The Capen Chair 2019 Conference, “A Collection of Individuals: The Philosophical Legacy of Jorge J. E. Gracia”, brought together fifteen distinguished speakers, UB Alums, each of whom wrote their dissertation under Gracia's supervision. The event was held in the context of a SUNY Press book launch for an intellectual memoir by Jorge Gracia.
Chair, Professor of Philosophy
Jonathan J. Sanford
Provost, Professor of Philosophy
University of Dallas
Managing Editor, Multimedia Initiatives
Graduate Research Associate, UB Philosophy
Graduate Research Associate, UB Philosophy
The new book, With a Diamond in My Shoe: A Philosopher’s Search for Identity in America, is an intellectual memoir by Jorge J. E. Gracia, in the SUNY Press Series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture.
About the book: In 1961, at the age of nineteen, Jorge J. E. Gracia escaped from the island of Cuba by passing himself off as a Catholic seminarian. He arrived in the United States with just a few spare belongings and his mother’s diamond ring secured in a hole in one of his shoes. With a Diamond in My Shoe tells the story of Gracia’s quest for identity—from his early years in Cuba and as a refugee in Miami to his formative role in institutionalizing the field of Latin American philosophy in the US academy. Committed to integrating into Anglo America without forgetting his roots, Gracia reflects on his struggles and successes as an immigrant and academic, bringing a philosopher’s eye to bear on his personal and professional development as a leading Latinx scholar.
“Gracia is a writer in full control of his material, and yet someone who in his own search for identity as a philosopher, as a Cuban, as a Cuban American, as a Hispanic, as a Latino, as a Latinx, leaves many questions open, as any good philosopher should, allowing his readers to answer for themselves. The strength of his authorial voice resides in his honesty.” — Rolando Pérez, author of Severo Sarduy and the Neo-Baroque Image of Thought in the Visual Arts. Visit SUNY Press.
DAY 1: Friday, October 18
Location: Honors College, 107 Capen Hall, UB North Campus
1:00. Opening Remarks
1:15 - 3:30. Questions of Identity and Relevance
1. Susan Smith: “The Relevance of Gracia’s Genetic Common Bundle View of Race for Contemporary Research and Practice”
2. Ernesto R. Velásquez: "Jorge J.E. Gracia's Contributions to LatinaXo Philosophy and His Engagement With Philosophy of Liberation"
3. Stephanie Rivera-Berruz: “Building a Tradition—Writing Women into Latinx/Latin American Philosophical History: Lessons from Jorge J.E. Gracia”
3:45-6:00. Philosophy and the History of Philosophy
4. Iván Jaksić: “The Concept of Philosophical Vocation in Chile”
5. Elizabeth Millán Brusslan: “Diversity, Inclusion, and Gracia’s Role in Shaping the Field of Latin American Philosophy”
6. William Irwin: “Taking Pierre Menard Seriously: Gracia’s Gift of Borges”
6:00. RECEPTION, with an opportunity for participants to share about Gracia.
DAY 2 : Saturday, October 19
Location: Baldy Center, 509 O'Brian Hall, UB North Campus
9:00-10:30. Questions of Ontology
7. Jonathan J. Sanford: “Individuals and Communities”
8. Michael Gorman: “The Ontological Status of Essence”
9. Robert Delfino: “Gracia, Individuation, and Thomistic Metaphysics”
10:45-12:15. Questions of Ontological Neutrality
10. Paul Symington: “The Question of Ontological Neutrality: Gracia, Boethius and Aquinas”
11. Mark Spencer: “Omnis categoria pulchra est: A Neutralist Conception of Beauty”
12:30 -1:30. Lunch
1:30-2:45. Suárez, Philosophy, and the History of Philosophy
12. Sandro D’Onofrio: “The Problem of Suárez’s Objective Concepts and Its Development in the Scholastic Ibero-American Scholars”
13. Daniel Novotny: “The Modern Middle Ages: Gracia’s Gift of Suárez”
3:00-3:30, Gracia Book Launch, James Peltz, Co-Director, SUNY Press
3:30-5:30. Gracia, Philosophy, and the History of Philosophy
14. Idris Samawi Hamid: "Gracia and Collingwood: Categories and the Developmental Paradigm of Metaphysics"
15. Peter Redpath: “Jorge J. E. Gracia: Organizational Psychologist and Cultural Humanist”
5:30. Closing Remarks
*The schedule is subject to change. The event is free and open to the public.
Elizabeth Millán Brusslan, Professor of Philosophy, DePaul University, was educated at The State University of New York at Buffalo and at the Eberhard-Karls Universität in Tübingen. She works on aesthetics, German Idealism/Romanticism and Latin American Philosophy. Before coming to DePaul, Elizabeth taught at the Universidad Simón Bolívar in Venezuela. She has held fellowships from the German Academic Exchange Service, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is the author of Friedrich Schlegel and the Emergence of Romantic Philosophy (SUNY, 2007). Read more.
Sandro Roberto D'Onofrio, Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities, and, Member, Riva-Agüero Institute of the PUCP, has been professor of Humanities in the Universities San Ignacio de Loyola, Lima, Cayetano Heredia and Antonio Ruiz de Montoya; of Philosophy and Romance Languages at the State University of New York and at Canisius College in the city of Buffalo, United States. His areas of interest are: medieval and Renaissance philosophy, Latin American colonial philosophy, history of ancient science, medieval and modern. Learn more.
