|Conference: "Dignity: History of a Concept"
|A two-day conference concerning the history of the concept of human dignity was held March 21-22, 2014.
"Human dignity" has become a bedrock concept in Western society - but what exactly
do we mean by it? The English term ‘dignity’ is a derivation of the Latin dignitas, which was a Roman concept referring to a man’s social influence, power, and reputation
(moral or otherwise). Over time the term came to take on the more general idea of
rank, merit, or a kind of poise or gravitas – connotations that persist to this day.
However, the term has also been increasingly associated with the concept of inherent
human worth. In this sense, “human dignity” is prima facie discontinuous with all historically older merit connotations of dignity. Human dignity,
if it exists, and whatever else it may be, isn’t something that must be earned or
bequeathed. Instead, in some sense or other, at least to some degree, human dignity
is inherent and unearned. Significant credit for this revolution in meaning undoubtedly
goes to Kant’s famous reformulation of his Categorical Imperative in terms of human
dignity (Würde). But recently scholars have begun to appreciate that this moralized sense of unearned
worth has much older origins, and correspondingly to rethink our contemporary understanding
of human worth. The presentations in this conference are on the cutting edge of this
new research, and each will eventually appear in the forthcoming Oxford University
Press volume, Dignity: History of a Concept. Further details (including program information) are available here.
|Lawson Hits the Right (Key)Note in Ireland
|Bill Lawson gave a Keynote Lecture at the "Transatlantic Connections" conference held at the Humanities and Social Sciences Intensive School at the University
College Cork, Ireland in January 2014. The title of his presentation was "Frederick
Douglass and the Irish Famine: Music, Suffering, and the Sorrow Songs."
|DeArmitt’s New Book Hits the Shelves
|Pleshette DeArmitt’s The Right to Narcissism: A Case for an Im-possible Self-love (Fordham University Press) aims to wrest the concept of narcissism from its common
and pejorative meanings -- egoism and vanity -- by revealing its complexity and importance.
DeArmitt undertakes the work of rehabilitating "narcissism" by patiently reexamining
the terms and figures that have been associated with it, especially in the writings
of Rousseau, Kristeva, and Derrida. Taking up themes such as pitié, transference,
mourning, and imagination, this book finds new resources for thinking other narcissisms,
which are no stranger to love, creativity, and sociality.
|Gallagher Awarded Third Honorary Professorship
|Shaun Gallagher (Moss Professor of Philosophy) was awarded the title of Honorary Professor of Health
Sciences at the University of Tromsø, which is known as the University of the Arctic
in Norway (the northern most university in the known universe). Although it is unusual
for a philosopher to receive this honor in the area of health sciences, Dr. Gallagher's
work on embodiment, which combines and understanding of phenomenology and neuroscience,
is the theoretical base for the graduate program in neuro-physiotherapy at the University
of Tromsø. Every other year he presents a series of lectures to the incoming class
in the MA program there, and he collaborates on research with the clinical teaching
staff at Tromsø. Dr. Gallagher is also Honorary Professor of Philosophy at the University
of Copenhagen, and Durham University in the UK.
|2014 PGSA Conference: "Mental Illness & Power"
|The 10th annual Philosophy Graduate Student Conference will take place on February
21-22, 2014. The topic of this year's conference is "Mental Illness and Power." The
keynote speakers will be David M. Goodman (Assistant Professor of Psychology and Director of the Psychology and the Other Institute, Lesley University) and Mary Beth Mader (Professor of Philosophy, University of Memphis). Further information about the conference
-- including the conference program and poster -- is available here.
|2013 Philosophical Horizons Workshop
|On Friday, November 22, the Philosophy Department will host a one-day conference about
our outreach program, Philosophical Horizons. The conference will consist of three workshops focusing on different areas of the
program: elementary schools, secondary schools, and prisons. The workshops will consist
of brief presentations about our program and its methods, followed by a training session.
The conference will close with a keynote lecture by Claire Katz (Texas A&M University) entitled "The Necessity and Limits of Thinking for Oneself."
