Non-BC Events & Conferences

Memory Holes: Unrestricted Self-Authorship, Memory Manipulation, and the Law

Speaker: Anna Gotlib (Philosophy Dept., Brooklyn College)

Monday, November 24, 2014
7:00 PM, Info Commons Lab, Grand Army Plaza Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library

The last Brooklyn Public Philosophers talk before our Winter break is a few days away! On Monday 11/24, our very own Anna Gotlib will join us to share her work on memory manipulation and the self.

Here’s a bit more about Anna’s talk, in her own words:

In his play, “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures,” Tony Kushner’s 72-year-old, generally asymptomatic protagonist Gus Marcantonio, thinking that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s, informs his family that he not only wants to sell the house, but that he intends to kill himself over the weekend. Somewhat similarly, in director Lee Chang-dong’s film “Poetry,” the nearly symptom-free, sixty-something heroine is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and promptly jumps off a bridge (Gullette 2011).

These are no mere flights of artistic imagination, nor would these imagined acts be truly shocking to aging audiences who, according to a 2010 survey by the MetLife Foundation, dread an Alzheimer’s diagnosis more than any other. Perhaps one obvious way to understand these characters, as well as this survey, is to point to a fundamental fear of losing one’s autonomy, one’s ability to go about one’s life in a way that one can endorse and carry out. Another is this: we in the Global North are a culture obsessed with memory — keeping it, sorting it out, controlling it — and when we are faced with its loss, we fall into a profound darkness, sometimes irretrievably. It could be that what we take to be something uniquely and deeply ours — the various meaning-making stories of our lives — is being taken away, unfairly stolen, disintegrating and annihilating the self in the process. Or else, as witnesses to the horror, we fear being forgotten — we despair at the thought of involuntary erasure by the failing memories of those who most matter to us. And as we lose our memories of ourselves and of others, or as we are lost to them, we first rage, and then, inevitably, fall silent.

So, memory matters — this much seems clear. But this is not a paper about how and why we are trying to (merely) save it. In fact, in some ways, it is the opposite: This paper challenges our correlative desires to control and to mold the memories we wish to erase, or otherwise diminish. Specifically, I want to address two emerging practices— one that attempts to edit individual and collective memories through a radical reinterpretation of internet privacy law; and the other that is in the process of rapidly developing the means of biomedical memory modification, and even erasure. I want to challenge these practices as deeply troubling misreadings of what matters, or what ought to matter, both individually and collectively, to memory-dependent, narrative beings such as ourselves. My intent, then, is to examine these emerging memory-modifying practices, addressing the openings that they create for a nearly unlimited self-authorship, no longer encumbered by the burdens of history, the collective nature of remembering, or by the passage of time.

Meanings, Minds, and Models

Speaker: Colin Allen (Indiana University, Bloomington)

Thursday, November 20, 2014
10:00 - 12:00 PM, Room 6495, CUNY Grad Center

A recurring but minority view in the philosophy of cognitive science (e.g. Churchland 1979; Matthews 2007) holds that the propositional specification of mental content is akin to assignment of numbers to measurable phenomena such as temperature where the relationships among values are significant but not the actual numbers assigned.

I will articulate and attempt to defend a version of this view that locates mental content within a general framework of modeling approaches to empirical phenomena, and I will illustrate the approach using experiments with computational analysis of text carried out within my InPhO group. I will consider the ways in which this approach challenges standard views of meaning that put semantics before pragmatics, and I will describe how a pragmatics-first approach may be rooted in the ethology of animal communication.

Click here to view the flier for this event.

Moral Importance of Humanity, Intellectual Disability, and the Role of Literature in Moral Reasoning

Monday, November 3, 2014
7:00pm, Info Commons Lab, Central Branch, Brooklyn Public Library

Brooklyn Public Philosophers is a monthly series of talks and discussions at the Brooklyn Public Library. It's a forum for philosophers based in and around Brooklyn to speak with a general audience about their work. The aim is to broaden the discussion of important philosophical issues and to increase communication between academic philosophers and the general public.

For this particular talk, Alice Crary (New School) will be discussing the moral importance of humanity, intellectual disability, and the role of literature in moral reasoning.

Here is a bit more about the talk, in Dr. Crary’s own words:
Merely being human matters. That is the thesis of this presentation. Defending it is an urgent task. Today a fair number of philosophers whose influence extends well beyond professional philosophy are openly hostile to the idea that bare humanity is morally important. These philosophers tend to impugn the moral standing of, above all, intellectually disabled human beings. One of my aims to show that, far from being less fit objects of moral concern, individuals with intellectual disabilities place special demands on us for attention and solicitude. More generally, I hope to show that the sheer fact of being human is relevant to moral thought. Part of what distinguishes my argument is that its methods are not ethically neutral. I draw on a selection of ethically saturated literary works and memoirs that contain treatments not only of intellectually disabled human beings but also of human corpses, and I claim that this non-neutral manner of proceeding is consistent with respect for the rational authority of ethics.

MAP (Minorities and Philosophy) Presents: Thinking About Applying to Philosophy Ph.D. Programs?

Monday, October 27, 2014
6:30 - 8:30 PM
CUNY Graduate Center, Room 6421

The CUNY GC chapter of Minorities and Philosophy ("MAP") is hosting a graduate student led panel discussion on the process of applying to Ph.D. programs in philosophy. The discussion is intended to help students who are considering applying to philosophy Ph.D. programs navigate the confusing application process, highlight some of the unique challenges faced by minority applicants, and offer insights about the nature of graduate study in philosophy.

For more information about this event, please view the flier.

SOCIETIES IN MOVEMENT: REINVENTING DEMOCRACY FROM GREECE TO THE US TO BOSNIA by MARINA SITRIN

Respondent: Alan Aha [Puerto Rican and Latino Studies, Brooklyn College]
Brooklyn College Graduate Center for Worker Education

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Dinner & Lecture, 6:00 - 8:00 PM
25 Broadway, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10004

At this event, hosted by the Economic Democracy Project and co-sponsored by Students for a Democratic Alternative (SODA), Marina Sitrin will discuss her book that she wrote with Dario Azzelini titled, "They Can't Represent Us", along with updates from other movements.

Marina Sitrin is a writer, lawyer, teacher, organizer and dreamer. Marina holds a PhD in Global Sociology and a JD in International Women's Human Rights. Her work focuses on social movements and justice, specifically looking at new forms of social organization, such as autogestion, horizontalidad, prefigurative politics and new affective social relationships and has been heavily involved in OCCUPY movements worldwide. Sitrin is the editor of "Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina" (2006) AK Press, author of "Everyday Revolutions: Horizontalism & Autonomy in Argentina" (2012) Zed Books, and "Occupying Language: The Secret Rendezvous with History and the Present" (2012) Zucotti Park Press.

If you want the free dinner, please RSVP by sending an email to kedusei@brooklyn.cuny.edu.

Economic Democracy Project Collective Courage
Brooklyn College Graduate Center for Worker Education

September 3, 2014 @ 6:00 PM

At this event, hosted by The Economic Democracy Project, speaker Jessica Gordon Nembhard, author of "Collective Courage", will be discussing excerpts from her book. Nembhard is Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development in the Department of Africana Studies at John Jay College (CUNY).

For more information, please see the event flyer. For more information email: kedusei@brooklyn.cuny.edu.