There is only a perspectival seeing, only a perspectival ‘knowing’; and the more affects we allow to speak about a matter, the more eyes, different eyes, we know how to bring to bear on one and the same matter, that much more complete will our ‘concept’ of this matter, our ‘objectivity’ be.
Thus wrote Friedrich Nietzsche, and we at the Gotham Philosophical Society agree. We believe that to make sense of something, we need to see it from as many sides as possible.
That is why we are launching a new discussion series with the aim of contributing to the pursuit of New York’s objectivity. We will be taking on all manner of ideas, issues, and topics of significance to New Yorkers, and approaching them from legal, artistic, and philosophical perspectives. We believe that a philosophical understanding cut-off from our legal reality is irrelevant, and that laws uninspired by our poetic imagination are without soul.
So please join us as we kick-off this series with a look at the concept of truth, the concept that is central to human discourse. What is truth? How can we know it? And what can it mean to say, as so many have, that we are now living in a ‘post-truth’ world? We’ll ask these questions and more, Monday, December 4, 2017, at Le Chélie NYC at 8pm.
It has been said that there are not different types or categories of music, only good music and bad music. How can we know the difference between good and bad music however? Well, on some accounts, there are indeed different types (‘low’ vs ‘high’ art), some of which are by definition bad, others good. Yet, on other accounts, music is music – there are no essential differences in kind, and it is simply each listener’s favorable or unfavorable reaction to any given song or piece of music that decides its quality. In very broad strokes, these two contrasting orientations represent attitudes common in modernist and postmodernist theories, respectively. In the former, Western classical music was privileged (unjustly, in some respects) above all other kinds. However, the latter orientation, which is currently in fashion, seems to reduce all musical meaning and appraisal to little more than our own mental projections. In this presentation, a third, alternative way to identify musical types is proposed, one that seeks to illuminate meaningful musical distinctions in the natures and functions of three musical kinds (folk, mass, and art music), with some surprising results. A brief piano performance will precede the talk.
Monday, December 11, 2017 at 6pm. This event is part of the Philosophy Series at The Cornelia Street Café, located at 29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014 (near Sixth Avenue and West 4th St.). Admission is $10, which includes the price of one drink. Reservations are recommended (212. 989.9319)
Jason Cutmore is a concert pianist, teacher, and the founder and director of the Canadian music festival, Alberta Pianofest. He has performed solo piano and collaborative recitals across much of North America, Europe, and India, and has published articles in peer review journals and trade magazines. Mr Cutmore lives in New York City, and is currently completing a Master’s degree in Philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center.
Join us Monday, June 5th at 7pm for a conversation between David Kishik, author of The Manhattan Project, and Zed Adams, co-editor of Giving a Damn, at Book Culture on 112th St.
This sharp, witty study of a book never written, a sequel to Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project, is dedicated to New York City, capital of the twentieth century. A sui generis work of experimental scholarship or fictional philosophy, it analyzes an imaginary manuscript composed by a ghost.
Part sprawling literary montage, part fragmentary theory of modernity, part implosive manifesto on the urban revolution, The Manhattan Project offers readers New York as a landscape built of sheer life. It initiates them into a world of secret affinities between photography and graffiti, pragmatism and minimalism, Andy Warhol and Robert Moses, Hannah Arendt and Jane Jacobs, the flâneur and the homeless person, the collector and the hoarder, the glass-covered arcade and the bare, concrete street. These and many other threads can all be spooled back into one realization: for far too long, we have busied ourselves with thinking about ways to change the city; it is about time we let the city change the way we think.
David Kishik is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Emerson College. He is the author of The Manhattan Project: A Theory of a City, which was just released in paperback by Stanford University Press. His previous books are The Power of Life: Agamben and the Coming Politics (Stanford, 2012) and Wittgenstein’s Form of Life (Continuum, 2008). He is also the co-translator of Giorgio Agamben’s Nudities and What Is an Apparatus.
