Sunday August 8: Welcome
Evening Session: The Changing Profession
"An Unsuitable Job for a Philosopher,"
"Feminism and Philosophy: From
Invisibility to Inspiration," Lani Roberts
Monday August 9: Living and Theorizing
the Passage of Time
Morning Session: Tradition
8:30-9:20, "Living Within Tradition,"
Laura Duhan Kaplan
9:30-10:20, "Personal Identity
and Social Change," Krassimir Stojanov
10:30-11:20, "Here and Now, There
and Then: Nostalgic Identities," Andreea Deciu
Afternoon Session: Metaphysics of Time
2:00-2:50, "Multiple Parallel
Universes and Time Travel," Judith Presler
3:00-3:50, "Temporal Idealism,"
4:00-4:50, "A Hestian Perspective
on Space-Time," Patricia Thompson
Tuesday August 10: Environmental Ethics
Morning Session: Land and Nature
8:30-9:20, "Land: Expensive
Commodity or Expansive Divinity?", Joe
Frank Jones III
9:30-10:20, "The Aesthetics of
Nature," Noel Boulting
10:30-11:20, "Individuation Through
Experientialization: James and Mead on Social Differentiation,"
Evening session: Meaning and Change
"Interpretation and Its Ontological
Entanglements," Michael Krausz
"Where Has All the Meaning Gone?",
Wednesday August 11: Political
Morning Session: Democracy and Liberalism
8:30-9:20, "Political Equality
and Minority Exclusion," Andrew Schwartz
9:30-10:20, "Social Change, Class,
and the Problem of White Racialized Identity," Steve Martinot
10:30-11:20, "The Present Crisis
and the Politics of Eschatology," Andrew Fiala
11:30-12:20, "A Response to Fiala's
'The Irony of Political Philosophy'," Richard
Afternoon Session: Critiques of Capitalism
"On the Logic of Social Transformation: Hegel's Economic Thought
and the Case for Market Socialism,"
3:00-3:50, "Reactionary Dystopia,"
Thursday August 12: Science
Morning Session: Social Impact
8:30-9:20, "Angelic Machines,"
"Proximity and Simulacrum: On the Possibility of Ethics in an
Electronically Mediated World,"Lucas Introna
10:30-11:20, "Memes, Minds, and
Social Change," Jeff Jordan
11:30-12:20, "Planck's Black-body
Radiation Problem and the Role of Narrative in Science Practice,"
David Lay, Juan Ferret, William Cowling
Afternoon Session: Rereading Major Figures
"Politics and Poesis: Rereading Heidegger's 'The Question of Technology'
at the End of the Millenium,"
3:00-3:50, "Freud Among the Ruins,"
4:00-4:50, "(Sur)passing Time:
Hegel and Augustine on the Teleological Subject," Cynthia
Friday August 13: Dilemmas of Modernity
Activity: Fall River Road Trip
Afternoon Session: Dilemmas of Modernity
1:00-1:50, "The Existential
Condition at the Millenium," Ralph Ellis
2:00-2:50, "The Manliness of
Stoicism in Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full," William
3:00-3:50, "False Moustaches:
Fred and Adolph," Joseph Ulatowski
"Freud Among the Ruins: Re-visions
of Psychoanalytic Method"
Integral to understanding the
recovery of repressed memories through psychoanalysis is an explication
of Freud's "archeology metaphors." The shift from psychoanalysis
as "excavating archeology" to psychoanalysis as "surface archeology"
represents two distinct approaches to deciphering trauma. The
early Freud employs hypnosis to uncover the cause of the patient's
illness, but presenting him or her with a repressed idea discovered
under hypnosis fails to consider the patient's inability to confront
the memory. In later psychoanalytic theory, Freud emphasizes the
effort of the analysand: by working through such resistances,
the analysand can confront the trauma and subject it to unification
with other (conscious) ideas. An exploration of why this shift
took place can provide insight into how, under Freudian psychoanalysis,
the past simultaneously shapes and is shaped by the present subject,
structuring the self-constitution of the subject through the givenness
of its history and constituting that history through the activity
"(Sur)passing Time: Hegel
and Augustine on the Teleological Subject"
Considerable disparities between
Hegel and Augustine's broader philosophical projects cover over
the extent to which they share a conception of subjectivity and
temporality as originally tied to presence beyond becoming. This
identification depends upon two processes: the internalization
of time within the subject, and the reduction of the subject to
consciousness. In so doing, both Hegel and Augustine transform
the passing of time into the autobiography of a rational self-conscious
agent. Yet memory, crucial to the self-representation that sustains
this model of subjectivity, betrays the absence of what is to
be represented, and reintroduces the problem of the passing that
marks temporality. This essay examines the convergence of Hegel
and Augustine around the teleological subject, whose self-possession
is constantly disrupted by its very attempt to become self-possessed
"Here and Now, There and Then"
Nostalgic Identities and the
Search for the Past
This paper engages with the
theme of "Personal Identity and Personal Past," proposing a theory
of nostalgia as a hermeneutic representation of the past than
can be instrumental in the construction of identity in exiles,
in particular. Nostalgia is a loose concept, highly loaded with
vague, poetical connotations, commonly believed to be simply synonymous
with "homesickness." By sketching a history of the medical notion
of nostalgia and looking into the intellectual context of the
emergence of this term in the scientific discourse of the 19th
century, I argue for a connection between nostalgia and the theory
of narrative identity. I draw on several philosophical conceptions
of the self as a narrative project, but I specifically focus on
Paul Ricoeur's distinction between identity as sameness and identity
as difference (idem- and ipse-identity). My claim is that, though
seemingly distinct and not easy to reconcile, idem- and ipse-identity
are contiguous stages of constructing identity. More important,
nostalgia illustrates the shift from the former to the latter;
thus indicating that identity presupposes a strong sense of sameness,
as well as openness to difference and change.
