Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

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Talk on Monday 25 June by Imge Oranli at Bosphorus

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The Inscrutability of Evil in Arendt and Levinas

İmge Oranlı,

Koç University, Department of Philosophy

June 25

15:00 (3pm)

JF 507

Abstract Since the attacks of 9/11, there has been a revival of interest in philosophical studies of evil, which suggest that we are forced to rethink the category of evil as we face acts of terrorism on a global scale. In almost all of these studies, Kant, Arendt and Levinas appear as key thinkers of evil. This paper traces the idea of the inscrutability of evil as a common lens through which we associate the category of evil with the phenomena we identify as evil. This idea finds its first modern formulation in Kant’s theory of radical evil. Although Arendt and Levinas challenge the Kantian framework of evil through their accounts, I argue that they nevertheless presuppose this framework. Regardless of their difference from Kant, my argument stresses that Arendt’s identification of Nazi evil as banal (i.e., without depth) and Levinas’ description of evil as “useless” are both developed in the trajectory of thought facilitated by Kantian philosophy. This trajectory is marked by evil’s non-theological root and its basis in human freedom. My analysis concludes that the idea of the inscrutability of evil is common to all three approaches, yet their accounts of why evil is inscrutable differ considerably.

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Written by sundemirili

June 21, 2018 at 9:34 am

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Talk by Hande Tuna at Bosphorus

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Imaginative Resistance and Disgust

Emine Hande TUNA

Friday, 22 June 2018, 15–17:00, JF507

ABSTRACT: The phenomenon of imaginative resistance refers to the psychological difficulties we might have in engaging with the particular imaginative activities prompted by works of fiction. To get a grip on this, suppose that Crime and Punishment were modified so that the narrator told us that Raskolnikov’s crime was the morally right thing to do. Even though we would then have no problem imagining the rest of the story as it is and accepting the narrator’s authority in telling us what is true in the story, we encounter a problem imagining that Raskolnikov is indeed morally justified. A related question immediately arises: Does this problem we experience in trying to imagine the modified parts of Crime and Punishment compromise the work aesthetically? This problem opens up an explanatory lacuna as well as a possibility for understanding the relationship between the ethical and aesthetic dimensions of our engagement with works of art. Unfortunately, although some valuable diagnoses have emerged in recent work on the phenomenon (genre and gender make a difference), on the whole the discussion has been straying away from this original research question. In this talk I will attempt to provide an alternative interpretation of the phenomenon, which not only furnishes a theoretical framework that can accommodate these compelling diagnoses but also helps to highlight a specific instance of imaginative resistance that might give us interesting insights with respect to the causes of aesthetic displeasure. I argue that the reason why we find it almost impossible to engage in the imaginative activity prompted by a fictional work is grounded not only in the moral disapprobation it generates but also in the emotion of disgust that mingles with and amplifies the disapprobation.

 

Written by sundemirili

June 19, 2018 at 10:21 am

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Talk on Monday: Basak Aray

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MONDAY 18 June, 15-17:00 (=3-5pm), JF507

Internationalism in early analytic philosophy

Basak Aray 
The emergence of analytic philosophy towards the early 20th century shows interesting parallelisms with the concomitant international auxiliary language movement. Both these projects are characterized by their universalist assumptions and their constructive approach to language. Even though international auxiliary language is more clearly political in its objective of unifying people through national borders, many important figures of the early analytic philosophy also supported internationalism. Beyond the fact that some of these (like Peano, Couturat and Carnap) also took part in the movement for an international auxiliary language, we argue that the Enlightenment- inspired rationalism of the early analytic philosophy connects it to political and linguistic internationalism on a deeper level.

Written by sundemirili

June 15, 2018 at 10:36 am

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Talk by Sevgi Dogan at Bosphorus

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What is the Place of the Individual in Marx’s Philosophy?

Sevgi Dogan

Wednesday 13 June 2018, JF 509, 15-17:00 (3-5pm)

