Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Archive for September 2012

Talk at Bogazici: Dan Korman (UI-UC) on ‘Debunking Perceptual Beliefs about Ordinary Objects’ Monday, 08/10/2012

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Dan Korman (UI-UC) will be giving a talk on ‘Debunking Perceptual Beliefs about Ordinary Objects‘ on Monday October 8th from 17:00-19:00 at Bogazici University, room TB130 (in the philosophy department).

A draft copy of the paper can be found here. And the handout here.

ABSTRACT: On our natural way of “carving up” the world into objects, some collections of objects together compose something (e.g., the trunk and branches of a palm tree) and others do not (the trunk and the dog lying beside it). Reflection on the sorts of factors that might underwrite or influence such judgments about which objects there are give rise to powerful (and under-appreciated) “debunking arguments” against our perceptual beliefs about ordinary objects. I assimilate these arguments to arguments that arise in meta-ethics and the philosophy of math, and I examine a variety of way of trying to resist the arguments.  

Written by Lucas Thorpe

September 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Talk at Bogazici: Wilfried Ver Eecke (Georgetown) on ‘Ethical Reflections on the Financial Crisis 2007-08’ (Friday, 5/10/2012)

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Professor Wilfried Ver Eecke (Georgetown) will give a talk on ”Ethical Reflections on the Financial Crisis 2007-08″ at Bogazici University this Friday, October 5th 2012 from 17:00 to 19:00 at Bogazici University. The talk will take place in TB130  (in the philosophy department).

This talk is based on Professor Ver Eecke’s forthcoming book on the financial crisis and the ethics of capitalism. An outline of this book can be found here.

Everyone is welcome.

Wilfried Ver Eecke obtained a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Louvain. He did doctoral and post-doctoral work in Paris (with Ricouer, Hyppolite, Lacan, and Benveniste), in Freiburg/iBr (with Lohmann) and at Harvard (with Putnam, Cavell, Erikson, Jakobson, Kagan, and Brow). He also obtained an M.A. in economics at Georgetown University. Professor Ver Eecke has been teaching at Georgetown since 1967, where he was also Chairman of the Philosophy Department from 1980-1983. He was awarded research grants from the Belgian Science Foundation, the French Government, and the von Humboldt Stiftung. In 1973, he received the annual prize of the Belgian Academy of Sciences and Humanities for a manuscript later published as Negativity and Subjectivity.

His research interests include (1) Hegel; (2) philosophy of psychoanalysis with an emphasis on Lacan — including ethical problems with the treatment of mentally ill persons; (3) ethics and economics — including public policy implications; (4) Contemporary Continental philosophy; (5) the concept of person; and (6) political and social philosophy — including distributive justice.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

September 30, 2012 at 6:42 pm

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International Hegel Conference (October 3-6th), Istanbul

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The XXIX. International Hegel Congress will be held in Istanbul on 3 – 6 October 2012.  Organized by The International Hegel-Society (Internationale Hegel-Gesellschaft e.V.) in collaboration with Bogazici University Philosophy Department and the Municipality of Besiktas, the first day of the congress on October 3rd will take place at Albert Long Hall.  For further information, please check http://www.hegelistanbul2012.com.

Here are the details of the talks on the first day (Wednesday, October 3rd), which take place at Bogazici University:

14.00-14.30: Opening

14.30-15.30: İlber Ortaylı, “Hegel and the Eastern Empires.”

15.30-16.30: Wilfried Ver Eecke, “The Absence of Reflection on Language in the Master-Slave Dialectic.”

16.30-17.00: Pause

17.00-18.00: Brady Bowman, “Bureaucracy, Publicity and Civic Humanisms in Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.”

18.00-19.00: Theodore Geraets, “Hegel’s Articulation of Meaning – Reading Hegel after Gadamer.”


Written by Lucas Thorpe

September 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Workshop at Bogazici: The Logic, Metaphysics, and Morals of Plurals and Mass Terms

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There will be a conference at Bogazici University on October 12th and 13th on the metaphysical and moral ramifications of the logic and semantics of mass and plural quantification and predication. The first day consists of educational seminars on the logic and semantics of mass and plural expressions, so people should feel comfortable showing up who know nothing about the topic. Luckily, we will be taught by two world experts on the subject. On day 2 we will get into the ramifications of the topics covered in day 1.

