Istanbul Technical University Talk (23.10 at 13:00). Zsolt Bátori (Budapest University of Technology and Economics). Philosophy of Perception Meets photography
“Philosophy of Perception Meets Photography”
Budapest University of Technology and Economics
23.10. 2012, Tuesday, 13.00
Istanbul technical University
Faculty of Science and Letters
Department of Humanities and Social Science, Seminar Room
In this paper I consider an important aspect of photographic realism that is strongly connected to the debate over photographic transparency, and to the question of what types of processes are to be considered perception proper. Photographic transparency theory holds that in photographs we see the scene photographed as we see objects through eyeglasses or in mirrors. I discuss some of the major arguments for and against transparency, and then I argue that formulating a position first requires an explication of one’s position about the nature of perception (seeing). In order to show what decisions one must make to arrive at a position about seeing, I consider beings with perceptual systems more or less different from ours. This discussion not only enables us to see how relative our notion of photographic realism is to our specific visual capacities, but it also helps to explicitly formulate a position about what conditions one might or might not consider necessary for seeing.! Although I do not argue for or against any of these specific conditions here, my considerations show through what steps the transparency debate may be resolved. This discussion also sheds some light on how to proceed when arguing for or against the (proper) perceptual status of specific perceptual mechanisms.
In February, I had the honour to be invited to speak at the Antalya Philosophy Days, Ethics, Politics and Otherness on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. A very beautiful location in which neighbouring mountains could be seen from the Atatürk Cultural Centre, where the event was held. I had the opportunity to meet great people from the Antalya municipality, and the Department of Philosophy at Akdeniz (Mediterranean) University, in Antalya, along with many other people in Turkish philosophy.
I’m still thinking about the issues in the paper I wrote and I’ve recently started some more work on that paper, and linked papers, so this seems a pod moment to share a précis of what I was talking about at Antalya. I am pasting the proposal I sent to the Antalya organisers before, without revision, because it is a continuous bit of writing, rather than staccato summary, and I still think it conveys what I am trying to do in my work on Kierkegaard as a thinker about subjectivity, ethics, literature and politics. Comments are very welcome.
In Two Ages, Kierkegaard is concerned with the difference between the revolutionary and the reflective, through its appearance in a novel. This intersects with a concern regarding the difference between antiquity and modernity, to be found in his thoughts about ancient and modern drama. This is part of Kierkegaard’s general examination of subjectivity with regard to the aesthetic, the ethical and the religious; the particular, the universal and the ethical. In this context, the theme is developed in Two Ages of the need to combine prudence and infinite enthusiasm, going back to Socrates. That issue is taken up by Samuel Fleischacker in A Third Concept of Liberty (1999). Fleischacker discusses Kierkegaard with reference to the need to present the theoretical through the particular; and with reference to the difficulty of a Christian in visiting the Deer park, given the way that the religious person is concerned with the absolute, and keeping to it. Both these issues appear in Two Ages with regard to the relation between prudence and the absolute. Though, Fleischacker draws attention to a tension, he lacks Kierkegaard’s sense of the paradox, of the force of conflict and the necessity of that conflict. Fleischacker’s account draws on Kant’s critique of aesthetic judgement, but is less engaged with literature than Kierkegaard, and in general Fleischacker is dismissive of any strongly aesthetic point of view, or any deeply subjective point of view. He offers a way of bridging liberty as freedom from external constraint, and liberty as self-mastery, through a third concept of phronetic mastery, leaning towards prudence over enthusiasm. That harmonising third term is not in the spirit of Kierkegaard, as for him it is opposition, and living through that opposition subjectively which is important. He demonstrates the nature of the modern public, along with its attitudes to ethics and politics with a deep unifying argument, in the terms of paradox. The problem Kierkegaard identifies at the basis of any