Monday, December 29, 2008

The Presumption of Rationality: Psychological Challenges to Legal Certainty

A roundtable discussion concerning, but not limited to, the following themes:

Rationality has long prevailed as the dominant model of individual decision making in law. For the most part, legal rules assume that people act rationally and that most individual behavior is the product of reasoned choice. What this dominant model of individual decision making ignores is the fundamental role of imagination in individual thought and behavior. In his seminal 1930 book, Law and the Modern Mind, Jerome Frank drew on psychoanalytic ideas about imagination in describing the distorting effects of infantile wishes and fantasies on the decision making of legal actors and judges. More recently, legal thinkers and judges, including David Bazelon, Peter Brooks, and Martha Nussbaum, have applied psychoanalytic and related ideas about imagination to particular legal problems. This roundtable takes a step back to consider more broadly the interplay between law and imagination. What would it mean for law to take seriously the idea of imagination? How do we reconcile the law's emphasis on objective behavior with a psychodynamic understanding of unconscious fantasy? How does a focus on imagination threaten the liberal legal ideal of the rational, autonomous individual? Does imagination inevitably lead us toward a more romantic, but arguably more authoritarian and less democratic, vision of law?

Peter Brooks has recently joined the faculty of Princeton University as Mellon Visiting Professor, after many decades of teaching at Yale, where he was Sterling Professor of Comparative Literature. A recent recipient of the Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award, he plans to lead a three-year seminar at Princeton's University Center for Human Values on "The Ethics of Reading and the Cultures of Professionalism." He is the author of a number of books, including Henry James Goes to Paris, Realist Vision, Troubling Confessions, Reading for the Plot, and The Melodramatic Imagination.

Anne Dailey is the Evangeline Starr Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development at the University of Connecticut School of Law. Professor Dailey received her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. Her current research focuses on the application of psychoanalytic developmental psychology to modern conceptions of children's rights. She is the recipient of the 2003 CORST prize from the American Psychoanalytic Association, and recent Guest Editor for the Fall 2007 issue of American Imago, entitled "Legal Analysis."

Carol Gilligan is a psychologist, professor, and novelist. She was named by Time Magazine as one of 25 most influential Americans. Harvard University Press describes her 1982 book, In a Different Voice, as "the little book that started a revolution." Her first novel, Kyra, published in January 2008, was reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle as "a rare thing: an engrossing, deeply emotional, thinking person's love story." In 2002, The Birth of Pleasure was described by the Times Literary Supplement as a "thrilling, new paradigm" and characterized by National Public Radio as the work of a psychologist who writes like a novelist. She is currently University Professor at New York University.

Nomi Stolzenberg is the Nathan and Lilly Shapell Professor of Law at the University of Southern California Law School. Her research spans a range of interdisciplinary interests, including legal fictions, law and religion, law and liberalism, and the complex relations between property, community, and sovereignty. A strong proponent of multidisciplinary research and teaching, she helped establish the USC Center for Law, History and Culture, which involves scholars and students from throughout USC's campus. She is currently at work on two books on liberalism and religion in American law and culture, as well as several other research projects—one exploring the relationship between liberalism and romanticism, another examining the concept of "creating facts on the ground."

Kenji Yoshino is a Chaired Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law. Educated at Harvard, Oxford (as a Rhodes Scholar), and Yale Law School, he taught at Yale Law School from 1998 to 2008, most recently as the inaugural Guido Calabresi Professor of Law. He has published in both academic journals, such as the Columbia Law Review and the Yale Law Journal, and in more popular media, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. His book, Covering: The HIdden Assault on our Civil Rights, was published in 2006. He is currently at work on his second book on Shakespeare and the law.

Click Here to Watch Program on Source Website


Click Here to Watch Program on Youtube

Saturday, December 27, 2008

One Laptop Per Child

"The mission of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege."

It’s not a laptop project. It’s an education project

"In 2002, MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte experienced first-hand how connected laptops transformed the lives of children and their families in a remote Cambodian village. A seed was planted: If every child in the world had access to a computer, what potential could be unlocked? What problems could be solved? These questions eventually led to the foundation of One Laptop per Child, and the creation of the XO laptop."

"OLPC’s mission is to provide a means for learning, self-expression, and exploration to the nearly two billion children of the developing world with little or no access to education. While children are by nature eager for knowledge, many countries have insufficient resources to devote to education—sometimes less than $20 per year per child (compared to an average of $7,500 in the United States). By giving children their very own connected XO laptop, we are giving them a window to the outside world, access to vast amounts of information, a way to connect with each other, and a springboard into their future. And we’re also helping these countries develop an essential resource—educated, empowered children." (Info Here)

David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace was born in 1962 in Ithaca, New York to James Donald Wallace and Sally Foster Wallace.

As a young child, Wallace and his family lived in Champaign, Illinois. In fourth grade, Wallace moved to Urbana and attended Yankee Ridge school.

