Academic Philosophy Events in the Netherlands
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The making and unmaking of selfhood: ascetic practices, soteriology, and philosophy in a global perspective
21 March 2023 @ 16:00 - 17:30
One event on 21 March 2023 at 16:00
One event on 25 April 2023 at 16:00
One event on 23 May 2023 at 16:00
The making and unmaking of selfhood:
ascetic practices, soteriology, and philosophy
in a global perspective
Andrea Sangiacomo (University of Groningen, Faculty of Philosophy)
& Arjen Bakker (University of Groningen, Faculty of Religious Studies)
This interfaculty workshop addresses the themes of selfhood, subject-formation, and subject-overcoming from the angle of ascetic practices and soteriology: which strategies do human beings develop to address the structural problems inherent in the human predicament? How do ‘spiritual exercises’, performance, and other embodied practices affect the way in which selfhood is conceptualized or transformed? Our approach to these questions is cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary. We look at selfhood practices in diverse contexts such as ancient Greek, Jewish and Asian thought, as well as in the Western philosophical tradition, and we invite contributions from other disciplines and civilizations. The starting point of our conversation is the assumption that ascetic practices, and their soteriological and philosophical interpretations, play a crucial role in constructing and deconstructing the self, both at the social and at the individual level. We are particularly interested in practices involving an embodied and performative dimension, and the ways in which the subject can be formed, reshaped, or even erased by means of a variety of exercises, reflections, and through the enacting of texts and rituals.
Tuesday 28 February, 2.00-3.30pm (on ZOOM)
Daniele Lorenzini (University of Pennsylvania), The Alethurgic Subject
Foucault scholarship has so far focused attention on the ways in which Foucault analyzes the processes through which the subject is constituted within power/knowledge mechanisms. Truth-telling about oneself (or avowal/confession) has usually been interpreted in this context. However, in my forthcoming book I argue that, to understand Foucault’s project, it is more helpful to focus on the subject as the point of emergence of truth-telling (hence “the alethurgic subject”) and on the tension between a practice of truth-telling (avowal) that has subjugating effects, and a practice of truth-telling (parrhesia) that has de-subjugating or critical effects. This implies that, for Foucault, the processes of self-constitution can give rise both to obedient and to disobedient or resistant subjects, and to construe his analysis of ancient parrhesia as an integral part of the critical project he carries out throughout the 1970s.
Tuesday 21 March, 4.00-5.30pm (on ZOOM)
Federico Squarcini (Ca’ Foscari University, Venice), Get rid of ‘yourself’. Self, Selfhood, Selfseeking, Selfishness and the ‘persona’ iconic disease
The state of ‘being someone’ and ‘having an individual identity’ is rather ambiguous, since it can be seen as a desirable condition or as a severe pathology. Going against commonsensical understanding, many classical south asian authors address ‘selfhood’ and ‘personality’ as a serious problem, caused by the adoption of a ‘mistaking view’ (micchadiṭṭhi, mithyādṛṣṭi, avijja, avidyā): the ‘self’ is a disease, virally propagated through the vehicle of ordinary language and ways of talking about ourself. Last year, in his new monograph (Losing Ourselves. Learning to Live without a Self, Princeton University Press 2022), Jay L. Garfield re-addresses the issue of ‘selflessness’ by re-evaluating decades of previous studies and proposing a renewed way of understanding it. Starting from Garfield’s volume and exploring a section of the Yogasūtra, this presentation is intended as an occasion to analyse and to discuss the relationship between ‘selfhood’ and ‘selflessness’.
Tuesday 25 April, 2.00-3.30pm (on ZOOM)
Valentina Duca (Hebrew University of Jerusalem/University of Leuven), The subject and the negative: a perspective from Isaac of Nineveh
Tuesday, 23 May, 2.00-3.30pm (on ZOOM)
Derek van Zoonen (University of Groningen), Tricked by Pleasure: Pleasure and Illusion in Plato’s Defence of Asceticism
About the OZSW event calendar
The OZSW event calendar lists academic philosophy events organized by/at Dutch universities, and is offered by the OZSW as a service to the research community. Please check the event in question – through their website or organizer – to find out if you could participate and whether registration is required. Obviously we carry no responsibility for non-OZSW events.