Conversations in the Liberal Arts happen every Wednesday Afternoon in Ellis Hall. Informal discussions include a variety of topics such as politics, literature, social issues, scientific questions, as well as religion and philosophy.
Wednesday, October 23th, 2019
Four Worlds as One: An Andean Reading ofNeoplatonic Metaphysics
The indigenous peoples of the Andes mountains in South America have a way of life that involves a reciprocal relationship between all existent things. The living and the dead depend on ritual practices providing nourishment, conversation, and creativity in order to sustain each other. These rituals are practiced as part of a metaphysical view comprised of four separate worlds (pachas). The four worlds are linked together as one single phenomenon. Neoplatonism also contains a similar view that all reality is linked together. In procession and reversion all reality comes forth from the One and ultimately returns to it. However, in this unfolding we do not have temporally subsequent events, as if the effect first proceeds from its cause and then becomes what it is by reverting. Procession and reversion are both effects of the cause—the One—and as such are not occurring in temporal succession. Now Andean thought does not contain a metaphysical understanding of these pachas coming forth—by emanation—from a first principle. However, the linkage between all things can be read similarly in Neoplatonism. That is, by reading procession and reversion through the lens of Andean metaphysics I show how all things are linked, thus giving credence to the role of rituals in each differing metaphysical scheme. Moreover, by coming forth from the One all things contain relevance and importance in dependence on each other. By entering into the practices of procession and reversion one fulfills the goal of Neoplatonism—returning to the One.
Wednesday, October 30th, 2019
Theorizing #MeToo: On The Political Importance of Being-With
MeToo represents an important political development. Yet the connection between MeToo and feminist theory remains ambiguous. This moment presents an opportunity to craft a democratic theory that values the role of the Other as constitutive of Being.
Wednesday, November 6th, 2019
The Virtues of Aesthetic Conversation
This is a conversation about conversation. Our discussions about aesthetic matters are complex, and we often end up in disagreements–about which tv shows are good and why, which bands are best, how to decorate the apartment, what food to serve and how to cook it, and so on. What are the virtues of aesthetic conversation? What are we aiming at when we have such discussions?
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
Transformation Through Narratives: A Self-Retrospective Discipline
There is power in personal narratives. Narratives are essential to how we understand ourselves, make sense of the world, and give meaning to our lives. It ultimately leads to life transformation. Each person has many stories to share; stories we tell ourselves and others about our identity, our past experiences, and our anticipation for what the future will be. The speaker will share his own spiritual journey and challenge everyone to utilize their narratives to transform lives.
Wednesday, October 9th, 2019
THE DEATH PENALTY: Is Retributive Justice Just?
Whatever the success or failure of the death penalty in deterring the most heinous crimes, many people still feel that there is a deep, significant truth to the principle “a life for a life” and that honoring this truth is the only way to bring justice to the victims of murder and their families. Others argue that killing killers is just exchanging one murder for another murder, multiplying the injustices done. Who is right and why?
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019
Discourse of Opening-Up and Reform: An Ontology of Special Economic Zones in Modern China
This presentation provides an analysis of several threshold documents that initiate the political-economic discourse of "Opening-up and Reform" in contemporary China. Brasovan uses Michel Foucault's philosophy of discourse as a method for analyzing and disclosing the philosophical underpinnings of contemporary Chinese economy with a particular focus on the creation of the "Special Economic Zone" of Shenzhen.
Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
Getting Some Perspective on Perspectives
Perspectives talk is ubiquitous in philosophy. The notion of a perspective is employed in discussions of phenomena as varied as self-consciousness, higher-order knowledge, agency, practical rationality, and epistemic rationality. Usages such as the “first person perspective,” “the perspective of the agent,” and “an epistemic perspective” are familiar enough that it is easy to forget that these locutions employ the concept of perspective as a metaphor. I argue that the use of the perspective metaphor has non-trivial implications for how these phenomena are conceptualized. I begin with a brief discussion of what metaphors are and how they work, focusing on ontological metaphors. I then argue that there are two concepts of a perspective that serve as distinct source domains for perspective metaphors: an indexical objective (IO) perspective, and a holistic interpretative (HI) perspective. These source domains form the basis for quite different ways of conceptualizing phenomena in the target domain. In the final section, I apply this analysis to a particular context where perspective metaphors are frequently employed: that of the first person perspective. Each of these source domains suggests different problems and possibilities in thinking about the first person perspective.
Led by Sharon Mason
Friday, September 27th, 2019
The Best Hendrix Major For Getting A Job
Should you major in business, Spanish, or biochemistry? Want to be employed after graduation? Find out which Hendrix majors provide the best routes to good jobs.
Wednesday, September 11th, 2019
Camus, Existentialism, and The Absurd
Albert Camus agrees with Jean-Paul Sartre that we are “condemned to be free,” but departs from Sartre as he posits this our freedom as opportunity. While we might struggle despairingly in an absurd world endeavoring to create meaning, we can also struggle joyfully, for as Camus says, “the struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a [man’s’ heart.” This talk will address the notion of taking up our tasks—in a world that is, according to Camus, absurd—with joy.
Wednesday, September 1st, 2019
Are The Liberal Arts The Liberating Arts?
Dr. Dow, Associate Professor of Philosophy, will lead a discussion on the question: Are the Liberal Arts the Liberating Arts? And discuss this recommended reading Peter Stuber's "Becoming Free". Refreshments provided and all are welcome.
led by Dr. James Dow