As an adolescent, Wallace was a regionally ranked junior tennis player. He attended his father's alma mater, Amherst College, and majored in English and philosophy, with a focus on modal logic and mathematics. His philosophy senior thesis on modal logic was awarded the Gail Kennedy Memorial Prize, while his English senior thesis would later become his first novel. He graduated with summa cum laude honors for both theses in 1985. He next pursued a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Arizona, which he earned in 1987. (bio taken here)

"Artists on the Cutting Edge" [10/1997]

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Michel Foucault: The Culture of the Self

Foucault was born in Poitiers, France, on October 15, 1926. His student years seem to have been psychologically tormented but were intellectually brilliant. He became academically established during the 1960s, when he held a series of positions at French universities, before his election in 1969 to the ultra-prestigious Collège de France, where he was Professor of the History of Systems of Thought until his death. From the 1970s on, Foucault was very active politically. He was a founder of the Groupe d'information sur les prisons and often protested on behalf of homosexuals and other marginalized groups. He frequently lectured outside France, particularly in the United States, and in 1983 had agreed to teach annually at the University of California at Berkeley. An early victim of AIDS, Foucault died in Paris on June 25, 1984. In addition to works published during his lifetime, his lectures at the Collège de France, being published posthumously, contain important elucidations and extensions of his ideas.

It can be difficult to think of Foucault as a philosopher. His academic formation was in psychology and its history as much as in philosophy, his books were mostly histories of medical and social sciences, his passions were literary and political. Nonetheless, almost all of Foucault's works can be fruitfully read as philosophical in either or both of two ways: as a carrying out of philosophy's traditional critical project in a new (historical) manner; and as a critical engagement with the thought of traditional philosophers. (bio taken here)

April 12, 1983: UC Berkeley Language Center:

The Culture of the Self: Introduction and Program, Part I

The Culture of the Self: Introduction and Program, Part II

The Culture of the Self: Introduction and Program, Part III

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) was one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century. Born into a German-Jewish family, she was forced to leave Germany in 1933 and lived in Paris for the next eight years, working for a number of Jewish refugee organisations. In 1941 she immigrated to the United States and soon became part of a lively intellectual circle in New York. She held a number of academic positions at various American universities until her death in 1975. She is best known for two works that had a major impact both within and outside the academic community. The first, The Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951, was a study of the Nazi and Stalinist regimes that generated a wide-ranging debate on the nature and historical antecedents of the totalitarian phenomenon. The second, The Human Condition, published in 1958, was an original philosophical study that investigated the fundamental categories of the vita activa (labor, work, action). In addition to these two important works, Arendt published a number of influential essays on topics such as the nature of revolution, freedom, authority, tradition and the modern age. At the time of her death in 1975, she had completed the first two volumes of her last major philosophical work, The Life of the Mind, which examined the three fundamental faculties of the vita contemplativa (thinking, willing, judging). (bio taken here)

A two part series on the thought of Hanna Arendt, from the show Entitled Opinions, which is a weekly literary talk show that ranges broadly on issues related to literature, ideas, and lived experience. The host, Robert Harrison, is the Rosina Pierotti Professor in Italian Literature at Stanford University and is Chair of the Department of French and Italian, where he has been since 1985.

Guest: Karen Feldman teaches in the Departments of Rhetoric and German at UC Berkeley. Her areas of specialization include hermeneutics and phenomenology, the Frankfurt School, German Idealism, feminist theory, literary theory and aesthetics. She is the author of Binding Words: Conscience and Text in Hobbes, Hegel and Heidegger (Northwestern University Press, forthcoming in 2005) and co-editor of Continental Philosophy: An Anthology (Blackwell, 1998).

Click Here for Part 1
Click Here for Part 2

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Martha Nussbaum: Interview

University of Chicago: Professor Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Philosophy Department, Law School, and Divinity School. She is an Associate in the Classics Department and the Political Science Department, a Member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and Co-Chair of the Human Rights Program. She is the founder and Coordinator of the Center for Comparative Constitutionalism and Co-director of the Center for Laws, Philosophy, and Human Values. (Bio taken here)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Philosophy Talk Radio Show

Philosophy Talk is a weekly, one-hour radio series produced by Ben Manilla. The hosts' down-to-earth and no-nonsense approach brings the richness of philosophic thought to everyday subjects. Topics are lofty (Truth, Beauty, Justice), arresting (Terrorism, Intelligent Design, Suicide), and engaging (Baseball, Love, Happiness).

This is not a lecture or a college course, it's philosophy in action! Philosophy Talk is a fun opportunity to explore issues of importance to your audience in a thoughtful, friendly fashion, where thinking is encouraged.

The Hosts:

Kenneth Allen Taylor is an American philosopher. He is currently chairman of the department of philosophy at Stanford University. Professor Taylor specializes in philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. His interests include semantics, reference, naturalism, and relativism. He is the author of numerous articles, which have appeared in journals such as Noûs, Philosophical Studies, and Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, and two books, Meaning and Truth: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language (Blackwell Publishers) and Reference and the Rational Mind (CSLI Publications).

