Events

If you would like your event to be posted on this calendar, please use our event request form. If you would like AGHI to co-sponsor your event, please use the co-sponsorship request form.

Sep
4
Tue
JHU Anthropology Fall Colloquium Series
Sep 4 @ 4:00 pm – Nov 27 @ 6:00 pm Mergenthaler 439
Sep
11
Tue
JHU Anthropology Fall Colloquium Series
Sep 11 @ 4:00 pm – Dec 4 @ 5:00 pm Mergenthaler 439
Sep
18
Tue
JHU Anthropology Fall Colloquium Series
Sep 18 @ 4:00 pm – Dec 11 @ 5:00 pm Mergenthaler 439
The Virginia Fox Stern Center for the History of the Book in Renaissance Lecture: Maude Vanhaelen, University of Warwick
Sep 18 @ 5:15 pm Macksey Seminar Room, Room 2043, M-Level, Brody Learning Commons

Plato in the Place of Aristotle: The Teaching of Platonic Dialogues in 16th-century Universities

Co-sponsored with the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures

Sep
19
Wed
Medical Bondage Deirdre Cooper Owens
Sep 19 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Barnes and Nobles Johns Hopkins

Description

The accomplishments of pioneering doctors such as John Peter Mettauer, James Marion Sims, and Nathan Bozeman are well documented. It is also no secret that these nineteenth-century gynecologists performed experimental caesarean sections, ovariotomies, and obstetric fistula repairs primarily on poor and powerless women. Medical Bondage breaks new ground by exploring how and why physicians denied these women their full humanity yet valued them as “medical superbodies” highly suited for medical experimentation.

In Medical Bondage, Cooper Owens examines a wide range of scientific literature and less formal communications in which gynecologists created and disseminated medical fictions about their patients, such as their belief that black enslaved women could withstand pain better than white “ladies.” Even as they were advancing medicine, these doctors were legitimizing, for decades to come, groundless theories related to whiteness and blackness, men and women, and the inferiority of other races or nationalities.

Sep
20
Thu
Exploring Hapticity, Slavery and the Emergence of American Gynecology
Sep 20 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm East Baltimore Campus, Welch 3rd fl

Deidre Cooper Owens, Queens College CUNY [pre-circulated paper]

Associate’s Lecture by Susan James (Birkbeck)
Sep 20 @ 4:00 pm Gilman 208

Living as a Philosopher: Spinoza’s Aspirations

1. Living in the Light of our Knowledge: Spinoza on Fortitude (Sep 17)
2. Emotional Responses to Fiction: A Spinozist Analysis (Sep 20)
3. Philosophical Self-Transformation and Affective Loss (Sep 21)

Living in the Light of our Knowledge: Spinoza on Fortitude

To live as well as we can, Spinoza argues, we not only need to do our best to understand ourselves and the world we inhabit; we also need to put our understanding to work. This is what it is to possess fortitude.

This talk considers Spinoza’s analysis of this virtue and explores some of the traditions on which his account draws. I argue that he bequeaths us a pertinent though neglected set of questions (particularly relevant in an era of fake news) about the project of living in the light of our knowledge.

Emotional Responses to Fiction: A Spinozist Analysis

Within contemporary analytical philosophy there is a lively debate about the emotions that we feel for objects we know to be fictional. We know, for example, that Anna Karenina doesn’t exist; so why, or how, do we feel sad about her death? Spinoza, I suggest, stands at a helpful distance from these contemporary discussions. His conception of imagination can help us view our emotional responses to fiction in a different light, and reformulate the questions they pose.

Philosophical Self-Transformation and Affective Loss

It is not uncommon for early-modern philosophers to portray a perfectly philosophical way of life as a condition that approaches the divine. The philosopher becomes as like God as a human being can, and in doing so experiences unparalleled and unalloyed joy. Spinoza advocates a version of this view and defends it with impressive consistency. I shall argue, however, that his account suppresses a form of loss and sadness integral to his conception of a philosophical life. To elucidate the character of this loss I turn to some examples from recent fiction.

