Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Archive for May 2014

One-day Workshop in Metaphysics

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Bogazici University Department of Philosophy

August 4, Monday

Guest Speaker: Peter van Inwagen

A one-day work-in-progess workshop in contemporary metaphysics
Please submit a long abstract (approximately 1000 words) suitable for blind refereeing, along with a separate page containing your identifying information to Irem Kurtsal Steen, kurtsal.steenATgmail.com by June 10. Notifications will be made by June 20. 
Papers should not exceed 40 minutes in presentation time.

Please specify if you are interested in serving as a commentator. (You may do this without submitting any abstract, too.)
Papers that explore issues that are related to the work of Peter van Inwagen will be given preference.
Unfortunately, there is no funding available for travel, for accommodation, or lunch/dinner.
Everyone is welcome to attend. (No registration required.)

The workshop will be held in Istanbul, Bogazici University campuses at Etiler. Exact location to be announced. 


Written by Irem Kurtsal Steen

May 26, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Soyarslan (North Carolina State) on Spinoza at ITU, 27.05

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The Transformative Ascent from Ordinary Life to Blessedness in Spinoza’s Ethics

Sanem Soyarslan

North Carolina State University

27th May 2014, at 13:30

Seminar Room, Department of Humanities and Social Science, Faculty of Science and Letters, Central Campus Istanbul Technical University (by ITU metro station)

Abstract: The origin of Spinoza’s philosophizing is the ethical dissatisfaction with ordinary life and its values. An ordinary life, for Spinoza, is prone is bondage to the passions, as it is a life dominated by the pursuit of transitory goods like honor, sensual pleasure and wealth. According to Spinoza, human happiness and wellbeing do not lie in ordinary life. Rather, the good human life is a life according to the order of the intellect. This is because for Spinoza there is an intrinsic relationship between the pursuit of understanding and the pursuit of the good life, where the latter consists in increasing the power of the mind over the passions and, thereby, becoming free and virtuous. Life according to the order of the intellect is marked by two ways of understanding (adequate knowledge) according to Spinoza’s taxonomy of knowledge [cognitio] in the Ethics: reason (ratio) and intuitive knowledge (scientia intuitiva). In this paper, I give an account of the transition from ordinary life to life according to the order of the intellect with a particular emphasis on intuitive knowledge, which Spinoza describes as the source of the highest human happiness. While reason has received much attention from Spinoza scholars with regard to its power and limits in restraining the passions, the power of intuitive knowledge vis-à-vis the passions has been largely overlooked. Drawing on this neglected aspect of Spinoza’s thought, I propose that the above mentioned transition (a) is achieved by way of a transformative ascent that culminates in intuitive self-knowledge—i.e. adequate knowledge of our own essence as it directly follows from God’s essence, and (b) consists in a change in perspective that helps us to reorder our desires and, consequently, become less prone to harmful passions in this life.

Written by Barry Stocker

May 23, 2014 at 5:17 pm

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“Philosophy in a Time of Riots”: Two events with Alberto Toscano in Istanbul (23rd & 24/05/ 2014)

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Alberto Toscano is Reader in Critical Theory at the Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of Fanaticism (2010; Turkish translation: 2013), The Theatre of Production (2006) and the forthcoming Cartographies of the Absolute (co-authored with Jeff Kinkle). He has translated numerous works by Alain Badiou, Antonio Negri and others. He edits The Italian List for Seagull Books and is a member of the editorial board of the journal Historical Materialism.

On Friday 23/05/2014,  there will be a talk at Boğaziçi University  University on “Fanaticism, Crisis and the Forms of Politics”, starting at 4pm in Natuk Birkin 119.
toscano bog

On Saturday 24.05.2014 there will be a Conference at the Taksim Hill Hotel, together with Ozren Pupovac (Boğaziçi ), on Philosophy in a Time of Riots.

konferans tosc

Written by Lucas Thorpe

May 22, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Conference at Dokuz Eylul University (Izmir): “The Scottish Enlightenment and Freedom” (May 28-30th, 2014)

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Dokuz Eylul University (Izmir) will be hosting a conference on “The Scottish Enlightenment and Freedom” from  May 28-30th, 2014. A facebook page for the event can be found here.


