9-10-2013: Muhammad Iqbal in the context of an improving Muslim world 

Yusuf Kavakci

This talk will present an overview of the philosophical system of Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), a prominent classical poet in the Sufi tradition of Jalaladdin Rumi and a modern Muslim philosopher.  Iqbal sought to reform the Muslim world and Islamic understanding as a source for sociopolitical liberation and unification and denounced political divisions.  The talk will also present selected poems from Iqbal’s Turkish counterpart, Mehmet Akif.

 9-24-2013: Language, Alienation, Inspiration: With Remarks on Leonard Cohen, Going Home

Philipp Rosemann, Ph.D. ,University of Dallas

There is no such thing as a relationship to language that is not alienated. But some types of alienation are worse than others. When colonialism destroys the linguistic heritage of a people, or when copyright laws transform language into the property of corporations, we are dealing with avoidable forms of alienation. Other forms, however, are structural and thus inescapable: there is no language that is capable of capturing the individual as such, since all concepts are universal and abstract. We need to acknowledge, then, that language points to the radical finitude of human existence. It structures us, rather than being a simple tool for human expression that we can master. Poets have often expressed the transcendent aspects of language by imagining that it comes to us from a beyond--from the Muses, or even from God. Leonard Cohen's beautiful song "Going Home" illustrates this belief.  

10-8-2013:  Capitalism: How Great Thou Art

John Beesley

Modern capitalism has radically diverged from its liberal economic roots and has become unfit for purpose. The talk will discus this divergence, which has been promoted by the neo-conservatives. Two salient characteristics are discussed in detail; both of which have ramifications at the national and international level. He will outline proposals for a more dynamic, yet more stable capitalist system.

10-22-2013: Plato’s Treatment of Justice in a Christian Worldview

Robert Wood, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, University of Dallas

Christians are taught to keep the rules laid down by God in order to avoid punishment and obtain reward in the afterlife. A recent survey showed that, if there were no threat of punishment or promise of reward, people would do what they wanted to do. Plato conducts a thought-experiment that abstracts from rewards and punishments by employing the myth of the Ring of Gyges.  The ring made the wearer disappear from the sight of others--and this is crucial: even the gods.  The question that poses to Plato's reader is: what would you do if you had such a capacity?  Plato's aim is to get us to see that there is an intrinsic order to the soul apart from exterior rewards and punishments. It is based upon directing oneself to the Good that is the Principle of the cosmos.

Link to paper

11-12-2013:  The Ethics of Beauty: Plotinus on the Nature of Morality

Danel Tomulet, Ph. D., Eastfield College

Modern ethics, in general, conceives morality as a form of obligatory behavior. Thus, morality becomes a property of actions, rather than a condition of the concrete human self. It emphasizes the external, at the expenses of the inner. In addition, modern ethics conceives morality as a matter of obligation, social (utilitarians) or rational (Kant), an idea that makes morality oppressive. The divine tyrant becomes the social or the rational tyrant. Today, after the hermeneutical revolution in philosophy, such ethical theories seem to be impossible, since they require the compromised notion of absolute discursive truth. Truth is neither absolute, nor relative, but hermeneutical. The rules of morality, therefore, become themselves hermeneutical. In this context, Plotinus’ ancient ethics becomes surprisingly significant. In his view, morality is intrinsic to the human soul, immorality being the consequence of forgetting our inner beauty for the sake of the attractive things. In order to become moral, therefore, the human being does not need to follow any rule, but the rule of his/her inner beauty. Morality becomes a matter of attraction, instead of being a matter of obligation. The tyrant yields to the lover. 

11-26-2013:  Jainism (Ancient Indian Religious and Philosophic Tradition) and Ecology

Dr. Pankaj Jain, UNT

Jainism is an ancient religion/philosophy from India that teaches that the way to liberation and bliss is to live lives of harmlessness and renunciation. Jains are one of the smallest minority communities of India with more than 2600 years of practicing vegetarianism which eventually influenced the larger Hindu and even some Muslim people to adopt vegetarianism.  Depletion and contamination of natural resources are the main cause of present day problems in the environment, and are a threat to sustainable development.  How this Jain ethic can be environmentally effective will be discussed.

12-10-2013:  Do you have a Self, and does it Matter?

Dr. Kenneth Williford, UTA

Drawing from relevant work in the Analytical, Phenomenological, and Buddhist philosophical traditions as well as the findings of contemporary neuroscience and psychology, I defend the view that, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a self, at least as the self is commonsensically imagined.  I then discuss the putative ethical and practical implications of the no-self view:   the venerable view that the no-self doctrine should, if embraced, have the tendency to heighten one’s concern for others and make one’s behavior less selfish; and the equally venerable argument that the no-self doctrine renders the concepts of moral responsibility and praise and blame inapplicable.