Colloquium – Ian Phillips
Sep 20 @ 4:15 pm – 6:15 pm Gilman Hall

Colloquium with Ian Phillips (Princeton University)

What’s Wrong with Worldly Discrimination Theory?

Behavioural and neuroimaging data often indicate that a stimulus has been registered and processed by a subject’s brain. But when does such evidence allow us to infer that the subject themselves saw the stimulus? And when that they saw it consciously? According to Worldly Discrimination Theory both perception and perceptual consciousness are to be inferred whenever a subject exhibits a better-than-chance capacity to detect or discriminate a stimulus. Worldly Discrimination Theory finds little favor in the literature. It is commonly dismissed on the grounds that: (i) it implies systems as simple as photocells are conscious; (ii) it entirely leaves out the essential subjectivity of consciousness; (iii) it fails to take subjects’ reports seriously; (iv) it does not offer an exclusive measure of consciousness uncontaminated by unconscious influences; (v) it is inconsistent; and (vi) it cannot handle illusions. In this talk, I argue that, when properly understood, Worldly Discrimination Theory survives all these familiar objections, and remains a compelling operational approach to perceptual awareness.

Sponsored by Department of Philosophy

Sep
21
Fri
Colloquium – Ian Phillips
Sep 21 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm TBA

Colloquium with Ian Phillips (Princeton University)

Can Sight Be Blind? Untangling the Tale of Blindsight and Unconscious Vision

Blindsight is a neuropsychological condition in which residual visual capacity survives destruction of a corresponding region of primary visual cortex. No other phenomenon has had greater influence on contemporary thought about the relation between consciousness and perception. Blindsight is invoked to end arguments, close-down otherwise promising proposals, and refute heretofore conceptual truths. Above all blindsight is held by many to establish decisively that voluntary perceptual discrimination, and so subject-level perception, can occur outside awareness. On the basis of a more circumspect consideration of the neurophysiology, psychophysics and phenomenology of blindsight, I suggest a much more sober account. On this account, damage to primary visual cortex abolishes all but the most rudimentary capacities to register sharp spatio-temporal changes in luminance, i.e. salient ‘visual events’. But, crucially, such damage does not abolish consciousness. In other words, there is no compelling reason to think that blindsight involves unconscious perception. What is puzzling about blindsight is why subjects exhibit such conservative and unstable response criteria in detection tasks. I end by offering some speculative thoughts on this critical issue.

Sponsored by Psychological and Brain Science

Associate’s Lecture by Susan James (Birkbeck)
Sep 21 @ 4:00 pm Gilman 208

Living as a Philosopher: Spinoza’s Aspirations

1. Living in the Light of our Knowledge: Spinoza on Fortitude (Sep 17)
2. Emotional Responses to Fiction: A Spinozist Analysis (Sep 20)
3. Philosophical Self-Transformation and Affective Loss (Sep 21)

Living in the Light of our Knowledge: Spinoza on Fortitude

To live as well as we can, Spinoza argues, we not only need to do our best to understand ourselves and the world we inhabit; we also need to put our understanding to work. This is what it is to possess fortitude.

This talk considers Spinoza’s analysis of this virtue and explores some of the traditions on which his account draws. I argue that he bequeaths us a pertinent though neglected set of questions (particularly relevant in an era of fake news) about the project of living in the light of our knowledge.

Emotional Responses to Fiction: A Spinozist Analysis

Within contemporary analytical philosophy there is a lively debate about the emotions that we feel for objects we know to be fictional. We know, for example, that Anna Karenina doesn’t exist; so why, or how, do we feel sad about her death? Spinoza, I suggest, stands at a helpful distance from these contemporary discussions. His conception of imagination can help us view our emotional responses to fiction in a different light, and reformulate the questions they pose.

Philosophical Self-Transformation and Affective Loss

It is not uncommon for early-modern philosophers to portray a perfectly philosophical way of life as a condition that approaches the divine. The philosopher becomes as like God as a human being can, and in doing so experiences unparalleled and unalloyed joy. Spinoza advocates a version of this view and defends it with impressive consistency. I shall argue, however, that his account suppresses a form of loss and sadness integral to his conception of a philosophical life. To elucidate the character of this loss I turn to some examples from recent fiction.