Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Archive for October 2013

David Butorac on ancient and mediaeval conceptions of nature

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I’ll be giving a talk at Istanbul University in the department of philosophy tomorrow (Wednesday), Oct 30 (Seminar room 206, starting at 15:30). The talk is entitled, “‘The heavens declare the glory of the Lord’? Reflections on the instability of Nature in the Ancient and Mediaeval World”. The paper will discuss both the positive and negative sides of the pre-early modern concept of nature, where, on one hand, everything is full of gods (Thales) and nature is considered as divine (Greek) or created ‘good’ (Abrahamic). One would think that, as such, it provides the mind with a stable object of thought. However, on the other hand, I will argue it is precisely its possession of some imbued content, even if it is divine, that renders nature unstable. Flight from nature is the result. I will argue that Descartes by reducing the natural world to res extensa resolves precisely this instability and which thereby allows the secrets of nature of be revealed.


Written by davidbutorac

October 29, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Talk by Barry Allen (McMaster University) at Bogazici on “ENGINEERING AESTHETICS” 01/11/2013

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Department of Civil Engineering


Seminar on



Prof. Barry Allen

Visiting Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Boğaziçi University

Professor of Philosophy at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada

Friday, November 01, 2013, 3:00-4:00 PM

Vedat Yerlici Conference Center, Room 1

Engineering Building 5th Floor


Abstract: Works of engineering (for example a bridge, ship, or aircraft) resist the separation, traditional in aesthetic theory, between how they look, or what it is like to perceive them, and how effective or efficient they are. As a result, it is impossible to take a disinterested stance. We cannot separate an assessment of aesthetic value from an appraisal of technical achievement. How well such objects work cannot be separated from how well they look, or the aesthetic quality of their perception.

Works of engineering thus require us to reconsider the idea that aesthetic quality is merely subjective, or a matter of how people feel, without regard to physical qualities or real changes in the physical world. Appearance and functionality are not as independent as aesthetic theory traditionally tends to assume. In this lecture I explain this argument with several examples, mostly drawn from modern bridge engineering.



Barry Allen is Professor of Philosophy at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. He received his PhD in philosophy from Princeton University in 1986. He is the author of four books, including “Artifice and Design: Art and Technology in Human Experience” (2008). This semester he is a visiting professor in the Department of Philosophy at Boǧaziçi University, where he is teaching a class on Chinese philosophy.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

October 27, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Where are all the (Pythagorean) women gone ?

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Feminist History of Philosophy

     Until recently my doing ancient philosophy meant writing about Plato and Aristotle with a side helping of the Stoics. Then I decided to look into ancient women philosophers and discovered, among others, Perictione I, the author of a short text called « On the Harmony of Women ». Looking around on the internet for something to read to bolster my so far meager research on Perictione, I was delighted to come accross two brand new titles on Pythagorean women writers : Annette Bourland’s Huizanga’s Moral Education for Women in the Pastoral and Pythagorean Letters , and Sarah Pomeroy’s Pythagorean women : their History and Writings.This adds to a non-negligeable existing literature on the topic, counting the first four chapters of volume I of Waithe’s History of Women Philosophers , and Plant’s anthology Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome.


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Written by Sandrine Berges

October 21, 2013 at 5:14 pm

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Talk at Bogazici, Refik Guremen (University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne), “How not to explain human beings’ higher degree of politicalness according to Aristotle”

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This Friday, October 25, 5-7pm, in TB (Anderson Hall) 130.


One of Aristotle’s most widely known ideas is : human beings are, by nature, political animals. In the second chapter of his Politics, Book I, this statement is followed by another one saying that they are also more political than the other political animals like, for example, the bees. According to the most widely shared views about Aristotle’s argument here, human beings would be more political either because they have a natural capacity for rational speech or because they are perceptive about questions of justice, or because of both reasons. Aristotle himself seems to support this approach in the rest of the chapter. I argue that this, however, is not the correct way of understanding Aristotle’s argument here. In my paper, I examine two principal versions of this incorrect way of explaining human being’s higher degree of politicalness according to Aristotle.

Written by markedwardsteen

October 21, 2013 at 4:26 pm

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Barry Allen (McMaster) at Istanbul Technical University, 08.10.2013

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This talk is an essay in Comparative Philosophy, comparing ancient and modern western ideas of knowledge and wisdom with the conception found in classical Chinese thought. Compared with the Greeks and their contemplative theory the Chinese are pragmatists. Compared with the Moderns and their epistemology the Chinese are postmodern. Problematic ideas of truth and representation play no part in their understanding of knowledge or its value. Nor does their perplexity about knowledge turn on untenable dichotomies like mind and matter, being and becoming, or appearance and reality. Their questions concern, for example, the relation of knowledge to wisdom and virtue; the limits of its effectiveness; and the right appreciation of its contribution to civilized life. These are not logical but ethical questions, questions not about essence or being but quality and value. What desirable quality distinguishes knowledge? What value makes it wise and worth pursuing?

13:30 ITB Seminar Room

Istanbul Technical University

Ayazağı Campus (which is in Maslak not Ayazağı!)

Fen-Edebiyat Fakultesi

Right by the İTU-Ayazağı metro station

Professor Allen is a visitor in the Department of Philosophy at Boğaziçi University for the current semester.

His homepage at McMaster http://www.humanities.mcmaster.ca/~philos/people/profile_allen.php


Written by Barry Stocker

October 6, 2013 at 8:36 pm

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Conference: ‘Globalization and the New Left’ with Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek in Istanbul, 11-12/10/2013

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Monokl is organising a conference on ‘Globalization and the New Left’ with Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek on the 11th and 12th of October. It will take place at the Yunus Emre Kültür Merkezi in Ataköy / Bakırköy. Details can be found here.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

October 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm