Conferences and Lectures

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* Lang Conference.pdf
Helen Lang Memorial Conference Poster

Ancient Physics and Its Legacy: A Conference in Memory of Helen S. Lang

Monday, November 7, 2016
Falvey Library, 205
Villanova University

2-2:30 p.m. Coffee

2:30 p.m. Welcome and Introduction

3 p.m. "Thought Experiments: Experimental Thoughts Inspired by Philoponus, Avicenna and Lang"

Jon McGinnis, PhD
Professor of Philosophy
University of Missouri -- St. Louis

3:45-4:15 p.m.  Personal Reminiscences and Tributes

4:15-5 p.m. "Nature, Motion, and First Principles in Presocratic Philosophy"

Rhodes Pinto, PhD
2010 graduate of Villanova University

5-5:30 p.m. Personal Reminiscences and Tributes

5:30-7:30 p.m. Reception at the Dundale Mansion

For more information, please contact Betsy Fillippo betsy.fillippo@villanova.edu  

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The Graduate Faculty of the Philosophy Department
at
Villanova University
Cordially invites you to attend a Defense of the Dissertation
The Laughing Matter of Spirit: A Young Hegelian Comedy

by

Rachel Aumiller

Dissertation Committee: Dr. Yannik Thiem (director)
Dr. Walter Brogan, Dr. James Wetzel

Thursday, November 17th, 2016 ~ 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm
St. Augustine Center ~ Fedigan room 400
Reception to follow in the Philosophy Department Lounge

Marx somewhere remarks that history repeats itself first as tragedy and then as farce. But what he failed to mention—what Hegel already knew—was that the historical doubling of tragedy and farce repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce. Marx’s “first as tragedy, then as farce” has the comic ring of “Who’s on first? Who’s on first!” Tragedy and comedy themselves appear on the historical stage like a comic duo, such as Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy. While Marx framed tragedy and comedy as the comic duo, comedy stepping directly into tragedy’s historical footmark, Hegel multiplies “first as tragedy, then as farce” times two: First as tragedy, then as farce, now once more only this time comically. We see [2 x 2] in the Phenomenology of Spirit in which ancient Greek tragedy and comedy are repeated comically in the divine drama of Christianity in the tragedy of the incarnation and the comedy of the crucifixion. [2 x 2] also occurs in the opening act of the Science of Logic in the immediate redoubling of the original comic duo: Being and Nothing. In the dialectical doubling of the double nothing changes. The comedy of spirit emerges when negativity itself undergoes transformation, when the crack between two is repeated in the second double that is exactly repeated.

This dissertation offers a brief history of how history became a laughing matter (i.e. the philosophical framing of history as repeating itself in tragic and comic stages). I explore how Hegel’s aesthetics and philosophy of religion inspires the Young Hegelian notion of revolution as a historical comedy. I argue that comedy not only remains a central concept throughout Marx’s corpus, but also remains a central concept in 20th and 21st century central and eastern European Marxism. I trace these laughter lines through Benjamin, Lacan, Dolar, and Zupančič, and arrive at two models of revolution as a comic stage of history. Is revolution history’s shrill laughter that shatters a tragic stage of history? Or is the repeated failure of revolution history’s comic stutter through which tragedy comes to see itself comically?

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The Graduate Faculty of the Philosophy Department
at
Villanova University
Cordially invites you to attend a Defense of the Dissertation

Zones of the Flesh and the Confined Bodies of Women
by
Morey Williams
Dissertation Committee: Dr. John Carvalho (director)
 Dr. Walter Brogan, Dr. James Wetzel
Dr. Lisa Guenther: Vanderbilt University

Monday, November 14th, 2016 ~ 6:15 pm to 8:15 pm
St. Augustine Center ~ Fedigan room 400
Reception to follow in the Philosophy Department Lounge
ABSTRACT

This dissertation provides the first eidetic phenomenological account of the women’s state
correctional facility in the United States of America. To accomplish this end, this dissertation critically applies phenomenological concepts presented by Maurice Merleau-Ponty, in particular, his notions of the “prepersonal body,” the “personal body”/ “the postural scheme,” and the “flesh” to the carceral context of women. This dissertation further argues that sexual assault constitutes the main disciplinary mechanism of women, deployed not just by the women’s state correctional facility in the United States but also by American society in general. Employing Michel Foucault’s concept of the carceral archipelago, this dissertation concludes by bringing to light how the conditions of the women’s state correctional facility and the conditions of women outside the women’s state correctional facility prove intimately related.
______________________________________________________________________