Taylor received his Ph.D. in 1984 from the University of Chicago, where he completed a his dissertation under the supervision of Leonard Linsky. He received his B.A. from Notre Dame University in 1977. (Bio taken here)

John R. Perry is Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University. He has made significant contributions to areas of philosophy, including logic, philosophy of language, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind. He is known primarily for his work on situation semantics (together with Jon Barwise), reflexivity, indexicality, and self-knowledge. (Bio taken here)


Monday, November 3, 2008

John Ralston Saul: Canadian Identity

Award-winning essayist and novelist, John Ralston Saul has had a growing impact on political and economic thought in many countries. Declared a “prophet” by TIME magazine, he is included in the prestigious Utne Reader’s list of the world’s 100 leading thinkers and visionaries. His works have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

In his latest book, A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada, Saul unveils 3 founding myths. He argues that the famous “peace, order, and good government” that supposedly defines Canada is a distortion of the country’s true nature. Every single document before the BNA Act, he points out, used the phrase “peace, welfare, and good government,” demonstrating that the well-being of its citizenry was paramount. He also argues that Canada is a Métis nation, heavily influenced and shaped by aboriginal ideas: egalitarianism, a proper balance between individual and group, and a penchant for negotiation over violence are all aboriginal values that Canada absorbed. Another obstacle to progress, Saul argues, is that Canada has an increasingly ineffective elite, a colonial non-intellectual business elite that doesn’t believe in Canada. It is critical that we recognize these aspects of the country in order to rethink its future. (Bio taken here)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

On the Edge: Latest views from Andrés Duany

(painting by Antoine Blanchard Théâtre des Variétés)

Andrés Duany is an American architect and urban planner. He was born in New York City but grew up in Cuba until 1960. He received his undergraduate degree in architecture and urban planning from Princeton University, and after a year of study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, he received a master's degree in architecture from the Yale School of Architecture. (bio taken here)

Duany gave a lecture in Vancouver on January 16, 2008. Click link below to watch.

On the Edge: Latest Views from Andrés Duany

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Owen Flanagan: Mind & Reality Symposium on Consciousness, Presented by Columbia's Center for the Study of Science and Religion (Keynote Address)

Owen Flanagan is the James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Center for Comparative Philosophy. He is also Professor of Psychology and Brain Science, and Professor of Neurobiology at Duke University. In 1999-2000, Dr. Flanagan held the Romanell Phi Beta Kappa Professorship awarded by the national Phi Beta Kappa office to an American philosopher for distinguished contributions to philosophy and to the public understanding of philosophy.

Dr. Flanagan works primarily on the mind-body problem, moral psychology, and the conflict between the scientific and the humanistic image of persons. His publications include: The Science of the Mind (MIT University Press, 1991), Varieties of Moral Personality (Harvard University Press, 1991), Consciousness Reconsidered (MIT University Press, 1992), Self-Expressions: Mind, Morals and the Meaning of Life (Oxford University Press, 1996), Dreaming Souls: Sleep, Dreams and the Evolution of the Conscious Mind (Oxford University Press, 2000), and The Problem of the Soul: Two Visions of Mind and How to Reconcile Them (Basic, 2002). His newest book, The Bohisattva's Brain: Neuroscience, Virtue, and Happiness, will be completed this summer and published by MIT Press. (Bio taken here)



Click here to view full conference

George Koob: Neuroscience and Human Flourishing

George F. Koob, Ph.D. is a Professor and Chair of the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders at The Scripps Research Institute and Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Koob is a pioneering researcher in the field of substance abuse and stress. He has proposed, with Dr. Michel Le Moal, a contemporary model of drug addiction termed "the allostatic model of addiction". He is one of the most highly cited contemporary neuroscientists. Dr. Koob has co-authored a book in collaboration with Dr. Le Moal called "Neurobiology of Addiction." (Bio taken here)

Click here to view entire conference

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Warren Buffett: On Economic Crisis

University of Nebraska Lincoln, Bachelor of Arts / Science
Columbia University, Master of Science

America's most beloved investor is now the world's richest man. Soared past friend and bridge partner Bill Gates as shares of Berkshire Hathaway climbed 25% since the middle of last July. Son of Nebraska politician delivered newspapers as a boy. Filed first tax return at age 13, claiming $35 deduction for bicycle. Studied under value investing guru Benjamin Graham at Columbia. Took over textile firm Berkshire Hathaway 1965. Today holding company invested in insurance (Geico, General Re), jewelry (Borsheim's), utilities (MidAmerican Energy), food (Dairy Queen, See's Candies). Also has noncontrolling stakes in Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo. Insurance operations flourished in 2007. "That party is over. It's a certainty that insurance-industry profit margins, including ours, will fall significantly in 2008." The Oracle of Omaha issued a challenge to members of The Forbes 400 in October; said he would donate $1 million to charity if the collective group of richest Americans would admit they pay less taxes, as a percentage of income, than their secretaries. Had long promised to give away his fortune posthumously. Irrevocably earmarked the majority of his Berkshire shares to charity in 2006, mostly to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gift was valued at $31 billion on day of announcement; donation will far exceed that sum so long as Berkshire shares continue to rise. (Bio taken here)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What is Pragmatism?

