Schedule for the Full 2004-2005 Season:
SEPTEMBER 14, 2004: Free Will, Determinism, and Quantum Mechanics
James Lamb, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Southern Methodist University
If the universe is governed by laws of nature, whether deterministic (such as those of Newton's theory of gravitation) or probabilistic (such as those of quantum mechanics), free will does not exist and no one is morally responsible for anything. And the universe is indeed governed by laws of nature. This lecture will explore the issues surrounding these topics.
NOTE: Our September 28th talk with NOT be at the usual location. See our Location page for further details.
SEPTEMBER 28, 2004: Returning to the Source: Modes of Taoist Thought and Practice
Julius N. Tsai, Assistant Professor of Religion, Texas Christian University
This presentation examines the call to "return" (fan) to unadorned simplicity as set forth in the Tao-Te Ching of Lao Tzu. We will explore ways in which this insight has shaped subsequent Taoist thought and practice.
OCTOBER 12, 2004: Flight from the Feminine; Return to the Feminine: Healing the Scars of 4000 Years of Western Authoritarian Rationalism
Robert E. Hemfelt, Ed.D., Psychologist and Family Therapist
In the ancient Sumerlan Babylonian, and Egyptian theo-philosophical cosmologies, the universe was envisioned as a system comprising the dual masculine and feminine energies. This metaphoric gender complementarity was enormously important in shaping a balance between the rational versus the intuitive, and the empirical versus the mystical elements of these ancient cosmologies. The feminine or pneumatologic branch of those systems was symbolized by the goddess and her shared sexual energy with the masculine godhead. Significant representatives of this feminine dimension include Inana in ancient Sumeria, Ishtar in Babylon, Anat in Canaan, Isis in Egypt, and Aphrodite and Venus in the Greco-Roman mythos. With the rise of the Jewish tribes/nation, Yahweh Saboth, the God of the armies, became an aggressive, territorial, militaristic figure head of these Semitic peoples, and this over-masculinized warrior-god set a foundation of patriarchal authoritarianism that has dominated Western civilization up to and through the rise of Cantesian nationalism and the dehumanization of the Industrial Revolution. Western Christianity has followed this masculine trend with the anti-feminist, anti-erotic teachings of Paul and Augustine. Even the medieval rise of Mariolatry in the Catholic Church did not relieve the sterility of unipolar theology since the Roman Church went to great lengths to emphasize the nonsexual character of both the godhead (Jesus) and the goddess (Mary). This anti-feminine spirit was further perpetuated through the Protestant reformation by the misogynist idiosyncrasies of Martin Luther. Western Technical Civilization devoid of a moderating feminine spirit culminated in the mass, inhumanities of World Wars and ethnic genocide in the twentieth century.
OCTOBER 26, 2004: The Death of the Soul and the Decline of the Good in the Liberalism of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke
Frank Rohmer, Associate Professor of Political Science, Austin College
The novel and highly successful American experiment in freedom is grounded in the modern liberalism of John Locke, whose most important insights can be traced back to the less than apparent liberal thought of Thomas Hobbes. Both Hobbes and Locke sought a liberation of humanity from bondage to war and a freedom of humanity to progress in civilization. This liberal political philosophy was accompanied by a new human psychology firmly grounded in a materialist epistemology that rejected the existence of the human soul and transcendent notions of the human good.
NOVEMBER 9, 2004: Mean-Spirited Grumbling as a Path to Wisdom
Jerome Weeks, Book Critic and Journalist for the Dallas Morning News
No, criticism is not just opinion, and like a well-made martini, everyone needs to get one. Neither is literary (or artistic) criticism just a snooty branch of aesthetics (and given the now-mercifully-passing craze for post-structuralism, a thicket many of us would avoid). Strangely enough, in the West, literary criticism has actually been a key part of philosophical inquiry. In fact, criticism IS inquiry, and an understanding of it will let us better know ourselves, appreciate cultural pleasures, clear up our sinuses and release our inner nitpicker.
