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Academic Year 2013-2014

We are happy to announce that the Philosophy and History Workshop will be resuming our monthly meetings this academic year. Dieter Sturma will give a workshop on September 11th entitled “The Nature of Self-Consciousness: Reconstructing German Idealism”. This talk will be in O’Shaughnessy 119 at 3:00 pm. We will have more information on this talk in the coming weeks. The tentative schedule for the remainder of the year includes a talk on September 25th by Joe Brutto from Political Theory entitled “Aristotelian Liberalism: Aristotle’s Political Thought in the 20th Century”. We are also looking forward to Professor Karl Ameriks from the Philosophy Department on November 6th, and then Adam Foley from the History Department on Milton and Kant, Joshua Robinson from the Medieval Institute will give a workshop on appropriations of philosophy in Byzantine thought, and Professor Carsten Dutt from the German Department has also agreed to give a workshop entitled, “What is interpretive knowledge?” in the Spring. We have two workshops the details of which are yet to be determined. We are looking forward to kicking off our series in a couple of weeks!

April 26th: Thomas Clemmons

We are happy to announce that Thomas Clemmons, of the Notre Dame Theology department, will be giving a workshop entitled “Considerations on Beauty in the Thought of St. Augustine”. The workshop will be at 3 pm on Friday, April 26th in 339 O’Shaughnessydiscussion to follow.  Refreshments will be available.

We are happy to announce that Jordan Rodgers, Ph. D. candidate in the Department of Philosophy here at Notre Dame will be giving a workshop entitled “Disinterestedness in Art and Knowledge in the Early Nietzsche”. The workshop will be at 3 pm on Wednesday, April 10th in 131 Decio, discussion to follow.  Refreshments will be available. Here is an abstract of the talk:

This paper is an attempt to follow up a bit on Gabriel Richardson-Lear’s suggestion that we can understand aesthetic disinterestedness in Plato not as mere abstraction from all personal interests but as an openness to the transformation of one’s personal interests. I will try to show that similar ideas are operative not just in Nietzsche’s thoughts concerning beauty but also in his account of more straightforwardly cognitive disciplines like philosophy and the historical sciences. In particular, despite Nietzsche’s attack on the Kantian/Schopenhauerian doctrine of aesthetic disinterestedness, and his constant refrain that we should look for the “value for life” (and so for our personal interests) not only of artistic endeavors but of work in more straightforwardly cognitive activities like philosophy and history, we can understand these claims not in accordance with a crude instrumentalism about these disciplines — as the will-to-power theorist Nietzsche is all too often read — but as a call to be open to the possibility that taking part in them might transform us in fundamental and thus unpredictable ways. In turn, the appeal to disinterestedness in the contemplation of aesthetic objects and the pursuit knowledge can be understood not as the maintaining of the nobility of these pursuits but as a sign of a kind of complacent unwillingness to be open to such transformation. This is the point of Nietzsche’s critique.

March 6th: Vittorio Hösle

We are pleased to announce a talk by Vittorio Hösle on Wednesday, March 6th at 5 p.m. in 131 Decio, entitled “How to Write a History of German Philosophy.”  Prof. Hösle holds the Paul Kimball Chair of Arts and Letters and is the director of the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Studies.  We will be offering a limited number of copies of his recently translated book, The Philosophical Dialogue: A Poetics and a Hermeneutics, to graduate students who attend the talk.  Refreshments will also be available.

We are pleased to announce that Katerina Deligiorgi from the University of Sussex will be giving two talks this coming week.  On Tuesday, February 19th at 2 pm in Malloy 220, she will give a talk entitled “Arbitrium sensitivum liberum: what is it?”

On Wednesday, February 20th at 3 pm in Main Building 303 she will be giving a workshop, “Kant on the sublime: the pleasures of contra-purposiveness”.  We will have coffee and refreshments available at this talk.

