Author: Malley, Mary

Tracy Llanera: “I Am An American Philosopher”

Check out Assistant Professor Tracy Llanera's recent interview with the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy (SAAP), "I Am An American Philosopher."

*Excerpt*

The pragmatist tradition has no problem about being level-headed and getting muddy. There’s no bizarre or elitist hang-up in using (and re-forging) concepts from philosophy or other disciplines to make sense of contemporary issues or to promote social amelioration. As an approach, I’ve found pragmatism to be useful and liberating, whether I’m thinking about existential despair, or the words we use, or how hate festers in people.

Cody Turner: “‘Augmented Reality, Augmented Epistemology, and the Real-World Web”

Check out graduate student Cody Turner's recent article in Philosophy and Technology, "Augmented Reality, Augmented Epistemology, and the Real-World Web."

*Abstract*

Augmented reality (AR) technologies function to ‘augment’ normal perception by superimposing virtual objects onto an agent’s visual field. The philosophy of augmented reality is a small but growing subfield within the philosophy of technology. Existing work in this subfield includes research on the phenomenology of augmented experiences, the metaphysics of virtual objects, and different ethical issues associated with AR systems, including (but not limited to) issues of privacy, property rights, ownership, trust, and informed consent. This paper addresses some epistemological issues posed by AR systems. I focus on a near-future version of AR technology called the Real-World Web, which promises to radically transform the nature of our relationship to digital information by mixing the virtual with the physical. I argue that the Real-World Web (RWW) threatens to exacerbate three existing epistemic problems in the digital age: the problem of digital distraction, the problem of digital deception, and the problem of digital divergence. The RWW is poised to present new versions of these problems in the form of what I call the augmented attention economy, augmented skepticism, and the problem of other augmented minds. The paper draws on a range of empirical research on AR and offers a phenomenological analysis of virtual objects as perceptual affordances to help ground and guide the speculative nature of the discussion. It also considers a few policy-based and designed-based proposals to mitigate the epistemic threats posed by AR technology.

Ruth Millikan: 2022 Sanders Lecture

Emerita Professor Ruth Milliakn will deliver the 2022 Sanders Lecture at the 119th Meeting of the APA Central Division. The annual Sanders Lecture was established in 2013 to honor a distinguished scholar in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, or epistemology who engages the analytic tradition. The paper is titled “40,000 Words in 14 Years” and is scheduled on Thursday, February 24, 10:00 a.m.–Noon.

Tom Meagher: “Existential Psychoanalysis and Sociogeny”

Check out alumnus Tom Meagher’s recent article in Sarte Studies International, “Existential Psychoanalysis and Sociogeny.”

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This article explores Sartre’s existential psychoanalysis as a phenomenological method for apprehending the fundamental project of the existent through an examination of the anonymous features of human desire. In grasping the anonymity underlying the “I want,” existential psychoanalysis seeks the meaning of freedom from a standpoint of alterity. I then analyze Fanon’s Black Skin White Masks as a work of existential psychoanalysis which hinges on his use of “sociogeny” to diagnose the alienation of Black existents. Finally, I conclude by examining the implications of a Fanonian existential psychoanalysis for anti-racism through a discussion of Michael Monahan’s critical reflections on the notion of being nonracist.

Steve Núñez: “I’m New Here: Black and Indigenous Media Ecologies”

Graduate student Steve Núñez‘s photo essay “Free the Land: Landscape Photography as a Decolonial Practice” has been featured in the Visual Culture Journal Refract, University of California, Santa Cruz.

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Exploring themes of race and shared ecologies across the Americas, the born-digital photography exhibition I’m New Here: Black and Indigenous Media Ecologies presents a hemispheric vision of African diasporic and Native life in the United States, Caribbean, and Latin America. The exhibition features experimental virtual reality (VR) and filmic components. In this curatorial essay, themes of the entangled dispossession of Native sovereignty and African enslavement are explored in the works of seven photographers from Trinidad to Wisconsin to Peru to Dominica. Artists Abigail Hadeed, Nadia Huggins, Kai Minosh Pyle, Allison Arteaga, steve núñez, Melia Delsol, and Dóra Papp provide a visual critique of the long history of racial capitalism, climate crisis, and Black and Indigenous presence. Together the photographic essays form a constellation, a vision of what environmental and racial justice can look like for the hemisphere after the catastrophe of European conquest. Speculatively picturing Black and Indigenous coalitions in the past, present, and future, the artists use the technology of the camera to frame nature, exploring visual aesthetic forms that seek not to replicate the capture of the colonial archive.

