New Book by Amir Khan: “Shakespeare in Hindsight”


Amir Khan, long time friend of the blog and managing editor of Conversations: The Journal of Cavellian Studies, has published his first book! The book leans heavily on Stanley’s readings of Shakespeare, and is itself a re-appraisal of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies from the particular vantage point of “continuous presentness” (93) noted by Stanley Cavell in his reading of Lear in Disowning Knowledge.

The book is available here and here.

Varieties of Self-Knowledge: Workshop at Harvard

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Painting by Byron Davies

On Friday March 11 and Saturday March 12 2016 the Harvard Philosophy Department will be hosting a workshop titled “Varieties of Self-Knowledge.” Please visit the workshop’s website here. Information about the workshop is below:


The Varieties of Self-Knowledge

Thompson Room, Barker Humanities Center

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Friday March 11 – Saturday March 12, 2016



Matthew Boyle (Harvard University)

Richard Moran (Harvard University)



Alex Byrne (MIT)

Dorit Bar-On (University of Connecticut)

Lucy O’Brien (University College London)

Sarah Paul (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

Christopher Peacocke (Columbia University)

Sebastian Rödl (Universität Leipzig)

Kieran Setiya (MIT)



The workshop aims to bring together philosophers who have worked on the topic of self-knowledge from diverse standpoints to discuss what varieties of self-knowledge are worth distinguishing and how they might matter to a characteristically human life.  Questions about the epistemic basis of self-knowledge, and the extent to which we humans possess it, will undoubtedly play a part in the discussion, but our primary goal is not so much to adjudicate these issues as to consider such questions as the following:

  • What should be our attitude toward the famous Delphic injunction to “know thyself”?  Are there forms of self-knowledge that are crucial to a successful human life?  Are there ways in which self-knowledge might be an obstacle to our lives?
  • What connection is there, if any, between rationality and self-knowledge?  Does rationality entail some capacity for privileged self-knowledge?  Is some form of self-knowledge necessary for rationality?
  • What is the relationship between self-knowledge and self-consciousness?  Must a subject who is capable of thinking of herself first personally (or having “de se” representations of herself) be capable of certain forms of self-knowledge?  What forms of self-awareness should we distinguish, and what relations of dependency (if any) hold between them?
  • What difference of principle (if any) does our capacity for self-knowledge make to our cognitive capacities in general?  Is self-knowledge just more knowledge, potentially useful in the way that any knowledge might be, or does our capacity for some form of self-knowledge transform our very capacity to know in some important way?
  • What might it mean to speak of a “first person perspective” on mind, and how might a consideration of that perspective be important to the philosophy of mind?
  • How (if at all) are capacities for self-awareness drawn on in more specific forms of human activity such as: intentional action, contentful communication, understanding and interacting with other people, etc.?

This will be a read-in-advance workshop.  Papers will be pre-circulated, and will not be presented in full.  To register for the workshop and receive access to the papers, please email Olivia Bailey at


New Articles on Cavell + Journal Issue Interest

Peter Fosl has recently published two articles on Cavell:

Natural Doubts and the Recovery of the Ordinary in Hume and Cavell,” in Conversations: The Journal of Cavellian Studies 3 (2015): 32-48.

Scepticism and Naturalism in Cavell and Hume,” in Stanley Cavell and Skepticism, 5.1 (2015): 29-54

Note that the latter is part of a special issue of the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism, edited by Duncan Pritchard and Diego Machuca for the series, Brill Studies in Skepticism (Leiden: Brill).

The Table of Contents is as follows:

“Listening to Cage: Nonintentional philosophy and music”: New Essay by Richard Fleming

Thanks to Peter Fosl for letting us know about this new piece by ordinary language philosopher and theorist Richard Fleming:

“Listening to Cage: Nonintentional philosophy and music.”

Click here to access the essay which is published in an Open Access format by CogentOA: Arts & Humanities (a Taylor & Francis journal) and therefore available free to all readers.

ABSTRACT: Listening to Cage: Nonintentional Philosophy and Music threads together the writings of ordinary language philosophy and the music of John Cage, responding specifically to requests made by Cage and Stanley Cavell. While many texts downplay or ignore the philosophical demands in Cage’s music and other texts find grandiose spiritual and philosophical material tied to his work, this text rejects both efforts. It challenges the basic directions of the growing secondary source material on Cage, finding it largely contrary to what Cage himself and his music teaches. That secondary material constantly offers an intentional approach to the music which is to make Cage understandable or easier to understand. The present text makes him appropriately difficult and basically unapproachable, asking the reader for serious acknowledgment of what Cage says he does, namely, “I have nothing to say and I am saying it.” While there is little hope of stopping the Cage industry that academia and publishers have grown, this text wishes at least to try to slow it down. The footnotes of this text include direct conversation material with Cage from the 1980s and 1990s regarding many subjects—his own compositions, our life struggles, remarks on Wittgenstein, Thoreau, philosophy, and music—all with a new context for their hearing.

