Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Archive for May 2012

Job posting: Middle Eastern Philosophy in Sussex

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I thought the following add might be of interest to some of you:

As part of a significant investment in the study of the Middle East, the University of Sussex wishes to appoint a promising scholar to a Lectureship in Philosophy.

The precise area of specialization is open. However, applications are especially welcome from scholars working on the history of one or more Middle Eastern philosophical traditions; or political philosophers exploring issues such as national and/or ethnic identity; legitimacy of government; theories of rights; theories of democracy; the nature of citizenship; just war theory; legal theory with an emphasis on international or interstate relations.

The individual we seek will possess a profile of high quality published work; clear plans for future research; demonstrable excellence as a teacher; and an entrepreneurial attitude to generating research grant income.

He or she will join a friendly, intellectually invigorating department, committed to dialogue across philosophical traditions. We seek a colleague who will contribute fully to the life of the department and enjoy interacting with our highly engaged and intellectually able student community.

For further details, please see http://www.sussex.ac.uk/aboutus/jobs/647


Written by Sandrine Berges

May 24, 2012 at 1:26 pm

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Plato on the Capacity for Beliefs

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There has been, in recent years, a surge of interest in the development of Platonic moral psychology between Plato’s middle and late periods. Much has been written – especially since Bobonich’s influential Plato’s Utopia Recast (2002) – on whether, and in what ways, Plato’s thoughts on moral psychology evolved after he wrote the Republic. A prominent aspect of this subject is the development of Plato’s views on the cognitive and conceptual capacities of the non-rational parts of the tripartite soul. A key question in this context is whether the non-rational parts of the soul are capable of holding beliefs (doxai) in the proper sense, and whether Plato changed his mind on this matter. An emerging view, with noteworthy proponents (such as Lorenz 2006 and Stalley 2007), is that in the Republic, Plato took the non-rational parts of the soul to have such limited cognitive and conceptual capacities that they cannot, strictly speaking, hold beliefs, even though Plato seems to suggest otherwise in various passages. This reading constitutes a rejection of the traditional interpretation of the tripartite soul in the Republic as consisting of agent-like parts. Concerning Plato’s later works, however, there seems to be a general agreement, by scholars on both sides of the debate about the Republic. On this widely held view, in later works such as the Phaedrus, Timaeus and Theaetetus, it is unambiguous that only the rational part of the soul is capable of holding beliefs. Accordingly, the non-rational parts of the soul are, at this point, devoid of any cognitive and conceptual resources, so much so that they are incapable of forming not only beliefs but desires as well. The non-rational parts are thus emptied of content, and the story is of how Plato comes to see them as useless entities, as a result of which he eventually abandons the tripartite theory of soul.

In a recent paper* I argue against not only the emerging view about the Republic, but also the consensus about the later works: (i) Plato does not, in the Republic, deny or cast doubt on the capacity of the non-rational parts of the soul to hold beliefs. The attempts to explain away the evidence for the non-rational parts’ capacity for holding beliefs are unconvincing, and yield uncharitable readings of Plato’s text; and more controversially, (ii) Plato does not, in the later works mentioned, deny the capacity of the non-rational parts to hold beliefs. Due to limited space, I focus in that paper on the Phaedrus, leaving aside the Timaeus and the Theaetetus. I argue that the passages in the Phaedrus cited as evidence for this denial do not, in fact, provide the purported support. It therefore appears that Plato’s tripartite theory of the soul did not, at least in the Phaedrus, deny the capacity of the non-rational parts for holding beliefs. I continue to work on this topic – which I find fascinating – and expect to reach similar results in the Timaeus and the Theaetetus. It seems to me that in those dialogues as well, the textual evidence fails to support the dumbed-down conception of the non-rational parts of the soul. If this is right, that the tripartite theory did not undergo a gradual demotion of the non-rational parts should also shed light on the important question whether Plato came to abandon the tripartite theory in his late works.

Comments are welcome.

*  “Plato on the Capacity for Beliefs”, presented at the 35th Annual Workshop in Ancient Philosophy, The University of Texas at Austin, March 2012.

Written by Mehmet M. Erginel

May 22, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Conference: ‘Ideals and the Ideal in Kant’, Bogazici University, May 23rd-26th, 2012

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All talks will be in the Turgut Noyan Salonu (North Campus, next to the library). Details can be found here.

The program (including links to some handouts) is below the fold.

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

May 20, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Istanbul Seminars May 19-24, 2012 – Bilgi University – ‘Philosophers bridge the Bosphorus’

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Next week is going to be quite busy philosophically here in Istanbul. Details can be found here.

