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5th Annual Philosophy Day!
Join us for City College's 5th Annual Philosophy Day! Our 2018 keyote speaker will be Prof. Taylor Carman of Barnard College, who will talk on: “Why there can be no science of ourselves.” The natural sciences have enjoyed spectacular success and made undeniable progress over the past four centuries. By contrast, there have been no enduring and uncontroversial discoveries in the human sciences. Why? René Descartes thought it was because the mind is not part of physical nature. In a similar spirit, Jean-Paul Sartre insisted that human consciousness is a kind of nothing. Michel Foucault attributed the failure of the modern sciences of man to the paradoxical construction of their putative object, the historically contingent fiction called “man.” Others maintain that cognitive science has already sketched out a theory of human thought and that artificial intelligence will soon be a reality. Or perhaps the human brain is just too complex, and we have no idea how it works. But there is a deeper reason for the lack of success and progress in the human sciences. Any explanatory study of us must define its object on the basis, or as it were through the filter, of the necessarily prescientific self-image – our sense of who we are – that it would then analyze in terms amenable to scientific explanation. Professor Carman is the author of Heidegger’s Analytic (2003) and Merleau-Ponty (2008; 2nd ed. forthcoming) and has coedited The Cambridge Companion to Merleau-Ponty (2005). He has published articles on topics in phenomenology and is currently writing a book on Heidegger. His academic focus is on 19th & 20th Century European Philosophy, Phenomenology, Existentialism, Hermeneutics; especially Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Gadamer, Foucault. A Q&A with the author will follow the talk.

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The Café is run by philosophers Skye Cleary (http://tinyurl.com/yddu38tf) and Massimo Pigliucci (http://tinyurl.com/msm6d6u). It is based on the principle of the Socratic dialogue. Every meeting has a simple theme (e.g., should we be afraid of death? What's the ethics of eating?), which is introduced by Skye and Massimo on the basis of short, accessible, suggested (but not mandatory!) readings. The rest of the meeting then features an open discussion among participants, facilitated by Skye and Massimo, aiming at sharpening our thinking about whatever subject matter is being examined.

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