Spring 2023 Department Speaker Series


Friday, February 24, 2023

Chin-Tai Kim, Department of Philosophy, Case Western Reserve University, will speak on “Paradoxes of the Simile” at The Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence, TVUC room 280F at 4pm.

This presentation offers a critique of Plato’s first systematic synthesis of epistemology, ontology,  psychology, ethics and politics diagrammatically explained in the Simile of the Divided Line at the  end of Republic Book IV. The critical points concern Plato’s account of intellectual intuition (noesis)  of the Forms with no explanation of how the human mind can experience this quasi-mystical state, the inconsistency between his view of the societal functions his ideal state requires the three classes to perform and their respective cognitive and practical competences he recognizes, and the dogmatic narrowness of his perspective on the theoretical options competing with his theory on issues that concern him. A question is posed that may have an ad hominem point. Is it not probable that instead of learning from Socrates the view of teaching as midwifery of knowledge Plato himself constructed and attributed it to his mentor because doing so would serve his professional self-interest?  This presentation concludes with what is thought to be a correct assessment of Whitehead’s pronouncement that Western philosophy subsequent to Plato can be considered to be a footnote on him.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Ben Mylius, Department of Political Science, Columbia University and Columbia Climate Imaginations Network will speak on “Tragic Narratives and First Nations Stories:  Beyond Human Separation from Nature” at The Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence, TVUC room 280F at 4pm.

Techno-utopian ideas – think Ecomodernist discussions of “decoupling”, or Elon Musk’s fantasy of colonizing Mars – are increasingly common in debates about climate change. They are powerful examples of human separatism: the ideology that proposes that human organizations should aim to use technology to “separate” from nature.  In my wider research around this talk, I unpack where this separatism comes from, explore why it has proven so persistent and resilient, and consider the challenges and opportunities involved in getting beyond it in effective and sustainable ways. For this talk, I want to consider some of the challenges involved in engaging with non-separatist narratives of other cultures respectfully and critically with a view to imagining parallels in my “Western” tradition that take up some of their themes.  Specifically, I look at the work of two First Nations Australian thinkers – Mary Graham and Tyson Yunkaporta – on the themes of Country, relationship, and narcissism, and consider some ways that the genre of narrative tragedy might serve as a place to deploy similar stories in a postcolonial cultural context.

Friday, February 10, 2023

John Huss, Department of Philosophy, University of Akron will speak on “Narrative Feedback in Narrative Science” at The Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence, TVUC room 280F at 4pm.

Drawing on case studies from paleobiology, I will describe a process I call “narrative feedback,” the tendency for scientists’ narratives of their research to feed back into their accounts of their object of study.

Friday, January 27, 2023

J. Arvid Ågren, of The Theory Division at Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic will speak on“The Gene’s-Eye View of Evolution” at the Inamori Center, TVUC room 280F at 4pm.

Few phrases in biology have caught the imagination of professionals and lay people alike the way Richard Dawkins’s ‘selfish gene’ has done, and it changed how both groups thought about evolution. The concept of ‘selfish genes’ has been simultaneously influential and contentious. The debate over its value has raged for over half a century and has pitted 20th century Darwinian heavy weights such as John Maynard Smith and W.D. Hamilton against Richard Lewontin and Stephen Jay Gould in the pages of Nature as well as those of The New York Review of Books. I will discuss the origins and developments of the gene’s-eye view view: what it is, where it came from, how it changed, and why it continues to be such a popular thinking tool.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Chris Haufe, Elizabeth M. and William C. Treuhaft Professor of the Humanities, Department of Philosophy, Case Western Reserve University will speak on “Trust Issues” at The Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence, TVUC room 280F at 4pm.

In this talk, I canvas a range of problems — “trust issues” — which are either insensitive to or actually exacerbated by the reliability of scientific knowledge. Each of these issues emerges out of a conflict between basic features of the scientific process, on the one hand, and basic features of the nature of trust. The overarching theme of my talk is that there are lots of reasons to not trust science that are consistent with the idea that scientific knowledge is reliable.