The Graduate Faculty of the Philosophy Department

at

Villanova University

Cordially invites you to attend a Defense of the Dissertation

The Ritual Dialogue of Philosophy:
How Homer's Tragic Tales Influenced Socratic Education

By
Katherine Eltringham
Dissertation Committee: Dr. Walter Brogan (director)
Dr. John Carvalho, Dr. James Wetzel

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016 ~ 11am to 1pm

St. Augustine Center ~ Fedigan room 400
Reception to follow in The Philosophy Department Lounge

ABSTRACT

There is a fundamental difference between Homer as educator, and Plato’s Socrates as educator. The difference resides in the tragic nature of Homer’s heroic character’s thumos-oriented quest for kleos aphthiton vs. Plato’s Socrates’ attempt to arouse the souls of his young and promising interlocutors to achieve a self-transformation from thumic desire for recognition and renown to an erotic desire for wisdom. Homer suggests that a life motivated by the desire to attain glory separates the hero from his own humanity and therefore from the human community. Plato’s Socrates provides a model for self-perfection that departs from the traditional heroic path of self-definition through agōn and ultimately death in order to show that those who take up the work of philosophy and the pursuit of moral excellence through education can attain a type of happiness characterised by the life of virtue rather than by a glorious death.

            Furthermore, Plato’s Socrates develops an educational ritual of “self-care” which involves the practice of philosophical dialogue between mutually supportive seekers of truth. This dialogue is neither eristic nor epideictic, but it is reflexive for the interlocutors. The souls engaged in philosophical dialogue become mirrors for each other which provide the basis for self-knowledge, human wisdom and self-perfection.

            The importance of Socrates’ emphasis on education is not only that it attaches happiness to the examined life and the commitment to virtue (rather than to glory), but that it has positive social consequences as well. Individual commitment to self-care is the foundation for justice and the edifying application of interpersonal influence to enhance freedom rather than to curb it. Plato’s Socrates reveals education to be liberation from both false knowledge and the perverse forms of desire (such as tyrannical desire) which motivate those who act with such desire to attain rulership that involves domination and subjugation and therefore deprives others in society of the freedom to become morally excellent and therefore happy. A society organised around and by education is one characterised by freedom and ruled not by political force, but by virtue and truth.

______________________________________________________________________

The Graduate Faculty of the Philosophy Department At

Villanova University

Cordially invites you to attend a Defense of the Dissertation

“Unravel the Girl, Unravel the World:
Critical Theory, Gender, and the Crisis of Modernity”
by

Summer Renault-Steele

Dissertation Committee: Dr. John Carvalho (director),
Dr. Sally Scholz, Dr. Yannik Thiem

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016 ~ 3pm to 5pm

St. Augustine Center, Fedigan room 400
Reception to follow in The Philosophy Department Lounge

ABSTRACT

This dissertation revisits the significance of gender in Siegfried Kracauer’s analyses of modernity and mass culture by placing contemporary feminist philosophy in conversation with his Weimar era work. I begin with the curious figure of the girl, dappled across Kracauer’s writings on dance, film, and photography. Drawing upon Michèle Le Doeuff’s study of figurative language in philosophy, I argue for a figurative reading of the girl that can unlock the role of feminist philosophical critique in Kracauer’s analysis of modernity and mass culture. Further, this reading of Kracauer’s girl provides uncharted lines of convergence with Judith Butler’s theorization of gender performativity. Consequently, I contend Kracauer’s Critical Theory may be rediscovered as a feminist philosophical method, that is: a body of work that critiques the formal signifiers of disciplinary philosophy, and, draws upon that critique in order to develop an alternative form of philosophically relevant inquiry wherein issues pertaining to sex or gender are of central concern.
 

_______________________________________________________________________

The Graduate Faculty of the Philosophy Department At
Villanova University
Cordially invites you to attend a Defense of the Dissertation

"Political Myth: An Archaeology of Magical Language"

By
Robert Leib
Dissertation Committee: Dr. Walter Brogan (director),
Dr. Georg Theiner, Dr. James Wetzel
Monday, October 17th, 2016 ~ 10:00am to 12:00pm
St. Augustine Center, Fedigan room 400
Reception to follow in the Philosophy Department Lounge

