Henry James seminar — Friday 28th November

Danielle Petherbridge, UCD, will be leading a seminar on Henry James for our Portraits of Integrity series, this Friday 2-5pm. More information here. Please do get in touch if you’d like to participate.

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Self, Motivation and Virtue Project — Funding deadline 1st December

Marquette University is inviting letters of interest for new research projects on the topics of the self, motivation, and virtue. Approximately ten research proposals at $190,000 each (funded by a Templeton grant) will be awarded through this initiative.

Our purpose is to open the “self” framework as an alternative to the “personality” framework for the study of virtue, in particular, for the study of the role of motivations in virtuous dispositions and behavior. Research on the self, motivation, and virtue, especially moral/virtuous motivation, is of vital importance to the study of virtue and the central focus of our research proposal.

More info here.

Let us know if you’re planning to apply and would like to link your project to the Integrity Project. We can host you on our projects page and help share your work.

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The Ideal of Intellectual Integrity, in Life and Literature

Susan Haack’s essay (in New Literary History 36, 2005) uses The Way of All Flesh to explore the ideal of intellectual integrity, though characterizations of its absense and failures in literature. She identifies a particularly pernicious failure, in which one hides from oneself that one is not actually inquiring in good faith – or, in which one pretends first of all to oneself that one is trying to find the truth, when in fact one is indifferent to it. She uses the shock and dismay of the main character’s dawning realization to make us also come to realize just how much sham and pretence there is in everyday life, and in particular right where it should not be: among those who supposedly devote their lives to the pursuit of truth. The essay draws on a diverse range of historical sources – including a surprising quote from Hitler.

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Simone Weil: Portraits of Integrity

David Levy’s introduction to our Portraits of Integrity meeting on Simone Weil.

Readings

  • Simone Weil, “Human Personality” reprinted in Simone Weil, Selected Essays 1934-43, ed. R. Rees, Oxford University Press, 1962.*
  • Simone Weil, “Are We Struggling for Justice?” Philosophical Investigations, Volume 10, Issue 1, pages 1–10, January 1987.

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Hannah Arendt on Plurality, Spaces of Meaning, and Integrity

The following paper was presented at Saints and Madmen: Integrity at its Limits, at the Einstein Forum in June 2014. Continue reading

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Simone Weil workshop with David Levy, 26th September

Our Portraits of Integrity workshops restart this month with Dr David Levy (Edinburgh University) on Simone Weil. As usual we meet 2-5pm in Newcastle. Full details of the meeting here and a full meeting schedule for this semester here. Please be in touch if you would like copies of the readings, or are interested in participating in the series.

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Art and Subculture: Protecting integrity in the marketplace — Call for help

I am considering submitting a proposal to run a Cumberland Lodge Colloquium on the above topic. The starting point is this extract Grayson Perry’s 2013 Reith Lectures:

And this idea of being sincere, real, being realness, having integrity, sincerity, authenticity – these are qualities that artists need, you know, to make their work; and they should protect them.

But these qualities, they are very, very valuable in the marketplace. … especially in the urban ecology. And if you think of artists, they’re like the shock troops of gentrification. We march in. We’re the first people to go we like this old warehouse, yeah we need a cheap studio. You know so that’s what happens – artists move into the cheap housing and the cheap spaces and they make them … you know they do their work and they’re quite cool and a little bit of a buzz starts up. And then maybe a little café opens up and people start saying, “Ooh, that’s kind of interesting, that area where those artists hang out. I think I’m going to go down there.” And people start noticing, you know, and maybe some designers open up and a little boutique. You know and suddenly, before you know it, the dead hand of the developer is noticing it. And before you know it, the designers move in and that’s it. – bang goes the area.” (Greyson Perry, Reith Lectures)

I’ve been working with Ilana Mitchell Wunderbar and other local artists to think about some of these issues. I’d like to hear from philosophers, urban planners, sociologists, economists, geographers, historians, artists … Anyone who might like to be involved in shaping the proposal and — if we’re successful — putting on the event.  PhD students are also warmly encouraged to be in touch.

Please share widely.

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Humanity in dark times

The following paper was presented at Saints and Madmen: Integrity at its Limits, at the Einstein Forum in June 2014. Continue reading

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Leo Tolstoy: Portraits of Integrity

Charlotte Alston’s introduction to our Portraits of Integrity meeting on Leo Tolstoy.

Readings

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Xunzi on integrity of langauge

Picking up on a passage in Confucius (Kongzi) on the ‘rectification of names’, Xunzi (later 3rd C. b.c.e.) argues at length for the importance of integrity in language, in Chapter 22 ‘On Correct Naming’ (tr. Ivanhoe and Van Norden). In the good old days, Xunzi says:

“they called it a great vileness to mince words and recklessly create names so as to disorder the correct names and thereby confuse the people and cause them to engage in much disputation and litigation. This wrongdoing was considered to be just like the crime of forging tallies and measures…[Nowadays] strange words have arisen, the names and their corresponding objects are disordered, and the forms of right and wrong are unclear…. If the names and their corresponding objects are tied together in a confused fashion, then the distinction between noble and base will not be clear, and the like and unlike will not be differentiated.”

On the importance of using language correctly in order to think correctly, and so act correctly, it is worth comparing this chapter to Orwell’s discussion of the use and abuse of language. One of the important connections Xunzi draws out here is that between having suitable names and being able to value correctly.

When a student asked in seminar whether we thought Xunzi was right that mixed-up language can lead to mixed-up valuing, I put it to the students to come up with examples. They had a field day! They drew on historical and contemporary political instance; and they are very alert to, and suspicious of, marketing tricks of naming. The likening of language abuse to forgery and fraud bears further reflection.

 

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