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PG Work in Progress Seminar

About the WiP

The Departmental Postgraduate Work in Progress (WiP) Seminar is a student-organised session intended to provide all philosophy graduate students, and occasionally graduate students undertaking philosophy projects in other departments, with the platform to present and discuss their ongoing research.

All philosophy PGs, whether MA, MPhil, or PhD, are encouraged to attend, and faculty members and visitors to the department are very welcome. No extensive knowledge of the week’s topic is necessary.

The seminar offers an invaluable opportunity for graduates to present their work in a friendly, supportive, unassessed setting, and receive vital peer-review feedback and tips, allowing them to improve and practise defence of their work, as well as to get to know and socialise with fellow students and members of the wider department.

Seminars will take place on Thursdays, from 5:00pm until 6:00pm in S2.77, and can also be attended online on the WiPs Teams channel at your discretion.

The format will consist of a roughly 30-minute presentation of a paper, followed by a roughly 30-minute open discussion and Q&A. Other formats can easily be used if they better suit the type or quantity of material you wish to present, or if you wish to involve multiple presenters.

Notes for Presenters

There is no strict minimum or maximum limit on paper length, and you may present an entire paper, a chapter of a thesis, an article, or outline the scope of a project, etc. The general recommendation is 3000-5000 words, as your work should be amenable to summation within 30 minutes.

If you would like your paper to be circulated in advance, please forward your work to the WiPs email address no later than 9am the preceding Tuesday.

Please keep in mind that the seminar is best used to gather valuable suggestions with which to improve to your work, and to gain experience in presenting your work. As such, your work does not need to be a watertight, polished piece, but may be a draft or substantial set of notes. You are welcome to share work at all stages of the writing process.

If you are interested in giving a talk, please contact Raffaele, Johan and Emily via the WiPs email address: pgphil.wips@warwick.ac.uk.

A list of seminars occurring in the current academic term can be found below, as well as exemplar posters of previous talks.


Previous 2020/2021 Talks (Posters all made by Sailee Khurjekar)

   Towards a Genealogy of Modernity posterGansinger and Ferro talk poster

 

Next talk:

Tues 7 June, 5pm

MS TeamsLink opens in a new window and S2.77

Raffaele Grandoni:
Vital Dialogue: Georges Canguilhem on the History of Science

 

   

 

2021/2022 Seminars

Select tags to filter on
 
Thu 21 Oct, '21
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PG Work in Progress Seminar
MS Teams

There will be a discussion of a paper by Neşe Aksoy, who will be interviewed by Dino Jakusic.

Neşe's Abstract:

Spinoza’s Conatus: A Teleological Reading of its Ethical Dimension

 In this article I examine how the teleological reading of Spinoza’s conatus shapes the ethical trajectory of his philosophy. I first introduce the Spinozistic criticism of teleology and argue contra many critics that Spinoza has a mild approach to human teleology. On the basis of this idea, I develop the claim that conatus is a teleological element pertaining to human nature. From the teleological reading of conatus, I draw the conclusion that Spinozian ethics has objective, humanistic and essentialist elements. In this sense, this paper emerges to be a challenge against the anti-teleological reading of conatus that is directly related to the subjectivistic, anti-humanistic and non-essentialist interpretation of Spinoza’s ethics. It mainly situates Spinoza in a traditionally teleological context where the human conatus is seen as an act of pursuing objective and essential moral ends that is distinctive to human nature.

Thu 4 Nov, '21
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Postgraduate Work in Progress Seminar
MS Teams

This week the seminar group will be discussing a paper by Johan Heemskerk. The abstract is below:

Seeking the source: metacognition, introspection and abstract concepts

Abstract

This paper explores a puzzle which arises if one holds any kind of neo-empiricist doctrine of concept acquisition but is sensitive to evidence and arguments against direct-access accounts of metacognition. Specifically, I consider Carruthers’ argument against introspection for propositional attitudes. I argue that while we can grant much to Carruthers, his arguments do not, despite the prima facie challenge they present, disrupt the neo-empiricist project. In particular, Carruthers successfully argues against attributive metacognitive access to propositional attitudes but leaves open the possibility of evaluative metacognitive access. This is sufficient to ground propositional attitude concepts and hence serve as components in abstract concepts.

Please contact Johan Heemskerk for further information about joining the seminar.

 

Thu 18 Nov, '21
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Postgraduate Work in Progress Seminar
MS Teams

Speaker to be confirmed.

Thu 2 Dec, '21
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Postgraduate Work in Progress Seminar
MS Teams
Thu 20 Jan, '22
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PG Work in Progress Seminar
S0.08/online

Sailee Khurjekar.

