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Philosopher Graham Harman to Present at Lebanon Valley College
01.31.14 |
Lebanon Valley College welcomes professor Graham Harman Feb. 18 for a presentation titled "Revolution in Science, Politics, Philosophy, and the Arts." Harman's talk will bring his philosophy to bear on his experience of the revolutions unfolding in Cairo, Egypt and the Middle East as a whole. Harman's visit is sponsored by the 2013-2014 College Colloquium series dedicated to the theme of "revolution." The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. in Zimmerman Recital Hall of the Suzanne H. Arnold Gallery.

Born and raised in Iowa, Harman attended St. John's College where he received his bachelor's degree. He completed a master's degree at Penn State University and a Ph.D. at DePaul University in Chicago. Harman is currently Distinguished University Professor at the American University in Cairo, where he has been since 2000.

Harman is the author of nine books, most recently "The Quadruple Object" and "Quentin Meillassoux: Philosophy in the Making," both published in 2011. He is the editor of the "Speculative Realism" book series at Edinburgh University Press, and (with Bruno Latour) co-editor of the "New Metaphysics" book series at Open Humanities Press. He is a former Chicago sportswriter and an avid world traveler.

Harman, a member of the philosophical movement called "speculative realism," has a unique view called "object-oriented" philosophy. This idea focuses on the consideration of neglected objects that could potentially benefit a resurgent metaphysics.

At the heart of Harman's philosophy is the main idea that "real" objects are illimitable: "A police officer eating a banana reduces this fruit to a present-at-hand profile of its elusive depth, as do a monkey eating the same banana, a parasite infecting it, or a gust of wind blowing it from a tree. Banana-being is a genuine reality in the world, a reality never exhausted by any relation to it by humans or other entities."

Harman explains that because of this boundlessness, there is a metaphysical problem regarding how two objects interact with one another. As a solution, he suggests the notion of "vicarious causation," in which interaction can only happen inside of an "intention."

Harman's theories recognize everything as an object, whether it is a person, the moon, or a shadow. He further distinguishes between two types of objects: "real objects" and "sensual objects." He has also proposed a new philosophical discipline called "speculative psychology." This new way of thinking investigates the "cosmic layers of psyche" along with "ferreting out the specific psychic reality of earthworms, dust, armies, chalk and stone."

"Revolution" is a yearlong integrated series of guest speakers, performances, exhibitions, films, and academic courses that will consider the ideas of revolution and evolution as competing yet interdependent ways to describe the changes that surround and shape human life. Preview the complete fall programming at www.lvc.edu/colloquium.


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