Enjoy! CL

New Article of Interest: “Wittgenstein and the genesis of neo-pragmatism in American thought” by Erik Hmiel

Erik Hmiel (graduate student in American Intellectual History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) has a new article in the forthcoming issue of History of European Ideas titled “Wittgenstein and the genesis of neo-pragmatism in American thought.” In it, he traces a genealogy of Wittgensteinian ideas running from Cavell and Thomas Kuhn through to the Rorty-Putnam debate of the 1980s and 90s. OLP readers take note.
The piece is available to read as a stand-alone piece under the “latest articles” section of the journal:
Happy reading!

Graduate Student Conference “Representations of the Ordinary in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods” CFP (Abstracts due 1/14/16)

fight-between-carnival-and-lent-1559Call for Papers

“Representations of the Ordinary in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods”

The 16th Annual North Carolina Colloquium in Medieval and Early Modern Studies invites graduate students to submit proposals for twenty-minute paper presentations that investigate representations of everyday life––mimetic, descriptive, or prescriptive––from late antiquity through early modernity. How are the particularities of ordinary experience shown, shaped, distorted, or elided in poetry, prose, visual art, architecture, music, drama, and other forms of creative endeavor? For that matter, what constitutes the concept of the ordinary, and how does the history of this concept interweave with the development of realism, alongside other modes of representation?

In short, we shall explore what is at stake in representing the ordinary. For whether the representation works toward a form of distinction or a claim to community, it cannot be neutral. We encourage participants to explore an array of topics within this region of inquiry. (See list below. Note that it does not purport to be comprehensive. All pertinent concerns are welcome.)

The NC Colloquium in Medieval and Early Modern Studies is a cooperative venture between UNC-Chapel Hill’s and Duke University’s programs in Medieval and Renaissance Studies. We seek contributions from a broad range of humanistic and social-scientific disciplines––including, but not limited to History, Musicology, Philosophy, Theology, Literary Studies, Linguistics, Cultural Studies, Political Theory, Sociology, Anthropology, Art History, Gender Studies, Sexuality Studies, and Food Studies.

Interested graduate students should submit 250-word abstracts to no later than Thursday, January 14, 2016 (extended deadline). The body of the email should include the presenter’s name, institutional affiliation, and contact information, but the abstract itself should be attached as a PDF or MS Word Document. Decisions will be announced by Monday, January 18, 2016.

Possible Subjects:

  • temporalities of the everyday, the diurnal
  • the ordinary in its tragic/comic aspects; mystery plays
  • liturgical practice, parishional variety, guilds
  • agency, habit, praxis
  • commerce and the quotidian, homo economicus
  • play, the aleatory, homo ludens
  • jokes and insults
  • song and dance
  • visions of language––ordinary and ideal, private and universal
  • the body, gesture, physiognomy, materialities of communication
  • pedagogy and learning
  • rise of the vernacular, semantic shift, lexicography
  • reading practices, history of reading, marginalia
  • gender, sexuality, and desire
  • manuals and guides for agrarian, domestic, or courtly life
  • households, lords and servants; the oikos and the polis
  • the ordinary and modernity; everyday life, pre/postmodern
  • the place of death and grief in life
  • representations of reality in writing
  • realism in painting and sculpture
  • realism and nominalism; the generic and the particular
  • common spaces, urban and rural
  • the built environment, orientation
  • imposed structures, functional objects
  • mechanization and machinery
  • print, mass production and dissemination

2016 NEH Summer Institute, “Moral Psychology and Education”: Applications due March 1

Moral Psychology and Education: Putting the Humanities to Work

A National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute

May 30 – June 24, 2016 (4 weeks)


Several recent philosophers have emphasized the importance of the humanities for civic engagement, a flourishing democracy, and a globalized world. This four-week Summer Institute for College and University Teachers at Grand Valley State University from May 30 to June 24, 2016 extends discussion beyond the public function of the humanities to an intensive examination of the moral psychology behind effective moral education. Guided by 17 faculty from a variety of fields, participants will develop teaching and research projects. Application deadline is March 1, 2016 at 11:59 pm.

Click here for general information.

Click here to apply.

From the organizers: We hope to attract faculty interested in theoretical and empirical research on how the use of humanities within education spurs and drives moral development. Individuals selected to participate in the four-week institute on Moral Psychology and Education will receive $3,300.  Stipends are intended to help cover travel expenses to and from the project location, books and other research expenses, and ordinary living expenses. Stipends are taxable.

CFP: Wittgenstein and Pragmatism in Helsinki, Finland (Abstracts due Feb. 12, 2016)


Thanks to Niklas Forsberg for forwarding the following CFP!


Wittgenstein and Pragmatism

A symposium arranged by HCAS, Nordic Wittgenstein Society (NWS) and

Nordic Pragmatism Network (NPN).

 Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies, Helsinki University, Helsinki, Finland.


May 16-17, 2016


It is well known that Ludwig Wittgenstein is sparse with references to other philosophers, and when he does mention other philosophers it is hardly in praise. There are a few exceptions – and one of the exceptions that stands out is his continuously warm regard for pragmatist philosopher William James. “Whenever I have time now,” Wittgenstein wrote to Bertrand Russell, “I read James’s Varieties of Religious Experience. This book does me a lot good.” And James’s work was also one of the few philosophical works that Wittgenstein is reported to have recommended his students to read.