If you have any questions please contact marksteen[at symbol]gmail[dot]com. Registration is free, and all are welcome. Exact locations will be announced soon in the comments below and on the Bogazici Philosophy Department Event Calendar. Links to philosophers’ webpages/information can be found below.

Friday, October 12
12:30-2:00   – Lunch at the Kennedy Lodge
3:15-4:45     – David Nicolas educational seminar: “The Logic of Mass Expressions”
4:45-5:00     – Break
5:00-6:30     – Thomas McKay educational seminar: “Plurals and Distribution”
7:00            – Dinner, location TBA

Saturday, October 13
10-12          – William Wringe: “Who are We, What Are We Doing and Are We Harming the Worst-Off? Pogge’s
Problem with Plurals.”
12-1:00       – Lunch on your own
1:00 3:00    – David Nicolas, “Mass Nouns and Plural Logic”
3:00-3:15    – Break
3:15-5:15    – Irem Kurtsal Steen, “LOL! No x is a cat, but some Xs are-a-cat”
5:15-5:30    – Break
5:30-7:30    – Thomas McKay, “From Mass to Plural”
7:30-          – Dinner, location TBA

Written by markedwardsteen

September 28, 2012 at 11:02 am

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Dummett workshop at Bilkent tomorrow

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A two-day workshop, organized by the Department of Philosophy on Dummett’s work will take place on September 27-28, 2012 in Room G-160. The keynote speaker is Dr. Anita Avramides (Oxford University). The workshop is open to public. A timetable can be found at


Hope to see you there.

Written by Sandrine Berges

September 26, 2012 at 11:31 am

Posted in Events in Turkey

István Aranyosi (Bilkent) receives honourable mention in prestigious APA essay prize.

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István Aranyosi (Bilkent) receives honourable mention in the American Philosophical Association annual essay prize for his paper, “A New Argument for the Mind-Brain Identity“. Details can be found here.

Congratulations Istvan!

Written by Lucas Thorpe

September 23, 2012 at 11:48 am

Dan Zahavi at Bogazici, September 27th.

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Dan Zahavi (Copenhagen) will be giving a talk at Bogazici university on Thursday, September 27th from 5-7pm, entitled ‘”Figuring the self: Can we learn anything from philosophy?”

Jointly organised by the Bogazici philosophy department and cognitive science program.

Venue: Turgut Noyan Salonu (North Campus, next to the library)

Abstract: In both ancient and modern times, the existence of self has been called into question. Frequently, the claim of the self-skeptics has been that the self, if it exists, must be some kind of unchanging and ontologically independent entity. Given that no such entity exists, there is no self. In my talk, I will argue that this philosophical definition of self contrasts rather markedly with how the self is approached, understood, and explored in a variety of empirical disciplines, including developmental psychology, social psychology, neuroscience and psychiatry. I will consider two cases in particular, namely research in autism and the study of facial self-recognition. On the basis of these examples, I will discuss how one ought to conceive of the relationship between philosophical analysis and empirical investigation when it comes to the study of self.

Here are some papers that might be good for background reading:

Dan Zahavi: “The experiential self: Objections and Clarifications. ” In M. Siderits, E. Thompson, D. Zahavi (eds.): Self, no self? Perspectives from Analytical, Phenomenological,  & Indian Traditions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, 56-78.

Dan Zahavi: “Is the self a social construct?” Inquiry 52/6, 2009, 551-573.

Dan Zahavi: “Self and other: The limits of narrative understanding.” In D.D. Hutto (eds): Narrative and Understanding Persons. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 60.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007,  179-201.

Dan Zahavi is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Danish National Research Foundation’s Center for Subjectivity Research at the University of Copenhagen. Zahavi writes on phenomenology and especially the philosophy of EdmundHusserl. He is co-editor of the journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, and author of Intentionalität und KonstitutionHusserl und die transzendentale IntersubjektivitätSelf-awareness and AlterityHusserl’s PhenomenologySubjectivity and Selfhood: Investigating the first-person perspective,Phänomenologie für Einsteiger, and (with Shaun GallagherThe Phenomenological Mind.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