Sailee will present her paper, In Art We Trust: An Exploration into the Problem of Perfect Forgeries, in room S0.08. The session will be hybrid, so you can either join via Teams or attend in person. If the latter, please show your interest in advance by sending an email to our brand new email address (pgphil.wips@warwick.ac.uk), so we are sure to have enough space for everybody.

 Here is the abstract of Sailee’s talk:

This presentation focuses on referential forgeries and examines the loss of trust and abuse of power that occurs when an artwork is forged. I contextualise the problem of perfect forgeries in contemporary debates, comparing Sherrie Levine’s photographs of Walker Evans’ photography with art forger Yves Chaudron’s copies of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. I explain why I think that Levine is not a forger, while Chaudron certainly is. I raise some broader implications of this position for aesthetics as a discipline: The first concerns the role of lying in art and why it is problematic; and the second concerns the false understanding of culture when an artist appropriates a work from another culture and/or race. And so, I try to show how forgeries corrupt the observer’s understanding of a given artwork.

Thu 3 Feb, '22
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PG WiP Seminar
MS Teams

Camilla Pitton: ‘Re-examining Irigaray’s Feminist Philosophy of Nature: Problems with the ‘Duality’ Interpretation’

Abstract: This paper examines Luce Irigaray’s theory of matter and nature, as elaborated in The Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger (1999), in order to reconsider the criteria under which any such theory can be of use to a feminist project. Specifically, I aim to demonstrate, by looking at the strengths and shortcomings of Irigaray’s work, that presenting a theory of nature as originally dual (composed by a feminine and a masculine part) is not simply, and quite obviously, antithetical to a feminism that wants to be non-essentialist; more fundamentally, speaking of a feminine and a masculine part of nature, understood doubly in the generality of matter not subjected to human production and in the specificity of natural bodies, will be shown to be philosophically flawed. This investigation will, consequently, diffractively provide some parameters under which the articulation of a philosophy of nature can (i) aid a project interested in theorising the freeing of feminised bodies from objectification, and (ii) be philosophically rigorous.

Thu 17 Feb, '22
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Postgraduate Work in Progress Seminar
S0.08/online

Jonny Clarke-West, ‘Memory and Imagination: The Production of the Absolute in Proust's A La Recherche du Temps Perdu

This week we will host the talk with a hybrid format. As usual, the room is S0.08 and on MS Teams.

Abstract:

In this paper I interrogate the roles of imagination and memory at what I take to be the culmination of Proust’s project in the Recherche – where he develops a moment of pure literature. Proust writes the Recherche in order to bring into being a truth that he first discovers (but cannot articulate) in the prologue to Contre Sainte Beuve. In and through the production of the Recherche, Proust is able to realise what previously eludes him. The truth that Proust seeks is resistant to philosophy and the powers of the intellect – it requires the powers of the imagination and the production of literature. The root of literature – the production of truth – is therefore connected to the formation (or Bildung) of Marcel in whom, over the course of the novel, Proust develops the requisite sort of imaginative being. The deep connection between these projects of the novel crystallises at what I take to be its zenith when, in Le Temps Retrouvé, Marcel receives an ultimate revelation following a series of involuntary memories. It is at this juncture that the Absolute of the Recherche can be understood to be brought into being.

I examine the deep connection that Proust develops between involuntary memory and imagination in the production of the Absolute of his novel. Critical to this connection are two intertwined sets of conditions by which the unlived side of life – that time which always accompanies us but that we have not lived as such – can be brought to life in literature: firstly, a chance encounter hosted by the present; secondly, the production of an imaginary space into which the unlived can form as memory. What emerges from this is that the present as we know it is shown by Proust to be only a region of time. There is more that can be discovered, and this is what Proust accesses for literature. For literature to obtain a purchase upon this excess, Proust has to expand the field of the imagination. At the zenith of the novel, imagination becomes the site of certainty. The experience of literature – the production of truth – is the experience of the unfolding of the imaginary. The common distinction between truth and creatures of the imagination is dissolved. As Proust develops a moment of pure literature, the unimaginable – that which in the prologue to Contre Sainte-Beuve he could not articulate – transforms into the product of imagination.

Please contact Raffaele Grandoni for further information.

Thu 24 Feb, '22
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Postgraduate Work in Progress Seminar
S0.08/online

Mostyn Taylor Crocket’s ‘Towards a Genealogy of Modernity: Time and History in Althusser, Balibar and Foucault’.

