Two New Articles by Martin Shuster

Martin Shuster (Avila University) has two new articles out that are sure to be of interest to our readers:
1. “Nothing to Know: The Epistemology of Moral Perfectionism in Adorno and Cavell”
Idealistic Studies, 44:1, Spring 2014, 1-29
2. “On the Ethical Basis of Language: Some Themes in Davidson, Cavell, and Levinas”
Journal of Cultural and Religious Theory, 14.2, Spring 2015, 241-266
Incidentally, Shuster is one of several scholars engaged in an ongoing research project on the theory and practice of apophatic and kataphatic discourses as these pertain to religious understanding in a host of cultural contexts. I encourage those of you interested in the relationship between OLP&Lit and religious themes to check out their site here.

CFP: “Community, Reason, Tragedy,” Graduate Student Conference at the University of Chicago November 5th & 6th, 2015

A pdf of the following call for papers is available here: CommunityReasonTragedyCFP. Please distribute widely!

King Lear_Derek Jacobi 7_PC_Johan Persson

Community, Reason, Tragedy

A Graduate Student Conference at the University of Chicago

Hosted by the University of Chicago Literature & Philosophy Workshop

November 5th & 6th, 2015

“But what differences are there which cannot be thus decided, and which therefore make us angry and set us at enmity with one another? . . . When the matters of difference are the just and unjust, good and evil, honourable and dishonourable: are not these the points about which men differ, and about which when we are unable satisfactorily to decide our differences, you and I and all of us quarrel, when we do quarrel?”

– Socrates, in Plato’s Euthyphro

“What can reason do? Passion, passion rules”

– Phaedra, in Seneca’s Phaedra

“Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh”

– Ophelia, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

“This is the most immediate effect of
the Dionysian tragedy, that the state and society,
and, in general, the gaps between man and man
give way to an overwhelming feeling of oneness,
which leads back to the heart of nature”

– Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy

TOPIC: Communities sometimes come into being or are maintained through reasons offered and accepted; communities sometimes fall apart or are compromised through reasons refused and denied. Tragedy often portrays the latter, and in so doing invites the former. Why is this? The place of reason in tragedy is famously fraught, yet philosophy, reason’s champion, repeatedly looks to tragedy to make sense of itself. What forms of reason, if any, are expressed in tragedy? Through tragedy? Is reason fundamentally singular or plural? Simple or complex? Solitary or social? Do communities derive their legitimacy from reason? Or is reason produced by communities? How do community, reason, and tragedy relate to one another? And how do they relate to their conceptual others: isolation, madness, and comedy?

SUBMISSIONS: We invite graduate student papers that address these and related questions through thoughtful engagement with literature and/or philosophy. Please submit abstracts of no more than 350 words to by July 10th, 2015. We will accept twelve to fifteen papers for the conference.

KEYNOTE: We are honored to have Sarah Beckwith, Professor of English at Duke University, as our keynote speaker. Beckwith studies late medieval religious writing, medieval and early modern drama, and ordinary language philosophy. She is the author, most recently, of Shakespeare and the Grammar of Forgiveness (2011), and is currently writing a book about Shakespearean tragedy and philosophy’s love affair with the genre of tragedy.

FORMAT: Presenters will be asked to send complete papers of 1500-3500 words to the conference organizers by September 10th, 2015. The organizers will circulate these as a booklet to all registered attendees. Participants are encouraged to read the booklet beforehand to allow for greater depth of discussion. At the conference, presentations will be limited to 10 minutes (~1200 words). We suggest that, rather than reading an abbreviated version of their paper, presenters prepare a brief account of the questions, arguments, ideas, and themes their paper addresses and raises.