September 23, 2012 at 10:21 am

The call to action in support of the Gendered Conference Campaign

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To raise an awareness about mostly funded keynote speakers being males and to intitiate a change, Mark Lance & Eric Schliesser created a call to action in New APPS. If you find it a bit boring and disheartening to see every year the same senior male keynote speakers in the conferences, as if screaming to the female young researchers “we are closed for any bit of a change” please go and sign the petition here. And for the conference organizers: here is a list of female experts in various areas…

Written by Ozge Ekin

September 18, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Gender

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Biological remarks on man as a political animal in Aristotle

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Dear all,

Ten days ago, I was in Manchester for the 9th Annual meeting of the MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory. I presented a paper in the “Animals and Political Theory” session. I also had the pleasure of meeting Manuel Knoll (Fatih University) and Barry Stocker (Istanbul Technical University) there. I visited their Nietzsche workshop two or three times during the conference. There was really good energy in that workshop.

The title of my paper was “Biological Perspectives on Man as a Political Animal in Aristotle”. My point in this paper was to make a thoroughly zoological reading of Aristotle’s Politics, I.2, where we read the notorious formula that man is by nature a political animal.

Philosophical interest in Aristotle’s zoological writings has increased so much, since the last quarter of the 20th century that today we talk about “a biological turn” in Aristotelian studies. One fundamental and immediate repercussion of this interest has been a reexamination of Aristotle’s theory of science and scientific reasoning, as well as his theory of definition and substance. Today, there is an ocean of high quality literature on the relation between the Metaphysics, the Analytics, and the zoological corpus.

A similar effect has to be noted for the Politics also. Thanks to the “biological turn,” Aristotle’s Politics is no longer among the main references for arguments exalting political life as a human privilege. It is now common knowledge that man is not the only political animal for Aristotle: bees, wasps, ants, and cranes are also political animals for him. However, there is still work to do here to reach a complete understanding of all the biological implications of Aristotle’s conception of man as a political animal. The effect of the biological turn seems to be limited to shifting the place, not the content, of the accent on man’s privileged position. In Politics, Aristotle says, not only that man is by nature a political animal, but also that he is more political than other political animals. We tend to explain man’s being more political by reference to features like his being rational, capable of language, and perceptive about issues of justice. We think that man is more political because he has those features, of which all other animals deprived. Not only is this view widely spread among philosophers; anyone who has ever given a second in his lifetime to think about this question would also say, more or less, the same thing. And maybe this is the correct view. I don’t know. What I tried to show in my paper was that this was not Aristotle’s position in Politics, I.2.

My argument was, briefly, the following: When we say that man is more political because he has reason, language, and the perception (aesthesis, says Aristotle) of the just and the unjust, with this “because” we mean to refer man’s greater degree of politicalness to these extra-biological features man possesses, in addition to his being biologically political like a bee. On this account, man’s greater politicalness is not a form or specification of the biological aspect itself. It is explained by man’s going beyond what is biologically political, and having extra non-biological, yet politically pertinent, features. In this account, man is political as an animal, yet he is more political otherwise than animal, otherwise than biologically. The clearest example of this approach can be found in Wolfgang Kullmann, “Man as a Political Animal in Aristotle,” in A Companion to Aristotle’s Politics, eds. D. Keyt and F. D. Miller, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991).

I tried to show that this is not how Aristotle works on animal differentiae. Comparison by “the more and the less” is one of two main categories of comparison (the other: analogy) Aristotle uses in his biological treatises to study animal differentiae. For him, the differences of the more and the less result from the specific forms animal differentiae take. Accordingly, if political animals differ among themselves by the more and the less, this must be the result of differentiation within the biological aspect (here, “being political”) itself, as the biological aspect it is, and not the result of the addition of an extra-biological aspect. The greater degree of man’s political character must be accounted for on the basis of his animality and as a differentiation of his political praxis, understood in a zoological sense (as Aristotle himself does in History of Animals, I.1). It is not “otherwise than animal,” but as an animal that man is more political.

In the rest of my paper, I argued that reason, language, and perceptiveness about justice do not explain the political animal man is. That is, these exclusively human features do not explain why man would go beyond the domestic sphere to found cities or states. The logic of Politics, I.2 requires that the political relevance of our exclusively human features be explained by reference to man’s greater degree of politicalness, and not the other way around.

According to the conclusions I reached, Aristotle does not say that man is more political than the other political animals because he has reason, language, or a perception of justice.


How does this sound? Comments are welcome.