The pragmatic school of philosophy is discussed by Richard Rorty, Hilary Putnam and James Conant on Chicago Public Radio. April 24, 2002

Click the Radio

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New York Remembers Jacques Derrida

A tribute to the French philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) hosted by NYU's Center for French Civilization and Culture, the Department of German, and the faculty of Arts and Science. Video includes segments of tributes given by scholars including Richard Foley, Tom Bishop, Peter Goodrich, Shireen Patell, Anselm Haverkamp, Ulrich Baer, Mary Ann Caws, Michel Beaujour, Emily Apter, Gil Anidjar, Drucilla Cornell, Judith Friedlander, Béatrice Longuenesse, Gayatri Spivak, and Avital Ronell.

Summer Philosophy Series with Christopher Lydon circa 2000

Below are several links to a philosophy radio series that took place in the summer of 2000.

Part One: The Examined Life Martha Nussbaum, Professor of Law, Philosophy, and Classics at the University of Chicago.

Part Two: Justice Michael Sandel, Professor of Government at Harvard University Bernard Williams, Professor of Philosophy at All Souls College, Oxford.

Part Three: Ethics and Morality Thomas Scanlon, Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University. Ralph Wedgwood, Professor of Philosophy, MIT

Part Four: Love Martha Nussbaum, Professor of Law, Philosophy, and Classics at the University of Chicago

Part Five: The God Problem Hilary Putnam, Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. Alvin Plantinga, Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame University.

Part Six: Freedom and Freewill Simon Blackburn, Cambridge University author of The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy and Think. Susan Wolf, Chair of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University author of Freedom Within Reason.

Part Seven: Science Daniel Dennett, Tufts University. Richard Rorty, Princeton University.

Part Eight: The Philosophy of Mind Patricia Churchland, Chair of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego Antonio Damasio, Neuroscientist and Head of Neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine.

Part Nine: Living the Philosophical Life Cornel West, Professor of Afro-American Studies and Philosophy of Religion at Harvard University.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Stephen Pinker: Chalking it up to the Blank Slate

Steven Pinker, a native of Montreal, received his BA from McGill University in 1976 and his PhD in psychology from Harvard in 1979. After teaching at MIT for 21 years, he returned to Harvard in 2003, where he is Harvard College Professor and the Johnstone Professor of Psychology. Pinker's experimental research on cognition and language won the Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences, the Henry Dale Prize from the Royal Institute of Great Britan, and two prizes from the American Psychological Association. He has also received several honorary doctorates and numerous awards for graduate and undergraduate teaching, general achievement, and his books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate. Pinker has also appeared in many television documentaries and writes frequently in the popular press, including in The New York Times, Time, and The New Republic.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Slavoj Žižek: What is the Question (Interview with Christopher Lydon)

Slavoj Zizek is a professor at the Institute for Sociology, Ljubljana and at the European Graduate School EGS who uses popular culture to explain the theory of Jacques Lacan and the theory of Jacques Lacan to explain politics and popular culture. He was born in 1949 in Ljubljana, Slovenia where he lives to this day but he has lectured at universities around the world. He was analysed by Jacques Alain Miller, Jacques Lacan's son in law, and is probably the most successful and prolific post-Lacanian having published over fifty books including translations into a dozen languages. He is a leftist and, aside from Lacan he was strongly influenced by Marx, Hegel and Schelling. In temperament, he resembles a revolutionist more than a theoretician. He was politically active in Slovenia during the 80s, a candidate for the presidency of the Republic of Slovenia in 1990; most of his works are moral and political rather than purely theoretical. He has considerable energy and charisma and is a spellbinding lecturer in the tradition of Lacan and Kojeve. (Click Here for Full Biography)

In New York on the last day of an American tour, absorbing the demise of Yankee Stadium and maybe of Wall Street as we thought we knew it, Zizek’s talk is a blast-furnace but not a blur. The theme through all Zizek’s gags is that the financial meltdown marks a seriously dangerous moment — dangerous not least because, as in the interpretation of 9.11, the right wing is ready to impose a narrative. And the left wing is caught without a narrative or a theory. “Today is the time for theory,” he says. “Time to withdraw and think.”
Audio Interview September 23, 2008.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jill Bolte Taylor: My Stroke of Insight

Jill Bolte Taylor (1959–) is a neuroanatomist who specializes in the postmortem investigation of the human brain. She is affiliated with the Indiana University School of Medicine, is the national spokesperson for the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, and is the consulting neuroanatomist for the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute. Her own personal experience with a massive stroke, experienced in 1996 at age 37, and her subsequent nine-year recovery, has informed her work as a scientist and speaker. For this work, in May 2008 she was named to Time Magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world. (Bio taken here)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Martin Seligman: What Positive Psychology Can Help You Become

Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., works on positive psychology, learned helplessness, depression, and on optimism and pessimism. He is currently Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is well known in academic and clinical circles and is a best-selling author.

His most recent book is the best-selling, Authentic Happiness (Free Press, 2002). He is the recipient of two Distinguished Scientific Contribution awards from the American Psychological Association, the Laurel Award of the American Association for Applied Psychology and Prevention, and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Society for Research in Psychopathology. He holds an honorary Ph.D. from Uppsala, Sweden and Doctor of Humane Letters from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology.

Dr. Seligman received both the American Psychological Society's William James Fellow Award (for contribution to basic science) and the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award (for the application of psychological knowledge). (Bio taken here)

Jonathan Haidt: The Real Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives

Jonathan Haidt is associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. His research focuses on the psychological bases of morality across different cultures and political ideology. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992. He was awarded the Templeton Prize in Positive Psychology in 2001. His book The Happiness Hypothesis examines ten "great ideas" dating from antiquity and their continued relevance to the happy life. A certain portion of his research has been focused on the emotion of elevation. (bio taken here)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Robert Brandom: Interview

Robert Brandom is Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, a fellow of the Center for the Philosophy of Science, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His interests center on philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of logic. He has published more than 50 articles on these and related areas. He is currently at work on a book on Hegel's Phenomenology He has been a Nelson Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan (1990), delivered the Hempel Lectures at Princeton (1994), and the Townsend Lectures at Berkeley (1997).

Friday, September 19, 2008

Amartya Sen: The Violence of Illusion

Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor, and Professor of Economics and Philosophy, at Harvard University and was until recently the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. He has served as President of the Econometric Society, the Indian Economic Association, the American Economic Association and the International Economic Association. He was formerly Honorary President of OXFAM and is now its Honorary Advisor. Born in Santiniketan, India, Amartya Sen studied at Presidency College in Calcutta, India, and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He is an Indian citizen. He was Lamont University Professor at Harvard also earlier, from1988 – 1998, and previous to that he was the Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University, and a Fellow of All Souls College (he is now a Distinguished Fellow of All Souls). Prior to that he was Professor of Economics at Delhi University and at the London School of Economics. (bio taken here)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

John McDowell: Intention in Action

John H. McDowell is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. Before coming to Pittsburgh in 1986, he taught at University College, Oxford. He has held visiting appointments at Harvard University, the University of Michigan, UCLA, and Princeton University. He was the John Locke Lecturer at Oxford University in 1991. His major interests are Greek philosophy, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, metaphysics and epistemology, and ethics. He is a fellow of the British Academy and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. (Bio taken here)

McDowell is a contemporary philosopher whose most influential work has been in the philosophy of mind and language. He questions whether empirical thought is rationally grounded in experience in this Howison Lecture in Philosophy from UC Berkeley.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Donald Davidson and Richard Rorty: A Discussion

Donald Davidson was one of the most important philosophers of the latter half of the twentieth century. His ideas, presented in a series of essays from the 1960's onwards, have been influential across a range of areas from semantic theory through to epistemology and ethics. Davidson's work exhibits a breadth of approach, as well as a unitary and systematic character, which is unusual within twentieth century analytic philosophy. Thus, although he acknowledged an important debt to W. V. O. Quine, Davidson's thought amalgamates influences (though these are not always explicit) from a variety of sources, including Quine, C. I. Lewis, Frank Ramsey, Immanuel Kant and the later Wittgenstein. And while often developed separately, Davidson's ideas nevertheless combine in such a way as to provide a single integrated approach to the problems of knowledge, action, language and mind. The breadth and unity of his thought, in combination with the sometimes-terse character of his prose, means that Davidson is not an easy writer to approach. Yet however demanding his work might sometimes appear, this in no way detracts from either the significance of that work or the influence it has exercised and will undoubtedly continue to exercise. Indeed, in the hands of Richard Rorty and others, and through the widespread translation of his writings, Davidson's ideas have reached an audience that extends far beyond the confines of English-speaking analytic philosophy. Of late twentieth century American philosophers, perhaps only Quine has had a similar reception and influence. (bio taken here)

J.B. Schneewind: What Has Moral Philosophy Done For Us Lately?

Jerome B. Schneewind is a Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University. He received his B.A. from Cornell and his Ph.D. from Princeton. Schneewind taught at Chicago, Princeton, Yale University, the University of Pittsburgh (where he was also for several years Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences) and Hunter College CUNY where he was also Provost before coming to Hopkins as chair of the philosophy department in 1981. He has also taught at Leicester, Stanford, and Helsinki. He taught courses on the history of ethics, types of ethical theory, the British empiricists, Kant's ethics, and utopian thought.