Details of the program can be found under the fold.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Lucas Thorpe

May 19, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Bilgi University (Istanbul): The Sources of Pluralism – Metaphysics, Epistemology, Law and Politics. May 15th-20th, 2014.

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The topic of the Istanbul Seminars (at Bilgi University in Istanbul) this year will be:

The Sources of Pluralism – Metaphysics, Epistemology, Law and Politics.

The program can be found here. Among the participants are Seyla Benhabib, Richard BernsteinAlessandro Ferrara, Maurizio FerrarisNilüfer Göle, Amr HamzawyRamin JahanbeglooCécile Laborde, Avishai Margalit , David Rasmussen, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. 

A full list of participants can be found here.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

May 12, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Talk on Cosmology at Bogazici, “Is there a Dark Sector or was Einstein Wrong?” Scott Dodelson, Fermilab

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Sorry that this is last-minute, but I heard about it last-minute



“Is there a Dark Sector or was Einstein Wrong?”

Observations over the past decade suggest that most of the energy in the Universe is in the form of Dark Energy and Dark Matter. The hunt is on for the identity of these new substances as we strive to understand how they fit in to the rest of physics. Recently, attention has turned to another possibility: there is no dark sector but Einstein’s theory of gravity needs to be modified. We are now faced (again!) with a contest between two competing ideas: Change the fundamental laws of Nature OR Introduce new substances.  Which will win and how will we find out?

Albert Long Hall
8 Mayis Persembe saat 15:30-16:30
(saat 15:00-15:30 kahve & cay)

Scott Dodelson received his PhD in physics at Columbia University, did post-doctoral work at Harvard and then at Fermilab. He was hired on to the staff as scientist and since has served as head of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group and co-founder and Interim Director of the Fermi Center for Particle Astrophysics. He is the author of Modern Cosmology, a graduate textbook, and 150 papers exploring the connections between particle physics, the very small, and cosmology, the very large. Dodelson is currently focusing on the Dark Energy Survey in Chile and the South Pole Telescope, which measures radiation left over from the earliest moments of time.

Scott Dodelson is one of the first people that showed that the spatial geometry of the universe is “FLAT”!

Written by markedwardsteen

May 8, 2014 at 11:29 am

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Talk at Sabancı: Selim Berker (Harvard), A Graph-Theoretic Approach to Coherentism about Epistemic Justification

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A Graph-Theoretic Approach to Coherentism about Epistemic Justification

by Selim Berker (Harvard University), May 14, 2014 at 15:00 in FASS 2034, Sabancı University*

AbstractSome of our beliefs depend for their justification on other beliefs we hold, which in turn depend on yet other beliefs. Where does such a regress end? This is the regress problem in epistemology. Fifty years ago, coherentism — according to which each thread of support for a justified belief eventually loops back on itself — was probably the dominant response to this problem, but in recent decades that view has fallen into disrepute. In my talk I will sketch a new way of thinking about coherentism, and show how it avoids many of the problems often thought fatal for the view, including the isolation objection, worries over circularity, impossibility results derived from probability theory, and concerns that the concept of coherence is too vague or metaphorical for serious theoretical use. The key to my approach is to take a familiar tool from discussions of the regress problem — namely, directed graphs depicting the support relations between beliefs — and to use that tool in a more sophisticated way than it is standardly employed.

*Free shuttle service will be provided from Boğaziçi University (Güney Kampüs) at 13:30



Written by faikkurtulmus

May 7, 2014 at 1:45 pm

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Professor Nola’s talk at Sabancı is cancelled.

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Professor Nola’s talk at Sabancı is cancelled due to illness.

Written by faikkurtulmus

May 5, 2014 at 10:11 am

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Talk at Bogazici: Étienne Balibar on “Globalization and the Crisis of the Cosmopolitan Idea” (06/05/2014)

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Étienne Balibar will be giving a talk at Boğaziçi University on May 6th in the Rector’s Conference Room, at 16:00 on:

“Globaliszation and the Crisis of the Cosmopolitan Idea”



Written by Lucas Thorpe

May 4, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Cog Sci Talk at Yeditepe: Fuat Balcı (Koç) on “Psychological Time and Decisions: An Overarching Approach” (02/05/2014)

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by Fuat Balcı (Koç University) on May 2, at 16.00, in Law Building Room 332.

