Digest Week 6 Trinity Term 2023

TT23, Week 6 (28th May - 3rd June)

If you have entries for the weekly Digest, please send information to admin@philosophy.ox.ac.uk by midday, Wednesday the week before the event. 

Notices - other Philosophy events, including those taking place elsewhere in the university and beyond


Hegel Reading Group

We shall be meeting Tuesdays 6-7.30 pm on Skype; please email susanne.hermann-sinai@philosophy.ox.ac.uk for the Skype link. 

This term and the next we are reading Hegel’s Anthropology, in the ‘Philosophy of Mind’ (translation is by Wallace and Miller) but we will work from the Michael Inwood revision (OUP 2007). We are aiming to get to the end at para 412 so we will not read the Zusätze in the sessions (these can be read on your own). The reading is posted each week on hegelinoxford.wordpress.com.



Oxford Work in Progress Political Theory Seminar

Kushti Westwood: 'Sex Work, Exploitation & Struggle' Comments by Becky Clark

Sania Ismailee: 'Uniform Civil Code is about Jurisdictional Autonomy: Perspective from Political Theory' Comments by Shai Agmon

The seminar will take place on Thursday, 4-6pm in the Butler Room at Nuffield College.

This is a hybrid session. If you cannot participate in person, please let us know (theo.hickfang@wolfson.ox.ac.uk) and we will ensure you can join online.


Out of the Question, Community: A Reading Seminar on Maurice Blanchot

At once everywhere and nowhere, the question of community insists today more than ever. Drawing out Blanchot's perspective will be our goal.

How to pose the question of community today? That is: how to pose it in a world globalized yet characterized by a tendency to increase the protection of borders? How to pose it on a continent whose union some of its members have recently “exited”, and whose territory was, for the first time since WWII, recently invaded and has been a battleground ever since? How to pose the question of community in a cultural context that (finally) deems diversity and inclusion of vital importance but struggles to realize “inclusive” communities?

Impossible and necessary, community then seems to be everywhere and nowhere to be found. But was community ever anywhere to be found? Or does something within its very idea defy the possibility of a locus?

In this reading seminar, we will make a joint attempt at evaluating if and how Maurice Blanchot’s pathbreaking The Unavowable Community can help us pose the question of community today. The text, published in 1983 and consisting of the essays “The Negative Community” and “The Community of Lovers”, formed a direct response to a text on the same topic by Jean-Luc Nancy, itself a reading of Blanchot’s work, and theorizes community as exposure to loss. As the backflap of the English translation has it, The Unavowable Community “is an inquiry into the nature and possibility of community, asking whether there can be a community of individuals that is truly ‘communal.’ The problem, for Blanchot, is that the very terms of an ideal community make an ‘avowal’ of membership in it a violation of the terms themselves.”

Rhythmed by the progression of The Unavowable Community, of which we will close-read small portions each session, as well as context-providing readings and filmic excursions, we hope to come to an understanding of community as exposure to loss. Along the way, we will, too, problematize the idea’s articulation in the work’s structure: how to posit a loss without betraying it? If community is exposure to loss, how, indeed, are we to come together and read it? Picking up yet another of Blanchot’s gloves, we will continue some of the discussions on the self-loss of the One in relation to the Other initiated during last term’s Autofiction & Blanchot reading group. If my relation to the Other can only emerge as a relation without relation, would our community not be a matter of holding the hands that never hold?

The event takes place on Thursday 1 June 2023 between 4:30 and 6:30pm at Worcester College

To register please click here.


AHEC Seminar

Professor Paul Cooke (Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures, School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, University of Leeds): 'Changing the Story: Youth-led development, Accountability and Voice'

This will be a hybrid seminar between 11-12noon in the Big Data Institute, Lower Ground Seminar Room 0.

In this talk, I’ll give an overview of some of the work carried out by the AHRC/GCRF Network Plus programme Changing the Story: building civil society with and for young people in conflict-affected settings (https://changingthestory.leeds.ac.uk/). This was a 5 year project working in 12 conflict affected settings that sought to explore the efficacy of youth-led development programmes run in partnership with a wide variety of civil society organisations. In the process I’ll explore a range of issues that emerged from this work, highlighting the limits of, and challenges to, youth-led project design in many development settings, as well as the role of participatory arts-based methods in this work. I’ll discuss the extent to which such practices can, on the one hand, provide a useful space to question extant power structures, thereby amplifying the voices of the young people involved. Yet on the other, they can also play into these same structures, potentially emphasising the marginal position of young people in such settings, preventing them from either speaking or being listened to.

If you would like to join online, please register here.



The Critical Theory Reading Group

This term we will be reading Capitalism: A conversation in critical theory, by Nancy Fraser and Rahel Jaeggi Cambridge.

Meetings will be 1.30–3.00pm on Fridays in the Le May Room, Worcester College.

For more details, please email either Rachel Fraser (Philosophy) or Ben Morgan (German).


Socratic Society

Professor Eric Olson: 'Is it irrational to fear the teletransporter?'

The event will be held on Friday of Week 6 from 7.30-10pm at the Lecture Room, Wycliffe Hall.

The teletransporter invites us to question common intuitions about personal identity. This week, we are hosting Professor Eric Olson to give an opening speech on the thought experiment. Professor Olson is known for his research on personal identity, and for advocating animalism, the theory that persons are animals. 

The Socratic Society hosts weekly relaxed philosophy debate events, where anyone can come up to speak for up to 5 minutes on the motion at hand. Attendees are encouraged to engage in Socratic dialogue by taking questions from the floor. 

Tickets are £6 (£3 for members), with drinks and snacks included. Buy tickets here. You can also find us on Facebook for more details.


Event Cancelled - Imogen Goold (Professor of Medical Law, University of Oxford): Medical Treatment Decisions and Children: Judicial Values and Determining Best Interests

Friday, 2 June 2023, 3–4:30pm at the Oxford Uehiro Centre, Suite 1 Littlegate House, 16-17 St Ebbe’s Street, Oxford OX1 1PT (buzzer 1)

This lecture explores the issue of how judges do (and should) arrive at decisions that are in the best interests of children. It poses the question of how, where the decision invokes issues of value on which there can be reasonable disagreement, a court can legitimately come to a decision for a child when that child, or their parents, do not share that position. A good example would be on whether quality of life is more important than length of life in cases of terminal illness.

This is an in-person event and booking is not required.