Richard Rorty on Santayana. Richard Rorty (1931-2007), one of the leading contemporary American philosophers, is perhaps most famous for his claim that philosophy and literature are just two different types of culture. It means that philosophy is not privileged by having any ‘special’ methods (methodology) thanks to which it has a closer access to the truth about the nature of reality, and philosophers, despite their cognitive ambitions, cannot know much more about the reality and truth than novelists, poets, and dramatists can. His philosophical position is commonly known as ‘neopragmatism’ or as an American version of postmodernism, so much developed in France, Germany, and Italy. In his famous Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Rorty recognized the role of Santayana’s philosophy, putting him close to the biggest names: “On the periphery of the history of modern philosophy, one finds figures who, without forming a ‘tradition,’ resemble each other in their distrust of the notion that man’s essence is to be a knower of essences. Goethe, Kierkegaard, Santayana, William James, Dewey, the latter Wittgenstein, the later Heidegger, are figures of that sort” (Rorty 1979, 367). [Read more…]
This is the recorded version of my speech “Santayana’s Philosophy of Education Against Barbarism and Fanaticism” given at the 5th international conference on Santayana, entitled “The Life of Reason in the Age of Terrorism” within American and European Values-Berlin Edition series of conferences that was organized by Berlin Practical Philosophy International Forum e.V, in Berlin (July 11-14, 2016).
I am very sad that just hours after this lecture an act of terror took place on the streets of Nice, France. Below is a statement of the organizers of the “Life of Reason in the Age of Terrorism” conference:
Berlin Fourm wishes to express our deepest sympathy with the families and friends of those who have been brutally killed and injured in the barbarian terrorist attack in Nice.
On this terrible occasion we do not want to forget similar acts of terror that took place at other places, including Istambul, Bagdad, Orlando, and, unfortunately, many more.
Tragedies like this leaves us – philosophers, that is people who are dedicated in our job to do our best to understand – speechless, confused, and sad.
For last four days, we have been discussing the problem of terrorism during an international conference in Berlin. The Nice terrorism act erupted just hours after our conference.
Today, philosophizing and attempting to understand gives way to silence and compassion.
There are many ways of practicing philosophy. One you can see at university or in professional books may be very different from one you may want to practice yourself. It does not mean there exists an unbridgeable gap between them, just another way of doing things by means of a bit different style of expression and a bit different sensitivity to some things and issues. For my part, I strongly recommend employing philosophical categories into seeing and experiencing every day situations in ordinary circumstances. [Read more…]
Erica Szabo, one of Berlin Practical Philosophy International Forum’s founding members, is an American illustrator, living in Berlin and Barcelona. Her current project Olibot is a series of cartoons, designed and pictured by herself, with a philosophical and existential message. The story shows a misfit robot, expelled from his native planet for being different than other robots; being different by look (other colour than the rest of the robots), by function (having wings rather than claw-like limbs), and by spirit (he wants to create, not destroy). He sets forth to find out some friendly souls in the outerspace, and actually finds some misfits like himself, for example, a robot-bat, too shy to bite. Szabo’s work is a skilful combination of an eye-catching drawing and terse writing that encompasses a pro-social message.
Philosophy of Love focuses on different aspects of what we ordinarily call ‘love’; yet, it has many aspects and meanings. For example, the terms ‘eros’, ‘agape’, and ‘philia’ are the ancient Greek terms to render the basic understanding of three types of love, among many more. The Online Seminar on Philosophy of Love shows our discussion on these issues.
Paseando por las calles de la antigua parte de Alcalá de Henares provoca reflexiones. Especialmente cuando el objetivo de la visita del extranjero es dar clases de metafísica a los estudiantes complutenses en la lengua cervantina; cuando se aloja en la residencia (San Ildefonso), una de las más importantes obras del Renacimiento español y declarado Patrimonio de la Humanidad, con el “Patio de Filósofos”; cuando muy cercano hay una casa natal de Cervantes, un convento reformado por Santa Teresa de Ávila, y las salas donde estudiaba San Ignacio de Loyola. La antigüedad se mezcla con modernidad dandonos una riqueza enorme para penetrar y disfrutar más. De manera semejante comprendo el sentido de la metafísica – el tema, al menos a primera vista, terriblemente duro, pero si se trata este tema con simpatía y tolerancia, se puede convertirlo en el asunto importante para la gente normal y corriente. Eso es exactamente lo que intenté a hacer con mis estudiantes españoles: es decir a demonstrarles que cuando estamos hablando sobre, por ejemplo, los valores no vale la pena ignorar las especulaciones que normalmente hacen los filósofos que se especializan en las cuestiones metafísicas. [Read more…]