Jane Gordon: “Post Rosa: Letters Against Barbarism”

Check out affiliate professor Jane Gordon's contribution to Post Rosa: Letters Against Barbarism edited by Hjalmar Jorge Joffre-Eichhorn.

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Post Rosa: Letters Against Barbarism is a collection of letter exchanges in conversation with Rosa Luxemburg, in the year of her 150th anniversary. Twenty “Luxemburgians” from across the globe engage in vivid correspondence, with reference to and reflections about Luxemburg and the times we live in, as understood through their own bodies and geopolitical locations, and informed by an epistemology of both head and heart.

Conceived in the midst of a barbarous(ly handled) pandemic, this life-affirming book aims to be a source of affective-intellectual inspiration and encouragement to commit our words and lives to the struggle against barbarism and for socialism.

Cover of the book "Post Rosa"

Margaret Gilbert: 2022 Dewey Lecture

Emerita Professor Margaret Gilbert will deliver the 2022 Dewey Lecture at the American Philosophical Association's Pacific Division Meeting.

The John Dewey Lectures, in memory of John Dewey, were established in 2006 by the John Dewey Foundation and the APA. They are three annual lectures, one at each divisional meeting of the APA (Eastern, Central, and Pacific), given by a prominent and senior (typically retired) philosopher associated with that Division, who is invited to reflect broadly and in an autobiographical spirit on philosophy in America as seen from the perspective of a personal intellectual journey.

 

Lewis Gordon: Most Anticipated Book of 2022

Congratulations to Professor and Department Head Lewis Gordon, whose upcoming book Fear of Black Consciousness (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) has been named to Lit Hub's Most Anticipated Books of 2022.

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Professor Lewis R. Gordon, the Philosophy Department Head at the University of Connecticut, offers an expansive nonfiction work that critically examines the historical roots of “racialized Blackness” and how this school of thought is shaped by the institution of whiteness. Gordon includes personal experiences, striking a fine balance between the searing imprint of memory and the accumulation of learned knowledge. Gordon points out how anti-Blackness is not only a global commodity but a weaponized form of oppression that even members of the Black community can perpetuate through colorism. His take on the Marvel blockbuster Black Panther raises questions about the world’s view of Africa and the legacy of colonial violence. This book is certainly not a light, breezy read, but Gordon’s surprising observations crack open the mind to connect various creative disciplines.  –Vanessa Willoughby, Associate Editor

Dorit Bar-On: “How to do things with nonwords” (Biology & Philosophy)

Check out Dorit Bar-On's recent article in Biology & Philosophy, "How to do things with nonwords: pragmatics, biosemantics, and origins of language in animal communication." This article features Ruth Millikan’s biosemantic framework, and benefited from several ECOM-based collaborations.

***Abstract***

Recent discussions of animal communication and the evolution of language have advocated adopting a ‘pragmatics-first’ approach, according to which “a more productive framework” for primate communication research should be “pragmatics, the field of linguistics that examines the role of context in shaping the meaning of linguistic utterances” (Wheeler and Fischer, Evol Anthropol 21:195–205, 2012: 203). After distinguishing two different conceptions of pragmatics that advocates of the pragmatics-first approach have implicitly relied on (one Carnapian, the other Gricean), I argue that neither conception adequately serves the purposes of pragmatics-first approaches to the origins of human linguistic communication. My main aim in this paper is to motivate–and begin to articulate–an intermediary conception whose scope is narrower than Carnapian pragmatics but broader than Gricean pragmatics. To do so, I first spell out what I take to be the key insight offered by proponents of the Gricean approach concerning the emergence of linguistic communication, namely, its being communication ‘from a psychological point of view’ (Tomasello, Origins of human communication, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 2008). I then develop this insight using key elements from the anti-Gricean ‘biosemantic’ account of linguistic communication due to Ruth Millikan (Millikan, Language, thought, and other biological categories: New foundations for realism, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1984, Millikan, Tomberlin (ed), Philosophical Perspectives 9, Ridgeview Publishing, Atascedero CA, 1995, Millikan R (2006) Varieties of Meaning. Mass.: The MIT Press (paperback edition), Cambridge, Millikan, Beyond concepts: unicepts, language, and natural information, Oxford University Press, Oxford UK, 2017, and elsewhere). I argue that the intermediary pragmatics-first approach that I propose, which draws on both Gricean and Millikanian resources, would be better equipped to serve the purposes of those who search for potential precursors of human linguistic communication in animal communication.