Critique is an assertion of values pitted against a state of affairs. To say that things should not be the way they are–to respond to questions such as ‘Why do I think this political or economic arrangement is wrong (and why should I care?)?’ implies an ethical stance. Critique thus draws together fact and value, domains that a long tradition of moral thought has argued exist on distinct planes. For there are dimensions of political life that are incomprehensible without this conjunction between ethical motivations and social realities. But if they are to have political consequences, such questions cannot be confined to private introspection. Scale matters. This talk looks at the articulation between everyday interactions and social movements to show the interplay among the first, second, and third person stances that characterize ethical life. Drawing ethnographic examples from American feminism and Vietnamese Marxism, it considers some of the ways in which ethical intuitions emerge, consolidate, and change, and argues that objectifications and the reflexivity they facilitate help give ethical life a social history.
A Night of Philosophy & Ideas, at the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, is an all-night marathon of philosophical debate, performances, screenings, readings, music, and virtual reality experiences takes over the entirety of the iconic Central Library.
This year’s participants will consider humanity’s relationship to the world, to nature, to other living beings and species, and to technology. They will ask: What is the meaning of life? How do we live our lives from beginning to end, be it striving or barely surviving? How do we define that experience and how do we situate ourselves in this world?
French-American economist Esther Duflo, winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics, will kick off the evening with a keynote address. The lineup also features a French anthropologist, sociologist, and physician Didier Fassin, professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies and Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales; Catherine Malabou, Professor of Philosophy at Kingston University (UK) and UCI; Maïa Mazaurette, a Brooklyn-based French author, columnist, and illustrator whose work deals with contemporary sexuality and the body’s place in society; and Barbara Stiegler, professor of philosophy at the University of Bordeaux Montaigne and a member of the Institut Universitaire de France.
Performances will include Unnamed, from Jérôme Thomas, a French juggler whose work integrates contemporary dance and theatre, and Armenian-Syrian artist Hratch Arbach’s MAWTINI: lost homelands, in a site-specific installation. The event will also feature a late-night screening of Jacques Rivette’s landmark 1971 film Out 1, and an exhibition of work by New York-based visual artist Mary Mattingly, whose “sculptural ecosystems” in urban spaces include Swale and Pull, and who founded the Waterpod Project (2009), a barge-based public space and self-sufficient habitat that hosted over 200,000 visitors in New York.
A recent spate of critical engagements with Giorgio Agamben’s construction of the zōē, /bios distinction calls for renewed evaluation of the political valence of zōē in Aristotle’s political theory. While there may be ways of responding to these criticisms from within Agamben’s work, I am more interested in proposing an alternative account of zōē, one that better accommodates the breadth of Aristotle’s thinking about living beings, the context of ancient Greek conceptions of life, and a genealogical task that could be of service to a variety of strands of contemporary critical theory. Taking Aristotle’s treatment of zōē as an object of desire as my point of origin, I locate this orientation toward life within a broader conception of power as generativity and an alienated approach to the material conditions of human birth. I then trace the model of politics, zōē-politics, that arises from this framework.
Sara Brill is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Fairfield University. She works on the psychology, politics, and zoology of Plato and Aristotle as well as contemporary feminist and political theory. She is the author of Plato on the Limits of Human Life (Indiana 2013), Aristotle on the Concept of Shared Life (forthcoming from Oxford University press in May 2020), co-editor of Antiquities beyond Humanism (Oxford 2019), and has published numerous articles on Plato, Aristotle, Greek tragedy, and the Hippocratic corpus.
Presented by Metro Area Philosophers of Science
Spring 2020 Schedule:
Anthony Aguirre (UCSC) – “Entropy in long-lived genuinely closed quantum systems”
6:30-8:30pm Tuesday Feb 4; NYU Philosophy Department (5 Washington Place), 3rd floor seminar room.
David Papineau (King’s College London & CUNY) – “The Nature of Representation”
4:30-6:30pm Tuesday March 3; CUNY Graduate Center (365 5th Ave, NYC), room 5307.
Jim Holt (Author of Why Does the World Exist?) – “Here, Now, Photon: Why Newton was closer to EM than Maudlin is”
4:30-6:30pm Tuesday April 7; CUNY Graduate Center (365 5th Ave, NYC), room 5307.
Deborah Mayo (Virginia Tech)
4:30-6:30pm Tuesday April 28; CUNY Graduate Center (365 5th Ave, NYC), room 5307.