Dr Antonia Peacocke (NYU) at the Philosophy Research Seminar

In June’s Philosophy Research Seminar, Dr Antonia Peacocke from New York University spoke to us about how literature expands the imagination.

According to Dr Peacocke, poetic devices in literature can direct your attention to previously unnoticed phenomenal properties of your own experiences. allowing you to conceptualize those previously unnoticed properties. One upshot is that literature can help you form new phenomenal concepts to expand the range of your active phenomenal imagination.


PhD Success: Susanne Mathies

Congratulations to Susanne Mathies, who recently completed her PhD “The Simulated Self – Fiction Reading and Narrative Identity”.

L-R: Manuel Dries (internal examiner); Carolyn Price (supervisor); Susanne Mathies; Kathleen Stock (University of Sussex, external examiner).

In the thesis, Susanne develops an account that explores the relation between fiction reading and the reader’s narrative identity. The account is based on two starting assumptions: first, that human beings are entangled in stories throughout their lives, and second, that emotions are complex and have a narrative structure. During the reading process, the fiction reader creates her own narratives which contain not only the story provided by the work of fiction, but also event sequences from her own experiential memories. This involves the creation of self-conscious emotions, which can continue after the reading is finished, and can motivate the reader to engage in self-reflection and to refigure her self-narrative. Susanne’s account thus examines a new topic: the interactive influence of fiction reading and the fiction reader’s narrative identity.

Recent PhD Graduate Susanne Mathies Publishes in Philosophia

Dr Susanne Mathies, who recently passed her PhD viva at the Open University, has published “The Simulated Self – Fiction Reading and Narrative Identity” in Philosophia. The article develops a new model of fiction reading, built on two assumptions: that human beings are entangled in stories, and that emotions are complex and have a narrative structure.

The article is open access, and can be read here.

Susanne was supervised by Dr Carolyn Price and Professor Derek Matravers.

A Companion to Nineteenth-Century Philosophy

John Shand, a long-standing OU Tutor and Associate Lecture, has edited A Companion to Nineteenth-Century Philosophy, which has just been published as part of the prestigious  (not to say incredibly useful) Blackwell’s Companions series.

Contents below. Follow the link to the publisher’s site for more information.

  • Introduction / John Shand
  1. Transcendental Idealism: Kant / John J. Callanan
  2. Theory of Science: Fichte, Schelling / Gabriel Gottlieb
  3. Absolute Idealism: Hegel / Sebastian Stein
  4. The World as Will and Representation: Schopenhauer / Mary S. Troxell
  5. Historicizing Naturalism: Mill, Comte / Christopher Macleod
  6. The Single Individual is Higher than the Universal: Kierkegaard / Karl Aho and C. Stephen Evans
  7. The Rise of Liberal Utilitarianism: Bentham, Mill / Piers Norris Turner
  8. Critique of Religion: Strauss, Feuerbach, Marx / Todd Gooch
  9. Historical Materialism: Marx / Jan Kandiyali
  10. Philosophy and Historical Meaning: Schleiermacher, Dilthey / Benjamin D. Crowe
  11. Late Utilitarian Moral Theory and Its Development: Sidgwick, Moore / Anthony Skelton
  12. American Pragmatism: From Peirce to James / Douglas McDermid
  13. The Value of Our Values: Nietzsche / Andrew Huddleston
  14. British Idealism: Green, Bradley, McTaggart / James Connolly and Giuseppina D’Oro
  15. Neo-Kantianism: Marburg, Southwest School / Evan Clarke
  16. The Origins of Phenomenology in Austro-German Philosophy: Brentano, Husserl / Guillaume Fréchette
  17. New Logic and the Seeds of Analytical Philosophy: Boole, Frege / Kevin C. Klement
  18. Time, Memory and Creativity: Bergson / Michael Kelly

Reminder: Cultural Heritage and the Ethics of War (Conference)

Early Bird registration is still available (until May 15th) for the first Heritage in War conference, which is on the theme of:

Cultural Heritage and the Ethics of War

The aim of the conference is to begin to develop a robust account of the status of heritage in war by exploring philosophical work on such matters as incommensurability and incomparability, the nature and status of cultural heritage, risk imposition, and the reconstruction and replacement of damaged or destroyed heritage.

  • Homerton College, University of Cambridge
  • 18th to 19th September, 2019
  • Keynote speakers: Simon Blackburn, Ruth Chang, Victor Tadros

For more information about the conference, including registration and the latest news on the wider project, visit the project website.

The philosophy in Frankenstein (talk in Belfast, March 28 2019)

Alex Barber gave a talk on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as part of the Belfast Imagine festival on March 28th. In it, he talked about the surprising presence within Mary Shelley’s famous and much-loved novel of her mother and father – the philosophers Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin.

Wollstonecraft, who was called ‘a hyena in petticoats’ and a ‘philosophizing serpent’ (and worse) by male critics, is best known today for her revolutionary manifesto, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. She died ten days after giving birth to Mary Shelley but, as Alex explained in his talk, her ideas live on in the words of her daughter’s extraordinary novel.