Humane Philosophy and the Arts

Conference “Humane Philosophy and the Arts”

The conference is co-organized by:
Institute of Philosophy, Warsaw University
Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford

Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, University of Oxford

It will take place on the 19th of July 2014 and will be hosted by Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford.

This call for papers is directed to graduate students and researchers in philosophy and aims for submissions connected to, or developing the conference theme.

Philosophy’s relationship to the arts has been volatile. There have been periods when it has been widely understood that there is an intimate connection between philosophical and artistic endeavour. This was the case as recently as the nineteenth century. Benjamin Jowett in his introduction to Plato’s Republic warns his reader of Plato’s surprising hostility to poetry. He expresses confidence that to the contemporary reader, the idea of an ideological tension between poetry and philosophy will seem foreign. Less than a century later however T S Elliot, on declaring his retirement from philosophy in order to dedicate himself fully to the arts felt warranted to comment that the two had always been uneasy bedfellows. Today the rift between philosophy and the arts is especially severe in the Anglophonic world, where it is taken for granted that philosophical enquiry must take as its model the physical sciences. At the other end of the spectrum on the Heideggerian perspective, philosophy, in order to fulfil its ultimate task, should turn into mytho-poetical prophecy. These positions manifest two extremes, – on the former the artistic imagination should be excluded from the area of philosophical interest entirely; on the latter the arts and philosophy would arguably be indistinguishable ironically also denying each its specific epistemological value. Between the two a whole range of views may be available.

The aim of the conference is to re-examine the philosophical import of the arts and the relationship between philosophical enquiry and artistic endeavour. However, rather than attempting to develop another philosophical theory of art, or an aesthetic taxonomy of its artefacts the intention is to investigate whether and where the two can meet each other, and to what extent those encounters can lead to mutual enrichment. Equally though this does not necessarily mean an attempt at ‘decoding’ philosophical claims conveyed in artistic form. Indeed whether it is possible to convey what is achieved by a work of in any other medium, philosophical content included, is by no means certain.

Topics authors wish to focus on may include but are not limited to:

– What is the relationship between philosophy and the arts?
– Art as the medium of human self-understanding
– Art and the re-enchantment of the world
– Art as the medium of metaphysics
– The social and moral functions of the arts
– Imagination in art and philosophy (status and function)
– Why do humans produce and appreciate art?
– Can philosophy be carried out in art?
– What could be meant by ‘Aesthetic understanding’?
– Can the philosophical import of an artwork be put into words?
– Why should Robert Nozick think that gesturing at a Rothko painting might be an appropriate response to the question ‚Why is there something rather than nothing?’

We invite abstracts of up to 500 words, to be sent in MS Word or Pdf format to:

Abstracts should be received by May 31st 2014 and acceptance notifications will be sent out by June 28st. The subject line of the email should be „Paper submission”. The cover page should include your name, your institutional affiliation, the title of the paper, and your email address.

There are six to nine places available for presentations. Selected papers will have a 20 minute presentation followed by a 10 minute question time. A post conference publication containing selected short papers is being considered.

Organizing Committee:
Mikołaj Sławkowski – Rode (Institute of Philosophy, Warsaw University)
Przemysław Bursztyka (Institute of Philosophy, Warsaw University)
Ralph Weir (Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford)

This conference is organised by the Humane Philosophy Project. The Humane Philosophy Project is an international initiative based at the Universities of Oxford and Warsaw which aims to provide a home and a platform for the best contemporary examples of humane philosophy. For more information please contact (UK) or (PL).

More information about the conference as well as about the Humane Philosophy Project you can find on the conference’s page:

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