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Demos: Life in Common

Banff Research in Culture 2015 – Summer Research Residency

June 1, 2015 – June 19, 2015

Application deadline: December 10, 2014

The word demos names ‘the people’, and thus democracy is, at its most basic constitutive level, the shared power of people thinking and acting. Democracy is grounded upon the capacity of the people to narrate and decide the shape of collective life. But the ‘democracy’ we experience and live with today has devolved into practices of state sovereignty and governmentality, a society characterized by social and economic inequality, and an under-represented and disenfranchised electorate. And it seems, too, that hopes in technology as a mechanism that might yet create a new common ground have failed to achieve their promised ends.

Demos: Life in Common invites participants to consider the ways in which we constitute and experience collective life in this century. (more…)

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CALL FOR PANELS/PAPERS

“BUILDING CONSENSUS. RHETORIC BETWEEN DEMOCRACY AND CONFLICT”

Palermo, 15-18th April 2015

The aim of this conference is to encourage an interdisciplinary investigation of the role of rhetoric and discursive processes in the realization of democracy and its eventual degenerations. In the contemporary debate on this topic, there seems to be a polarization between two different conceptions of democracy: the “deliberative” one and the “agonistic” one. The first one is related to the classical tradition that considers Habermas as its reference point. This conception emphasizes the role of rational deliberation as a means to produce a legitimate and binding consensus. Instead, the second one draws its inspiration from C. Schmitt, and considers conflict and disagreement as unavoidable conditions of democratic life. Despite their obvious differences, these two theoretical models have a conception of rhetoric in common that is subjected to, or at least separated from, the full exercise of argumentative rationality. Nevertheless, an interpretation of rhetoric that includes the logical-argumentative dimension in the rhetorical domain is possible. In this way, the recovery of rhetoric, considered both as a practice and as a theory of persuasive speech, may shed light on the role of discursive processes in building consensus, and thus might allow a revision of the dialectical tension between the pairs of concepts that the debate tends to focus on: normative/descriptive, rational/irrational, agreement/conflict. Starting from this theoretical framework, the organizers hope to receive papers with a theoretical or historical character that come from different disciplines and perspectives, including: rhetoric, philosophy of language, philosophy of politics, argumentation theory, sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, and political science.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:

  • Luciano Canfora (University of Bari)
  • Chantal Mouffe (University of Westminster)
  • Paolo Virno (Universitày of Roma III)

The conference will be organized by EIKOS. International Research Group on Rhetoric and hosted by The Department of the Humanistic Sciences at the University of Palermo in cooperation with the International Center for Philosophical Research (CRF).

Conference Proceedings will be published in EPEKEINA. International Journal of Ontology. History and Critics, Vol. 7, n. 2/2016.

For more information visit the conference website:

CRF – Centro Internazionale per la Ricerca Filosofica | EIKOS.

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Count Yorck's speech to the East Prussian states on February 5th, 1813 in Koenigsberg", Otto Brausewetter, 1888

Last week Shaun Usher, custodian of the excellent website “Letters of Note” announced that he would close the comments section on all posts.  He writes:

All complaints should be directed towards a section of society to whom the concept of even vaguely civil discussion means nothing. …I simply cannot afford to continue mopping up after the trolls who crawl among us, itching to bring down the tone at every available opportunity.

Usher does not mince words when describing said trolls and their methodology, but I’ll let you read the best parts of the announcement for yourself.

I understand Usher’s frustration very well. Prior to writing this blog I was, for years, a moderator on a website devoted to open philosophical discussion.  This was before the days of the “new media”. There were no philosophical blogs to speak of in those days, so if you wanted to talk philosophy on the internet sites like ours were where you would go. The founder of the site and I, and the other moderators as well, worked hard to create a website that where those who knew a little something about philosophy could interact with those who were new to it, sojourning, or simply curious.  We had a great time before the site caught on.  Then the membership exploded, swollen by trolls, spammers, crackpots, political cross-posters, and bots of every description.  It became impossible to have a threaded discussion a significant portion of which wasn’t overgrown with inanity, spam, and digital graffiti (of the bathroom wall variety, not the amazing mural variety).  Those with a serious interest in the conversation petitioned and complained, and we tried harder to moderate the site.  In the end, however, it was futile.  Nothing we did could simultaneously (a) protect the discussion from its many and varied saboteurs while (b) maintaining the quality of discussion that would make a site like ours worth visiting and (c ) upholding our original vision that philosophy is neat and even non-specialists will find that out if they have a chance to discuss it in a forum with a critical mass of members who know what they’re talking about. Eventually the site crashed under the weight of the flotsam and jetsam that has generally made open-membership sites for threaded discussion like ours obsolete.  We rebuilt it twice before most of the moderators got tired of it and threw in the towel.  In the course of the years that it was truly functional, however, I learned a lot and made some friends with whom I still keep in touch. It wasn’t a bad experience by any means, but it is one that has given me a lot of food for thought. One of the things I’ve thought about quite a bit as a result of my moderating days is how our experiences online shape our perception of the public at large, and how that perception conditions and shapes (or doesn’t) our conception of democracy.

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2011 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TRANSATLANTIC FELLOWS (BFTF) SUMMER INSTITUTE
July 2-July 29, 2011 – Ages 16-18
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC
www.BFTF.org

Do you know a teenager (16-18) who is interested in meeting young people from Europe, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia? Do they have an interest in learning more about transatlantic relationships, public advocacy and civic engagement?

The Department of Communication at Wake Forest University is offering 10 Scholarships for American students to attend the 2011 Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows (BFTF) Summer Institute. These Scholarships include the following:

• $2,500 scholarship; Designation as Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellow (covers tuition, activities, meals and lodging in WFU dorm, and partial travel funds to and from WFU)
• Participation in all Institute events, including classes on: Citizenship, Comparative Constitutionalism, Documentary Production and Theory, New Media, Public Advocacy, taught by Wake Forest and visiting faculty.
• Seven day educational trip to Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, PA, including a visit to the State Department, The Washington Center and several sites including the Newseum in DC; Constitution Center in Philadelphia, etc.
• Civic engagement activities, local community service projects and workshops on public advocacy.
• Cultural activities including an International Dinner, visits to places of worship and other local sites.

The U.S. Fellows would join about 50 Fellows on the Wake Forest campus for a month-long Institute. The international Fellows are from over 30 countries ranging from Armenia to Iceland, Denmark to Kosovo, Malta to Lithuania. Participants will arrive at WFU on July 2 and depart on July 29, 2011.

Applicants must be U.S. Citizens and 16-18 years old. For more information and the application form, visit our website.

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