»Seeing Through Bodies: On Evaluative Perception«

May 24, 2024
Einstein Research Group »Reorganizing Ourselves«, Freie Universität Berlin

GRK 2638, 1st floor
Altensteinstraße 15
Berlin 14195


J. Reid Miller
Haverford College


University of California, Berkeley
Freie Universität Berlin

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This workshop will consider the concept of evaluative perception as it pertains to bodies. Evaluative perception holds that our perceptions are always value-laden rather than value-neutral; value is thus constitutive for perception rather than what subsequently affixes to it. This poses a substantial challenge for ethics with respect to bodies. An orthodoxy of ethics has been that bodies are irrelevant to the evaluation of actions; the appearance and features of a body—those indicative of gender, race, age, etc.—are said not to bear on judgments about the value of what that body does. This principle requires that one see through that body, as if invisible, to achieve a properly qualitative assessment of its actions. The workshop will discuss two pieces that reconsider this doctrine, proposing instead that the seeing of any action—of »what is happening«—is a seeing mediated through bodies and the values associated with its features.

J. Reid Miller is Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature at Haverford College. He is the author of Stain Removal: Ethics and Race (Oxford UP, 2016) as well as essays on ethics, language, cinema, and race in publications such as Diacritics, Critical Inquiry and Philosophy and Social Criticism. As part of his current project exploring the logic of inheritance he co-produced and co-wrote the award-winning documentary film 80 Years Later (2022) on Japanese American racial inheritance and published the symposium piece »What Would a Philosophy of Inheritance Look Like?« in the Journal of World Philosophies (2023). He has been Associate Editor at the journal GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies since 2021 and has held Visiting Scholar positions at Stanford University and UC Berkeley.

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May 19, 2024, 11:00pm CET

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