Zed Adams is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. He is the author of Genealogy of Color: A Case Study in Historicized Conceptual Analysis (Routledge 2015) and the co-editor of Giving a Damn: Essays in Dialogue with John Haugeland (MIT 2016). He is currently working on a book on sound recording.
Join us at the Rubin Museum of Art, on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 6pm!
Society is at a crossroads. The importance of asking questions to understand where we’ve been, why we’re here, and where we’re going, has never felt more pressing.
Philosophical thought sits at the center of this quest for answers. In this talk, co-presented by the Rubin Museum of Art, Professors Amartya Sen (Economics and Philosophy, Harvard) and Akeel Bilgrami (Philosophy, Columbia) will consider the nature of philosophy in the past and present, its relation to the social sciences and humanities, and its role in public and private life, both material and spiritual.
Gotham Philosophical Society members can redeem $10 tickets using the discount code: GPS10.
|The Rubin Museum of Art|
|150 West 17th Street|
|New York, NY 10011|
Dao — often translated as “the Way” — is China’s original and invaluable contribution to philosophy. Ineffable yet inexhaustible, Dao is metaphysically profound, empirically sound, and aesthetically renowned. From quantum physics to modern medicine, from fractal geometry to martial arts, from family relations to warring states, Dao’s insights are pervasive and effective. Daoism’s practices rank with those of Buddhism and Stoicism in cultivating peoples’ “best selves.” Dao conduces to individual serenity, social harmony, and political unity. This talk will be based on Lou Marinoff’s book “The Power of Dao,” using its case studies to illustrate some foundational ideas and their applications.
Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at 6pm. This event is part of the Philosophy Series at The Cornelia Street Café, located at 29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014 (near Sixth Avenue and West 4th St.). Admission is $10, which includes the price of one drink. Reservations are recommended (212. 989.9319)
Lou Marinoff is Professor of Philosophy and Asian Studies at The City College of New York, and founding president of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association. He has authored internationally best-selling books on philosophy for everyday life. The Power of Tao reflects Lou’s lifelong devotion to Chinese philosophy. In youth he was a student of venerable Sing Ming Li, a grandmaster of Kung Fu and practitioner of Chinese medicine. In maturity Lou became a cultural advisor to venerable Xi Yongshin, Abbott of Shaolin Temple. As faculty of Horasis and the WEF, he serves global forums. His hobbies include photography, music, and tennis. Dao is his constant guide. For more information visit www.loumarinoff.com
It is a generally accepted principle of Buddhist philosophy that it denies the ultimate reality of the self as an autonomously existing entity. Yet the philosopher Rick Repetti, who is also a seasoned practitioner and instructor of meditation and yoga, argues that the Buddhist view of meditation is in fact a method of cultivating mental freedom, and that such cultivation simultaneously increases free will. Join Dr. Repetti as he takes us on a journey into the Buddhist perspective in order to dissolve the apparent tension of free will for selves that do not exist.
Wednesday, February 1 at 6pm. This event is part of the Philosophy Series at The Cornelia Street Café, located at 29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014 (near Sixth Avenue and West 4th St.). Admission is $10, which includes the price of one drink. Reservations are recommended (212. 989.9319)
Dr. Repetti is Professor of Philosophy at CUNY Kingsborough, the co-founder and co-leader of the CUNY Contemplatives Network, and a Fellow with the Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society. He has published over a dozen articles, chapters, and books about, Buddhism, meditation, mental freedom, and free will, among other articles in the areas of ethics, philosophy of religion, and contemplative philosophy of education. His most recent book is Buddhist Perspectives on Free Will: Agentless Agency? (London: Routledge, 2016)
Led Black is a writer, blogger, filmmaker, and editor-in-chief of The Uptown Collective, the voice of Uptown Online. Inwood, Harlem, and Led’s very own Washington Heights are undergoing a rebirth that Led has dubbed the Uptown Renaissance. He started The Uptown Collective to document that verve, energy and dynamism in real time as well as to help shape it’s trajectory. We talked to him about his neighborhood, his community, the nature of identity, the role of race, and the influence of gentrification.
