Tag Archive for philosophy

Professor Young-Bruehl Dies at Age 65

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, philosopher, psychoanalyst and public intellectual, died suddenly on Dec. 1 at the age of 65. She served on the Wesleyan faculty for nearly two decades, joining the College of Letters in 1974, after earning her Ph.D. in Philosophy at the New School, where she studied closely with Hannah Arendt.

In 1982, Young-Bruehl published what is still considered the definitive biography of Arendt, Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World (Yale University Press, 1982; Second Edition, 2004), a text for which she received the Harcourt Literary Prize in Biography and Memoirs. Six years later, in 1988, she published an intellectual biography of Anna Freud, work that led Young-Bruehl herself toward psychoanalysis and gradually out of academia. She did her initial psychoanalytic training nearby, in New Haven, Conn. while continuing to teach at Wesleyan, before moving to Philadelphia in the early 1990s, where she taught part-time at Haverford College and continued her psychoanalytic training at the Philadelphia Association for Psychoanalysis. Eventually, she left academia altogether and went into private practice as a therapist, first in Philadelphia, then in New York and finally in Toronto.

She continued to write and publish actively upon leaving Wesleyan. Harvard University Press published Young-Bruehl’s 1996 book, The Anatomy of Prejudices, in which she eschewed sociological approaches to the study of prejudice in favor of a psychoanalytic approach instead. In 2006, on the 100th anniversary of Arendt’s birth, Yale published Young-Bruehl’s Why Arendt Matters. Her most recent book, titled Childism, addresses American prejudice against children. Yale University Press has slated it for release early next year. Young-Bruehl also occasionally discussed her ideas in broader public forums, such as on NPR and in the pages of The Guardian (UK), and regularly in her blog, Who’s Afraid of Social Democracy?

Young-Bruehl is survived by Christine Dunbar, her spouse since 2008, as well as two siblings, a stepdaughter, and two step-grandchildren.

(Information provided by Rob Rosenthal, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology.)

Animal Studies Scholars Explore Human-Animal Relations

Wesleyan’s Animal Studies hosted the Animals and Society Institute-Wesleyan Animal Studies Fellowship Program Conference June 27-30 in Usdan University Center. The conference is the culminating event in the first annual ASI-WAS Fellowship Program, which brings to campus a broad range of scholars studying human-animal relations. Lori Gruen, chair and professor of philosophy, and Kari Weil, university professor of letters, co-organized the conference.

Photos of the conference faculty, guests and ASI fellows are below:

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, spoke on “Animal Deaths and Melancholy Becomings" on June 28.

Kelly Enright, a writer, historian and museum consultant, spoke on "Extinction: How we lose, mourn, and live with lost species" on June 28. Enright, of Vail, Colo. is the author of Rhinoceros (Reaktion 2008), America’s Natural Places: Rocky Mountains & Great Plains (Greenwood 2010), and Osa & Martin: For the Love of Adventure (Lyons 2011). Enright has consulted for museums and non-profits, including the Wildlife Conservation Society and the American Museum of Natural History.

Horst Presents Papers at Oxford, Cognitive Science Meeting

Steven Horst

Steven Horst, professor of philosophy, attended several conferences on Cognitive Science of Religion during the 2010-11 academic year.  In July, he attended a summer workshop on “Cognition, Religion, and Theology” at Oxford University. In August, he attended the International Association for Cognitive Science of Religion, meeting in Toronto. At both conferences, he presented his paper titled, “Whose Intuitions? Which Dualism?”

Horst also presented a paper titled, “What is Unity of Knowledge, and Are We Really Missing Anything Without It?” at the Ian Ramsey Conference held at St. Anne’s College, Oxford, in July.

Angle Participates in Book Symposium at Chinese Institute

Stephen Angle

Stephen Angle, professor of philosophy, professor of East Asian studies, tutor in the College of Social Studies, participated in a one-day Book Symposium on his book, Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy (Oxford, 2009), at the Institute for Chinese Philosophy and Culture, Academia Sinica, in Taipei, Taiwan, in early June.

Altogether, nine papers were delivered by Taiwan-based philosophers, roughly half in English and half in Chinese. Angle had an opportunity to respond and participated in a general discussion.

The symposium was timed to coincide with an intensive, two-week class that he’s been teaching at Taipei’s Soochow University, also on the subject of his book.

Horst’s Book on Laws, Mind and Free Will

Book by Steven Horst.

Steven Horst, professor of philosophy, is the author of Laws, Mind and Free Will, published by MIT Press in March 2011. This is his third book.

In Laws, Mind, and Free Will, Horst addresses the apparent dissonance between the picture of the natural world that arises from the sciences and our understanding of ourselves as agents who think and act. If the mind and the world are entirely governed by natural laws, there seems to be no room left for free will to operate. Moreover, although the laws of physical science are clear and verifiable, the sciences of the mind seem to yield only rough generalizations rather than universal laws of nature. Horst argues that these two familiar problems in philosophy—the apparent tension between free will and natural law and the absence of “strict” laws in the sciences of the mind—are artifacts of a particular philosophical thesis about the nature of laws: that laws make claims about how objects actually behave. Horst argues against this Empiricist orthodoxy and proposes an alternative account of laws—an account rooted in a cognitivist approach to philosophy of science.