“The promise of democracy in troubled times” faces several challenges that are notably related to altered material conditions: Western democracies have to find new answers in the face of a severe economic and financial crises and an ageing population. Arab countries invest all their hopes in democracy in order to confront poverty and inequality as well as an unprecedented youth bulge.

Which are the methods and limits of democratic participation and political deliberation in economics? Does the Arab Spring lead to more rights for women and citizens in the Arab world? How do claims to justice engage new forms of political responsibility, political judgment and leadership?

This is an interesting event that happens every year.  Schedule below the fold.

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

May 15, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Dummett workshop at Bilkent.

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The seas of Michael Dummett

Leaflet with full details here.

A workshop organized by Bilkent University Department of Philosophy

Date: september 27-28, 2012


List of Speakers

  • Anita Avramides Keynote speaker (Oxford University) TBA
  • István Aranyosi (Bilkent University) In Defense of Dummett on Backwards Causation
  • Sandrine Berges (Bilkent University) Hands-on Tarot Learning Session
  • Sandy Berkovski (Bilkent University) Tolerant Reductionism
  • David Grünberg (Middle East Technical University) Towards a Convergence Theory of Truth
  • Norman Stone (Bilkent University) – to be confirmed
  • Lars Vinx (Bilkent University) Michael Dummett’s Defense of the Borda Count: A Normative Analysis
  • Simon Wigley (Bilkent University) Migration and Global Justice
  • Bill Wringe (Bilkent University) A Bearable Lightness of Being? Dummett and Others on Mathematical Platonism


Varol Akman

Department of Philosophy

Bilkent University, Bilkent, Ankara 06800, Turkey

Phone/Fax: [90] (312) 290-3349/-1074

Email: phil@bilkent.edu.tr

Written by Sandrine Berges

May 15, 2012 at 8:53 am

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Cog-Sci/Philosophy Workshop at Bogazici, Friday, May 18th.

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“Brains, Minds and Language #1”

A workshop Jointly organised by the Bogazici University Philosophy Department and Cog-Sci Program.

Friday May 18th, 1.00pm-5.30 pm, M2180 (Engineering Building).

1.00 – 2.30 pm  Alper Açık (Yeditepe/Osnabrück) “”What can a neuroscientist do with phenomenology?”

2.30 – 4.00 pm Kirk Michaelian (Bilkent) “Epistemology and Metacognition”.

4.00 – 5.30 Serife Tekin (Dalhousie/Pittsburgh) “Making Mental Disorders Amenable to Empirical Investigation: Beyond Natural Kinds”

Abstracts Under the fold:

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Talk by İrem Kurtsal Steen (Bogazici) at Bogazici: “The Argument from Anthropocentrism and Endurantism”, May 9th, 2012

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İrem Kurtsal Steen (Bogazici): “The Argument from Anthropocentrism and Endurantism”

Wednesday, 9 May 2012, M 2170 (Engineering Building), 5-7pm.

Abstract:  Many philosophers hold that any old filled region in spacetime is the specific spatiotemporal location of some object, that besides objects like tables and cats there are indefinitely many others: left-halves of cats, things that are made up of upper-halves of cats and lower-halves of dogs, and things that are made up of cats on weekdays and tables on weekends. The “argument from anthropocentrism” is the argument that such a liberal ontology is the realist’s only option for avoiding an anthropocentric and even culturally biased chauvinism in her ontological theory. I argue that to the extent that this is a strong argument for the liberal ontology, a parallel argument gives us reasons to reject the perdurence theory of persistence (temporal parts theory)  in favor of the endurance theory. This should be very interesting, because most liberal ontologists are perdurantists.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

May 4, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Talk “Negative Ethics in Daoism” by Hans-Georg Moeller (Cork) at Bogazici, Thursday May 10th, 5-7pm

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Hans-Georg Moeller (University College Cork) wil give a talk on “Negative Ethics in Daoism” on Thursday May 10th, from 5-7pm in TB130

Abstract: In this paper I will discuss criticisms of morality found in the Daodejing (and other Daoist texts). I will point out how Daoist philosophy can be used for establishing a “negative ethics”, i.e. a critical reflection on the potential pathologies of intensely moral communication and thought and the harm it may inflict on individuals and society. I will defend the Daoist model of “moral foolishness.”

There are interesting interviews with Moeller here on his book “The Philosophy of the Daodejing” and here on his book “The Moral Fool: A Case for Amorality“.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

May 2, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized