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University of Virginia To Host Third International Philosophy Colloquium

April 26, 2011 — The University of Virginia is holding its third International Philosophy Colloquium Thursday through Saturday, bringing to Grounds philosophers from Lebanon, Peru, Mexico, Singapore and Turkey.

The colloquium opens at 5 p.m. in the Gibson Room of Cocke Hall. Dominic Scott, philosophy professor in the College of Arts & Sciences, will present his paper, "Aristotle on the Methods of Ethics." Raúl Gutiérrez of Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru and U.Va. philosophy professor Dan Devereux will offer commentary.

The colloquium resumes Friday morning at 9 a.m. Topics will range from "Practical Wisdom and the Conflict of Virtues" to "Relativity and Experience."

Organizers have introduced an interdisciplinary component to this year's event. Peruvian philosopher and linguist Mario Montalbetti, considered one the most distinguished poets of his generation in Latin America, will discuss "Sense and Art: Linguistics and Aesthetic Theory" on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Philosophy professor James Cargile said working with colleagues from other countries has many benefits. "Collegial exchanges between philosophers from different countries can lead to visits and exchanges of students," he noted.

Philosophy professor Mitch Green said philosophy is an inherently international endeavor. "It is defined by questions that can be found compelling no matter one's historical or cultural milieu.  At the same time, national and cultural boundaries can make artificial divisions between schools and movements within philosophy."

Cargile said students will gain from the experience. "A student can get a better impression of what philosophers from abroad are like by seeing them in person. Even with the Internet making papers highly accessible, seeing the author present and defend a paper is a valuable addition."

Most of the faculty and graduate students from the philosophy department are participating in the colloquium, which is free and open to the public and sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs.

U.Va hosted the first International Philosophy Colloquium in 2005 at a retreat north of Beirut, Lebanon, where eight papers were presented. In 2008, the second colloquium was held in the Peruvian town of Tarma, east of Lima. Papers touched on topics in the history of ancient and modern philosophy, the philosophy of language, philosophical logic, metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy and philosophy and literature.

Many international philosophers who have been participating in the colloquium since the beginning are also coming to Charlottesville.

The philosophy department is working to institutionalize the colloquium; it would be held every three years, rotating among Charlottesville and two locations abroad.

"I hope that the University will provide a lively background for the conference discussions," Cargile said. "Nothing buoys the spirits of visitors more than an enthusiastic audience." 

— By Jane Kelly

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