The 2014-5 academic year

I’m taking a moment to drink a cup of tea whilst listening to the somewhat addictive Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes and here’s a quick round down of what I’ve got on this year.

Finish and submit my thesis.

Finish proofreading the MSS for the book I’m co-editing with Arseny Ermakov

Continue to organise the conference on Gillian Rose for January 9th at Durham. I need to write a paper for this too.

Teach an undergrad seminar on the Frankfurt school

Teach an intro to philosophy for students in the Netherlands, mostly online but I’ll go over a couple of times

Teach in intro to philosophy at NTC in Manchester (probably)

TA for Dr. Matthew Geust on the module ‘Religion in contemporary Britain’ at Durham

Complete the B2.2 German course at the Goethe Institute.

Apart from the book, I also have a book review in Political Theology and an article in Philosophy Now appearing. I’ve got a piece on social theory under review with Critical Horizons and one on ethics that needs some work before I can submit it somewhere. I hope to publish my Rose conference paper too. I gave a short paper at a conference last week and was encouraged by an editor of a journal to submit it, but I think that one will have to go in a drawer for the time being. A busy but exciting year ahead.

Rose and Žižek

My supervisor Marcus Pound has had a very interesting piece on Syndicate published today.

Philosophy Now article

The good people at Philosophy Now have just informed me that an article I submitted to them has been accepted and will be out in a few issues time. It’s a piece on the critique of modernity and rationalised reason, related to a talk I gave last year in Manchester’s Cathedral. More details when I have them but here’s the abstract:

This piece examines the link between the modern form of reason and the ethical and political ills of modern society. It suggests there is something to this, and notes its importance as a tradition of political and ethical critique and a context for much European intellectual culture of the past two centuries. It also accepts this is only one side of the story and thus a very incomplete analysis.

google versus privacy

It turns out that, horrifyingly, Eggars’ novel The Circle isn’t fiction:

Efficiency and transparency become the paramount values, superseding all other values. To Google there’s only one way to be, and that’s perfectly transparent and maximally efficient. In boiling everything down to digital signals, we lose the colour and flavour and turmoil of competing values. So the challenge is to politicise digital culture: to understand that we can’t just sit back and let these boys play with so many important things with impunity. The worst option here is the one where we assume that what’s good for Google is good for the world. That may be true more than half the time, but it’s not true enough to bet the future on.

Syndicate symposium

Current symposium at Syndicate is on Gavin Hyman’s Traversing the middle, a work partly inspired by Gillian Rose.

A seminar at Durham

This academic year I’ll be running a four week undergrad seminar at Durham on the Frankfurt School. It’s hosted by the theology and religion department but open to students from all departments. The seminars are voluntary and extracurricular so they have a relaxed feel – there’s no requirement to do any or all of the reading, for instance. I don’t know the dates yet, but here’s the outline.

  1. How should we respond to Auschwitz?

The first session will briefly put the Frankfurt school in its historical context and discuss Adorno’s theses that the society that produced the Holocaust is structurally identical to our own and that Auschwitz generates a new ethical command. Dialectic of Enlightenment will feature.

  1. What is the difference between traditional and critical theory and why does it matter?

The second session will pay more attention to the philosophical justification for the Frankfurt school project, discuss its roots and influences, and locate it on the intellectual landscape. Horkheimer’s essay ‘Traditional and Critical Theory’ will be in focus.

  1. What are disenchantment, rationalisation and nihilism?

The third session will cover Max Weber’s ideas of disenchantment and rationalisation as sociological descriptions, and their uptake in philosophical critique of society and politics in the Frankfurt School. Students are invited to look at Weber’s essay ‘Science as a vocation’.

  1. What is recognition theory?

The final session will outline recognition theory as propounded by the current head of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research, Axel Honneth. His essay ‘Between Aristotle and Kant: Recognition and Moral Obligation’ will ground the discussion.

Were Engels to return to Manchester

Nice piece by Mark Rainey and Steve Hanson here.


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