Fall 2018

October 2nd: James Kreines (Professor of Philosophy, Claremont McKenna College), “Absolute Idealism and the Metaphysical Definitions of God: Hegel on Aristotle and Spinoza” (Foster 505)


October 18th: Lindsay Atnip (PhD candidate, Committee on Social Thought), “The Search for Tragic Form in Norman Maclean’s Young Men and Fire” (Foster 305)

A consideration of modern tragedy and the kind of intelligibility we seek through literary form, through a reading of Maclean’s personal and poetic account of the events leading to the deaths of thirteen Smokejumpers in a 1949 forest fire, and of his own investigation of these events–his attempt, as he puts it, to “transform catastrophe into tragedy.”


November 29th: Leon Wash, (PhD candidate, Classics), “Nomos and Physis in Empedocles” (Classics  21 @3:30pm)

n.b. This is a joint event with Rhetoric & Poetics. Please heed the unusual time and location.


December 6th: Jane Mikkelson (PhD candidate, South Asian Languages and Civilizations), “Figures of Imagination: Avicenna’s Phoenix and the Lyric Thought of Bīdel (d. 1721)” (Foster 305)

The phoenix (‘anqā) appears in the philosophy of Avicenna as his example of a “vain intelligible,” a fictional being that exists in the soul but not in the world. This remarkable bird is also notable (along with the Earth, the moon, and the sun) for being a species of one. In this paper, I analyze the afterlife of Avicenna’s phoenix example in lyric thought of the early modern Islamic intellectual and Persian poet Bīdel of Delhi (d. 1721), famous for his difficult lyric poetry and his philosophical autobiography, The Four Elements. The metaphor of the phoenix—an Arabian bird for Shakespeare, but more frequently associated with India in the Islamic world—allows Bīdel to color Avicenna’s empirical epistemology with shades of Indic thought (transmigration of souls, the infinity of time). I argue that Bīdel exploits the singularity, ontological murkiness, and conceptual evocativeness of Avicenna’s phoenix example, fashioning it into one of the governing metaphors through which he articulates his own arguments about mind, self, and the status of the imagination.

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