Workshop on Late Modern Philosophy
The BU Workshop on Late Modern Philosophy is an annual forum for presenting new work on late-eighteenth through early-twentieth-century philosophy.
THEME FOR 2017 WORKSHOP:
The theme for the 2017 workshop is nihilism and cultural decadence. Early in the nineteenth century, Friedrich Jacobi argued that Enlightenment humanism inevitably leads to nihilism. This charge resonated with the thinkers of the time: discussions of nihilism began appearing in works of literature (e.g., in works by Turgenev and Dostoevsky) and philosophy. The concept of nihilism was not univocal. It was variously characterized as a loss of commitment to values; a sense of the ultimate futility of life; an inability to be guided or informed by a sense of what is worthwhile; a collapse of value in the face of rational inquiry; and one could go on and on. Interestingly, though, there was a common thread: many thinkers treated nihilism as primarily manifest in culture. Thus, to cite one example, Nietzsche’s rich reflections on nihilism evince little concern with whether any particular individual embraces nihilism; rather, he focuses on showing that modern culture exhibits distinctive forms of collective pathology that give rise to nihilism. This idea of a distinctively cultural illness, either produced by or consisting in nihilism, plays a prominent role in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This workshop will examine these discussions as they emerge in thinkers including Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, and Heidegger, as well as in contemporary philosophical work.
Paul Katsafanas (BU)
The Workshop provides speakers with an opportunity to receive constructive feedback on work in progress. Papers are distributed in advance and should be read prior to the workshop. At the workshop, the participants give brief summaries of their papers; this is followed by an hour of discussion per paper. The discussion is open to all audience members.
745 Commonwealth Avenue, Room 325
2017 Workshop Schedule