embodied values conferene – edinburgh

Well, if this isn’t a conference I’d love to participate in, I don’t know what is:

Sensory Worlds: Environment, Value and the Multi-Sensory, 7-9 December 2011

It is through our senses that we investigate, navigate and know the world around us and the other beings, forces and phenomena that constitute it in its rich and lively variety. To consider the nature of sensory being is to be confronted by questions that examine the ways in which we engage with our environments and those that interrogate the very nature of embodiment. Constantly at work and yet often undervalued, the sensorium is broader and more complex than the traditional Western classifications of the five senses allow. Intermingling and constantly shifting with our attention and experiences, our senses orient us in the world (though sometimes they also disorient us). We sense the world and are at once both part of it and other from it. Moving through a terrain, feeling the resistance of the ground beneath our feet or the push of the crowd, or smelling the fumes of diesel and the throbbing heat of a machine engine, or quietly tracing the intricate lines of wood carvings made by another hand in another time, or tasting the sharp or bitter flavours of foods unfamiliar to the palate, or re-imagining the suffered pain of an ugly injury; all such episodes and more raise the question of how our senses play a role in human flourishing and well-being. Furthermore, they illuminate the ways in which our actions, values and ways of understanding the world are rooted in our sentience – which is ever becoming and allowing of us to exceed ourselves.

Sensory Worlds engages with these and other issues; considering ‘worlds’ in a particularly ecological light in order to ask: what contribution can a sensorially-engaged Humanities make to environmental thinking and action? The conference will examine the multi-sensory and will reflect upon the historical, contemporary and possible future relations between the senses (from balance to taste to the haptic and beyond). It will be an interdisciplinary, interrogative and exploratory meeting that will make space for sensorially-engaged scholarship and practice, and will facilitate discursive and constructive meetings between a variety of scholars working on themes related to embodiment, ecology and value. Contributions are invited from those working within the humanities, arts and social sciences. We are interested in contributions that will themselves embody alternatives to the presuppositions common to Western twentieth century engagement with the world such as anthropocentrism, mind-body dualism, and isolated subjectivity.

of late

So I’ve been going through a lot of transitions lately, and I’m not yet calm enough to get myself to sit down and write a proper, coherent post. I can say that I’ve moved into a new apartment in Grove City, PA, which lies about 7 miles north of Slippery Rock University. I begin teaching at SRU on Monday. My colleagues are all wonderful people and, although I’ll be swamped with teaching responsibilities, I’m quite excited about my new gig. Of necessity I’ve acquired a new car, which is the first I’ve owned in a decade. Long live public transit!

Hopefully I’ll be posting more regularly and getting back to serious academic work. Right now I’m trying to squeeze in Chuck Klosterman’s Eating the Dinosaur and a hike at McConnells Mill State Park. Fall projects included editing the first volume of Singularum; editing the habit book, Automated Action; attending the Pittsburgh Area Philosophy colloquium; speaking at West Chester University about ‘why philosophy?'; and revising Plastic Bodies, the book. Yeah, I got that.

some ridiculous words

I just heard someone use the word ‘gerrymandering’. It’s a silly-sounding word. I think ‘glom’ and ‘glomming’ is also a bit silly. Recently I saw a poll for the ‘most beautiful word in the English language’. I don’t know what word won, but I sure hope glom and gerrymander came in last and second to last.

Incidentally, I think the suffix ‘-ness’ makes any word sound lazy. Something about ‘-ness’ signals a lack of inventiveness.

Of course, it’s ridiculous to mention things like this. But it’s my blog, so I can be ridiculous once in a while.

some music lately

I’ve acquired just a few new albums this summer, all of which I can recommend enthusiastically to anyone. There is no real coherence to the styles, but each album possesses its own virtues. Among those albums are the latest from No Age, James Blake, Bon Iver, and The Weeknd. I’m looking forward to the release of Lenses Alien by Cymbals Eat Guitars, whose Why There Are Mountains was my favorite release of 2009.

Summer, of course, is the festival season. Lots of great acts are on tour. If I could see one band right this moment, however, it would be Frightened Rabbit, who performed a couple years ago at CMU in Pittsburgh. This Scottish bunch may not be at the edge of the avant-garde, but if you ever want to see a band who is as excited to be playing as you are about listening, it’s difficult to outdo FR.

in another iteration of myself

If I could do my philosophical trajectory all over again, there’s a good chance that I would have devoted all of my intellectual energy to the history of early modern philosophy and science, just so I could write books like the following. Which is to say, I hope to have the time to indulge in these books in the near future.

Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern


Stephen Gaukroger, The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of Sensibility

Lorraine Daston, Histories of Scientific Observation