NOVEMBER 23, 2004: A Free Market Approach to Environmental Protection
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D, Senior Fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis
The market economy with its roots in a liberal conception of individual rights has been blamed for a variety of environmental ills. These criticisms are unfair. Historically, rights have been used to great effect to promote environmental quality. Indeed, the worst environmental problems of the 20th century occurred primarily in countries with Marxist economies with little or no recognition of individual property rights. This lecture will discuss how the extent to which a liberal conception of property rights could be used to protect ecosystemic goods and the kinds of changes that would have occur in domestic policy.
DECEMBER 14, 2004: Who Speaks for History?: American History in the Service of Ideology
Max Hall, U.S. Air Force Academy Graduate, Independent Scholar
The Internet has led to a proliferation of spurious claims about American history, often in defense of extra-historical ideological positions such as "America is a 'Christian Nation'." But what are we to make of the many claims that come to us anonymously, without documentation, or sometimes misattributed? This lecture will look at many of these claims in the larger context of how we know what we know about American history, a history that runs from the well-documented to the apocryphal, and how Americana is pressed into the service of certain ideologies.
DECEMBER 28, 2003: NO MEETING
JANUARY 11, 2005: The Epistemological Offense of Divine Revelation
William J. Abraham, Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies, Perkins Theological Seminary, Southern Methodist University
This lecture explores a crucial topic in the philosophy of religion and its relation to revelation. The lecture will unpack the concept of revelation and the epistemological issues at stake. This will require defining how revelation is seen to be a different from other mental states such as perception and reason. Then, the objections to this concept of revelation that have occurred in the history of philosophy will be analyzed.
JANUARY 25, 2005: The Idea of Sympathy and the Modern Concept of the Person
Daniel Wickberg, Associate Professor of Historical Studies/History of Ideas, University of Texas at Dallas
With the decline of external forms of authority and the legitimacy of rank-ordered and hierarchical models of social order in Anglo-American culture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, modern thought sought a new basis for political and social order within the person. The movement of the concept of sympathy from its occult and cosmological significance to its modern psychological and emotional significance as a bond uniting individuals was part of this refiguring of the human person. This talk considers the redefinition of sympathy from the Scottish moral philosophers (Hutcheson, Hume, and Smith) through the early twentieth-century American social scientists (Cooley, Giddings, Du Bois among others).
FEBRUARY 8, 2005: Is God a Mathematician?: Hans Jonas on the Philosophical Implications of Biology
Martin Yaffe, Professor of Philosophy & Religion Studies, University of North Texas
Hans Jonas' _The Phenomenon of Life: Toward a Philosophical Biology_asks, rhetorically, "Is God a Mathematician?" Jonas' answer is “No,” since, if the answer were “Yes,” then God could not possibly understand organic life (inasmuch as metabolism is hardly a simply mechanical process). Jonas goes from there to trace the complementarity of living bodies and sentient minds, in a manner consistent with his consciously Darwinian premises.
FEBRUARY 22, 2005: A Unified Theory of Existence
David S. Alkek, M.D., Dermatologist, Clinical Professor, Southwestern Medical School and DPF Member
Aristotle to Kant natural philosophy (science) was part of philosophy. Since the Enlightenment science grew away from philosophy. Now science is confronted with questions such as: What came before the Big Bang? What will happen to the universe? What is the key to life and what is its purpose? Dr. Alkek will try to show where science and philosophy merge. He will develop his thesis that the universe, life and human societies have an ingrained purpose and are part of a universal reality.
MARCH 8, 2005: Globalization and the Ethics of Argumentation
Harry Reeder, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas at Arlington
Much of the process of globalization takes place through argumentative discourse. Jurgen Habermas and others have argued that all argumentative discourse is in fact committed to certain "transcendental-pragmatic norms." This paper discusses the affect of such norms upon the use of argument in the processes of globalization.