Horst argues that once we abandon the Empiricist misunderstandings of the nature of laws there is no contrast between “strict” laws and generalizations about the mind (“ceteris paribus” laws, laws hedged by the caveat “other things being equal”), and that a commitment to laws is compatible with a commitment to the existence of free will. Horst’s alternative account, which he calls “cognitive Pluralism,” vindicates the truth of psychological laws and resolves the tension between human freedom and the sciences.

Scholars, Experts Speak at Great Apes Symposium

Lori Gruen makes introductory remarks at the “Protecting Great Apes: How Science and Ethics Contribute to Conservation" symposium April 22. Gruen, chair and associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, organized the event. She also is teaching a course this semester titled “Primate Encounters” and has published a book on ethics and animals.

Gruen Authors Animal Ethics Book

Book by Lori Gruen.

Lori Gruen, chair of the Philosophy Department, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor of environmental studies, is the author of Ethics and Animals: An Introduction, published by Cambridge University Press in March 2011.

In this comprehensive introduction to animal ethics, Gruen weaves together poignant and provocative case studies with discussions of ethical theory, urging readers to engage critically and empathetically reflect on their treatment of other animals. She provides a survey of the issues central to human-animal relations and a reasoned new perspective on current key debates in the field. She analyzes and explains a range of theoretical positions and poses challenging questions that directly encourage readers to hone their ethical reasoning skills and to develop a defensible position about their own practices.

Her book will be an invaluable resource for students in a wide range of disciplines including ethics, environmental studies, veterinary science, women’s studies, and the emerging field of animal studies and is an engaging account of the subject for general readers with no prior background in philosophy.

Her book includes studies of provocative cases to illustrate difficult ethical dilemmas and provides key points of reference for discussion of ethical theories concerning the relationship between humans and animals.

COE Faculty Fellows Explore Water’s Past, Water’s Future

Wesleyan’s College of the Environment has appointed faculty members Johan “Joop” Varekamp, Clark Maines, Vijay Pinch and Elise Springer as 2011-12 fellows. The fellows will gather with other Wesleyan scholars and undergraduate students for a year-long academic “Think Tank” on a critical environmental issue. The 2011-12 topic is “Water’s Past, Water’s Future.”

The aim of the Think Tank is not only to generate a deeper understanding of the thematic issue, but also to produce scholarly works that will influence national and international thinking and action on the issue. Scholars and students in the think tank are expected to produce scholarly

Album by Wilson ’78 Featured in Downbeat Magazine

Dave Wilson ’78

Spiral, a CD by the Dave Wilson [’78] Quartet received a three-and-a-half star review in the November issue of Downbeat magazine. Released last June on Summit Records, Spiral features six original compositions by Wilson and arrangements of three contemporary classics, including the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil. ”

“With a crack band in pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Tony Marino and Adam Nussbaum on drums, saxophonist Dave Wilson knows how to pick them and the music,” writes critic John Ephland of Downbeat.

Additionally, in a review in the December issue of JazzTimes Magazine, critic Bill Milkowski observed that “Pennsylvania-based saxophonist-educator Dave Wilson elevates his game and blows with authority on this collection of originals and smartly plucked covers. “

Says Wilson about the music on the album: “These songs, including the original compositions and the ‘cover’ tunes, are all, for various reasons, close to my heart. They are like personal statements of where I am at in my life, musically and otherwise. When I make and play music like this I am trying to communicate such heartfelt sentiments to the listener, whether they are in the club, the concert hall, or listening to the recording.”

A philosophy major at Wesleyan, he also holds a BS in music education from Lebanon Valley College. He resides in the Lancaster, Pa., area and teaches private music lessons on woodwinds and continues to write, record, and play music in the Mid-Atlantic area and at jazz festivals around the country.

To learn more about upcoming performances, go to http://davewilsonmusic.org/

Kleinberg Lectures at International Conference

During the Fall 2010 semester, Ethan Kleinberg delivered two lectures in France.

Ethan Kleinberg, associate professor of history, associate professor of letters is spending the year as director of the Vassar-Wesleyan Paris Program and an invited scholar at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. During the Fall 2010 semester, Kleinberg delivered two lectures based on his current book project, The Myth of Emmanuel Levinas. Levinas is a French Jewish philosopher who turned to the use of Jewish

Angle, Gallarotti, Gottschalk Promoted, Willis Appointed to Endowed Professorship

Wesleyan University has announced the promotion to full professor, effective July 1, 2009, of the following members of the faculty.

Stephen Angle

Stephen Angle

Stephen Angle, professor of philosophy, came to Wesleyan in 1994. He has served as director of the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, co-directed the NEH summer seminar “Traditions into Dialogue: Confucianism and Contemporary Virtue Ethics” at Wesleyan in 2008, was a Fulbright Research Scholar at Beijing University in 2006-2007, and was awarded Wesleyan’s Binswanger prize for excellence in teaching in 2006. His research focuses on neo-Confucian philosophy, and his books include Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy (forthcoming from Oxford University Press) and