It is no accident that James’s pragmatism was one of the philosophical approaches that Wittgenstein found inspiring and rewarding, yet challenging. For there are a number of affinities between pragmatism and Wittgenstein-inspired ways of doing philosophy – which is vindicated by the fact that most contemporary pragmatists and neo-pragmatists think about their own work as, at least partly, inspired by Wittgenstein’s philosophy.

Wittgensteinian philosophy and pragmatism are two traditions of thought in which several interesting parallels can be discerned, regarding the problems they focus on and how, but also regarding what they are opposing.

Both traditions engage in the perennial issues of knowledge, truth and the good from the perspective of human practices. Both eschew metaphysical system building as well as the naturalist reductionism of much analytic philosophy. Philosophy, according to both traditions, is not in need of foundations, but rather of a more sensitive attention to the varieties of human activity and meaning making: in ordinary language, science, morals, religion. Certain general tenets of 20th-century and present philosophy, like the sharp fact-value dichotomy and the (varieties of a) correspondence theory of truth, are questioned by both traditions for reasons relating to the attention to practice.

This conference investigates the common ground and intersections between the legacy of Wittgenstein and Pragmatist philosophy.


Keynote speakers:

  1. Daniele Moyal-Sharrock (University of Hertfordshire, UK)
  2. Cora Diamond               (University of Virginia, USA)
  3. Russell B. Goodman      (University of New Mexico, USA)
  4. James Conant                 (University of Chicago, USA)
  5. Logi Gunnarsson            (University of Potsdam, Germany)


Open call for papers

In addition to the key note speakers we have 10-12 slots for speakers selected through an open call for papers. We also welcome papers from scholars in fields other than philosophy: comparative literature, educational science, cultural studies, sociology, etc.


Abstracts should be:


Notifications will be sent out in the first week of March 2016.


Here are some suggestions for topics:

  • Wittgensteinian and Pragmatist approaches in the Humanities and the Social Sciences
  • Wittgenstein and James on Religious Belief
  • Methodological similarities and differences between Wittgensteinian and pragmatist philosophy
  • Ethics from a Pragmatic and a Wittgensteinian Perspective
  • Pragmatist and post-Wittgensteinian Epistemology
  • Dewey and Wittgenstein on Education
  • Wittgenteinian Influences in Contemporary Pragmatism
  • Theory and Anti-theory in Philosophy
  • Inheriting a Tradition (pragmatist and/or Wittgensteinian)


Organizing Committee

Niklas Forsberg, NWS, Philosophy, Uppsala University

Nora Hämäläinen, NWS, Helsinki Collegium, University of Helsinki

Sami Pihlström, NPN, Systematic Theology, University of Helsinki

Henrik Rydenfeldt, NPN, University of Helsinki




Literature and Moral Theory: New Book by Nora Hämäläinen


Congratulations to Nora Hämäläinen! Her new book promises to be of great interest to OLP&Lit readers.

From the publisher:

ABOUT: Literature and Moral Theory investigates how literature, in the past 30 years, has been used as a means for transforming the Anglo-American moral philosophical landscape, which until recently was dominated by certain ways of “doing theory”. It illuminates the unity of the overall agenda of the ethics/literature discussion in Anglo-American moral philosophy today, the affinities and differences between the separate strands discernible in the discussion, and the relationship of the ethics/literature discussion to other (complexly overlapping) trends in late-20th century Anglo-American moral philosophy: neo-Aristotelianism, post-Wittgensteinian ethics, particularism and anti-theory. It shows why contemporary philosophers have felt the need for literature, how they have come to use it for their own (philosophically radical) purposes of understanding and argument, and thus how this turn toward literature can be used for the benefit of a moral philosophy which is alive to the varieties of lived morality.


Chapter 1: A Literary Turn in a Neo-Aristotelian Framework
Chapter 2: Literature, Moral Particularism and Anti-Theory
Chapter 3: Generality in Literature
Chapter 4: Between Literature and Theory: Nussbaum and Murdoch
Chapter 5: Literature as Critique of Moral Theory

REVIEWS: “This is a sympathetic but clear-eyed critical evaluation of recent explorations of the relevance of literature to moral philosophy. Its insightful mapping of the territory brings out important differences between the main participants, and suggests one way in which they might be reconciled without sacrificing their emancipatory effect on the future conduct of ethical reflection.” –  Stephen Mulhall, Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy, New College, University of Oxford, UK

“Some of the most fundamental challenges to analytic ethics have come from moral philosophers who believe literature holds forth the promise of transforming received views of what moral thought is like, and of the kinds of difficulties it presents. Hämäläinen’s Literature and Moral Theory offers an insightful and encompassing tour of this ‘turn to literature,’ describing with particular grace and thoughtfulness the writings of Iris Murdoch and Martha Nussbaum, two of this movement’s most significant figures.” –  Alice Crary, Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy, New School for Social Research, USA