information available from the website. I will be introducing the workshop. More details to follow.

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Image in Space

Faculty of Art and Design
Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic
10-12th April 2013

I will be presenting a paper at this conference on the theory of the image offered by Merleau-Ponty in his Eye and Mind.

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Copenhagen Summer School in Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind

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The programme for the 2013 Copenhagen Summer School in Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind has just been announced.

Place:
Copenhagen University, Njalsgade 134, Aud. 22.0.11, 2300 Copenhagen S.

Time:
12-16 August, 2013

The course will provide essential insights into central themes within the philosophy of mind, viewed from a phenomenological perspective.

Topics include:
Perceiving the World, Place, Normality and Embodiment, the Self, the You, and the We.

The course will consist of a mixture of key note lectures, PhD presentations and seminars (30 hours total), aimed at advanced MA students and PhD students. Post Docs are also invited to apply. The Summer School is co-funded by the PhD programme in philosophy at the University of Copenhagen.

Speakers:
Steven Galt Crowell, Rice University, USA
Sara Heinämaa, University of Helsinki, Finland
Rasmus Thybo Jensen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Jeff Malpas, University of Tasmania, Australia
Søren Overgaard, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Dan Zahavi, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Registration is now open. As always, this looks like it will be an excellent event.

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The Phenomenology of the Image

This is a joint research project between the Nottingham Sense of Space Group, and the School of Fine Arts, UCA. It goes without saying that the image is central to many forms of art. Yet the nature of the image is disputed. It’s tempting to think that an image is a copy or reproduction of a thing. However, in Eye and Mind, Merleau-Ponty offers a compelling critique of this way of thinking, and offers an alternative account of the image, encapsulated by his mysterious claim that an image is ‘the inside of the outside, and the outside of the inside’. The Phenomenology of the Image research project brings together theorists interested in the work of Merleau-Ponty with artists working in different media to explore the implications of his view for art practice.

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