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

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

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

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.

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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British Postgraduate Philosophy Association Annual Conference

The BPPA annual conference takes place at the University of Edinburgh from Monday 3rd – Thursday 6th September 2012. Tuesday 4th September will be dedicated exclusively to careers matters. I will be taking part in a panel on the challenges faced by early career philosophers, where I will talk on work-life balance. More information is available from the BPPA website.

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The World, Others, and I

Abstract of talk for the Oslo meeting of the Nordic Society for Phenomenology. I hope to have a draft of this paper up before too long.

Solipsism holds that the I is, in some sense, alone. Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty, hold that solipsism captures a deep truth about human subjectivity, which hinges on the idea that to be a subject is essentially to have a point of view. Wittgenstein argues that if the self is a perspective on the world, then it shrinks to a point without extension. One’s bodily and psychological life must be thought of as events in the world. There is no essential difference between my sadness and a hurricane. At the same time, to see the world from a perspective is to see it as laid out around one, implying that it is a solipsistic world: my world. I argue that Wittgenstein’s account perfectly characterises certain forms of schizophrenic experience, and so cannot be accepted as a faithful account of human experience in general. Merleau-Ponty’s account of solipsism reveals the flaw in Wittgenstein’s reasoning: he fails to acknowledge the importance of one’s own body. One’s perspective on the world is an embodied perspective; bodily interaction with the world gives one a sense that it can be viewed from elsewhere and is thus shareable; and the body’s existence is ‘anonymous’ in that it is able to occupy the bodily perspective of other embodied selves. There is thus a tension at the heart of human subjectivity – my own perspective is both privileged in that I always see the world from my own point of view, and not privileged insofar as my body can occupy the perspectives of others. This, for Merleau-Ponty, is the truth in solipsism: intersubjective experience is unstable. Schizophrenic experience illustrates how this delicate balance may be upset.

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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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