Abstract

In this paper I investigate the possibility of a genealogical study of modernity. Foucauldian genealogy is an important historical approach but is one that has, I argue, been unable to properly analyse what I call combinatory phenomena (e.g. modernity or capitalism). I suggest that this inability stems from genealogy’s rejection of totalization. I claim that turning to Louis Althusser and Etienne Balibar’s contributions to Reading Capital can provide us with a way of understanding ‘combinatory phenomena’ which does not lapse into a totalization. I show how their critique of traditional historical periodization and their theory of ‘heterogenous temporalities’ allows us to understand the social formation as constructed out of multiple times and histories. Finally, I show how this can serve as the theoretical basis of a method which investigates the connections between genealogies in producing ‘combinatory phenomena’, taking Foucault’s genealogies as my examples.

 

 

Thu 3 Mar, '22
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Postgraduate Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/online

Simon Gransinger and Bernardo Ferro will present their papers on 'Hegel on the hierarchy of rights: Civil society and the state in modern political life’, at the PG Work in Progress Seminar. Please, find the abstract below. 

This session will build on a dialogical presentation of two papers. In order to give enough time to both of the speakers and have some time for a Q&A, the seminar will last until 6.30pm. After that, there is a table waiting for us at the Dirty Duck!

Be aware that the WiPS will now take place in the room S2.77 (next to the common kitchen on the second floor). For those of you who wish to attend online, here is the link to the call.

 Abstract:

In the Philosophy of Right, GWF Hegel encourages us to think of society as a hierarchical order: the family, the market, civic associations, property-rights—all of this is normatively subordinate to the state. If we follow Hegel's mature political theory (and if we oppose some of its liberal interpretations), the political whole takes absolute precedence over the various interests of civil society.

Against this background, Bernardo focusses on the Philosophy of Right’s economic dimension. He argues that Hegel’s views on modern political economy can only be fully grasped in light of the speculative logic that animates his work as a whole, and which most economic interpreters tend to ignore.

Simon examines the implications for a theory of law. For Hegel, the enforcement of legal rights is conditional on their minimal compatibility with the interests of the state. Thus understood, courts do not articulate the law in a political vacuum. Legal reasoning is a species of political reasoning.

 

Thu 10 Mar, '22
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PG Work in Progress Seminar
S).77/MS Teams

Johan will present his paper, Which Measure of Information?, in room S2.77. The session will be hybrid, so you can either join via Teams or attend in person. If the latter, please show your interest in advance by sending an email to (pgphil.wips@warwick.ac.uk), so we are sure to have enough space for everybody.

Here is the abstract of Johan’s talk:

 Abstract

Teleosemantics is a discipline which aims to explain how meaning arises from natural processes. According to informational teleosemantics, the content of a mental representation is constrained by the information available to the representing system. Authors who adopt an informational version of teleosemantics, such as Martínez (2013) and Shea (2018) develop statistical formulae which capture, for any given environmental item, whether some representational state carries information about that item. Content is then restricted to only those items that the representational state carries information about. In this paper I argue that we should concern ourselves with how much information a representational state carries about some environmental item, rather than merely whether information is carried. A natural tool for this purpose is Claude Shannon's measure of mutual information. I argue that calculating mutual information allows for a novel solution to one variety of the indeterminacy problem for mental content, the so-called “specificity problem”. Armed with a measure for the quantity of mutual information, one can further constrain mental content according to which item maximises mutual information. 

Thu 26 May, '22
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PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams

Sailee Khurjekar will present her paper Defining Obscenity: Awkward Art and Perverse Pleasures.

 Abstract:

The idea of the obscene is capacious, encompassing a range of emotions that pertain to one’s disgust, repugnance, shock, allure, and offense towards its objects. Obscenity refers to art, behaviour, or language that have the power to trigger or prompt these emotions. Obscenity appears to unite a claim about the qualities of an object and a range of appropriate felt responses. When we say an object is obscene, we tend to mean it has debased qualities that merit offense, repugnance, and disgust. I want to tease out the most perspicuous way to set out what makes something obscene and how it maps onto artworks. The first step of the philosophical project examines paradigm cases of obscenity to show what features are markers of the obscene; and the second step of the philosophical project examines the phenomenology of the obscene. I centre my discussion around two artworks: Hokusai’s The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (1814) and Rick Gibson’s Foetus Earrings (1987).

 Trigger Warning: The themes and the content of the artworks that are discussed are unusual, sensitive, and often downright perverse. The material concerns bestiality, sexual violence, paedophilia, symphorophilia, and people’s attraction to the representations of these things. I have tried to handle these issues as sensitively as possible.

Tue 7 Jun, '22
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PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams

Raffaele Grandoni: “Vital dialogues: Georges Canguilhem on the history of science”

This week Raffaele Grandoni will present his paper 'Vital Dialogue: Georges Canguilhem on the history of science'.