A Response to Andrew Fiala's
"The Irony of Political Philosophy'
At these conferences, there
always seems to be a paper or two which I find particularly stimulating,
which sometimes means, in part, "I really disagree with them."
Past examples include Joe Jones's "Meaning, Metaphysics, and the
History of Philosophy" and Richard Cohen's "Religion and Spinoza"
in 1995 and Joseph Wagner's 1997 critique of conservatism as political
philosophy. Last year's winner was Andrew Fiala's "The Irony of
Political Philosophy." Its author critiques political philosophy
as irrational. He does this by setting up what I find to be an
unrealistically high standard of rationality, which leads to an
ironic attitude, not bad in itself, but which might too easily
lend itself to cynicism. I argue that political philosophy is
partly rational and partly not, and that this blend of rationality
and irrationality simply marks it as an integral part of human
life in general.
"The Existential Condition
at the Millennium"
Intensification of the experience
of value (not just attaining it) must be strong to over shadow
Heideggerian finitude. For Levinas, appreciation of another's
value through intense empathy is pulled by vulnerability and finitude.
For Unamuno, this compassion of passion determines its force,
contrasting a being's uniqueness and irreplaceability with its
possible non-being. This appreciation of value instantiated in
love objects is more powerful and more important than 'happiness.'
Intensely conscious beings (e.g., humans) feel this transforming
value experience because they desire to be qua intensely conscious
beings, through value-expressive,' not just 'drive reductive'
activity - not to attain what valuation posits as desirable, but
also to feel and affirm its value. As Freud's Beyond the Pleasure
Principle admits, if pleasure (drive-reduction) were the end
of motivation, life's aim would be death. Love can respond to
finitude's dilemma, not by attaining what we value, but by expressing
experiential commitment to those values.
"An Unsuitable Job for a Philosopher:
Graduate Education and the Limits of the Profession"
Recently, philosophers have
begun to respond to the prolonged scarcity of academic jobs in
the profession and the changes such scarcity might provoke with
respect to the conduct of graduate education; nevertheless, there
has been a curious lack of distinctively philosophical interrogation
of this problem and our response to it. In this paper, I draw
on the work of Pierre Bourdieu to pose the question as to what
could account for this apparently uncharacteristic refusal to
raise questions concerning our practice as philosophers, and argue
that our practice does constitute a suitable object of philosophical
Individuation through Experientialization:
James and Mead on Social Differentiation
Contemporary political philosophy
often disregards the potential significance of the natural environment
in political decision making. Jürgen Habermas, in particular,
advances a heavily anthropocentric picture of discourse and language
as fundamental to the functioning of a democratic society. His
picture relies on presuppositions about the individuals who comprise
democratic societies, individuals who derive their individuality
from interactions with other humans. He draws much of this picture
from the writings of the American pragmatist George Herbert Mead.
This is crucial to Habermas's Hegelian-Marxism, since Mead provides
a theory of the individual that is (i) non-materially based; (ii)
dialectically developmental; (iii) intersubjective and (iv) non-essential.
In this paper, I argue that the musings of William James-an early
American pragmatist and influence on G. H. Mead-may provide a
more environmentally responsible picture for Habermas's discourse
ethics. Accounting for the development of an individuated subject
through shared and unshared experiences, rather than intersubjectively
shared symbols, will allow political theorists to reclaim the
natural environment as a relevant ethical arena.
"Proximity and Simulacrum:
On the Possibility of Ethics in an Electronically Mediated World"
In this paper I attempt to develop
a critique of the mediation of social relations by means of information
technology. In developing this critique, I draw of the work of
Emmanuel Levinas. In using his work, I develop my argument in
three stages. In the first movement I discuss the notion of the
ethical relation as the primordial relation that founds sociality
through the notion of proximity. The face of the absolute other
puts the ego into question, keeps him hostage. As a hostage the
domestication of the other through intentionality is reversed
into a substitution, I for the other.