He has held Mellon, Guggenheim, and NEH fellowships and spent 1992-1993 as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences. He is a past president of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served as Chair of the American Philosophical Association's Board of Officers from July 1999 to June 2002. (bio taken here)

A discussion of Richard Rorty's challenge to the relevance of contemporary ethics.

Click Window to Play

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Henry Louis Gates Jr. & Cornel West: A Discussion About Race

A discussion with Henry Louis Gates, chairman of the Department of African American studies at Harvard University, and Cornel West, professor of African American studies at Harvard, about their book "The Future of the Race", which examines the W.E.B. Du Bois essay, "The Talented Ten". Gates and West also discuss civil rights, apartheid, affirmative action and what race relations in America will look like over the next fifty years.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sam Harris: The Problem with Atheism

Mr. Harris' writing has been published in over ten languages. He and his work have been discussed in Newsweek, TIME, The New York Times, Scientific American, Rolling Stone, and many other journals. His writing has appeared in Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Times (London), The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, Nature, The Annals of Neurology, and elsewhere.

Mr. Harris is a graduate in philosophy from Stanford University. He is completing a doctorate in neuroscience, studying the neural basis of belief with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). (Bio taken here)

AAI Lecture: The Problem with Atheism

Monday, September 8, 2008

Billy Collins

About Collins, the poet Stephen Dunn has said, "We seem to always know where we are in a Billy Collins poem, but not necessarily where he is going. I love to arrive with him at his arrivals. He doesn't hide things from us, as I think lesser poets do. He allows us to overhear, clearly, what he himself has discovered."

In 2001, Collins was named U.S. Poet Laureate. His other honors and awards include fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

Click Here to watch a reading by Billy Collins, introduced by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, where he gives the final reading of his tenure as U. S. Poet Laureate.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Giogio Agamben: What is a Paradigm?

Giorgio Agamben, Phd.,: Baruch Spinoza Chair at EGS, is a professor of aesthetics at the University of Verona, Italy and teaches philosophy at the Collège International de Philosophie in Paris and at the University of Macerata in Italy. As Post-Doc he participated in seminars with Martin Heidegger in Freiburg and directed the Italian Walter Benjamin Edition. Agamben's unique blending of literary theory, continental philosophy, political thought, religious studies, literature and art makes him one of the most challenging thinkers of our time. He was a visiting professor in Paris and taught at American universities such as UC Berkeley, Los Angeles, Irvine, Santa Cruz, and Northwestern. (Click Here for full bio)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Robert Hass

Robert Hass is an award-winning UC Berkeley professor of English and former U.S. poet laureate. He has won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his latest book, "Time and Materials."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Charles Taylor: Keynote Lecture

Author and philosopher Charles Taylor is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Philosophy at McGill University. He obtained a B.A. in history from McGill (1952). A Rhodes Scholar, he pursued his studies in political science, philosophy and economics at Oxford University, where he obtained a B.A. (1955), an M.A. (1960) and a Ph.D. (1961).

Professor Taylor has taught in numerous institutions, including Northwestern, Berkeley, Stanford and Yale, Frankfurt University in Germany, and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He also held the Chichele Chair of Social and Political Theory at Oxford University. His research focuses, in particular, on modernity, pluralism, multiculturalism, the question of identity, and secularism. (Bio taken from CCAPRCD

The New School
New York, NY
May 4th, 2007

A Key Note Lecture by Philosopher Charles Taylor at the Secular Imaginaries Conference.

The New School for Social Research at the New School and the Center for Transcultural Studies, a Chicago-based scholarly network, jointly sponsored a conference on the work of Charles Taylor.

The conference focus was on Taylor's work in the last two decades, starting from Sources of the Self published in 1989 and reaching into the present with the forthcoming book, A Secular Age (2007) originating from his more recent Gifford Lectures.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Judith Butler

Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Yale University in 1984. She is the author of Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France (Columbia University Press, 1987), Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (Routledge, 1990), Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" (Routledge, 1993), The Psychic Life of Power: Theories of Subjection (Stanford University Press, 1997), Excitable Speech (Routledge, 1997), Antigone's Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death (Columbia University Press, 2000), Hegemony, Contingency, Universality, with Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj Zizek, (Verso Press, 2000). In 2004, she published Precarious Life: Powers of Violence and Mourning with Verso Press which considered questions of war, representation, and ethics.That same year, The Judith Butler Reader appeared, edited by Sara Salih, with Blackwell Publishers. In 2004, collection of her essays on gender and sexuality, Undoing Gender, appeared with Routledge. Her most recent book, Giving an Account of Oneself, appeared with Fordham University Press (2005) and considers the relation between subject formation and ethical obligation, situating ethics in relation to critique and social theory. She is currently working on essays pertaining to Jewish Philosophy, focusing on pre- and post-Zionist criticisms of state violence, under contract with Columbia University Press. She is also working on a set of essays on current wars, focusing on the relation between violence, non-violence, sexual politics and allied forms of resistance. She hopes to write a small book on Kafka's parables in the future. She continues to write on contemporary politics, cultural and literary theory, philosophy, psychoanalysis, feminism, and sexual politics. (Bio taken from UCBerkeley)

Judith Butler, feminist philosopher lecturing about "Primo Levy for the Present"; narrative accounts, forgiveness, holocaust, Auschwitz, victims, execution, war, and crime, while asking the question: "What is to give an Account of Oneself?".