Katerina Deligiorgi works mainly on Kant and Hegel, and most recently has published a book entitled The Scope of Autonomy: Kant and the Morality of Freedom. To learn more, please visit her page on the University of Sussex website: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/philosophy/people/peoplelists/person/198873

We are pleased to announce that Eckart Förster, Professor of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University, will give his talk “The Discourse of German Idealism” on Friday, February 8th at 3 pm in Geddes Hall B034 (in the basement of Geddes Hall), discussion to follow. In addition to refreshments we will have a limited number of copies of his new book The Twenty-five Years of Philosophy: A Systematic Reconstruction available on a first come basis for graduate students in attendance. To learn more about Eckart Förster, one can visit his page on the Johns Hopkins University website: http://philosophy.jhu.edu/Bios on Directory/eckart-forster/

We are pleased to announce an upcoming lecture by Gabriel Richardson Lear, Professor of Philosophy and of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, entitled “Philosophical Wonder and the Provocation of the Past: the Case of Plato’s Kalon,” to be held Friday, January 25th at 3 pm in 404 Main Building.  In addition to the usual refreshments and lively conversation, we are also able to offer attendants a limited number of free copies of Prof. Lear’s excellent book, Happy Lives and the Highest Good: An Essay on Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics.” For more information about Prof. Lear’s work, please visit her page on the University of Chicago’s website:  http://philosophy.uchicago.edu/faculty/richardson-lear.html

We are pleased to announce that Prof. Stephen Gersh will be giving a talk entitled “Music as Philosophy. Medieval musica speculativa and Contemporary Practice” this coming Wednesday, November 14th at 1:30 pm in 122 Crowley Hall (the music building just south of La Fortune).  His talk will include musical illustrations.  We hope you can join us for this exciting event.

Join us for a talk by Dan Sportiello (philosophy) on Friday, September 14th at 3:30 pm in 339 O’Shaughnessy, entitled “‘I Believe in Harvey Dent’: the Noble Lie, the Love of Fate, and the Practical Proof.”

Refreshments and conversation to follow.



As rational animals, we are born into original sin–that is, into desires and fears not of our own making. And yet, as rational animals, we seek to transcend those desires and fears–that is, to reorder them such that they will no longer destroy us. We do this through telling ourselves stories–that is, though changing how we see ourselves.
Such stories echo down the whole history of philosophy: to get men and women to die for one another, Plato’s Socrates suggests that one must tell them that, despite appearances, they were born from the same mother, the earth–just as Kant suggests that one must postulate that, despite appearances, we are free to act morally.
There are two ways to interpret such stories–what Plato’s Socrates calls Noble Lies.
The first is fairly obvious: they are lies. So Nietzsche interpreted Kant: though morality indeed requires practical postulates, such postulates are obviously false. To transcend our desires and fears thus requires us to fracture ourselves into theoretical and practical; better is the rejection of transcendence–what Nietzsche calls the Love of Fate.
But there is another way to interpret such stories: in believing them, we make their truth manifest. So Hegel interpreted Kant: inspired by our belief in our freedom, we can construct a society in which we are indeed free–that is, in which we see our transcendence of our desires as the deepest expression of those desires. In the face of such a construction–what Kant calls a Practical Proof–Nietzschean skepticism rings hollow. But until we achieve such a construction–until, that is, we actually build a society in which we are neither exploited nor manipulated–its plausibility remains suspect.
I intend not to arbitrate between the Love of Fate and the Practical Proof but rather to suggest the application of the distinction to the history of philosophy: just as the legacy of Kant was contested by Nietzsche and Hegel, I argue, the legacy of Socrates was contested by Diogenes and Plato. I will ask the audience to suggest and consider the plausibility of other examples of this distinction in action.

2012-13 Schedule

We are pleased to announce that the Philosophy and History series will continue for another exciting year, thanks to the generous support of ISLA and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  A major change this year is that Naomi Fisher, a graduate student from the Notre Dame philosophy department, has joined me in the organisational efforts.  To learn more about Naomi, go to the “about the organisers” tab.


The tentative schedule for this academic year is as follows:

Friday, September 14, 3:30 pm:  Dan Sportiello, Philosophy Department, “‘I believe in Harvey Dent’:  the Noble Lie,  the Love of Fate, and the Practical Proof”

Wednesday, November 14, time TBA:  Prof. Stephen Gersh

Fall, TBA:  Thomas Clemmons

Friday, January 25, time TBA:  Prof. Gabriel Richardson Lear, University of Chicago

Friday, February 8, time TBA:  Prof. Eckart Förster, Johns Hopkins University

Wednesday, February 20, time TBA: Prof. Katerina Deligiorgi, University of Sussex

Spring TBA:  Jordan Rodgers

Spring TBA: Prof. Vittorio Hösle


We will send out emails and update this website as information becomes available.  If you would like to be added to the email list, write to workshop.phil.hist@gmail.com.

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