The State of Philosophy

April 2, 2022 - April 3, 2022

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The theme of our conference this year is 'The State of Philosophy.' This would be broadly understood as a consideration of the role philosophy plays in our society and world today. Academia looks quite different today than it did in the past, and with this difference we can recognize a divergence in the role philosophy plays in the social and political spheres. It seems sometimes that philosophy has abdicated the kind of social/political/ethical role perhaps represented typically in figures like Socrates, whose philosophical questioning threatened the status quo so much so that he was sentenced to death. Some questions that might be considered are: 

  • Does philosophy today reside primarily in the academic world, engaging mostly with others in the academic community? If so, in what ways has philosophy abdicated its intellectual role in politics and society? If not, where can we see philosophy being carried out in communities to help the public grapple with the turbulence of their social and political world? 

  • Do philosophers as educators have a responsibility to teach undergraduate courses on subjects that are more concerning to the public than on the more abstract philosophies? If so, what are those subjects? If not, why? 

  • Have philosophers secured their own status as irrelevant to the broader community, as can be attested to by the general lack of interest in philosophy? Or have they unknowingly fallen into the productivity cycle of business-model education in a way that makes real philosophical engagement with the public impractical? If yes to any of these, what is to be done? 

  • Does philosophy fundamentally play a different role in dominant cultures than in minority cultures? If so, what are those points of departure, and how are they caused? To what ends does philosophy aim in minority cultures?

  • Do philosophers today take less risks in challenging the status quo? If capacity for risk is an essential component to philosophy, how is that capacity affected by an individual more bound to familial responsibilities, financial concerns, total and secure citizenship/cultural rights, and so on? What kind of philosophy can be done by and for individuals more thoroughly embedded in social/ethical/political demands? 

  • Does philosophy’s culturally restrictive institutions negatively impact its community involvement and public relations? What does a multicultural education in philosophy even look like and with what conditions and systems can one approach the reality of such an education?

  • Does philosophy do enough to support marginalised and diverse voices? If not, do its institutions have structures, either proudly inherited or unreflectively permitted to continue, which maintain existing power relations within them?

  • Is one’s philosophical activity and success positively impacted by the presence of similar faces in the room? If so, why must many marginalised groups continue to be denied this support?

  • Are those in the philosophical community more committed to congeniality and a specific variety of the right to “academic freedom” than to challenging those who use their academic authority to legitimize harm towards marginalised groups? If so, are they abidicating a certain philosophical responsibility?

The conference will be held remotely, on a virtual platform, and is open to the public.

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March 25, 2022, 9:00am EST

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Pepperdine University

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