MARCH 22, 2005: The Idea of a Moral Foreign Policy Revisited through John Rawls's The Law of Peoples.
Barbara Wall Stallings, Adjunct Philosophy of Professor, Richland College
Rawls called his attempt to extend " justice as fairness" on a global scale a "realistic utopia, " He recognizes that we have in the world a diversity of political societies ranging from reasonable and liberal to "decent non liberal, to benevolent absolutisms and "outlaw states." But he argues that because the "great evils of human history", "follow from political injustice" they "will eventually disappear." when political injustice is eliminated. His Law of Peoples claims to show how this might be done.
This is a political theory, but just as in civil society citizens have a "moral duty" to "civility" and support of "public reason", the representatives of "peoples" in the society of peoples have a duty
to adhere to public reason. That adherence is integral part of "the political and social basis of peace and understanding among peoples." And individual citizens have a moral duty to hold their feet to the fire in this respect.
Moral values have received a good deal of press lately and I would like to think about how Rawls's little book might contribute to that discussion on a global scale. I will consider counter claims
to utopias of any sort, realistic or not. But my argument will be that Rawls's ideas suggest a reconsideration of the aims of foreign policy, away from expediency and prudentialism and toward a reexamination of moral grounds.
All quotes are from The Law of Peoples.
APRIL 12, 2005: How Value Systems are shaping the Trinity Commons and the Planet Earth; A Spiral Dynamics Perspective
Don Beck, Co-Author, Spiral Dynamics, Principal, Copenhagen Center for Human Emergence, and former Professor at the University of North Texas
The future of the Dallas-Fort worth "commons" may well be determined by how it meshes the racial, ethnic and economic differences into an integral community. It is not enough to simply plan housing and highways, or even green space and designer Starbucks coffee houses. Our successes and failures in sports will not be enough. The interior and cultural development of leaders and the entire population will ultimately shape our destiny in the world of fragmentation, competitive city-states, and Texas myths. The new complexities that confront us from many different domains will require fresh, bold, and imaginative leadership. Are we up to the challenges?
APRIL 26, 2005: Thomas Reid and Scottish 'Common Sense' Philosophy
Robert Howell, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Southern Methodist University
We all know the standard list of the great modern philosophers: Descartes,
Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, with a dash of Leibniz, Hobbes and Spinoza.
Many philosophers in the past fifty years, however, have come to recognize
that this list is significantly incomplete and that we owe a great
intellectual debt to at least one more philosopher of the period: Thomas
Reid. It is well known that after David Hume teased the tenets of
empiricism into their logical extremes, Immanuel Kant awoke from his
"dogmatic slumber", producing one of the most ingenious and intricate
philosophical systems ever conjured. Why, though, do so few know that
Hume's fellow countryman Thomas Reid provided a more direct response to his
skeptical challenges, developing a much less baroque philosophy that merely
aimed to return us to common sense? This lecture aims to provide a brief
introduction to the works of Thomas Reid, focusing on his response to the
Humean extreme, and indicating his proper place as a grounding voice in
MAY 10, 2005: Imagination is as imagination does--but where?
Dennis Sepper, Professor of Philosophy, University of Dallas
Discussions of imagination in philosophy and psychology tend to be dominated by questions about the nature and existence of images, with the visual image as prototype. A more fruitful approach begins with asking about what it is that imagination does--a question that cannot be answered well without asking first about where imagination operates. This line of questioning easily leads to the recognition that imagination is as much about cognition as it is about invention and creation.
MAY 24, 2005: Public Values and Politics: The Place of the American Dream in American Public Life
Cal Jillson, Professor of Political Science , Southern Methodist University
What role do values play in shaping our national political life? This discussion will treat the meaning of the American Dream; the uses to which the American Dream is put in American public life; and the roles that it is likely to play in our collective future. This talk will relate to Dr. Jillson's newest book, Pursuing the American Dream: Opportunity and Exclusion Over Four Centuries (Kansas, 2004).
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