understanding of the political world, or any understanding of the public domain, is one of equality, excellence and envy. In antiquity, the excellence of a relative few apparently undermining inevitably stimulates envy, dealt with both though comic drama and through ritualised exclusion, as in the Athenian institution of ostracism. That still allows the community to be shaped by the excellence of the few, by emphasising it in a negative way, so resisting the emptiness of formal equality of individuals gathered in an aggregate. In the modern world, Kierkegaard finds an alternation between the revolutionary reshaping of society though form, passion and immediacy; and a reflective emptying out of form, passion and immediacy so that we have only formalism, prudentialism, and reflection. A public has emerged which cannot accept excellence, and insists on the superiority of majority opinion to any form of excellence. Associations are experienced as negative limits, since the public is a pure aggregate which cannot form itself in associations of a positive kind. Kierkegaard’s response includes a commitment to the role of literature in giving shape to the chaos of the times, and for maintaining enthusiasm behind the mask of prudence. Kierkegaard suggests that monarchy rejected in revolution, can only be accepted in the modern world through its reduction to mere symbol. He is seeking antique substance and excellence, along with the form and passion of revolution, in oder to transform modern reflectiveness, through concrete institutions, and rules, which recognise individuality. The loss of the antique vision cannot be simply negative for Kierkegaard, since he sees it as connected with the Christian distinction between the religious and the worldly. What fits Kierkegaard’s preconceptions is a politics, connected with an aesthetics, which draws us to the absolute through social forms that do not substitute for the absolute or obliterate the individual. These are the ways we encounter subjectivity and the problems of communication.
“When Scientific Theories Constrain Scientific Concepts: The Case of the Antagonistic Pleiotropy Theory of Ageing and the Concept of ‘Rate of Ageing’”
Date: 3rd April, Time: 13:30. Place: Seminar Room. Department of Humanities and Social Science, Faculty of Science and Letters. Istanbul Technical University, Ayazağa Campus. On the Taksim metro line.
Marc Rolli has just contacted me to offer a more accurate version of his research and publication interests than in the my post of 19th March. This is the correct list.
Modern French philosophy, philosophical pragmatism,
classical German philosophy (Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche) and the history of
(philosophical and non-philosophical) anthropology (mainly critical).
I wanted to pass on the news about Marc’s arrival in the Turkish philosophical scene as possible and I didn’t have time to check my account of his interests with him. I’m very happy to post this correction, and to thank Marc for passing on the information.
I’m pleased to report that the growing community of anglophone philosophers in Turkey has been joined by Marc Michael Rölli, who started work in the Department of Philosophy at Fatih University in Istanbul this semester. Professor Rolli was previously at Darmstadt Technical University (Germany). He has been productive in the areas of Continental Philosophy (particularly Deleuze) and the Philosophy of Social Science (particularly Anthropology). He looks like a valuable addition to the philosophy scene here, so I look forward to seeing his future work, and his contributions to philosophical life in Turkey.
Publications (in English and German) include
‘The Story of Repetition’, Parallax 18(1), 2012
Kritik der anthropologischen Vernunft [Critique of Anthropological Reason), Matthes and Seitz, Berlin, 2011.
Philosophie and Nicht-Philosophie: Gilles Deleuze - Aktuelle Diskussionen [Philosophy and Non-Philosophy: Gilles Deleuze -
Contemporary Discussions], edited with Friedrich Balke, Transcript Verlag, 2011
‘Deleuze on Intensity Differentials and the Being of the Sensible’, Deleuze Studies 3, 2009
‘Micropolitical Associations’ (with Ralf Krause), book chapter in Deleuze and Politics, Edinburgh University Press, 2008.
David Horst (University of Leipzig) will present a seminar paper on ‘Practical Knowledge’ (abstract below)
Day: Tuesday, 13th March
Place: Seminar Room, Department of Humanities and Social Science, Faculty of Science and Letters, Istanbul Technical University, Ayazağa Campus (which is in Maslak not Ayazağa!), on the metro line from Taksim.
Turning the Tables on Truth: An Objection to Williamson’s Proof of Necessary Existence
Aviv Hoffmann (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)