Philosophy as a Performative Way of Life: Writing and Beyond

When:2 Mar 2016, 12pm - 1:30pm
Venue:Morven Brown 310 (map ref C20)
Who:Richard Shusterman (Florida Atlantic University)
Richard Shusterman

Philosophy Seminar


Philosophy is typically identified with textual practices of reading and writing and oral dialog that have long dominated the genre. But it has also, especially in ancient times, fiercely asserted itself as something other and more than textual exercises. Philosophy claimed to be a comprehensive way of life, an art of living dedicated to the pursuit of wisdom (as the word “philosophia” implies), and therefore likewise dedicated to the practices that such pursuit of living wisely should entail. The recovery of this image of philosophy at the end of the twentieth century has been largely due to the path-breaking efforts of Pierre Hadot and Michel Foucault. But almost a century earlier we find the same aim of recovering philosophy as an art of living in pragmatists like William James and John Dewey, who (like Nietzsche) found inspiration in Emerson’s idea of perfectionist self-cultivation and self-stylization, an idea that Montaigne most powerfully expressed in Renaissance thought. “To compose our character is our duty, not to compose books.” This talk explores the idea and limits of philosophy without writing but also the idea of philosophical work beyond the realm of words, and the relation of language and the non-linguistic in the philosophically inspired discipline of somaesthetics.

About Richard Shusterman

Richard Shustermanrecieved his doctorate in Philosophy from St. John's College, Oxford University. From 1998-2004, he served as chair of the Philosophy Department at Temple University, and in 2004 was appointed the Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar Chair in the Humanities at Florida Atlantic University. He is also associated with the Collège International de Philosophie in Paris. Professor Shusterman's research ranges widely from high-brow topics to popular culture, integrating perspectives from European, American, Jewish, African-American, and East-Asian studies. His books include Body Consciousness (2008); Surface and Depth (2002); Performing Live (2000); Practicing Philosophy: Pragmatism and the Philosophical Life (1997); Sous l'interprétation (1994), Pragmatist Aesthetics: Living Beauty, Rethinking Art (1992, 2nd edition 2000); and T.S. Eliot and the Philosophy of Criticism (1988).

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