Some people (to whom we might refer, if solely for the sake of convenience, as ‘Grinches’) beat a somber path from denial of Santa’s being to condemnation of a joyous tradition. Unable to see Santa within the limited horizons of their own pinched perspectives, they conclude that to assert the right jolly old elf’s existence would be but a lie. Zealous defenders of the creed that (almost all) lying is wrong, they dutifully don the self-imposed shackles of a selective moral rectitude only to haunt our decked halls with mirthless intent. Fortunately, life-affirming children of all ages naturally resist such negativity. Young hearts that swell with anticipation of the imminent arrival of Kris Kringle, Sinter Klaas, or Old St. Nick, know very well that there are many more things between heaven and earth then are dreamt of in the Grinches’ philosophy. But a world that sustains the existence Santa is not without its own ethical imperatives. A society that sanctions the expectations that belief in Santa raises, incurs the obligation to meet them as extensively as possible. Join us as Joseph Biehl suggests that the better course for us would not be to forsake and slander Santa, but rather to become his most trusted and faithful helpers, cheerfully bringing the spirit of the season—the true spirit—to those who need it most.
Thursday, December 22 at 6pm. This event is part of the Philosophy Series at The Cornelia Street Café, located at 29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014 (near Sixth Avenue and West 4th St.). Admission is $10, which includes the price of one drink. Reservations are recommended (212. 989.9319)
Joseph Biehl is the Founder and Executive Director of the Gotham Philosophical Society, the mission of which is to bring philosophy into the everyday discourse of the city. Dr. Biehl earned a B.A. in philosophy from St. John’s University in Queens and a Ph.D. from the Graduate School and University Center, CUNY. He is especially interested in the connections between our ideas of truth and belief, belief and choice, and choice and identity, as well as the personal relationships and political conditions that help shape them.
More than two years ago, the Gotham Philosophical Society was established with the aim of helping New Yorkers to become “members of a thriving community rather than a mere collection of individuals,” and to ensure that they “reap the rewards of diversity rather than be repelled by the rancor of division.” Today, as we emerge from a presidential campaign that painfully revealed how far our nation stands from realizing these goals, we rededicate ourselves to achieving them for our city.
We maintain that the most profound questions we face—about life, love, family, health, education, work, authority, responsibility, and death—are not technological or scientific in nature, but philosophical. They are the sort of questions that can be adequately raised and answered only by a community in conversation with itself, for it is only in wrestling with these questions that a community comes to be what it is.
Every community—indeed, each new generation of a community—must answer the central questions of living for itself if it aspires to being responsive to the needs and encouraging of the aspirations of its members. And they must answer them well—not correctly, but well: in a manner that enables that particular community to thrive at that particular time. Every community is, ultimately, unique. New York is neither New Orleans nor Nashua, New Hampshire. The challenges facing a city as large as New York, a meeting point for so many disparate perspectives, are considerable. But while we lament yawning divide in our nation, we are heartened by the willingness of today’s New Yorkers to make our city whole; a willingness that is perhaps greater today than at any moment in our city’s history to make New York a proper home for all is people.
So it is with genuine enthusiasm and optimism that we again ask this great city’s artists, activists, community leaders, policy makers, and in particular its prodigious collection of philosophers—men and women who have been called to a life of contemplating the fundamental questions—to join with your neighbors in the pursuit of a just, nurturing, thriving, open, and welcoming New York, for ourselves and for our children. Let us talk, debate, critique, and collaborate. Let us alter each other’s perspectives so that we see ourselves in a new way. Let us pool our wisdom and watch it multiply, and let us never rest content with be a thinking city, but always strive to become a thoughtful one.