Call for Papers

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“The Self: Object of Beliefs and Passions. Hume and Contemporary Readings”

Thursday 17th — Friday 19th January 2019

Paris Nanterre University(France)

At the end of the first book of his Treatise of Human Nature (1739), Hume wrote, « when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception ». This remark has since been much discussed, and continues today to fuel the debate around the concept of self.

Since T. Reid, the idea that there is no such thing as a « substantial » self and the arguments underlying it, have been subjected to intense scrutiny and criticisms. Reid (1785) considered the doctrine incompatible with the mere possibility of free will, or thought itself, as both presupposes a thinking being that can acknowledge itself as itself. T. Penelhum (1955) or W. Fang (1984) question the strict opposition between difference and identity that is at the basis of the Humean indictment against the substantialist notion of self.

The debate around Hume’s doctrine is also an exegetical one. Hume, as we tend to forget, developed further in the Treatise (in Book II, on the Passions) a positive theory of the self, which seems to contradict the sceptical approach of Book I. This positive dimension of the Humean thesis has been the subject of divergent interpretations, both in terms of determining how to understand it in itself (as evidenced for example by the dispute between JI Biro (1979) and JL McIntyre (1979) or more recently in the readings of F. Brahami (2001), G. Strawson (2011) or E. Le Jallé (2014)) as to its relation to the negative thesis of the first book (see WL Robinson 1974, M. Malherbe 2001, A. Carlson 2009).

Finally, the excerpt from the Treatise has become, if not the master formula, at least one of the leading slogans of what is now called the “no self theory”, according to which nothing like the self exists, a doctrine variously defended by philosophers like D. Parfit (1984), DC Dennett (1986), or T. Metzinger (2003). In many ways the opposition between realism and antirealism, on the issue of the self, structures the contemporary debates in contemporary philosophy of mind. It is central for issues such as personal identity (Do we persist over time, and under which conditions? What determines the number of people at a given time? What kind of things are we?), self-knowledge (Are there different forms of self-knowledge? and if so, what are they, and should one be preferred over another? What types of first-person knowledge are immune to error through misidentification? ), or unity of the mind (to what extent is it legitimate to believe in the unity of mental contents? What is the cause of this unity? What is self-consciousness? and how does it relate to consciousness in general ?).

This conference has therefore two main objectives

1 / A first day will be devoted to the discussion of Hume’s thesis in exegetical terms, in order to better understand it not only in the context of the first book, but also within the general economy of the work.

2 / In a second day, we will try to grasp the role and forms that the Humean heritage takes in contemporary debates on the self, but also how a fresh look at Hume’s text could open up new avenues within these discussions.


Submission Guidelines:

Abstracts can be submitted in English or French and should include a title and not exceed 1500 words. Abstracts must be anonymized and sent to the organizers ( by 1 November 2018. Replies will be sent on 15 November 2018.


            The Organizers:

Alexandre Charrier (Paris Nanterre University)

Claire Etchegaray (Paris Nanterre University)

Philippe Hamou (Paris Nanterre University)

Call for papers for “Ephemeris”



Undergraduate Journal of Philosophy

Call for undergraduate papers

Ephemeris is an undergraduate journal of philosophy dedicated to publishing exceptional undergraduate writing grounded in the distinct value and interest of the philosophical endeavor.

Contributions: Contributions are solicited in all areas of the philosophical discipline. Contributions should take the form of essay, article, or short note. Review articles are welcome. Please include a short abstract describing the thesis of the paper and main conclusions.

Submission: Be sure to include your name, postal and email addresses, and the university or college in which you are enrolled as an undergraduate.

Please send your work and any correspondence to You should receive a confirmation of receipt shortly thereafter.

Submission Deadline: January 6th, 2019.

For more information about Ephemeris and submission guidelines, please visit our website at

Limited numbers of print copies of Ephemeris 2018 are available October 22nd
or read articles at thank our authors for the quality of this edition!

On writing

Available at Barnes and Noble

Stephen King’s books have sold over 350 million copies. Like them or loathe them, you have to admit that’s impressive. King’s manual On Writing reveals that he’s relentlessly dedicated to his craft. He admits that not even The King himself always sticks to his rules—but trying to follow them is a good start. Here are our favorite pieces of advice for aspiring writers.

Go forth!!