Donna Haraway

In terms of research, writing, and teaching, Donna Haraway is one of the most important practitioners in a field broadly defined as science studies. Having done an undergraduate degree at Colorado College with a major in Zoology and minors in Philosophy and English, she went on to complete her Ph.D. at Yale in Biology (but with an "interdisciplinary arrangement" with the Departments of Biology, Philosophy, and History of Science and Medicine). She began her teaching career at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, moved to Johns Hopkins, and joined the History of Consciousness Board at UC Santa Cruz in 1984. Once again defying traditionally defined departmental categorization, however, Professor Haraway holds associate memberships in Anthropology, Environmental Studies, and Women's Studies.

Donna Haraway is a leading theorist of the relationships between people and machines, her work having incited debate in fields as varied as primatology, philosophy, and developmental biology. A cyborg, she explained in her book Simians, Cyborgs, and Women (1991), is a "hybrid of machine and organism." It is a "fusion of the organic and the technical forged in particular, historical, cultural practices." "The Cyborg Manifesto," first published in 1985, is now taught in undergraduate classes at countless universities and has been reprinted or translated in numerous anthologies in North America, Japan, and Europe.


Donna Haraway, Avenali Lecture Fall 2003 - From Cyborgs to Companion Species: Dogs, People, and Technoculture
September 16, 2003, 10:59AM
Morrison Library

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Slavoj Žižek: Violence Interview

Slavoj Zizek is a professor at the Institute for Sociology, Ljubljana and at the European Graduate School EGS who uses popular culture to explain the theory of Jacques Lacan and the theory of Jacques Lacan to explain politics and popular culture. He was born in 1949 in Ljubljana, Slovenia where he lives to this day but he has lectured at universities around the world. He was analysed by Jacques Alain Miller, Jacques Lacan's son in law, and is probably the most successful and prolific post-Lacanian having published over fifty books including translations into a dozen languages. He is a leftist and, aside from Lacan he was strongly influenced by Marx, Hegel and Schelling. In temperament, he resembles a revolutionist more than a theoretician. He was politically active in Slovenia during the 80s, a candidate for the presidency of the Republic of Slovenia in 1990; most of his works are moral and political rather than purely theoretical. He has considerable energy and charisma and is a spellbinding lecturer in the tradition of Lacan and Kojeve. (Click Here for Full Biography)


Monday, August 11, 2008

Cornel West on Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism

One of America's most provocative public intellectuals, Cornel West has been a champion for racial justice since childhood. His writing, speaking, and teaching weave together the traditions of the black Baptist Church, progressive politics, and jazz. The New York Times has praised his "ferocious moral vision."
Currently the Class of 1943 Professor at Princeton University, West burst onto the national scene in 1993 with his bestselling book, Race Matters, a searing analysis of racism in American democracy. Race Matters has become a contemporary classic, selling more than a half a million copies to date. In addition, West has published 16 other books and has edited 13 texts.
West earned his bachelor's degree from Harvard in three years, magna cum laude. Martin Kilson, one of his professors there, describes West as "the most intellectually aggressive and highly cerebral student I have taught." After earning his Ph.D. at Princeton, he became a professor of religion and director of the Afro-American Studies program there. West has also taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris.
In his last book Democracy Matters, West analyzes the arrested development of democracy both in America and in the crisis-ridden Middle East. He argues that if America is to become a better steward of democratization around the world, it must first recognize its own long history of imperialist corruption. His latest CD, Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations is a collection of socially conscious music featuring collaborations with Prince, Outkast, Jill Scott, Talib Kweli. West also offers commentary weekly on The Tavis Smiley Show from PRI.
West was an influential force in developing the storyline for the popular Matrix movie trilogy and has served as its official spokesperson, as well as playing a recurring role in the final two films. (Information taken from

On Emerson: A Collection of Christopher Lydon's Discussions

Christopher Lydon speaks to biographer Bob Richardson, Cornell West and others on some things Emerson.

