[Public Lecture] ‘”Confucian” China in a Changing World Order: The Dynamics of Intergenerational Transmission’ by Prof. Roger T. Ames (20 Mar)

Click here to view a larger image of this poster.

One might argue that “traveling”—that is, “making one’s way” (dao 道)—is the governing metaphor of the Analects of Confucius specifically, and even the Chinese philosophical narrative broadly construed. “It is the human being that extends the way…”

This lecture will focus on the dynamics of intergenerational cultural transmission. Culture not only has legs, but indeed is quite literally embodied and reproduced by each succeeding generation. I will use the term xiao 孝—family reverence—to explore cultural transmission within living family lineages, and then the term ru 儒 to pursue an understanding of the changing cultural landscape as it is conserved and reconfigured across the centuries. I will finally appeal to lineages of landscape painting from the Yuan dynasty to the early Qing as a concrete example of both familial and ru transmission.

Lim Chong Yah Professorship Public Lecture / Distinguished Leaders in Asian Studies Public Lecture.
Date: Wednesday, 20 Mar 2013
Time: 6pm – 7.30pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre 12 (Click here to view map)
Speaker: Prof. Roger T. Ames, Lim Chong Yah Professor (2013), NUS; Professor of Philosophy, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
This is a public lecture. All are welcome.

About the Speaker:

Roger T. Ames is Professor of Philosophy and editor of Philosophy East & West. His recent publications include translations of Chinese classics: Sun-tzu: The Art of Warfare (1993); Sun Pin: The Art of Warfare (1996) and Tracing Dao to its Source (1997) (both with D.C. Lau); the Confucian Analects (1998) and the Classic of Family Reverence: A Philosophical Translation of the Xiaojing (2009) (both with H. Rosemont), Focusing the Familiar: A Translation and Philosophical Interpretation of the Zhongyong, and A Philosophical Translation of the Daodejing: Making This Life Significant (with D.L. Hall) (2001).

He has also authored many interpretative studies of Chinese philosophy and culture: Thinking Through Confucius (1987), Anticipating China: Thinking Through the Narratives of Chinese and Western Culture (1995), and Thinking From the Han: Self, Truth, and Transcendence in Chinese and Western Culture (1997) (all with D.L. Hall).  Recently he has undertaken several projects that entail the intersection of contemporary issues and cultural understanding.  His Democracy of the Dead: Dewey, Confucius, and the Hope for Democracy in China (with D.L. Hall) (1999) is a product of this effort. Almost all of his publications are now available in Chinese translation, including his philosophical translations of Chinese canonical texts. Confucian Role Ethics: A Vocabulary (2011), his most recent monograph that evolved from the endowed Ch’ien Mu lectures at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, is an argument that this tradition has a sui generis vision of the moral life. He has most recently been engaged in compiling the new Blackwell Sourcebook of Chinese Philosophy, and in writing articles promoting a conversation between American pragmatism and Confucianism.

“Consciousness and the Self: Hume and Strawson” by Udo Thiel

What is David Hume’s notion of consciousness? Perhaps surprisingly, not much has been written on this important question. The problem is that there is no section or chapter on the topic in Hume and indeed no explicit discussion at all of consciousness. That is, although Hume does apply a certain conception of consciousness in his discussion of personal identity and elsewhere, he does this without explaining it in any detail. And yet not only is the notion of consciousness central to Hume’s philosophy of mind, it is also a key concept both for Hume’s contemporaries and for present day philosophers of mind. The continuing interest in Hume’s philosophy of mind is, however, at least partly due to the fact that difficult questions concerning the interpretation and critical evaluation of significant elements of his argument remain. For example, Hume states, that “consciousness is nothing but a reflected thought or perception” and that “consciousness never deceives”. Does this mean that the mind or self is what it is perceived to be, namely a bundle of perceptions, as some scholars have claimed? Does Hume think that there is no more to the self than what consciousness understood as “reflected thought or perception” reveals? Perhaps not. Galen Strawson’s recent very positive evaluation and interpretation of Hume on the self will be examined in this context.

Philosophy Department Seminar.
Date: Wednesday, 12 Dec 2012
Time: 3.15pm – 5.15pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3 #05-23)
Speaker: Professor of History of Philosophy, Head of Alexius Meinong Institute, Deputy Director of the Institute for Philosophy, University of Graz, Institute for Philosophy, Germany
Moderator: A/P Tan Sor Hoon

Udo Thiel studied philosophy at Marburg, Oxford and Bonn, where he obtained his Doctorate in Philosophy in 1982. He held various positions at the University of Sydney from 1985 to 1991.  He was Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Reader in Philosophy, Australian National University, 1992-2009. In 2009 he was appointed University Professor (Full Professor) and Chair in the History of Philosophy, University of Graz, Austria. His books include The Early Modern Subject: Self Consciousness and Personal Identity from Descartes to Hume (Oxford University Press, 2011).