More information is available on the workshop flyer or by contacting the lead organizer, John Torrey.
|New and Visiting Faculty
|Verena Erlenbusch joins the faculty this fall as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy. Dr. Erlenbusch
completed her Ph.D. in Social and Political Thought at the University of Sussex. Before
coming to Memphis, she taught at St. Mary’s University and the University of the Incarnate
Word in San Antonio, TX. Verena specializes in social and political philosophy, the
philosophy of law, and continental philosophy. Her work focuses on the legal, political,
and philosophical construction of terrorism since the French Revolution as well as
on theories of sovereignty and power. Also, Tobias Nikolas Klass joins us this fall as an Erasmus Mundus Visiting Scholar. Currently Junior Professor
of Philosophy at Universität Wuppertal, Dr. Klass's interests include Nietzsche, rhetoric,
political philosophy, modern French philosophy, the philosophy of "Leiblichkeit,"
and cultural theory. He will give a public lecture on September 13, 2013 entitled
"What is a Terrorist? The Michael Kohlhass Case."
|Gallagher to speak on Space, Science and Spirituality
As part of Dr. Gallagher's project, "Space, Science, and Spirituality," funded by
the John Templeton Foundation, he will be presenting two lectures. The first is a
public lecture at the University of Cologne on June 24, 2013 entitled "Space and Spirituality:
Experiments in Mixed and Virtual Reality." Gallagher will be joined for a panel discussion
by the German novelist Martin Mosebach, winner of the Georg Büchner Prize in 2007, and by the German astronaut Gerhard Thiele who was part of a 2000 Space
Shuttle mission. Gallagher's second lecture is a keynote lecture entitled "Consciousness
in Outer Space" to be delivered at the 17th Annual Association for the Scientific
Study of Consciousness in San Diego in July. Both talks will provide details of the
empirical study on aesthetic and spiritual experiences during space flight reported
by astronauts, conducted by an interdisciplinary team of scientists led by Gallagher.
|New Issue of Sophia
The new issue of the Philosophy Department newsletter has been published. See what
we have been up to the last year -- including alumni, student, faculty, and conference
updates -- here!
|DeArmitt and Saghafi to Present at Summer Academy
Professors Pleshette DeArmitt and Kas Saghafi will present lectures on Derrida, in
a session entitled “What Remains--Of Mastery and Ipseity,” at The London Graduate
School’s Inaugural Summer Academy in the Critical Humanities. Sarah Marshall, a doctoral
student, was selected to participate in the week-long program of lectures and intensive
workshops on European thought, which will take place between June 24 and June 27,
2013. The LGS Summer Academy program can be found here.
|Gallagher Awarded Honorary Professor
Professor Shaun Gallagher was awarded the title of Honorary Professor of Philosophy
at Durham University England. The position runs for three years starting January 1,
2013. Dr. Gallagher is also Honorary Professor of Philosophy at the University of
Copenhagen, a five-year appointment that started in August 2010.
|Roche Awarded Professional Development Assignment
The College of Arts and Sciences approved the award of a Professional Development
Assignment for Professor Tim Roche for the fall semester of 2013. The sabbatical will
support his research on a project entitled "Aristotle's Nicomachean Conception of Happiness." The project represents a final stage of a research agenda
aimed at the production of a book defending a unique interpretation of Aristotle's
conception of eudaimonia (happiness) in his Nicomachean Ethics.
|Varga Awarded Grant
The University of Hertfordshire (UK) has awarded Prof. Somogy Varga a $4000 grant
to map the influence of the Embodied and Narrative Practices Framework (Daniel D.
