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Kent State University Veroni Memorial Lectures in Philosophy and the Humanities

David Carr

Charles Howard Candler Professor Emeritus, Emory UniversityDavid Carr

Teleology and the Experience of History

April 26, 2018, 6:00 pm
Michael Schwartz Auditorium

Dessert Reception to Follow

History is the story of human progress. Or so many have thought. The teleological view of history reached the height of its influence in the work of Hegel, Marx, and early positivism, and then, after being attacked and rejected in many quarters, it seems to reappear in Husserl’s late work, in the 1930s, and surfaces once again in the 1990s in the work of Fukuyama. In spite of seemingly being refuted again and again by facts and arguments, this idea seems unwilling to relinquish its hold on us. Why is this so? That’s the question I want to consider in this paper. And in answer I want to suggest that something in the nature of our experience—our historical experience—inclines us toward this view. I begin by outlining the teleological view of history as it appeared in 19th and 20th century thought. The central section of the paper then develops what I mean by historical experience and how it relates to teleology. In the last section I want to suggest, by analogy with Kant, that the idea of historical progress constitutes something like a transcendental illusion we find it hard to overcome.

DAVID CARR received his Ph.D from Yale University in 1966. He has taught at Yale, the University of Ottawa (Canada) and, since 1991, at Emory University (Atlanta), where he was department chair and is now Charles Howard Candler Professor Emeritus. His areas of research are 20th century phenomenology, especially Husserl; theory of historical narrative; and philosophy of history. Publications include Phenomenology and the Problem of History (1974, reissued in 2009); Time, Narrative and History (1986); Interpreting Husserl (1987); and The Paradox of Subjectivity (1999).


Annually in March

The Kent State University Philosophy Department has held a Philosophy Graduate Student Conference every year in memory of the events of May 4, 1970 since the inauguration of our graduate program in 1992–93. The Conference is open to all areas of philosophy, and conference participants come to Kent from around the globe. A call for papers goes out every fall.

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Recent Events

Visiting Lecture

Naomi Zack, Professor of Philosophy, University of OregonNaomi Zack

Changes in the Categories of Race, Class, and Gender:
How Life has Outpaced Theory

February 26, 2018, 7:00 pm
KSU Student Center 310A
Dessert Reception to Follow

Recent events have culminated in fundamental changes in the nature of our progressive categories of race, class, gender, disaster, as well as disability, and democratic process. In this talk, I focus on changes in race and class with a concluding look at changes in feminism through the #MeToo movement: race or racism now exceed intersection theory because race is more like a junction that unpredictably takes off on a track of its own; for the electorate, class has become more a matter of culture and racial identity than economic interest; feminism now includes some of the most elite and powerful members of its foundational group, namely women.

HUSSERL In A New Generation Conference

September 15-17, 2017

Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), the founder of phenomenology, was one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, one whose influence can be seen in almost every area of philosophical research. In recent decades, central aspects of Husserlian phenomenology have played an important role in the evolution of fields as diverse as sociology, education, cognitive science, and architecture. The aim of this conference is to revisit Husserl’s important contributions, highlighting their relevance to the questions that philosophy faces today.

Husserl In A New Generation Conference

Visiting Lecture

Richard Schacht, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois

The future of human nature

April 20, 2017, 7:00 pm
Moulton Hall Ballroom
Dessert Reception to Follow

Does the idea of “human nature” have a future? Dr. Schacht argues there is a way of thinking about “human nature” that is importantly different from what existential philosophers have in mind when they talk about human Existenz and “what it means to exist as a human being,” and is also different from what friends and foes of the idea of a normatively loaded “human essence” have in mind. It is a way of thinking about human nature that focuses not only upon the generalities of “the human condition,” but also on the exploration of basic biologically- and socially-related general features of what he calls “human reality and possibility” that are neither merely biological nor entirely historical and cultural. It is intended to be scientifically well-informed without being scientistic — to be both interpretive and normatively significant in ways that the natural sciences are not and cannot be — without becoming objectionably essentialist. This, he suggests, would make the idea of human nature (so conceived and pursued) well deserving of a philosophical future.

Kent State University Veroni Memorial Lectures in Philosophy and the Humanities

The Veroni Lectures are funded by an endowment from the Ohio philanthropist Dr. Frank Veroni. His legacy supports research in philosophy and the humanities that appeals to a wide audience. Topics in past Veroni Lectures have included post-phenomenology, dreams and philosophy, and The Da Vinci Code.

Susan Bordo, Otis A. Singletary Chair in the Humanities, University of Kentucky

The Evolution of the Fact-Free Universe

November 16, 2016, 7:00 pm
Kent State Student Center 310AB
Dessert Reception to Follow

It’s been creeping up on us for some time. In 1995, it was shocking when an O.J. Simpson juror declared DNA to be “just a bunch of numbers.” By 2016, and our most recent presidential election, facts had become increasingly irrelevant in our culture, replaced by “narrative” and “optics” as the subjects of political reporting. The causes and landmarks of this development are the subject of my talk. Among the topics discussed: The blurred lines between information and entertainment, celebrity and expertise; the 24-hour broadcast news stations’ elevation of anything “just breaking” to the status of “news,” creating a faux reality composed of what Daniel Boorstin called “pseudo-events”; digital technologies of image-making that have normalized the “perfected” over the real; popularity of narrative fictions (journalistic, novelistic and televisual) that privilege the sensational and scandalous over the verified/historically recorded; a political arena in which lies have become expected, and journalists see “equivalencies” in covering candidates as more important than investigation and truth-seeking.  

Visiting Lecture

Neil Sinhababu, PhD, National University of Singapore

Nietzsche's Humean (All-Too-Humean) Theory of Motivation

October 10, 2016, 7:00 pm
Kent State University Ballroom Balcony
Third Floor, Kent State Student Center
Dessert Reception to Follow

Nietzsche and Hume both regard desire as driving all human action and practical reasoning. This shared view gave them an appreciation of the continuity between human and animal motivation, and set them against a long tradition of rationalist rivals including Kant and Plato. Kantians like Christine Korsgaard argue that how we reflectively endorse or reject options presented by desire demonstrates reason's ability to independently drive reasoning and action. In Daybreak 109, Nietzsche provides a simpler Humean explanation: reflective endorsement and rejection involve reflecting on one desire from the viewpoint of another.

Sellars In A New Generation Conference

April 30-May 2, 2015

The work of Wilfrid Sellars has touched nearly every area of philosophy, from traditional debates in metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, to contemporary issues in philosophy of language and mind. The aim of this conference is to revisit Sellars’ important contributions, highlighting their relevance to the questions that philosophy faces today.

Sellars In A New Generation Conference