Lectures start promptly at 7:30PM and are held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month September through May

9-8-2015: What, Really, Was Bergson Trying To Do?

Pete Gunter, Ph.D., UNT

This talk is about a philosophy which managed to avoid sterility and to produce new, useful insights helpful to both the arts and the sciences: that of Henri Bergson.

The talk will begin with a brief discussion of  his life and the basic structure of his thought.

Because he criticized language (whether formal or ordinary) and privileged intuition which acquaints us with the durations (fundamental processes) of things, it has been assumed that his intuition leads to mere mystic silence, and/or involves the undermining of the sciences.
On the contrary --and this is my main point -- he believed that intuition can express itself in new insights and new formal systems. That is, Bergson's famous intuition of duration, far from being a dead end (as Russell, Santayana and many others protested) opens out to previously unthought-of  ideas applicable to the broad range of human thought.

Many years of researching Bergson's life and thought have revealed that among the artists strongly inspired by his thought are Marcel Proust, the Italian futurist Bocchioni and the painter Matisse. These were creative on their own part. But Bergson opened new vistas to each.  Among the scientists so inspired are Ilya Prigogine with his nonlinear thermodynamics, Alexis Carrel's  and Pierre Lecomte du Nouy"s chronobiology, and the notion of episodic memory, so central to the new memory science.

9-22-2015Themes Of Injustice And Sexism In The Abortion Debate

John Ferrer, B.A., MDiv., Th.M., Ph.D.

The pro-life position has so far failed to usurp the collective force of the "Justice Argument" for Women's rights (including abortion-choice). Yet, with dozens of new restrictions passed at the state level just last year, it would seem like they are still winning. How can this be? One reason might be the sly and sometimes persuasive tactic of using the same argument against Abortion-choice advocates. In particular, they can rebrand the "Justice Argument" in terms of "female" rights, and include fetuses on par with women. Moreover, this retooled "Justice Argument" has been known to appeal to traditional models of femininity (as if the advance of women generally, must benefit every woman specifically) and to sex-selective abortion. I suggest that it's too murky and distracting for them to phrase the justice argument in terms of (positively) reinforcing traditional roles of women. However, i admit that the pro-life camp may be right regarding sex selective abortion, but abortion-choice advocates can concede that point with no serious threat to their core commitment to justice and sexual equality.

Our recording of  Dr. Ferrer's talk turned itself off after 10 minutes, so you'll have to read his paper to get his views. Click the link below to open the paper.
The Justice Argument for Abortion

10-13-2015:  Does Philosophy Have A Future?

Robert Frodeman, Ph.D.

It is increasingly doubtful that academic philosophy can thrive in an era of declining budgets, soaring debts, antipathy to tax increases, and new technologies such as distance education. Philosophy is secure at America’s elite universities. But what of the vast number of universities whose future is tied to the decisions of state legislatures or other financial trends?
Academic philosophy is now subject to powerful cultural trends that include a distrust of the public realm, a utilitarian habit of mind where only what is countable actually counts, and a widespread assumption that “values” are mere preferences to be tabulated and traded rather than critically assessed and debated. The philosophic community needs to respond to these dangers in a thoughtful and proactive way. This presentation will address the four aspects to the challenge this community now faces.

10-27-2015: Noumena, Phenomena, Intuition and Epistemology

Win Galbraith, Ph. D., Retired Philosophy Porfessor

I want to look briefly at several sample episodes in the history of thought where something profound was happening.  These have been illuminative for me and have shaped my own thoughts on epistemology.  I want to share with you my own speculative conclusions which are controversial enough to place me in a minority position.  Then I want to engage with you in critical evaluations of these inferences.


11-10-2015: Our Children, Our Selves

Jean Kazez, Ph.D., SMU

Jean Kazez will discuss how parental love relates to romantic love and self love, exploring an idea first clearly articulated by Aristotle:  “A parent, then, loves his children as he loves himself. For what has come from him is a sort of other self.”

11-24-2015: How The Brain Works--A Neurochemistry Of The Mind

Paul Tobolowsky, MD

Surviving in a universe isn’t easy.  Somehow through the interaction of matter and energy outside our body with matter and energy on the inside, we must generate a mental model of the world and of ourselves accurate enough to sustain our life.  Science is just beginning to understand some of the brain architecture and electrochemical processes through which information is encoded and emotions emerge.
Through the opportunities and limitations provided by our sensory systems and brain, we produce a vivid, biased, multimodal model of the world through which we not only survive, but use our mind to explore itself. What more fitting topic could there be for the Philosophers Forum than to investigate recent discoveries regarding the physical basis of “mind”?  

12-8-2015: Freedom, Creativity, And Manipulation

Eric Barnes, Ph.D., SMU

Compatibilism holds that determinism and moral responsibility are compatible.  One important argument against compatibilism is the manipulation argument – which claims that subjects who are the victims of global manipulation (their entire character, beliefs and values are the product of manipulation) are not morally responsible, but agents who live in deterministic worlds are no different from manipulated agents with respect to moral responsibility.    I argue that there is a critical difference between manipulated and determined agents, and that is that the latter are potentially creative.    Full freedom should preserve the potential for creativity – thus the manipulation argument fails.