“The Morality of the Psychopath” by John D. Greenwood (27 Nov)

In this paper I consider some questions about the morality of the psychopath, based upon recent research in moral psychology. These will include the question of whether psychopaths are criminally responsible for their actions; whether psychopaths are morally responsible for their actions; whether psychopaths are evil; whether psychopaths are persons; and whether psychopaths are insane.

Philosophy Department Seminar.
Date: Tuesday, 27 Nov 2012
Time: 3.15pm – 5.15pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3 #05-23)
Speaker: John D. Greenwood, Deputy Executive Officer, PhD/MA Program in Philosophy, Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY)
Moderator: A/P Tan Sor Hoon

John D. Greenwood was educated at the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford, and teaches in the departments of philosophy and psychology at City College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. His many books and articles include Explanation and Experiment in Social Psychological Science (Springer-Verlag, 1989), Realism, Identity and Emotion (Sage, 1994) and The Disappearance of the Social in American Social Psychology (Cambridge University Press, 2004).

“Wittgenstein on Miracles” by Hent de Vries (19 Nov)

In his “Lecture on Ethics,” presented to the Heretics Society in Cambridge and then again to members of the Vienna Circle between September 1929 and December 1930, Wittgenstein addresses the question of miracles and miracle belief in the context of “Ethics.” There are other, more episodic and enigmatic, references to the miracle and religious belief elsewhere in his writings and we will review some of them where relevant. But the lecture stands out for many reasons. We will seek to reconstruct its overall argument, discuss several remarkable parallels with other contemporary thinkers, Martin Heidegger to begin with, and assess its undiminished actuality for us, here and now.

Philosophy Department Seminar.
Date: Monday, 19 Nov 2012
Time: 3.15pm – 5.15pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3 #05-23)
Speaker: Hent de Vries, Russ Family Professor in the Humanities and Philosophy; Director (Chair), The Humanities Center, Johns Hopkins University
Moderator: A/P Tan Sor Hoon

Hent de Vries is Director of the Humanities Center. Since January 2003, he has held a joint appointment as Professor in the Humanities Center and the Department of Philosophy at the Johns Hopkins University. Since October 2007, he holds the Russ Family Chair in the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

NUS Philosophy Podcast #2 – “Ways of World-Breaking & Ethical Escapism”, by John Holbo

This is installment two in our podcast series. “Ways of World-Breaking & Ethical Escapism”, delivered as a talk in the department by Assoc. Prof. John Holbo, on March 30, 2010. Here is the abstract:

Tamar Gendler takes ‘the puzzle of imaginative resistance’ to be that of ‘explaining comparative difficulty imagining fictional worlds we take to be morally deviant.’ Gendler follows Kendall Walton, who prefers to focus on difficulties ‘making true’. This paper seeks to dissolve any such puzzle, largely by considering the workings of genre: relationship between absurdities and absurdism; reflections on narrators and authors; then, a major class of counter-examples: most genre fiction is ‘morally deviant’. Superman lives in a world in which behavior that would be morally appalling in the real world is sane and admirable. In effect, these fictions are perfectionist fantasies about impossible compossibilities of virtues, but not explicitly so. So the world contains many metaethically fantastic fictions, while containing few fictions about metaethics, per se.

NUS Philosophy Podcast #1 – Asst. Prof. Neil Sinhababu, “Desire And Intention”

I’ve been meaning to get this podcast series started for a while now. And here we go. Our first is a talk given by the department’s own Asst. Prof. Neil Sinhababu, “Desire and Intention”. The talk was delivered in the department on March 2, 2010. Here is the abstract:

I will argue that intentions are reducible to combinations of desires and beliefs.  Kieran Setiya presents two criticisms of such views of intention in “Reasons Without Rationalism.”  First, he charges that they can’t explain why intentional action is accompanied by knowledge of what we are doing.  Second, he charges that they can’t explain how we can choose our reasons for action.  I will first describe some general advantages of the desire-belief view over competing views.  Then I will show how the nature of desire explains the things that Setiya thinks the desire-belief view can’t explain.