The ego responds "here am I".
No other can take up this response. The accused transcends the
tyranny of the 'there is' and responds to the face facing it.
In the second movement I discuss the how the self encounters the
other, the ethical contact. How can the self make contact with
the other without turning the other into a theme? The face expresses
itself through speaking. In speaking, the other signifies its
alterity. In speaking, I face the other that expresses, not content,
not something as something, but its otherness which overflows
every theme or concept that the ego may bring to it. This expression
is in the form of a trace. As a trace it disturbs but is never
there to be known. It is a momentarily present but with no past
and no future. It disturbs through its persecuting knock but is
never there when I open the door. The notion of a trace provides
a very subtle understanding of the nature of the ethical contact,
the proximity of the other. In the third movement, I discuss the
mediation of the social through information technology as simulation.
I argue that simulation shatters proximity since it turns everything
into an image (its like-ness). The 'distance' produced by the
mediation is one in which the ego can no longer be disturbed;
no longer become a hostage. As such the trace of the face becomes
part of the image. To be presented and re/presented in an endless
play of the image. In the final section, I explore the possibility
of electronic mediation that preserves the trace, that possibility
of being disturbed.
Frank Jones III
"Land: Expensive Commodity
or Expansive Divinity?"
This essay is basically about
place, which is to say the effect physical location has on persons.
The concept of place has a long and obscure career as a sometimes
pallid reflection of the experience persons have of place, but
has often, lately, been upstaged by a relative newcomer, space,
which is to say the geometricized, or universalized version of
place. Certain philosophico-religious views stand or fall depending
on whether one countenances place or space exclusively, particularly
the status of experience which has traditionally been counted
as religious. Neither exclusive view is correct and there is truth
in both. I try in this essay to say what the boundaries between
these categories might be, which is an attempt to say what an
authentic relationship with physical place might be. Comparison
and contrast points of view from Native Americans, and the author's
experience of the power of place to change one's views, in this
case the Garden of Gethsemene in Jerusalem, are used as foils,
or stories, to help with words for wordless experiences.
"Memes, Minds, and Social
In 1976, in the last chapter
of his book The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins, the Oxford zoologist,
speculated that in addition to the gene, there existed another
unit of replication, the meme, which accounts for cultural evolution,
much as the gene accounts for biological evolution.
In this paper I flesh out Dawkins
idea of the meme. In particular, I take a look at an argument
that the existence of memes renders the idea of a human self superfluous.
In a memetic universe, there are two only kinds of organisms:
there are replicators genes and memes - and there are vehicles
- the flora and fauna of everyday life. There is no place in that
universe for what common-sense calls minds, or selves.
"Living Within Tradition"
Hans Georg-Gadamer describes
living within tradition as a continuous process of fusing the
present with the past. In this paper, I explore three examples
of such fusion: connecting philosophical theory with lived experience;
reconstructing ancient religious tradition in terms of contemporary
ethical norms; and making sense of contemporary women's issues
in light of fragmented knowledge of women's history. The common
thread running through the examples are the interpretation of
metaphor, the ambiguity of time, and the question of personal
Is machine autonomy the same
as human autonomy? Answers to this question are developed in philosophical
dialog. Becket Geist, a romantic philosopher with scientific leanings,
is irked by the arrogance of Fortran McCyborg at Model 2000 cyborg.
Nonette Naturski, a champion of naturalistic views, joins Becket
in playing devil's advocate by arguing that Fortran is not free,
does not make choices, and does not perform actions. In response
to the attempts to reduce his status, Fortran ups the ante by
arguing for yet higher status--- that he is an angel. The dialog
closes with the realization that the conversation which denied
Fortran autonomous status presupposed it on some level. At the
1996 SPCW conference, I presented a dialog with the same characters
called Loss of the World. Angelic Machines picks up where it left
David Lay, Juan Ferret, and
"Planck's Black-body Radiation
Problem and the Role of Narrative in Science Practice"
We argue in this paper that
narrative plays a constituitive role in science practice. We show
that an adequate understanding of narrative might have helped
resolve the dilemma Planck faced as he struggled to interpret
the results of his Black-body radiation problem in light of what
we claim was the entrenched narrative of classical physics within
which his work was originally situated.