More information at

Call for Papers: Issue 4 of Conversations: The Journal of Cavellian Studies

Amir Khan, the managing editor (together with Sérgio Dias Branco) of Conversations: The Journal of Cavellian Studies has shared with us this Call for Papers for the journal’s fourth issue. Please see it below:

Call For Paper NO. 4: Literary Cavell

In what sense is Cavell’s work indebted to literature, or literary precursors? While much is made of his writings on Shakespeare, Cavell has other literary interests manifested in writings on the Romantic poets (In Quest for the Ordinary, particularly his reading of Kant and Coleridge), 19th/20th century playwrights (Ibsen, Shaw, Beckett), and a sparse scattering of prose on a select cadre of novelists (Austen, Dickens, James, for example). For the fourth issue of Conversations, we seek submissions that engage with Cavell’s literary influences and influence, and pose the question of whether Cavell is reading literature philosophically or whether he is reading philosophy like literature, or whether, indeed, it is profitable to pose such questions at all. Where do Emerson and Thoreau fit into this discussion? Possible topics include:

– Philosophical versus literary romanticism

– Cavell and Austen and Austin

– Ordinary language and the theatre

– Wittgenstein as literature

– Philosophy and close reading

– Freudian close reading

– Literary transcendentalism

– Style and literary expression

– Cavellian Shakespeare

We also welcome shorter essays and responses that directly address Cavell’s concluding question to The Claim of Reason.

Papers should be approximately 6000 words, including footnotes, and must follow the notes and bibliography citation system described in The Chicago Manual of Style. Shorter, more intimate pieces of around 1200 words are also acceptable. Please email complete articles to Amir Khan at akhan134 at If submitting via the online user interface, please notify one of the managing editors in a separate email. All submissions due September 15th, 2015.

Panel on Vincent Descombes: Harvard University, April 16


Professor Richard Moran (Harvard Philosophy Department) is organizing a panel at Harvard on the recent English translation of the book The Institutions of Meaning by the French philosopher Vincent Descombes. (An earlier post about this translation appeared here.) The panel will take place on Thursday April 16 from 1-4 PM at the Center for European Studies Lower Level Conference Room. The panelists include:

Vincent Descombes (L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociale, Paris)

Richard Moran (Philosophy, Harvard University)

Frederick Neuhouser (Philosophy, Barnard College/Columbia University)

Webb Keane (Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

Charles Larmore (Philosophy, Brown University)

The event will take place with the support of the Harvard Provostial Funds for the Humanities and the Harvard Department of Philosophy.

Vincent Descombes is also the author of, among his books translated into English, The Mind’s Provisions (Princeton, 2001), Modern French Philosophy (Cambridge, 1980), and Proust: Philosophy of the Novel (Stanford, 1992).

Jon Baskin on Ben Lerner and the Novel of Detachment


Ben Lerner

In his recent review of Ben Lerner’s 10:04 (“Always Already Alienated,” The Nation) Jon Baskin explores themes of bad faith, fraudulence, and misanthropy in contemporary American fiction. Baskin’s prose is as precise as ever and his insights shine out. I dare say his review does the rare work of ‘raising and cheering’ us (à la Emerson’s American Scholar). Of course I encourage you to read the essay in full. At the risk of spoiling your dinner, I include the punchline below.

. . . Though they measure success by different criteria, this doesn’t mean it is impossible to adjudicate between the novel of detachment and other trends in contemporary literary fiction. I’m sure my preference is clear. “A wise and hardy physician will say,” wrote Emerson in his great essay “Experience,” “Come out of that, as the first condition of advice.” What Lerner calls “fraudulence” does not indicate the failure of modern society but the condition of its possibility. We show different parts of ourselves to different people; there is a gap between our inner lives and our public “performance”; at times, it is incumbent upon us to assume roles that may feel artificial to us, or to hide what we are feeling from those closest to us. So what? We have been acknowledging such facts for some time now; perhaps we are ready for an art that will accept them, and keep walking.

7th Ludwig Wittgenstein Summer School 2015 (Cora Diamond, James Conant): Applications due March 30

logo_newThis year’s Ludwig Wittgenstein Summer School (for university students in philosophy) will be held in Kirchberg, Austria August 5-8 and will be co-taught by Cora Diamond and Jim Conant. The topic this year is Wittgenstein on Following a Rule: Philosophical Investigations, Sections 185-242. See below for more information. The deadline for applications is March 30.

