2017 Research Seminars

How do we live with the Digital Dead?

When: Wednesday, August 16, 3:30 - 5:00
Where: Bankstown Campus, BA.3.G.54

Patrick Stokes, Philosophy Department, Deakin University

In The Work of Mourning, Jacques Derrida claims that mourning cannot be directed to the dead, who no longer exist, but only towards our 'interiorization' of them: "the [deceased] friend can no longer be but in us". Such a view coheres with the widespread intuition that practices such as commemorating the dead, honouring deathbed promises etc. relate to the memory of the dead rather than to the dead person themselves. Yet with the rise of the phenomenon of posthumous online persistence – the way in which deceased internet users leave remarkably rich digital traces such as Facebook profiles – the dead increasingly persist in an exterior, visible, public form. We are, as Adam Buben has recently put it, "getting better at leaving our survivors with less to miss," and as I've argued previously, this makes it easier for the dead to persist as social entities and moral patients in our lifeworld. Proposed technologies, such as animated avatars of the dead, push the phenomenal depth of this persistence even further. This leads to a concern that the ontological ambiguity of the dead – their status as both still part of our moral lifeworld and yet radically absent – may simply collapse; the dead, instead of being mourned, might simply be replaced with simulacra. This raises an important question: can we continue to live with the digital dead without forgetting that they are dead? What features of our relationship to the dead would make this possible? 

Patrick Stokes is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University, Melbourne. He has previously held research fellowships in the UK, Denmark, and the US. He works on issues of personal identity, temporality, death, and moral psychology. He is the author of The Naked Self (Oxford, 2015) and Kierkegaard's Mirrors (Palgrave, 2010), and co-editor with John Lippitt of Narrative, Identity, and the Kierkegaardian Self (Edinburgh, 2015) and with Adam Buben of Kierkegaard and Death (Indiana, 2011). He is a frequent contributor to New Philosopher, The Conversation, and a media commentator on philosophical matters.

Confucianism and Human Rights

When: Wednesday, July 19, 3:30-5:00
Where: Bankstown Campus, BA.3.G.54

Yong Li, Philosophy Department, Wuhan University

There are different camps on the issue whether Confucianism is compatible with the idea of human rights. The first group claims that fundamentalism of human rights is wrong. Confucianism is not compatible with human rights but provides an alternative to build a better society. The second group claims that fundamentalism of human rights is correct. Confucianism is not compatible with human rights. Countries with strong Confucian traditions, such as China, should endorse the idea of human rights and its related background theory. The third group claims that fundamentalism of human rights is wrong. Confucianism is not only compatible with human rights but also provides an alternative foundation for human rights. In this paper I argue that Confucianism not only provides an alternative foundation for human rights but also avoids the traditional challenges against the autonomy based idea of human rights: the rights holder problem and the incompleteness problem.

Yong Li, (PhD, Saint Louis University), is an associate professor of Philosophy at Wuhan University, China. His primary interests are on issues in moral philosophy. He also does comparative study on Chinese Philosophy. He serves as the book review editor for Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy and co-editor of Routledge Studies in Contemporary Chinese Philosophy series.

When pain is out of place

Dr. John Hadley, Western Sydney University 

When: Wednesday, March 29, 3:30-5:00 
Where: Bankstown, Building 3.G.54 

In this paper I present a critique of orthodox approaches to the badness of pain. I argue that both the sensation theory and the desire theory fail to cohere with a folk conception of concern for pain. The specific criticism is that both theories cannot account for the directedness and abidingness of folk concern. In addition, I present a relational theory that grounds the badness of pain in its impact on one's life narrative. Instead of analysing the impact of pain on a life narrative in terms of authorial autonomy, I draw upon Hume's concept of a competent judge: pain is relationally bad to the extent that a critic would judge it 'out of place'. 

John Hadley is a senior lecturer in philosophy at the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at Western Sydney University. His research interests include animal ethics and liberal property rights theory. He is the author of Animal Property Rights: a Theory of Habitat Rights for Wild Animals (Lexington Books 2015) and co-editor, with Elisa Aaltola of Animal Rights and Philosophy: Questioning the Orthodoxy (Rowman and Littlefield International 2015).

Queer Defamiliarisation in New Materialist Times

Date and Time:
Wednesday, March 1, 3.30 pm - 5.00 pm 
Bankstown Campus, Building 3, Meeting Room 3.G.54 

Dr. Helen Palmer, Kingston University

This paper will introduce some terms from new materialism in order to consider the question: what might relational, entangled, enfleshed defamiliarisation look like? I draw together Shklovsky's original provocations on defamiliarisation as a methodology for perception and Braidotti's recent positing of defamiliarisation as a 'critical distance' (2013, 88) to propose ways that we might reinvigorate, politicise and queer this term in contemporary thought. I use here the supposed 'paradox' of feminist thought, namely that feminism creates the sexual difference it seeks to eliminate, and then present the ways that this paradox is in fact affirmed within new materialist philosophies. I present defamiliarisation reinvigorated here with the added political dimensions of agency, orientation and power; as an embodied and multivalent process which is critical at the same time as it is creative. 

Helen Palmer is a writer, performer and lecturer at Kingston University. She is the author of Deleuze and Futurism: A Manifesto for Nonsense. She has recently published articles on new materialism and gender, and is currently writing a book called Queer Defamiliarisation and a novel called Pleasure Beach.

Memory vs. Forgetting: A conflicting complicity


Date and Time: 
Wednesday, 15 March, 2017. 6.00 pm — 7.30 pm
Bankstown Campus, Building 3, Meeting Room 3.G.54 

Remo Bodei

Memory and forgetting construct the battlefield in which collective identity is created and legitimized. Every victor in history imposes a forgetting on old beliefs. At the same time, an identity is free on condition it taps into memory. Yet, despite their conflict, forgetting is just as indispensable to memory as memory is to forgetting. How can we chart their conflicting complicity? 

Remo Bodei is professor of the history of philosophy at UCLA (California) and the University of Pisa. He is the author of numerous books mostly on political philosophy. 

Organised by the Italian Institute of Culture, with the collaboration of the Philosophy Research Initiative at Western Sydney University.