Where Has All the Meaning
A phenomenon of modern society
has been characterized by a pervasive meaninglessness. This loss
of meaning, this paper proposes, is rooted in the demise of our
frames of reference, which can no longer be taken for granted
as basic assumptions. This paper analyzes frameworks, first of
all, in terms of whether the analyzer is observing from within
a particular framework or from outside of it. Secondly, it examines
notion of open and closed frames. This distinction of open and
closed frames will be examined in terms of Kierkegaard's criticism
of Hegel's System. While this paper focuses primarily on language,
it will also examine what mathematics in the form of Georg Cantor's
"Theory of Transfinite Numbers" and Kurt Godel's "Incompleteness
Theorems" reveal about frames and the implications of these observations
"Dystopia Rules: The Nitty
Gritty City and Reactionary Chic"
This paper examines the extent
to which dismal visions of the polymorphous, polygot world city
(visions that sport a hypercool urban "look" and appeal to visual
pleasure) are utilized, in popular film and TV, to promote anti-cosmopolitanism
and a political agenda that starves cities, favors small towns
and suburbs and rewards white flight. Such dystopic exercises
foreclose all hope except for individual escape. Images developed
from counter-cultural rebellion are appropriated in service of
conservative values and portray the triumph of the market as the
endpoint of history. For the neo-conservative rightwing, are we
at the end of time; has teleology stopped? For the rest of us,
can there be Utopian visions without naivete, tyrannical blueprints
or annoying smarminess? For clues, we'll look to techno-drama
from Blade Runner to The Matrix and to the worldview
clashes played out in the Star Trek permutations. Can we re-vision
the future as that which we have not yet seen?
"Politics and Poesis: Rereading
Heidegger's 'The Question Concerning Technology' at the End of
In this paper I maintain that
it is no longer possible to read Martin Heidegger's essay, "The
Question Concerning Technology" as favourably as before the proliferation
of literature on his support for National Socialism. I maintain
that although his diagnosis of the dangers of modern technology
is apt, his antidote, which privileges the poiesis of the ancient
Greeks, requires more careful analysis. Providing an exegesis
of the text and drawing on recent criticism, I argue that it suggests
shades of fascist politics subtly expressed under the aegis of
a mythical Greco-Germanic ideal. I contend that it has little
to unambiguously contribute to the establishment of a genuine
human freedom which is not defined by conformity to a singular
model of identity, by liberation from the body, nor by adherence
to an elitist and undemocratic politics. At millennium's end,
the epochal dawn to which Heidegger alludes warrants caution rather
than reassurance of a "saving power".
"The Manliness of Stoicism
in Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full"
Wolfe's protagonist, Charlie
Croker, is the model of manliness early in the novel. But Croker's
vanity and overweening ambition bring him to the brink of financial
ruin, social disgrace, and marital disaster. It is the working
class manual laborer Conrad Hensley who discovers Epictetus in
prison and is deeply inspired by Stoicism. Hensley becomes the
paradigm of manliness once armed with the Stoic wisdom and moral
fortitude, which Croker has yet to acquire. The manly self-sufficiency,
social courage, strength of character, and uncompromising moral
integrity demanded by Stoicism prove the deliverance of both Hensley
and his convert Croker. I explicate how Stoicism both articulates
and transforms the conception of manliness in A Man in Full.
"Personal Identity and Social
Change towards a Posttraditional Lifeworld"
The paper attempts to describe
mechanisms personal identity development in regard of the radical
break with traditions, which is typical for the age of reflexive
modernity. Here the development is no longer possible on the base
of identification with inreflexive, traditionally given symbols
of a local culture. The posttraditional identity does not refer
to the past but to the future, which has optional as well as contingental
character. This identity is been formed through participation
in a kind of intersubjectivity with a reflexive and universal
structure. I try explaining this model of intersubjectivity by
a comparative analysis of two opposite concepts of interpersonal
communication, respectively of the relationship between I and
We - namely those of Charles Taylor and Jürgen Habermas.
"False Mustaches: Fried and
This paper explores the relationship
between the moral system of Friedrich Nietzsche and Adolf Hitler.
Hitler, hiding behind a "false mustache," exploited Nietzsche's
moral philosophy, thus concealing Nietzsche's true moral doctrine.
This essay intends to clarify whether Hitler actually produced
a systematic approach to morality based in Nietzsche's teachings.
Although there are some token similarities between the world views
of Nietzsche and Hitler, this relationship neither permits a direct
correlation nor does it exonerate the charge that Nietzsche's
philosophy had some influence over Hitler's tyrannical reign of
It is argued that Platonizing
space-time and embracing a "block" universe has many conceptual
advantages. Time need not begin ex nihilo; time on such a view
is mind-dependent and relative to the elements of the "block"
which are being experienced. Plato's cave allegory receives a
contemporary interpretation in which we are to understand ourselves
as at least four-dimensional. Plato claimed that time is the moving
image of eternity. The eternity imaged (experienced) is an immutable
space-"time" physical universe on this view. Temporal idealism
can accommodate empirical physics without ruling out a priori
alleged parapsychological phenomena such as precognition, or the
significance of mystical experience.