7th Ludwig Wittgenstein Summer School 2015 (Cora Diamond, James Conant)

5th – 8th of August 2015 in Kirchberg am Wechsel, Austria

Wittgenstein on Following a Rule:
Philosophical Investigations,
Sections 185-242

With: Cora Diamond (Charlottesville) and James Conant (Chicago)

Scientific Organization and Direction: Volker A. Munz (Klagenfurt)

You can download the poster with this link.

Maximum number of participants: 40
Application deadline (registration and payment): 30 March 2015 (Later applications can unfortunately not be taken into account.)
Information concerning acceptance/non-acceptance: 30 April 2015 (Full reimbursement in case of non-acceptance)

Accommodation will be organized by the ALWS and is located just opposite the conference centre. Private booking possible.

Summer school participants are invited to join the 38th International Wittgenstein Symposium: Realism – Relativism – Constructivism. Kirchberg am Wechsel,
9 – 15 of August 2015 at reduced fees.

220 Euro including conference participation (180 Euro for ALWS members)
180 Euro summer school only (150 Euro for ALWS members).
Summer school fees can be reimbursed only until 15 June 2015 (minus 20 Euro handling charge).
(Refunding of later cancellation: 110 Euro / 90 Euro; minus 20 Euro handling charge)

Payment of the fees includes:
* Free board and lodging during the summer school (dormitory)
* Certificate of participation (working load in ECTS points)

Required qualifications: The summer school is addressed to advanced university students in philosophy. Elementary knowledge of Wittgenstein’s philosophy is desirable. Applicants are asked to send a transcript record and a 3-page preparatory essay on a selected subject of Philosophical Investigations, Sections 185-242

Further details concerning preparation (reading list), programme, etc. will be announced.

Teaching language: English

For registration please click here to get the registration form.

Please send your application documents to:
Volker A. Munz
Department of Philosophy
Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt
Universitaetsstrasse 65-67

Coming Soon: Excursions with Thoreau by Ed Mooney (Now Available for Pre-Order)

9781501305665Out later this year from Bloomsbury: Edward F. Mooney’s Excursions with Thoreau: Philosophy, Poetry, Religion. Anyone who’s read Ed’s essays—whether on Kierkegaard, Cavell, Henry Bugbee, or personal philosophy generally—knows what a lyrical thinker and writer Ed is. I’m sure I’m not alone in looking forward to reading this newest batch of essays on Thoreau.


Excursions with Thoreau is a major new exploration of Thoreau’s writing and thought that is philosophical yet sensitive to the literary and religious.

Edward F. Mooney’s excursions through passages from Walden, Cape Cod, and his late essay “Walking” reveal Thoreau as a miraculous writer, artist, and religious adept. Of course Thoreau remains the familiar political activist and environmental philosopher, but in these fifteen excursions we discover new terrain. Among the notable themes that emerge are Thoreau’s grappling with underlying affliction; his pursuit of wonder as ameliorating affliction; his use of the enigmatic image of “a child of the mist”; his exalting “sympathy with intelligence” over plain knowledge; and his preferring “befitting reverie”-not argument-as the way to be carried to better, cleaner perceptions of reality.

Mooney’s aim is bring alive Thoreau’s moments of reverie and insight, and to frame his philosophy as poetic and episodic rather than discursive and systematic.

Table Of Contents

1. Overture
2. Celebration and Lamentation
3. Sympathy with Intelligence
4. Concord Reflections
5. Transforming Perception
6. Ethics and the Wild
7. Expressive Bones
8. Child of the Mist
9. Deaths and Rebirths
10. Affliction and Affinity
11. John Brown
12. Souls in Infinite Culture
13. Currents of Time
14. Grounding Poetry
15. Face of the River
Closing Thoughts
Closing Images, Reveries, Prayers
Closing Passions
Chronology, Works Cited, Credits