Philosophically Correct

, Jason Livingood, Leave a comment

Those of you who thought that philosophy ran in a straight line from Socrates to Sartre might be surprised at some of the academic offerings at the American Philosophical Association’s recent conference.

From the 27th to the 30th of December 2003, the American Philosophical Association (APA) held its One Hundredth Annual Meeting at the Washington Hilton & Towers Hotel in Washington, D.C. Campus Report was there to cover some of the proceedings from the last two days. Conference attendees and presenters came from a variety of institutions ranging from large universities such as Harvard to smaller schools such as Haverford College.

Along with presentations on Aristotle, Kant, metaphysics, and reason, there were a number of sessions on less clearly academic topics. Some of those subjects dissected at the conference that laypeople might not immediately associate with philosophy included:

- “Laplanche and the Formation of the Raced Unconsciousness: Toward a Psychoanalytically-Informed Critical Race Theory”

- “The Epistemology of Aztec Time-Keeping”

- “Nietzsche’s Racial Profiling”

- “Queering Kierkegaard: Lacan, Climacus, and the Work of the Self”

- “Defusing Fear: A Critical Response to the War on Terrorism”

- “Morality, Sympathy, and The Sopranos

- “Soteriological Skepticism: A Chinese Madhyamika Version of Pyrrhonean Epoche”

- “Queerness, Disability, and the Vagina Monologues

- “The Trans-Body: Considering Notions of Body and Self in Tran-Sexual Existence”

- “Joining Hands: Politics and Religion together for Social Change”

- “Arousing Innocence: The Child in Mass Media – A Slideshow”

- “Virtuality, Appropriation, and Parody in an Emerging Chinese Gay Aesthetics”

- “The Coalescence of Dichotomy in Drag Aesthetics”

- “The Labor of Suffering: Liberalism, Materialism, and the Body”

- “The Radical Narcissism of Political Bodies: Politics of Patriarchal Nationalist Fundamentalism”

- “Black Bloc, Pink Bloc: Reflections of the Tactics of the ‘Anti-Globalization’ Movement”

- “African Americans and Muslim Immigrants in Post-9/11 American Politics: Statelessness, New ‘Pariahs,’ and ‘Parvenus’”

- “Stoic Anthropocentrism and the Moral Status of Animals”

- “The Social Construction of Species and the Moral Indefensibility of Speciesism”

- “Why I Don’t Make Fun of George Bush Anymore, the Persistence of Left-Wing Anti-Semitism, and Some Hard Work Ahead of Us”

- “The Aesthetics of the New American Masculinity: A Feminist Reading of Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance” (Note: was not presented at meeting)

In all fairness, the few presentations I was able to attend on topics that seemed questionable were scholarly and sufficiently unbiased enough to be considered legitimate.
For instance, the first presentation at the Society for Philosophy and Public Affairs stayed focused on its topic of the fear of technology. The presenter, Emrys Westacott of Alfred University, did not veer off onto partisan political agendas with ad hominem attacks on President Bush.

On the other hand, UCLA Professor Douglas Kellner did not deliver his scheduled presentation on “Surveillance in the Schools: The Dialectic of Rights and Safety.” Professor Kellner, the author of such books as Grand Theft 2000: Media Spectacle and a stolen election and From 9/11 to Terror War: The Dangers of the Bush Legacy, did not show up at the meeting.