 

Abstract:

The main feature of the post-Foucauldian historical epistemology (e.g. Hacking, A. Davidson) lies in retracing how the social, cultural and political context determines the emergence of scientific concepts and, in turn, how science plays a role in the government of populations and individuals. However, this tradition fails to provide a normative standpoint from which to judge how relations between science and non-scientific activities affects our lives. A solution, I claim, can be found in one of the sources of these authors: the French philosopher and historian of life sciences Georges Canguilhem.

With my talk, I will address how in grounding it on a vitalist philosophy, Canguilhem turns the history of science into a tool for ethically evaluating political uses of scientific concepts, without introducing any normative criteria from the outside. I will show that Canguilhem’s history of science shares the main feature of post-Foucauldian historical epistemology – i.e. revealing the role of socio-political values in the formation of scientific concepts and retracing the process through which they acquired their autonomy – while also providing the tools for an inherent ethical critique concerning processes of normalisation legitimised by science. My idea is that by defining life as the living being’s unconscious creation of better ways to relate to its environment, Canguilhem developed a critical approach to all attempts (including scientific ones) to uniform human subjectivities under strict norms. From this, I claim that this vitalist background does not only enable Canguilhem’s history of science to evaluate socio-cultural-political influences on scientific concepts, but it also entrusts it with the ethical aim of opposing (from an objective standpoint and without undermining science’s validity) science-led policies that constrain human beings’ capacity to autonomously create their own norms.

Thu 16 Jun, '22
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PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams

This week Ke Xia will present her paper ' Dependence, self-sufficiency, and solidarity: Rethinking Rousseau’s critique of the division of labour'.

Abstract:

In the Second Discourse, Rousseau views the emergence of the division of labour as a decisive moment in human history that puts an end to the equal and free natural state. Before Marx, Rousseau is regarded as one of the most famous critics of the division of labour for increasing economic inequality and creating interpersonal dependence. This paper tries to provide a novel reading of Rousseau’s understanding of the division of labour. I argue that Rousseau’s criticism of the modern way of living does not prevent him from endorsing the division of labour as a necessary institution in modern society. The division of labour is necessary both in the private realm and public realm of a Rousseauian state. A well-running society requires a sense of solidarity and codependence generated through the division of labour which links each citizen together.

Thu 23 Jun, '22
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PG Work in Progress Seminar
MS Teams

Chris Earley, 'Adrian Piper's Epistemic Activism'.

 Abstract

Political art often engages in epistemic activism, attempting to change its audiences’ cognitive standing on a topic of political import. In this presentation, I will focus on one instance of epistemic activism in art: Adrian Piper’s installationFour Intruders plus Alarm Systems (1980). Piper’s work is both an exemplary work of epistemic activism, but also reveals the tensions between the epistemic exceptions artists experiment with and the normative demands placed on productive political activity. In Piper’s case, this tension led to an inability to change some of her audience’s cognitive standing. I propose two ways to respond to such tension: conciliation, which proposes that activist artists have distinct reasons to fit their work to their audience’s normative expectations, and steadfastness, which proposes that activist artists have distinct reasons to challenge and provoke their audiences, even if they open themselves up to failure. I claim that steadfastness better captures political art’s humility regarding success and allows us to more clearly account for the riskiness that is necessary for productive experimentation in political life.

Thu 30 Jun, '22
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CANCELLED: PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams

This week Michi Nanayakkara will present her paper 'Colonial Regimes of Truth: Idealising and Assimilating to the Coloniser’s world'.

 Abstract:

Physical violence, imperialism (epistemic domination), economical exploitation, slavery, and racial discrimination are among the many devasting events comprising Colonisation. Despite these horrific tragedies, colonisation can have the effect of creating a peculiar relationship between the coloniser and the colonised in postcolonial worlds; wherein the colonised subject begins to idealise their coloniser and desire assimilation into the coloniser’s world. This peculiarity can be elucidated in reference to Foucault’s Regimes of Truth which capture the phenomenon where subjects of power relations exhibit the ‘truth’ of those powers through their subjectivity.

To explain how we arrive at a situation like a Colonial Regime of Truth, I will be critically engaging with Berlin’s contentious evaluations of ‘Positive liberty’ which, according to Berlin, arises namely from Rousseau’s attempt to reconcile the absolute value of personal freedom with authorities (although Berlin also says that positive liberty is perhaps the oldest conception of freedom in Western Philosophy). By moreover using Charles Mills’ Racial Contract to construct a postcolonial critique of positive liberty, I will argue that it is internally consistent for a positive theorist to justify acts of imperialism in the name of freedom. Furthermore, by referring to past and present case studies of imperialism, I hope to convey the illiberalism underwriting positive liberty which is used to create and justify Colonial Regimes of Truth. In other words, I hope to explain how we get to Foucault without the Foucauldian terminology (ideal for those who dislike Foucault for whatever (wrong) reason 😊)