Sunday’s Sermon: on Faith/faith

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Please excuse me if I use the “F” word often. I realize that many people are afraid of that word and are disgusted by its frequent use in contemporary letters. Even tough-minded scientists like Jerry Coyne are quick to correct themselves if the “F” word sneaks out. In a recent Point of Inquiry podcast, Coyne, in talking about his book Why Evolution is True, says “most evolutionists take it [the evidence for evolution] on faith … well, not faith…”. He immediately corrects himself and restructures the sentence. It was as if he had used the other “f” word in a church or mosque.

Faith is the “F” word that people either love or hate.

Much of the problem with the “f” word comes about because of a built in ambiguity between capital F and small case faith. Faith/faith: Faith = belief without compelling evidence; while faith = trust, or beliefs that are knowable in principle. For example when my Catholic acquaintance eats the wafer he has Faith that it will transubstantiate; when I go to start my car in the morning I have faith that it will start. If my car does not start it is possible in principle for me or a mechanic to determine what’s wrong. If the wafer does not change to the flesh of Christ conversion is the only solution.

In science, William James notes, we can afford to await the outcome of investigation before coming to a belief, but in other cases we are “forced,” in that we must come to some belief even if all the relevant evidence is not in. If I am on a isolated mountain trail, faced with an icy ledge to cross, and do not know whether I can make it, I may be forced to consider the question whether I can or should believe that I can cross the ledge. This question is not only forced, it is “momentous”: if I am wrong I may fall to my death, and if I believe rightly that I can cross the ledge, my holding of the belief may itself contribute to my success. In such a case, James asserts, I have the “right to believe” — precisely because such a belief may help bring about the fact believed in. This is a case “where a fact cannot come at all unless a preliminary faith exists in its coming”.

Faith is required for religious belief. Faith is the way of knowing for the religious believer. Faith is, in this religious sense, more like hope.

Remember 9/11 was a Faith based enterprise.

For the scientific minded Faith is merely an emotion, a state of mind. It is to believe without any evidence. Tertullian’s “I believe because it is absurd” catches this sense. I’ll let Nietzsche have the last word:
“’Faith’ means not wanting to know what is true.”

Recently we talked about truth using the same notion of capital T/ small t to unpack the ambiguity that abounds in the use of the term. As you can see faith works in much the same way. Just think for a minute of all the Catholic parents who had FAITH that their children were safe with the friendly parish priest. Those parents would never do anything to put their children in danger. They were certain that all was well in the safety of the church.

But as we learned here certainty is demonic.

Papers from grad students


Univie Summer School – Scientific World Conceptions (USS-SWC) July 1–12,

The main lecturers are

Prof. Rachel Cooper (Lancaster University),
Prof. Dominic Murphy (The University of Sydney) and
Prof. Tim Thornton (University of Central Lancashire).

The program is directed primarily to graduate students and junior
researchers in fields related to the annual topic, but the organizers
also encourage applications from gifted undergraduates and from people
in all stages of their career who wish to broaden their horizon through
crossdisciplinary studies of methodological and foundational issues in

The topic of the two-week course is “Philosophy and Psychiatry”:

By its very nature, psychiatry – the medical specialism devoted to
mental healthcare – raises as many conceptual as empirical questions.
The philosophy of psychiatry is a rapidly emerging field which draws
broadly on philosophical traditions – centrally analytic philosophy and
phenomenology – to address a range of questions as broad as the demands
made on psychiatry to address problems of human suffering, distress and
disorder. It is also an area where philosophical methods, accounts and
theories can be applied to and thus tested against psychiatric and
psychopathological phenomena. But at its heart lies the question of
whether, since psychiatry sees itself as part of medicine, the medical
conceptualisation of illness and disease can be articulated in such a
way that it properly applies to the distinct ‘problems of living’ that
psychiatry addresses in response to the crisis of legitimacy often
raised. This summer school will address a number key questions which
impact on mental health care.

Application form and further information:

The Main Lecturers:

Rachel Cooper (Lancaster University)

Dominic Murphy (The University of Sydney)

Tim Thornton (University of Central Lancashire)

Guest lecturer:
Raffaella Campaner (Università di Bologna)

The official name of the summer school is: “The Univie Summer School –
Scientific World Conceptions (USS-SWC)”.

USS-SWC operates under the academic supervision of an International
Program Committee of distinguished philosophers, historians, and
scientists. Its members represent the scientific fields in the scope of
USS-SWC, make contact to their home universities and will also support
acknowledgement of courses taken by the students. USS-SWC is organised
every year by the Institute Vienna Circle of the University of Vienna.