ABSTRACT

As every voter realizes, politically motivated lies, propaganda, and spin present significant challenges to a just and fair democracy. Political myth, however, is a less recognized and potentially more dangerous adversary. While lies and propaganda might be exposed for what they are, and spin may be corrected by the ‘facts’, political myth is largely immune to argument and reason because it projects a dream for the community, a narrative in light of which a group or nation orients itself and forms its identity. At the same time, however, these myths can be used to exclude and silence those whom a community rejects. As Jewish philosopher Ernst Cassirer wrote of the Nazis’ rise to power in 1933: “The real rearmament began with the origin and rise of the political myths. The later military rearmament was only an accessory after the fact.” But, what is political myth, and how does it work? According to Cassirer, myth works according to the 'magical' function of language, a mode of speech wherein saying and being coincide. This immediate link between what is said and what becomes the case for a community means that myth can breed discontent, violence, and paralysis, even while it speaks ostensibly in terms of freedom and security, and cultural identity. “Political myth acted in the same way as a serpent that tries to paralyze its victims before attacking them," Cassirer says. "Men...were vanquished and subdued before they had realized what actually happened.” This dissertation takes a sustained look at the problems posed by political myth, as well as the history of philosophy’s engagement with these issues, from Plato, through Kant, Heidegger, and Foucault, to contemporary thinkers, such as Agamben and Nancy. In its broadest characterization, this work examines the deep relationship between language, history, and politics, with an eye toward current and emerging forms of social practice. 
________________________________________________________________________

The Graduate Faculty of the Philosophy Department

At
Villanova University
Cordially invites you to attend a Defense of the Dissertation

“The Call to Believe and the Weak God in William James’s Philosophy of Religion”
by
Elie Saade
Dissertation Committee: Dr. William Desmond (director),
Dr. Thomas Busch, Dr. James Wetzel
Monday, October 3rd, 2016 ~ 6:00pm to 8:00pm

St. Augustine Center, Fedigan room 400
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Conversations About Living Existentialism: A Panel Discussion In Honor Of Dr. Thomas W. Busch

Friday, April 22, 2016

3:00-5:00 p.m., St. Rita's Chapel

Sponsored by The Department of Philosophy and Villanova's Center for Liberal Education

 

Dr. Thomas Busch

 

Philosophy Graduate Student Union Presents

Prof. Silvia Federici

Towards a Theory of the Commons: Historical Trends, Ethical and Political Perspectives

Friday, October 2, 2015
4:00-7:00 p.m. - MENDEL 101
Reception to follow in the Philosophy Lounge, St. Augustine Center

Sponsored by: The Philosophy Graduate Student Union,                                 Philosophy Department, and the Office of Student Development

 

 

Villanova University Lecture Series

Prof. Steve Fuller
University of Warwick, UK
Department of Sociology

Transhumanism as an Updated Version of Humanity’s Divine Image

Monday, March 23, 2015

4:30-6:00 CEER 001

Co-sponsored by the Ethics Program, Department of Philosophy, and the Villanova Center for Liberal Education

For about ten years now, I have been developing a version of transhumanism (or ‘Humanity 2.0’) that is continuous with aspirations common to both Christian theology and modern science. These are traceable to the exceptional status of our species as having been created ‘in the image and likeness of God’. To be sure, there have been many well-voiced objections to this project, not least coming from theologians who regard such literal readings of the imago dei doctrine as blasphemous. But there are also objections from the transhumanists, most of whom see themselves as pro-science but anti-religion. In addition, there is a growing number of ‘posthumanists’, who while generally sympathetic to both religious and scientific matters, nevertheless see the continued privileging of the human as the source of much of the world’s problems. In this talk I plan to define and defend my position in the face of these challenges, which together point to the need for a more open and frank discussion about the value of being ‘human’ in our times.

https://youtu.be/mk-SSVCPslk

Humanity 2.0: What It Means to be Human – Past, Present, and Future

A Roundtable Discussion with Prof. Steve Fuller

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
10:00-12:00 SAC 400

Co-sponsored by the Ethics Program, Department of Philosophy, and the Villanova Center for Liberal Education

 https://youtu.be/oTe9z6OcwTE

20th Annual Conference Sponsored by the Philosophy Graduate Student Union (PGSU)

March 13-14, 2015
Villanova University

New Encounters in French and Italian Thought
Keynote: Jason E. Smith, Art College Center of Design (Los Angeles)  

The negotiation between French and Italian activists and intellectuals in the mid-twentieth century opened a field of theoretical experimentation, the effects of which pose a challenge for contemporary politics. This encounter materialized through various collectives, traversing the neat intellectual and practical boundaries of the academy. Whether through the images of intellectuals in the streets, or through radical activist groups extending from the Situationist International to Tiqqun, the laboratory of French and Italian thought poses a constellation of conceptual weapons that remain vital for any contestation with the state of things. These implements have been successful in intervening within contemporary struggles on the level of theory, practice, and the construction of history in the present.

Under the inheritance of this tradition, this conference will include submissions from the interstices and margins of recent French and Italian philosophy.