“Psychological Time and Decisions: An Overarching Approach”

 ABSTRACT: Interval timing refers to the ability to perceive, remember, and organize responses around durations ranging from seconds to minutes. This fundamental ability is observed in many species (e.g., fish, pigeons, mice, rats, humans) with virtually the same statistical properties. In this talk, I will briefly introduce interval timing along with its psychophysics. Then, the relation of interval timing to decision-making will be explored at the level of the underlying processing dynamics and with respect to optimality (reward maximization). Different model-based approaches to time perception will be discussed and evaluated in terms of their neural plausibility. To this end, I will specifically introduce our drift-diffusion model of interval timing and extend the scope of its application to temporal decision-making. I will demonstrate that the processing dynamics that underlie interval timing and account for its psychophysical properties within the framework of the drift-diffusion model can also account for the accuracy and latency (i.e., response times) of decisions about time intervals. Finally, the importance of interval timing for reward maximization in temporal and non-temporal decision-making will be discussed with an emphasis on the role of temporal noise characteristics in determining optimal decision strategies.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

May 2, 2014 at 12:16 am

Talk at Bogazici, Daniel Star (Boston University), “The Reasons of Virtue: A Reductive Epistemic Account”

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Friday, May 23rd, 5-7pm, TB 130 (Anderson Hall)
“The Reasons of Virtue: A Reductive Epistemic Account”
Is it possible to provide informative, non-circular analyses of individual practical virtues in terms of something prima facie distinct from virtue? It has been claimed, by committed consequentialists, that virtues are character states that systematically bring about the realization of good outcomes in the world. It has also been claimed, by neo-Aristotelians, that they are character states that, in particular ways, promote the flourishing of the individuals that possess them (although this is not always intended to be a reductive claim). The aim here is to defend a new, quite different kind of reductive analysis, one that takes off from Daniel Elstein and Thomas Hurka’s attempt to analyze individual virtues in terms of a non-ethical element and a ‘thin’ ethical element, viz. goodness. Partly through the examination of individual virtues, I contend that although Elstein and Hurka are on the right track, a better recipe for analyzing virtue might be provided by focusing primarily on normative reasons, instead of on goodness (this is an option that they appear somewhat amenable to). On what I have elsewhere argued is the correct account of normative reasons (reasons as evidence), it will further follow that the practical virtues are nearly entirely epistemic in nature. Some objections to and ramifications of the resulting view will be considered.
Daniel Star’s webpage

Written by markedwardsteen

May 1, 2014 at 11:22 am

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Talk at Bogazici, Cem Bozsahin (ODTU), “Can Computation Give Rise to Meaning”

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2pm, Monday, May 5th, Bogazici University,

AVS (Seminar Room, floor above entrance floor) in the Computer Engineering Building (ETA), North Campus


“Can Computation Give Rise to Meaning?”
Cem Bozsahin, Middle Eastern Technical University


Computation is commonly regarded as a stand-alone formal mechanism. It does require an interpretive/executive substrate to do its work: a brain for humans and animals (if they are doing computation), and a virtual machine for computers, eventually reaching hardware. We know that the human brain is capable of causing meaning. We don’t know whether computation in the abstract sense is capable of doing the same in all interpretive/executive substrates. Using examples from language, I try to show in this talk that natural and artificial minds might be facing the same problem of constructing meanings if their computations are supported by their own “right stuff”, a mechanism which is capable of execution. This seems to require two channels of intake, rather than one as one would expect
if computation were a stand-alone formal mechanism. We may not be able  to look into wetware/hardware to see if there is any meaning in there, because it is a process rather than an object, but computationalism may be able to construct a causal history of how a form can come to be associated with a meaning.

Bio: Cem Bozsahin received his PhD in computer science from Arizona State University (ASU), on AI/Cognitive Science. He has taught at Ohio University and ODTU in permanent positions, and on temporary duties at Heriot-Watt Univ. and Bogazici University. He has conducted research at ASU, ODTU and Edinburgh University. He works on the nature of constraints on cognition and computational linguistics.

Cem Bozsahin’s webpage

Written by markedwardsteen

May 1, 2014 at 11:13 am

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