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Wretzel Wins Humboldt

Lecturer Joshua Wretzel was awarded a Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellowship to spend six months studying in Heidelberg, Germany.   Dr. Wretzel will devote his time in Heidelberg to complete two chapters of his book manuscript, tentatively titled Hegel, Hermeneutics, and Inferentialism.  This project criticizes the way Hegel’s thought has been appropriated for use in contemporary debates about language and sociality.  Philosophers like Robert Brandom tend to think that finding Hegel’s relevance in these matters requires disentangling a salvageable philosophy of language from an outmoded systematic idealism.  I challenge, first, the hermeneutic presuppositions that license this form of “disentangling”; and second, the notion that Hegel’s systematic apparatus is some sort of fusty remnant of a bygone philosophical age.  In fact, as Wretzel argues, a reading of Hegel that takes seriously his systematic aspirations may place his thought in critical tension with Brandom’s inferentialist enterprise.

Dennis Schmidt Publishes New book as Previous Book is Celebrated at SPEP

Dennis Schmidt, Liberal Arts Research Professor of Philosophy, Comparative Literature, and German, has just published Idiome der Wahrheit with the prestigious German publisher Klostermann Verlag.  His previous book, Between Word and Image: Heidegger, Klee, and Gadamer on Gesture and Genesis, published by Indiana University Press, was the subject of a special panel at the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy annual meeting this past October.  Commenters for the book were John Sallis of Boston University and Walter Brogan of Villanova.  

David Agler and Ryan Pollock article accepted in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly Lecturer

David Agler and 5th year graduate student Ryan Pollock had their paper, “Hume and Peirce on the Ultimate Stability of Belief” accepted for publication in The Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.

David Agler and 5th year graduate student Ryan Pollock had their paper, “Hume and Peirce on the Ultimate Stability of Belief” accepted for publication in The Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.  The paper investigates David Hume’s position on the question of the attainment of stable beliefs and brings this into dialogue with C.S. Peirce’s work on the issue. 

            In particular, they argue that David Hume was optimistic about the possibility that philosophical investigation can lead to stable beliefs, but that C.S. Peirce was pessimistic on this point.   Louis Loeb has argued that Hume is pessimistic while Peirce is optimistic about the attainment of fully stable beliefs. In contrast, Agler and Pollock argue that Hume was optimistic about such attainment but only if the scope of philosophical investigation is limited to first-order explanatory questions. Further, they argue that Peirce, after reformulating the pragmatic maxim to accommodate the reality of counterfactuals, was pessimistic about such attainment. Finally, they articulate and respond to Peirce’s objection that Hume’s skeptical arguments in T 1.4.1 and his commitment to common sense indicate that Hume was confused about whether we could have stable beliefs at all.

Ryan Pollock Wins Teaching Award

Ryan Pollock recently won Penn State's Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award. This is a university level award which recognizes graduate assistants for outstanding teaching performance.

Ryan Pollock recently won Penn State's Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award. This is a university level award which recognizes graduate assistants for outstanding teaching performance. 

Ryan reports, "I am very pleased and humbled to receive this award. Teaching has been a process of trial-and-error for me, but through this experience nothing has been more important to my success than ensuring a student-centered classroom. I constantly strive to put myself in the shoes of my students and ask how I can best motivate them to engage with a subject that can at first be very abstract and intimidating."

Ryan's students greatly value his skills as an instructor. As one student writes, "Before taking Ryan Pollock's philosophy course, I had no experience with the subject and worried that I would not be able to think critically on the level that was expected of me. Once I got to class, I immediately felt comfortable participating and asking questions when I needed to. Ryan's humor and overall demeanor made him extremely approachable. He took the time to explain a difficult concept until we fully understood. Our in class lectures were easy to keep up with and complimented our assigned readings well. His course showed me that philosophy is not as intimidating as I once thought. This lead me to schedule more philosophy courses, as well as work towards it as one of two concurrent majors. Without my experience in Ryan Pollock's class early on in my college career, I would have missed out on a subject that I now love and excel in.”

Congratulations Ryan for an award well deserved!

Deniz Durmus Wins Prize for Best Paper

Deniz Durmus, PhD candidate in Philosophy and Women's Studies at Penn State, recently was awarded a prize for Best Beauvoir Paper by a Graduate Student at the upcoming Diverse Lineages of Existentialism conference.

Deniz Durmus, PhD candidate in Philosophy and Women's Studies at Penn State, recently was awarded a prize for Best Beauvoir Paper by a Graduate Student at the upcoming Diverse Lineages of Existentialism conference. Her paper, entitled "The Congruence between Beauvoir and Butler's Ethics," was selected through anonymous review, and the award will be presented at the Diverse Lineages of Existentialism conference, to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, June 19-21, 2014.

Deniz's paper reclaims existentialist ethics and specifically the version developed by Simone de Beauvoir as relevant and informing contemporary accounts of ethics in the continental philosophical canon. Focusing on some basic ethical questions concerning vulnerability, violence, and oppression in Butler's late writings which Beauvoir already accentuates, Deniz show that in addition to the much emphasized poststructuralist elements, there are also existentialist elements in Butler's late work. Overall, she argues that the possibilities of existentialist ethics have not been exhausted yet, and they should be elaborated further.

Congratulations Deniz!