Venue: Kapelle, Institut für Ethik und Recht in der Medizin, Campus der
Universität Wien, Entrance 2.8
Time: Monday, July 1, 2019, 9 a.m.

Further Information

Since 2010 USS-SWC is a part of the curriculum of the doctoral programme
“The Sciences in Historical, Philosophical and Cultural Contexts”

There is an exchange programme with Duke University (North Carolina):

For further inquiries, please send email
or consult the IVC’s Web site

Robert Kaller
Institute Vienna Circle
Spitalgasse 2-4, Hof 1, 1090 Wien
Tel. +43-1-4277-46504

Scientific director:
Prof. Martin Kusch

Martin Kusch
University of Vienna

Professor of Philosophy of Science and Epistemology
Principal Investigator ‘The Emergence of Relativism’

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New book

Muhammad as Prophet of Peace
My new book

Dear Friends:   My new book, Muhammad: Prophet of Peace amid the Clash of Empires, is out Tuesday Oct. 9.  I thought you would enjoy this review of it, which is enthusiastic and comes from a perspective I hadn’t expected, of an Evangelical World History teacher!

cheers,   Juan Cole

Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires — Juan Cole

An illuminating and balanced exploration of the life of Muhammad and his original teachings

In his new release, Juan Cole tackles the life and times of Muhammad and the founding of Islam. His argument, expertly made throughout the book, is that Muhammad promoted peace when Arabia was in the midst of war. The Roman Empire (in the form of what we now call the Byzantine Empire) and the Sasanian Empire were in constant battle, and the Arabs were pressured to align with one or the other. Muhammad, in contrast, taught the principles of peace he saw in the Bible and other sources in order to shape his new religion.

This is both enlightening and important in our current context, as Islam is seen as a religion predicated on violence and conquest. Cole breaks down these preconceived notions throughout the book. Muhammad did not promote anything resembling sharia law. The clashes that are mentioned during Muhammad’s life were defensive struggles. His “conquest” of Mecca was more akin to Martin Luther King’s “March on Washington” than an attack. Jihad, when the word is used in the Qu’ran, always refers to internal struggle rather than a “holy war”. The examples continue, and Cole spaces them remarkably to keep the focus on his main argument. It is interesting to see the ways that Islam has changed since Muhammad, and Cole spends the conclusion of Muhammad detailing these changes as compared to Muhammad’s teachings. As a historical argument, it is highly compelling.

As an evangelical Christian, I found Cole’s treatment of both Islam and Christianity extraordinarily fair to both religions. From my knowledge of both Muhammad’s teachings and the history of Islam since then, he approaches the topics without partiality and using historical documentation responsibly to make his points. He also is very upfront on the similarities between Muhammad’s teachings, Judaism, and Christianity. Muhammad often paraphrases parts of the Talmud or the Bible, and Cole points out a plethora of examples.

Pluralism and inclusivism also provide major themes in Muhammad, as Cole defines each and uses those definitions to investigate how Muhammad thought and taught of those from other religions. Pluralism is the belief that multiple religions provide equally valid paths to God. Inclusivism is the belief that all religions provide some truth, but certain religions provide more complete truth than others. His analysis of Muhammad’s religion on these grounds is enthralling:

The Qur’an embraces pluralism on the level of salvation but inclusivism at the level of theology. It allows that members of other faith communities can reach heaven. At the same time, it sees the older religions as somewhat corrupted by ideas and practices introduced over time that departed from the pure, exemplary faith of Abraham, and it does not hesitate to reproach them for these lapses. Still, God will forgive everything but outright polytheism.

This nuance to Muhammad’s beliefs about salvation and theology were so interesting to me because of the way it compares to Christianity. Christianity is inherently exclusive. Although Cole does not compare Islam and Christianity outright on those grounds, he makes clear that even as there are many similarities between Muhammad’s teachings and those of Jesus, there are irreparable differences. Here is the quote that stood out to me:

The Qur’an goes so far as to present peace activism and beneficence as the vehicle of redemption from the fall, rather than, as in Christian theology, the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

That is the divergence. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is everything to true Christians, including our redemption from Adam’s sin. If Jesus is not the Son of God but only born of a virgin, a teaching put forward by Muhammad to begin his religion, that changes everything and will never be reconcilable.

For those interested in Islam, world history, or a comparison of three major world religions as of the 7th century, I would encourage you to pick up Juan Cole’s Muhammad. The details and thinking contained within are highly illuminating and thought-provoking.