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ULTIMA talk – The epistemic significance of disorientation
29 June 2022 @ 15:30 - 17:00
We are very happy to invite you all to our next ULTIMA (Utrecht Lectures on Topics In Mind and Action – https://selfcontrol.sites.uu.nl/ultima-talks/), which will delivered by Katrien Schaubroeck (Universiteit Antwerpen).
When: June 29th, 15.30-17.00 (CEST)
Where: Janskerkhof 13, Room: 0.06
Hybrid: There is a possibility for online attendance. If you’re interested, please, send an e-mail to email@example.com
Title: The epistemic significance of disorientation
Abstract: According to Harry Frankfurt, it is better for an agent to be wholehearted than ambivalent. This unity-ideal of agency (also adhered to by Kantian philosophers like Christine Korsgaard) has come under attack. One line of criticism brings to light the moral value of disorientation. In Disorientation and Moral Life (OUP 2016) Ami Harbin describes the phenomenon of being disoriented, a feeling known to all but studied by few, as an experience of losing one’s bearings and not knowing what to do anymore spurred by major life shifts like a breakup or the dead of a beloved. She identifies the value of disorientation as the moral value of tenderizing. In my talk I first want to expand the realm of examples given by Harbin, by looking at disorientation caused by major life shifts that are more positively laden (like falling in love) and at feelings of disorientation that are not caused by an event (like in the case of a life-long vulnerability for mental health problems). These additional examples complicate the picture of the determinants of disorientation. For Harbin someone is disoriented when they feel disoriented. While this methodological choice is legitimate, it also leaves out important questions. Secondly I will argue that next to the moral value of tenderizing, experiences of disorientation also have an epistemic value. The upshot is that if we try to talk people out of their disorientation, we must be careful not to inflict epistemic injustice on them. The problem is that my first point supports the idea that sometimes the right response to disorientation is indeed to question it. I will use examples from movies (Melancholia, Brief Encounter) and from illness narratives to illustrate the balancing act that is called for. I will rely on literature about epistemic injustice, disorientation, depression and neurodiversity.
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