Summer Update 2022

I am continuing my tradition of giving a summer update. It helps to see what I have accomplished this past year and what plans I have for the future.

Recently Published

My Book! Madness in Experience and History: Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology and Foucault’s Archaeology. This was published in November 2021!  You can order it now through Routledge and Amazon.

Chapter in Edited Book: “The Need for Merleau-Ponty in Foucault’s Account of the Abnormal.” In Normality, Abnormality, and Pathology in Merleau-Ponty, edited by Talia Welsh and Susan Bredlau, 97-115. New York: SUNY Press, 2022. You can purchase the hardcover on Amazon or at SUNY press. The paperback should come out in late summer 2022.

Upcoming Publications

Chapter in Edited Book: “Foucault’s Care of Self: A Response to Modern Technology.” In Routledge International Handbook for Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity and Technology, edited by David Goodman and Matthew Clemente. Forthcoming with Routledge.

Book Review: “Centrality of Touch: A Review of Richard Kearney’s Touch.” The review will be published along with one or two other reviews and Kearney’s response to them in the journal: Crossing: The International Network of Philosophy and Religion. The book, Touch, is an excellent introduction to approaching the world in a phenomenological way. I recommend it!

Currently Working On

Conference Presentation: “The Secret of Madness: Foucault’s Overarching Nonrational” for the International Network of Philosophy and Religion being held this June 2022 in Paris, France.

Conference Presentation for the International Merleau-Ponty Circle (and hopefully later an article for the new Journal of Philosophy of Disability). No title yet. Something on disability as a way of accessing the world but also a mode of suffering in the world.

Convocation Presentation: “Madness in Experience and History.” I’ve won a Faculty Excellence Award and will be presenting on my book on November 4, 2022 at the University of Mary.

Future Work

Joint Book Project with Dr. Mark Allen. Tentative title: Art and the Flourishing of the Ordinary. Related to Mark’s dissertation on art and philosophy and my master’s thesis on existential aesthetics.

Article: No title yet. Something on Foucault’s unreason (déraison) and Victor Hugo’s display of madness in Les Miserables

Joint Article with Dr. Mary Schwarz. Tentative title: “Reclaiming our Lost Identity with Marcel: A Response to Suicide and Other Acts of Self-Harm.” Planning on submitting this to the journal Marcel Studies.

New Class This Fall: Aesthetics/Philosophy of Art and Beauty

I will be teaching a new class this fall (Fall 2022)! The title is Aesthetics/Philosophy of Art and Beauty.

What is art? What is beauty? Is art just a side hobby? Is it something only for the elite? Are there any limits for what can be considered art? Or is art just anything we want it to be? What does art tell us about beauty? Does art have to be beautiful?

Come study the importance of art and beauty through a philosophical and artistic perspective!  In this class, we will cover the essential writings on aesthetics in philosophy while also taking time to actually experience different art forms together, such music, painting, nature art, poetry and more. Throughout it all, we will reflect on how art plays an essential role in our human experience and has a unique way of revealing the good, true and beautiful to us.

Conference Panel Presentation: The Roots of Technological Prosthesis and Hope in Foucault’s Care of Self

I had the opportunity to be part of a panel presentation for the Society for Pscyhoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology, Division 39. The title for our panel was “Technological Prosthesis: Transcending Finitude and the Trauma of Death” and Matthew Clemente, David Goodman, Eric Severson along with myself were the panelists. We presented virtually on April 10, 2022.

Here were my four main points:

First, as we have seen, cultural and philosophical phenomena loudly proclaim technology as a way of transcending the human experience. Do we hear any murmurs of discomfort about this idea in other films? Examples: Gravity, Ad Astra

Second, this turn to technology as a savior arises out of a reduced understanding of human subjectivity. A fuller understanding of subjectivity can be seen through a Foucault’s historical tracing of the idea of “care of self.”

Third, the roots of the technological prosthesis comes out of a reduction of “care of self” to “knowledge of self” which takes place in modernity. This is what gives rise to a consideration of humans as disembodied acquirers of knowledge, who can be enhanced by technological means.

Fourth, let’s consider now (1) examples of everyday technologies that are mistakenly used in an attempt to transcend human experience and (2) examples of everyday technologies which allow for the possibility of proper self-care.

Conference Presentation: A Merleau-Pontian Reading of Aristotle’s Notion of Form in ‘Book Z’ of the Metaphysics

I had the opportunity to present for the first time at the Northern Plains Philosophy Conference at North Dakota State University on April 2, 2022.

Here is my abstract:

I believe that Merleau-Ponty’s unique approach to the notion of form offers a fresh perspective that will reinforce and bring credibility to Aristotle’s account. Coming from a psychological and phenomenological angle, Merleau-Ponty argues for the necessity of form in his first major work, The Structure of Behavior. Although his path toward defining form differs from Aristotle’s metaphysical path, Merleau-Ponty argues, like Aristotle, that the notion of form is what provides intelligibility to the world around us. 

In this paper, we will focus on the description of form in chapters 10 and 17 of Book Z of Aristotle’s Metaphysicsand look at the evidence for this idea of form in Merleau-Ponty’s The Structure of Behavior. This is not to say that Merleau-Ponty is purposely writing to verify Aristotle’s account, for he does not explicitly relate his analysis to Aristotle. And though he was most likely exposed to Aristotelianism, particularly Scholastic and Renaissance Aristotelianism, through his study of the Rationalists, he appears more interested in engaging with other schools of thought and rarely mentions Aristotle or his works. Nevertheless, a reader of Merleau-Ponty’s The Structure of Behavior, who is familiar with Aristotle’s description of form, cannot ignore the unmistakable parallels between their two accounts. 

We will begin by considering the question (aporia), which I will call the “problem of parts,” that both Aristotle and Merleau-Ponty are concerned with and which ultimately leads them to posit the notion of form. Second, we will examine Aristotle’s metaphysical description of form in chapters 10 and 17 of Book Z of the Metaphysics. As we make our way through the text, I will link Aristotle’s senses of form with Merleau-Ponty’s senses of form which he gathers from his studies on animal and human behavior. 

To those who are concerned that Aristotle’s notion of form is no longer relevant or applicable, this paper advances that Merleau-Ponty’s re-imagining of form both defends Aristotle’s metaphysical explanations while, at the same time, extends them into pertinent areas of ethical interest.

Chapter for Edited Volume on Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity and Technology

I have been invited to contribute a chapter to the Routledge International Handbook for Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity and Technology. I have revised and expanded my work on Foucault and technology and submitted it to the editors in March.

Title: Foucault’s Care of Self: A Response to Modern Technology

Abstract: Our ever-increasing reliance on technology often brings anxiety about the right way to incorporate it into our daily lives. Drawing on Plato’s Alcibiades, Michel Foucault offers us a fresh way to approach modern technology through his understanding of a proper care of self. At the advent of modernity, however, Foucault argues that this historic “care of self” becomes reduced to a “knowledge of self.” The reduction of care of self is based on a narrow view of subjectivity, where the human is characterized solely as an acquirer of knowledge. In this paper, I will first describe Foucault’s ideas of technologies of self and care of self in order to illustrate a full notion of subjectivity. Next, I will demonstrate how the modern reduction of care of self to knowledge of self exposes many of the weaknesses found in modern technology. Third, I will consider examples of modern technology such as geography blogs, digital books, smart watches and prayer apps and argue that a full care of self helps us distinguish between harmful and healing technologies of self.