Hutto and Shaun Gallagher) in field of clinical psychiatry, and to contribute to its
further development. The work will involve cooperation with clinicians in the UK,
Germany and Italy who are engaged in the design of novel diagnostic tools and methodological
The American Philosophical Association has just issued its official guidebook to Graduate
Programs. Please see our updated statistics here.
|Dr. Gallagher's Book Receives Award
|Professor Shaun Gallagher's book, The Phenomenological Mind (2nd edition, 2012), co-authored with Dan Zahavi, was listed among the Outstanding
Academic Titles by Choice. (See http://www.cro2.org/default.aspx.) In awarding Outstanding Academic Titles, the editors of Choice apply the following criteria to reviewed titles:
- overall excellence in presentation and scholarship
- importance relative to other literature in the field
- distinction as a first treatment of a given subject in book or electronic form
- originality or uniqueness of treatment
- value to undergraduate students
- importance in building undergraduate library collections
The Phenomenological Mind has also been translated into Danish, Hungarian, Italian, and Japanese. Spanish and
Korean translations are forthcoming.
|Dr. Roche Presenting on Aristotle
|Professor Tim Roche was invited by the Catholic University of Louvain, in Louvain-La-Neuve,
Belgium, to deliver a presentation on Aristotle's discussion of pleasure in Book X
of the Nicomachean Ethics. While there, Roche also participated in a workshop on Aristotle on Pleasure along
with eighteen other researchers from around the world. The event took place February
13-February 17, 2013.
|Dr. Gallagher Keynote Speaker
Shaun Gallagher gave the The UNESCO Philosophy Day Public Lecture and the Cave Hill Philosophy Symposium Keynote
Address at the 8th Cave Hill Philosophy Symposium. University of West Indies. Barbados
(15 November 2012). The title of his lecture was "Where to look for your body."
The Department of Philosophy, with support from the Humboldt Foundation Anneliese
Maier Research Award, sponsored an international and interdisciplinary workshop on
Schizophrenia: Levels of Interpretation which took place on October 25-26, 2012. The
workshop was organized by Prof. Shaun Gallagher, the Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair
of Excellence. Featured speakers included Jorge Dávila (Psychiatry, Universidad Nacional
– Bogotá, Colombia), George Graham (Philosophy, Georgia State University), John Lysaker
(Philosophy, Emory University), Paul Lysaker (Psychiatry, Indiana University), Albert
Newen (Philosophy, Bochum University), Jean-Michel Roy (Philosophy/Cognitive Science,
ENS, Lyon), Michael Schwartz (Psychiatry, Texas A&M Health Science Center School of
Medicine), Anna Strasser (School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University, Berlin),
Somogy Varga (Philosophy, University of Memphis), Gottfried Vosgerau (Philosophy,
Heinrich Heine University, Dusseldorf), Osborne Wiggins (Philosophy, University of
Louisville). Program and more information to the workshop webpage here.
|Dr. Gallagher's Humboldt Foundation Award
Prof. Shaun Gallagher, the Lillian and Morrie Moss Professor of Philosophy, was one of seven researchers
in humanities and social sciences awarded the Anneliese Maier Research Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation on September 13, 2012 in a ceremony at the University of Heidelberg. The award was
presented by Dr. Annette Schavan, Germany’s Minister of Education. This new 5-year
Humboldt Fellowship was awarded for the first time this year. It is designed to promote
the internationalization of the humanities and social sciences in Germany. The award
amount of EUR 250,000 will be used to support research collaborations between the
University of Memphis and the Ruhr University, Bochum, in Germany, including short-term
research visits by Ph.D. students and post-doctoral researchers at both institutions.
Researchers are nominated by collaborative partners at German universities and research
The other six award winners were Katharina Boele-Woelki from the Netherlands one of
Europe's leading researchers on international and comparative family law; James Conant
a philosopher at the University of Chicago, medievalist historian Patrick Geary from
the Institute for Advanced Research, Princeton University; social psychologist Michele
Gelfand from the University of Maryland, Australian linguist Nicholas Evans, and anthropologist
of religion, Birgit Meyer from the Netherlands. The awards are funded by the German
Federal Ministry of Education and Research and named after the philosopher and historian
of science Anneliese Maier (1905 in Tübingen, Germany - 1971 in Rome, Italy) who conducted
research on the emergence of modern scientific thought from the 14th to 18th centuries,
particularly in the natural sciences.
At the award ceremony in Heidelberg, L to R: Annette Schavan, Minister of Education,
Prof. Shaun Gallagher, Prof. Albert Newen from Ruhr University, Bochum, and Dr. Helmut
Schwarz, President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.