Robert A. Delfino, Associate Professor of Philosophy, St. John's University, Staten Island, NY, received his Ph.D. from the State Universitof New York at Buffalo, where he specialized in metaphysics and medieval philosophy, studying under Professor Jorge J. E. Gracia. His current research interests include metaphysics, ethics, and the relationship between science, philosophy, and religion. He has published articles on Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Husserl, philosophy of science, personal identity, and human rights, in various countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Italy, Russia, Poland, and India. Read more.
Professor of Philosophy; Fellow, CUA Institute for Human Ecology
The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
Areas of Interest: Metaphysics, Human Nature, Analytic Philosophy, Medieval Philosophy
Personal Statement: My main areas of interest are metaphysics and anything that has a metaphysical angle to it. I try to engage contemporary philosophy by drawing on the resources of the whole philosophical tradition. It's not my fault that Aquinas is more useful to me than anyone else.
Professor of Philosophy, Colorado State University
Professor and Chair of Philosophy, King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
William Irwin is best known for originating the "philosophy and popular culture" book genre with Seinfeld and Philosophy: A Book about Everything and Nothing in 1999 and The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer in 2001. Read more.
Director, Bing Overseas Studies Program, Santiago, Chile
Personal bio: My main interests are in nineteenth-century Latin American history, especially in the history of political ideas. I am the author of Andrés Bello: Scholarship and Nation-Building in Nineteenth-Century Latin America, The Hispanic World and American Intellectual Life, 1820-1880, and Academic Rebels in Chile: The Role of Philosophy in Higher Education and Politics. I taught for many years at the Universities of California-Berkeley, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Notre Dame. Learn more.
Personal bio: I am an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Bohemia. So far my research has concerned a few special topics and authors in Aristotelian and scholastic tradition but occasionally I take up whatever I find interesting (which is almost anything). Since it is not easy to get to the bottom of things and life is short I like to collaborate with others. I authored one book "Ens rationis: From Suárez to Caramuel" (Fordham, 2013), co-edited two books in analytical metaphysics, "Metaphysics: Aristotelian, Scholastic, Analytic" (Ontos, 2012), "Neoaristotelian Perspectives in Metaphysics" (Routledge, 2016), and co-translated Aquinas's Summa Theologiae questions on angels. I have authored or co-authored several papers and book chapters mostly in English but also in Czech. Learn more.
Founder and CEO, Aquinas School of Leadership, Management, and Organizational Development
Peter Redpath (Professor of Philosophy at St. John’s University, New York, from 1979 to 2010) is author/editor of twelve philosophical books and many dozens of articles and book reviews. An internationally recognized scholar, since 1980 he has given over 200 invited guest lectures nationally and internationally. Among his many accomplishments, he is Senior Fellow Center for the Study of The Great Ideas; co-founder of the Gilson Society (USA) and The International Etienne Gilson Society; Learn more.
Stephanie Rivera Berruz, Assistant Professor, Philosophy, Marquette University, received her Ph.D. in Philosophy at SUNY Buffalo in 2014. Her main interests lie in social and political philosophy with an emphasis on philosophy of race and feminist philosophy, as well as, Latin American philosophy. Rivera Berruz approaches these topics at their intersections as she is committed to the importance of diverse approaches to philosophical praxis. Learn more.
Provost and Professor of Philosophy, University of Dallas
Jonathan J. Sanford has published widely on philosophical figures and topics, and liberal education. He is especially interested in foundational questions in moral philosophy, as evidenced in his latest book, Before Virtue: Assessing Contemporary Virtue Ethics (The Catholic University of America Press, 2015). He is currently writing a book on virtue and education. He and his wife Rebecca live in Irving, Texas, where they try to stay at least a day ahead of their children’s busy school and activity schedules.
Areas of Expertise: Ethics, Catholic Higher Education, Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, Metaphysics, Virtue Theory, Social and Political Philosophy, Early Phenomenology. Learn more.
Lecturer, Cognitive Science Department, Rensselaer
Interdisciplinary work is at the core of Susan Smith’s research and educational interests. At the University at Buffalo, working with Jorge J.E. Garcia, she explored the metaphysical basis of race with a focus on its intersection with healthcare. Dr. Smith’s current work explores the ethical issues related to genetic testing and, specifically, informed consent. She is part of an interdisciplinary study of the ethics of genetic testing and student-athletes in the NCAA. Learn more.
Conference paper: "Omnis categoria pulchra est: A Neutralist Conception of Beauty"
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota
Personal Bio: I'm a philosopher, recently tenured, at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. I earned my Ph.D. at the University at Buffalo with a dissertation, directed by Jorge Gracia, defending St. Thomas Aquinas' metaphysics of the human person using phenomenological accounts of our experience of self-sensing, drawing on the work of Scheler, Levinas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Michel Henry. Learn more.
Conference paper: “The Question of Ontological Neutrality: Gracia, Boethius and Aquinas”
Dean, School of Theology & Philosophy, Professor of Philosophy, Franciscan University of Steubenville
Current Areas of Interest, Research, Specialization: Metaphysics, Medieval Philosophy.
Areas of Competence: Analytic Philosophy, Bioethics, Ethics, Logic, Philosophy of Religion, Ancient Philosophy, Philosophy of Language.
Ernesto Rosen Velasquez, Associate Professor, University of Dayton, specializes in Latino issues and critical race theory. His research interests include: Latino Issues; Critical Race Theory; Social and Political Philosophy.
Options to share papers for preview via email list: At any point before the conference, please feel free to share a draft of your paper by using the target "reply all" to a group email (or send your paper directly to Bill or JJ). No one should feel obliged to read all or any of the drafts. But if you are inclined to read any, please do.