October 11, 2018, Co-Sponsored Talk
Thursday, 2:00 pm, 200G Baldy Hall
Tamar Rudavsky (Ohio State, Philosophy)
“Atomistic Conceptions of Time: al- Ghazâlî, Maimonides and Husserl”
Co-sponsored with Department of Jewish Thought.
Abstract: Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al- Ghazâlî (1058ce-1111) was an Islamic theologian and philosopher, perhaps best known for his polemical work Tahâfut al-Falâsifa (The Incoherence of the Philosophers), in which he castigated the Greek and Islamic philosophers for undermining and destroying religious belief. Each chapter of the work is devoted to refuting a particular philosophical position. In Tahâfut 20, which is devoted to upholding resurrection of the body, Ghazâlî takes on the philosophers who argued that the soul has an existence separate from the body, and hence that resurrection is improbable at best. According to Ghazâlî, the philosophers used this argument to support their contention that personal identity is not predicated upon physical persistence of a body through time, but rather upon the existence and persistence of a self that is separate from the body. Ghazâlî responds to this argument by denying that all the bodily parts of a person have been replaced. But Ghazâlî’s position is exacerbated by the fact that in other locations he insists upon an atomistic, or occasionalist ontology. This atomism was best expressed and described by the Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides (Rambam, 1125-1204) in his celebrated work The Guide of the Perplexed. Maimonides lays out the assumptions of Ghazâlî’s occasionalist ontology in great detail, in order to refute it. In a similar vein, Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), who was the founder of the school of phenomenology, appropriated atomistic themes in his phenomenological analysis of objects. I shall claim that Husserl’s phenomenological theory of temporality offers us a contemporary analogue to al-Ghazâlî’s atomistic view of time, stripped of its theological dressing. In this paper, I propose to analyze the concept of time as developed in the context of al-Ghazâlî’s atomism against the backdrop of Husserl’s noted phenomenology of internal time-consciousness. Unlike the staunch Aristotolean that Maimonides was, both al-Ghazâlî and Husserl reject Aristotle’s theory of time, and both are as a result confronted with the difficulty of accounting for the extendedness of beings in an ‘external reality.’ I will start with a very brief summary of the main features in Aristotle’s theory of time, as reflected in Maimonides’ work; we will then turn to a comparison of al-Ghazâlî and Husserl. I am not suggesting that al-Ghazâlî is a “proto-phenomenologist,” nor am I suggesting that Husserl was influenced directly or indirectly by occasionalist ontology. Reading the Tahâfut in the context of Husserl’s phenomenological program will, I hope, enable us to appreciate further the metaphysical implications of an atomist theory of time.
October 25, 2018 Masterclass and Co-Sponsored Lecture
*Masterclass: 10am-12pm, 141 Park Hall
Lecture: 4:00 pm, 120 Clemens Hall
Kate Manne (Cornell)
“On Misogyny and ‘Himpathy’”
Manne, author of Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, works on moral philosophy (especially metaethics and moral psychology), feminist philosophy, and social philosophy.
Co-sponsored with UB Gender Institute and UB Dept. of Global Gender and Sexualities Studies.
*This Masterclass is open to UB graduate students and faculty. Space is limited. RSVP is required via email to Anne Marie Butler, firstname.lastname@example.org. Participants should read Manne's book Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny (available soon at the UB bookstore) before the class.
September 14, 2018
Friday, 1:00 to 3pm, 141 Park Hall
Dedong Wei (Confucius Institute, Columbia)
“Humanism and Rationality: The Natures of Chinese Chan”
Abstract: The Chan School originated from the meditation practices of India and developed into an independent sect in China in the 7th century CE. The true founder of this school is the Chinese Buddhist monk Master Huineng (638-713 CE). Later the Chan School spread to the Korean peninsula, Japan and Vietnam. A Chan Culture grew from this school and became a symbol of the East Asian culture. After the 20th century, D. T. Suzuki of Japan, Master Thich Nhat Hanh of Vietnam, and other Asian Monks brought the Chan culture to Europe, the United States and all over the world. The core characteristics of the Chan School are twofold. First, humanism whereby the Chan School returns to a human-centered religion which is the heart of Buddhism. There, the contradictions between sects, tedious philosophical arguments, and the idolatry in Indian Mahayana Buddhism are completely discarded. Emphasis is placed on direct liberation during daily life. Second, rationality whereby the Chan School advocates "the Buddha Dharma is right here in the world, there is no awakening apart from this world". It opposes mechanical meditation, enlightenment through monastic life only, and blindly reciting sutras, among other things. It also advocates experiencing the truth of Buddhism and practicing how to become a Buddha through secular activities, such as walking, abiding, sitting, sleeping, along with daily labor activities such as collecting firewood and carrying water. The spirit of Chan today is a valuable resource inspiring humanity in the new millennium.
September 28, 2018 Co-Sponsored Talk
Friday, 2:30 pm, O'Brian 108
Paul Harris (Harvard)
"Asking Questions: Trusting what You’re Told."
Co-sponsored with the Early Childhood Research Center, the Graduate School of Education, and the Dept. of Psychology.
Notes: Harris is best known as being the leading scholar in the development of epistemological reasoning in children. More generally, he is interested in the early development of cognition, emotion, and imagination. He is currently studying how young children judge what they are told about the world—especially when the claims are hard to check because they pertain to the past, the future, hidden causal processes, or the existence of extraordinary beings. His most recent book, Trusting What You're Told: How Children Learn from Others, was published by Harvard University Press in May 2012. This book discusses how far children rely on their own firsthand observation or alternatively trust what other people tell them especially when they confront a domain of knowledge in which firsthand observation is difficult. For example, many aspects of history, science, and religion concern events that children cannot easily observe for themselves. How far do children believe what they are told about these domains? When and how do they become aware of the conflicting claims made by science as compared with religion?
October 4, 2018, Co-Sponsored Talk
Thurs., 5:00pm, 640 Clemens Hall
Sara Brill (Fairfield University), "Unlivable Life: Aristotle after Agamben."