Written by Refik Guremen

September 18, 2012 at 10:30 am

Logic of plurals reading group at Bogazici.

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Thomas McKay (Syracuse) is going to be visiting Bogazici for a week in early October, and we’re organizing a workshop and a couple of talks around his visit.

In preparation for his visit some of us at Bogazici are organizing a reading group to work through his book Plural Predication. Our first meting will be this Monday (17/09/2012) at 2pm in the Bogazici philosophy department, TB365. At the first meeting we’ll plan a schedule and work through chapters 1 and 2, which are not particularly technical.

If anyone would like to join us (even if you cannot make the first session) feel free to  email me (lthorpe@gmail.com) and I can send a copy of the readings.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

September 15, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Getting Emotional?

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Last week’s DIE ZEIT has a huge title in its front page “Philosophen entdecken das Gefühl” (“Philosophers discover the Feeling”) with a crying Plato bust, and claims that there is a shift from  “the brain”  to  “the heart” among philosophical research. 

The article made me think further what I always wondered: is it the case that the more you are in the business of research in philosophy the less rigour you seek or whether it is because of the times we live in, the less logical rigour is being sought after in general? (The times we live in: very roughly we can say,  in one sense-“after Gödel” – where a logical system can never be good enough for itself/ or in another sense the times that the interest in eastern philosphy by masses increased)

My utmost interests have always been mathematical objects and mathematical reasoning since the times I  took the path of philosophy after studying mathematics. When I first started my research in MA, I was trying to explain numbers by logical formulations. Even my PhD thesis claimed in the beginning that we can give a purely logical explanation for numbers as Frege claimed in 1884 and similar to what  Frege admitted in 1924, I had to conclude at the end that we need something other than logic in mathematics in my PhD thesis. Now I use visual explanations, non-logical but objective communication tools (still controversial), the innate ability to form geometrical propositions (only used in cognitive tests) to explain mathematical objects and mathematical reasoning. So, either because of the Zeitgeist I changed my direction and am convinced this time for real that logic will not be enough to explain the actual mathematical reasoning and objects, or because I and many tried and failed to prove that there was a logical way to explain them which, I guess, kind of contributes to the the Zeitgeist anyway. 

I am wondering about your experiences and thoughts: If you started  with the analysis of rigorous foundations did you question this motivation later on? Do you think it’s about the years spent in this area or the times we live in that forces us to leave the defined logical rigour? Or do you think at all that there is a tendency for leaving the defined logical rigour?



Written by Ozge Ekin

September 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm

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Michael T. Ullman (Georgetown) “A Multidisciplinary Investigation of the Neurocognition of First and Second Language”, At Bogazici 17/09/2012

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Michael T. Ullman (Departments of Neuroscience, Linguistics, Psychology and Neurology, Georgetown University) on  “A Multidisciplinary Investigation of the Neurocognition of First and Second Language”

Monday, September 17, 2012, 10:30

Rectorate Conference Hall, Bogazici University. Organised by the Department of Foreign Language Education.

Abstract Increasing evidence suggests that language crucially depends on two long-term memorysystems in the brain, declarative memory and procedural memory. Because the behavioral, anatomical, physiological, molecular and genetic correlates of these two systems are quite well-studied in animals and humans, they lead to specific predictions about language that would not likely be made in the more circumscribed study of language alone. This approachis thus very powerful in being able to generate a wide range of new predictions for language. Iwill first give some background on the two memory systems, and then discuss the manner inwhich language is predicted to depend on them. One of the key concepts is that to some extent the two systems can subserve the same functions (e.g., for navigation, grammar, etc.), and thus they play at least partly redundant roles for these functions. This has a variety of important consequences for normal and disordered language and other cognitive domains. I will then present evidence that basic aspects of language do indeed depend on the two memory systems, though in different ways across different unimpaired and impaired populations. I will discuss normal first and second language, individual and group differences (e.g., sex differences), and our work on disorders, focusing on developmental disorders (e.g., Specific Language Impairment, dyslexia, autism, and Tourette syndrome).

Dr. Ullman is Professor in the Department of Neuroscience, with secondary appointments in the Departments of Linguistics, Psychology and Neurology. He is co-director of the Center for the Brain Basis of Cognition (CBBC), Director of the Brain and Language Lab, and Director of the Georgetown EEG/ERP Laboratory.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

September 12, 2012 at 3:05 pm