The Harold Bloom Tapes: Chris Lydon Interviews Bloom about Emerson

Christopher Lydon remarks that,

"In the summer of 2003, around the bicentennial of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s birth, I spent an afternoon with the Sage of New Haven, Professor Harold Bloom of Yale, in conversation around the Sage of Concord. Bloom had been a critical figure in the revival of interest in Emerson, the “father of the American Religion,” Bloom has called him. But what also emerges here, with some gentle prodding from your humble interviewer, is that Bloom’s attachment to Emerson is vitally and intimately personal. Bloom discovered the power of the bond in what he says was the most severe depression of his life — a period in his mid-late thirties in the mid-late Sixties, when he read and reread Emerson’s essays and especially his journals, with the avidity for which Bloom is famous. What he discovered was that Emerson spoke with Bloom’s own inner voice, as “the god within,” he said. These conversations are, among other things, a lesson in how to take a magisterial writer to heart, as a contemporary and something more than a best friend." (Quote taken from Open Source)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Conversations with History: Stanley Cavell

On this episode on Conversations with History, Stanley Cavell, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Harvard University, joins UC Berkeley's Harry Kreisler to talk about his life as a philosopher and his passion for movies.

Stanley Cavell received his A.B. in music from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Ph.D., in philosophy, from Harvard. After teaching at Berkeley for six years, he returned to Harvard in 1963, where he became the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value. He became Professor Emeritus in 1997.
His major interests center on the intersection of the analytical tradition (especially the work of Austin and Wittgenstein) with moments of the Continental tradition (for example, Heidegger and Nietzsche); with American philosophy (especially Emerson and Thoreau); with the arts (for example, Shakespeare, film and opera); and with psychoanalysis.
Among his recent publications are: A Pitch of Philosophy: Autobiographical Exercises; Philosophical Passages: Wittgenstein, Emerson, Austin, and Derrida; and two pieces for the London Review of Books: "Nothing Goes Without Saying", a discussion of the language of three Marx Brothers films, and "Time After Time." An investigation of several Hollywood melodramas from the 1930s and 1940s, entitled Contesting Tears: The Melodrama of the Unknown Woman, was published in 1997.
Professor Cavell is a recent recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and is a Past President of the American Philosophical Association.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Mirror and the Lamp

Achille-Etna MICHALLON Landscape with Philoctetes on the Island of Lemnos
Roundtable discussion with Paul Bloom, Margaret Browning, Bhismadev Chakrabarti, Paul Harris, and Alan Leslie.

Creative artists have always received inspiration both from the objective world and from cortical processes on both the right and left hemispheres of the brain that play an essential role in the formation of imaginative constructs. Mimesis, the means by which so called objective reality is mirrored, has traditionally been counter-posed to inspiration, in which images, words, and music are considered to be vestiges of neurophysiological processes. Recent advances in neuroscience have refined the distinction between imaginative process and the mimetic process. In particular, the concept of neuroplasticity has fostered an understanding of the ways in which the brain interacts with and is shaped by external stimuli. Relying on findings derived from a broad arena of psycho-biological studies of adults and children (including those with autism) that delve into concept and belief formation, theory of mind (the ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others), memory and emotion, this multidisciplinary panel will focus on the building blocks of imaginative processes.

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Paul Bloom is Professor of Psychology at Yale University. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on morality, religion, fiction, and art. He is the author or editor of four books, including, most recently, Descarte's Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human. He is currently writing a book about pleasure.

Margaret Browning has recently argued in the Psychoanalytic Quarterly that the work of philosopher Susanne Langer provides a unique framework for combining scientific and artistic perspectives on the human mind. Dr. Browning received her doctorate at The University of Chicago from the interdisciplinary Committee on Human Development. After conducting research with premature infants as an Associate Attending, Scientific Staff, in the Department of Pediatrics at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago, she has moved to the other end of the developmental trajectory and is currently engaged in health services research as a Health Science Specialist in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Bhismadev Chakrabarti is the Charles and Katharine Darwin Research Fellow at Darwin College, University of Cambridge. He holds a degree in Chemistry from the University of Delhi, India, and a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge. His doctoral research with Simon Baron-Cohen focussed on genetic, neuroimaging and behavioural studies of emotion processing and empathy. He is currently a Senior Research Associate at the Cambridge Autism Research Centre.

Paul Harris is a developmental psychologist with interests in the development of cognition, emotion and imagination. He has taught at the University of Lancaster, the Free University of Amsterdam, and the London School of Economics. In 1980, he moved to Oxford where he became Professor of Developmental Psychology and Fellow of St. John's College. In 1998, he was as elected as fellow of the British Academy. He currently teaches developmental psychology in the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. His latest book is The Work of the Imagination.

Alan Leslie is Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Rutgers University, where he directs the Cognitive Development Laboratory. He was formerly Senior Scientist at the Medical Research Council's Cognitive Development Unit at the University of London. There he was a member of the team that discovered the "theory of mind" impairment in autism. He is interested in the basic design of the early cognitive system. In 2005 he gave the Kanizsa Memorial Lecture at the University of Trieste, Italy and in 2006 was the inaugural recipient of the Ann L. Brown Award for Excellence in Developmental Research. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.