Department of Philosophy

Philosophy Colloquium Series


"Lacan on Love: A commentary on Lacan's Reading of Plato's Symposium"

Speakers: Bruce Fink

French Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan's various notions of love over the course of his career will be explored and will be compared at certain points with Freud's. Freud's rather "obsessive" theory of love will be contrasted with Lacan's views of passion in his early work, of the "miracle" of love in his reading of Plato's Symposium, and of love as giving what one does not have.

Bruce Fink is a psychoanalyst and member of the Ecole de la Cause Freudienne, the school Jacques Lacan founded just before his death in 1981. He acquired a PhD in psychoanalysis from the Univeristy of Paris VIII, and is the author of numerous books, including The Lacanian Subject (Princeton University Press, 1995) and Against Understanding: Commentary, Cases, and Critique in a Lacanian Key(Routledge 2013-14). He was professor of psychology at Duquesne University from 1993 to 2013.

A gifted translator, in 2006 he published the first complete translation of Lacan's Ecrits in English, for which he won the Florence Gould Foundation's translation prize for a nonfiction work. In 2002 his translation of Lacan's twentieth seminar, Encore, was published, and his translation of Lacan's eighth seminar, On Tansference, is forthcoming with Polity Press.


Speakers: David Robinson Simon

David Robinson Simon, author of "Meatonomics: How the Rigged Economics of Meat and Dairy Make You Consume Too Much - and How to Eat Better, Live Longer, and Spend Smarter" ( in new window)) argues that meat production is an environmental, animal-welfare, economic, and healthcare disaster, costing U.S. taxpayers $414 billion annually. If producers were forced to internalize these hidden costs, a $4 Big Mac would cost about $11.

Megan Brown is a 6th generation, Northern Californian, commercial, cattle rancher and popular blogger ( in new window)) who is unapologetic in her advocacy of the rancher's way of life.

Join us for what proves to be a lively discussion about the future of animal agriculture.

"On the Nature of Philosophical Problems in Heidegger, Lautman, and Deleuze"

Speakers: James Bahoh (Duquesne University)

Certain critiques of both Heidegger and Deleuze result from misunderstanding the methodological status of their respective ontological concepts. In both cases, this stems from a lack of clarity regarding the dynamic, reflexive relation between the methodology employed and the ontology developed. This paper contributes to clarifying this relation through an analysis of the nature of philosophical problems in the work of each author.

Philosophy Colloquium Series - 2013-2014

"Guns in America: A Debate"

Speakers: Prof. John Donohue (Stanford Law School) & Attorney Donald E.J. Kilmer, Jr.

Is it a constitutional right to have a fully automatic weapon? Should students and teachers be allowed to carry weapons on campus? Just over a year after Sandy Hook, one of the worst mass shootings in United States history, in which twenty children and seven adults lost their lives, Stanford Law School Professor John Donohue and Attorney at Law, Donald E. J. Kilmer, Jr., will take stock of gun ownership regulation in the U.S.

Philosophy Colloquium Series - 2012-2013

"The Mutual Implication of Objects and Relations in Quantum Mechanics: How Potentiality and Contextuality are Ontologically Significant in Modern Physics "

Speaker: Michael Epperson (Calfornia State University, Sacramento)

Abstract: As a result of the increasing popularity of the decoherence-based interpretations of quantum mechanics,various conceptual difficulties have become better understood, particularly with respect to [1] the emergence of the 'classical' features of nature from the more fundamental quantum mechanical features; and [2] the problem of relating the local to the global in an extensive continuum - e.g., the infamous problem of relating quantum theory and general relativity. The central difficulty in both of these cases is that the conventional formulation of spatiotemporal extension is grounded in a set-theoretic structure, where extension is fundamentally metrical. In this way, objects are understood in the classical sense as fundamental to relations - i.e., relations presuppose objects but objects do not presuppose relations. Prior to quantum mechanics, this deficiency went largely unnoticed; but since it is a signature feature of quantum mechanics that it definitively proscribes specifying the existence of objects in abstraction from their relations, the attempt to depict quantum mechanical extensiveness as fundamentally metrical - again, such that objects are more fundamental than relations - is doomed from the beginning.

The solution proposed by philosopher Michael Epperson and physicist and mathematician Elias Zafiris is to delve beneath this set theoretic framework and explore the more substrative category theoretic framework, where extension is understood as fundamentally mereotopological rather than metrical. In this way, fundamental quanta are defined as 'units of logico-physical relation' rather than 'units of physical relata.' By this framework, objects are always understood as relata, such that not only do relations presuppose objects, but objects presuppose relations. In this way, objects and relations are properly understood as mutually implicative, precisely as exemplified in quantum mechanics. This work is presented in a forthcoming volume, co-authored by Epperson and Zafiris, Foundations of Relational Realism: A Topological Approach to Quantum Mechanics and the Philosophy of Nature, Lexington Books (2013).

"Anti-Metaphysicalism and Temporal Ontology"

Speaker: Mark Balauger (Calfornia State University, Los Angeles)

Abstract: I do three things in this paper. First, I argue for a certain sort of anti-metaphysicalism about the temporal ontology debate, i.e., the debate between presentists and eternalists over the existence of past and future objects. In other words, I argue that there isn't a substantive metaphysical problem here at all. Second, I argue against the necessitarian view of the temporal ontology debate. In other words, I argue that if there s a fact here at all, it is a contingent fact, indeed, an ordinary physical-empirical fact. And third, I provide some initial reason to believe that there might not be a fact here at all--i.e., there might not be any fact of the matter as to whether past and future objects exist.

"Hume's Progressive Appeal to Custom"

Speaker: Peter Fosl (Transylvania University)

Abstract: The task of this essay is to delineate the role of habit and its related concepts, custom and convention, in Hume's thought. Interpreters such as Donald W. Livingston have acknowledged the centrality of habit and custom in Hume's work, drawing analogies between Hume, Edmund Burke, and related conservative traditionalists. I will argue, however, that this way of understanding Hume is mistaken. While Hume's thought does acknowledge the crucial importance of habit, custom, and convention, the critical direction of Humean philosophy is different from Burke's and points instead in the direction of progressive reform. The decisive interpretive key for showing how Hume both advances criticisms of liberal metaphysics (highlighted by those who would stand him alongside Burke) but also remains nevertheless a philosopher of progressive reform is they way his theoretical appeal to habit, custom, and history manifests his skepticism.

Previous Colloquia


Speaker: Cody Gilmore (UC Davis)
"Holes: What They're Not"


Speaker: Quayshawn Spencer (University of San Francisco)
"How to Be a Biological Racial Realist"


Speaker: Pamela Hieronymi (UCLA)
"Can You Believe at Will?"


Speaker: Alexis Burgess (Stanford University)
"Standing in the way of a Science of Meaning: Mainstream Semantics + Deflationary Truth"


Speaker: Mohammed Abed (CSULA)
"Genocide as a Process of Social Group Destruction"


Speaker: Davit Pitt (California State University, Los Angeles)
"How to Distinguish a Statue from a Lump"


Speaker: Ted Sider (New York University)
"Is Metaphysics about the Real World"


Speaker: Janet D. Stemwedel (San Jose State University)
"Sifting Sound Science from Snake-oil: In search of demarcation criteria for science as actually practiced"

For more information or to be added to the Colloquium Series mailing list, please contact Prof. Robert Jones.