ABSTRACT: The problem of the individual is still the overriding political problem of contemporary society, which takes individual freedom to be the basic political principle. However, while the existing political system is accessible for the people and is dependent on the government of the people, it does not permit the people to govern; it is not governed by the people. It merely pretends that people govern the political state. In this paper, the individual will be considered as the single individual as distinct from the species-being which was particularly highlighted by young Marx. Or, speaking in terms of logic, we will distinguish the individual from the universal. It can be easily observed that Marx does not treat the problem of the individual in the same way that, for instance, Hegel did. In other words, he does not take up the subject systematically as regards its ontological, logical, political and ethical dimensions. Nevertheless, it is a fundamental question for Marx. He tries to answer in which way or through which political manner society can attain such a level of “freedom” and “equality” as to embrace every single being—individual— in this planet as a social being under the same sun and stars. In this respect, the concept of the individual will be elaborated in terms of the concepts of freedom, alienation, labor (specifically in relation to capital), species-being, society and finally, the state through an analysis of Marx’s texts. For Marx, the problem is not only associated with the political existence of the individual in the modern state; it is directly interconnected with the economy. That is what differentiates Marx from Hegel because Hegel in particular concentrates on the ontological existence of the individual and society. However, the economic aspect is largely missing in his philosophy. The basic question is whether the individual is really overlooked by Marx’s project. I will focus on the problem of the individual especially in Marx’s early texts. It is my intention to analyze the problem of the individual in the modern state in light of Marx’s farsightedness. Marx’s early texts can be analyzed according to the ontological and political existence of the individual. From a Marxist ontological perspective, which has decided an economic dimension, the individual must be analyzed in the context of the notion of “relation.” In this regard, the first argument of this paper is that the individual in modern society is separated from his social relations and reduced to market relations. The relationship between all individuals and their relationships with institutions such as the state are dependent on and governed by exchange value. Marx presents this argument in his well-known work, Grundrisse, by way of an analysis of the producer-consumer dialectic, but he had already begun to develop these ideas, albeit in less elaborate form, in the Manuscripts of 1844. Therefore, the Manuscripts can help to elaborate this concept of “relation.” Depending upon the first argument— which focuses on the ontological perspective—, this second argument will demonstrate from a political perspective, that the claim that the individual is a political being is what, paradoxically, separates individuals from their political activity. Here Marx demonstrates that individuals are real individuals as long as they realize themselves within politics. However, political emancipation is not the only road to or the full development of emancipation. I would like to draw attention to the fashionable view that Marx is not concerned with the problem of the individual and focuses on society only. In his early writings, for example, in the Manuscripts of 1844, in his critiques of political economy (as well as his critiques of Hegelian dialectic) Marx speaks of the individual. I believe that Marx, through his economic and ontological analyses, first indicates how the individual loses his/her relationships and by an elaborated and extensive investigation in the Critique, Marx shows the—loss of—relationship of the individual to the state and civil society. At the end, having looked in detail at and analyzed Marx’s writings, particularly those in which he speaks of the state, society, and man in detail, I find that Marx is indeed interested in the problem of the individual.

Written by sundemirili

June 9, 2018 at 8:18 am

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Talk by Geoff Bowe at Bosphorus (Time change: it starts at 15:00)

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Aristoteles Latinus: How Scholastic Philosophy could have benefited from Alexander’s
Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics

Doç. Dr. Geoff Bove, Istanbul Technical University

Date: June 8, Friday
Time: 15-17:00
Place: JF 507
Abstract: In their respective commentaries on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, both Albertus Magnus (1200-1280) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) interpret Aristotle as advocating the banishment of wonder in metaphysical inquiry. These readings of Aristotle rely on the Latin translations of the Metaphysics of James of Venice (d. 1141), and William of Moerbeke (1215-1286). It is not until the translation of Bessarion of Trabzon (1403-1472), that the Latin world gets a proper sense of Aristotle’s true understanding of the aim and scope of metaphysical wonder. I argue that Latin translators like James, Michael Scot (1175-1232) and Moerbeke, and commentators like Duns Scotus (1266-1308), Aquinas and Albert all lacked one thing that Bessarion did not, namely a copy Alexander of Aphrodisias’ commentary on the Metaphysics, which was extant only in Constantinople. Bessarion’s translation of the Metaphysics reflects his use of this commentary, and

corrects the faulty conception of Aristotle as a banisher of wonder. Bessarion’s translation suggests that Aristotle calls upon us to wonder at how all things in the heavens and below the moon, from the political, to the biological, to the mechanical, imitate the Unmoved Mover.

Written by sundemirili

June 8, 2018 at 11:05 am

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Talk by Geoff Bowe at Bosphorus

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Aristoteles Latinus: How Scholastic Philosophy could have benefited from Alexander’s
Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics

Doç. Dr. Geoff Bove, Istanbul Technical University

Date: June 8, Friday
Time: 15-17:00
Place: JF 507

Abstract: In their respective commentaries on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, both Albertus Magnus (1200-1280) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) interpret Aristotle as advocating the banishment of wonder in metaphysical inquiry. These readings of Aristotle rely on the Latin translations of the Metaphysics of James of Venice (d. 1141), and William of Moerbeke (1215-1286). It is not until the translation of Bessarion of Trabzon (1403-1472), that the Latin world gets a proper sense of Aristotle’s true understanding of the aim and scope of metaphysical wonder. I argue that Latin translators like James, Michael Scot (1175-1232) and Moerbeke, and commentators like Duns Scotus (1266-1308), Aquinas and Albert all lacked one thing that Bessarion did not, namely a copy Alexander of Aphrodisias’ commentary on the Metaphysics, which was extant only in Constantinople. Bessarion’s translation of the Metaphysics reflects his use of this commentary, and

corrects the faulty conception of Aristotle as a banisher of wonder. Bessarion’s translation suggests that Aristotle calls upon us to wonder at how all things in the heavens and below the moon, from the political, to the biological, to the mechanical, imitate the Unmoved Mover.

Written by sundemirili

June 5, 2018 at 3:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized