Philosophy professors help organize historical existentialism conference

Dr. Simons, Dr. Gordon, and Dr. Lueck at the "Diverse Lineages of Existentialism" conference in St. Louis. Photo courtesy of Howard Ash

SIUE professors were instrumental in organizing a philosophy conference held in St. Louis earlier this summer that brought together more than 200 academics from around the world.

On June 19-21, 2014, the “Diverse Lineages of Existentialism” (DLE) conference was held in the Hyatt Hotel bringing together organizations such as the Caribbean Philosophical Association, Collegium of Black Women Philosophers, Merleau-Ponty Circle, North American Sartre Society, PhiloSOPHIA, Roundtable on Latina Feminism and the Simone de Beauvoir Society.

Emeritus professor Margaret Simons, who conceived and co-organized the event, said “the diversity of this conference made it very exciting.” It provided an opportunity for attendees to hear new perspectives and raise “challenging questions for the participants who may not have thought of the implications of gender, race or ethnicity in their work.”

“The significance of the conference may be in inspiring more philosophers to seek out diversity in their classrooms, university faculties and professional
societies,” Simons said.

Philosophy professor Saba Fatima, who presented her research paper, “Beauvoir’s Analysis of the Muslim Woman,” said this was a unique conference in terms of demographics since lack of diversity is a problem in the field of philosophy.

The conference held an immense value for the field of philosophy, according to Fatima, since it not only presented diversity in demographics but also in methodology and perspective.

“It was so refreshing to see people from different backgrounds discussing their philosophical interest,” Fatima said.  “It was fabulous to go to a conference and feel validated.”

Along with Simons, the conference committee included philosophy professor Bryan Lueck and foreign languages professor Debbie Mann.

Lueck said one of the goals of the conference was to show the philosophical importance of Simone de Beauvoir and the other to bring together scholars working in the same general area (existentialism) who nonetheless have tended not to communicate with each other very often.

“For example, the world of (Jean-Paul) Sartre scholarship is somewhat isolated from the world of (Simone de) Beauvoir scholarship and both tend to be isolated from the worlds of Africana existentialism and Latin American existentialism,” Lueck said.

According to Lueck, these different groups of scholars have a lot they can learn from each other, but in order for that to happen, they need to communicate. The organizations that participated in the conference are discussing plans for having another DLE conference in the future, Simons said.

Sponsors for the DLE conference included SIUE CAS Cuban & Caribbean Center, SIUE Graduate School and Foundation, the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers at Penn State University, Washington University Departments of History and Philosophy, University of Connecticut-Storrs, University of Illinois Press, University of Missouri-St Louis Philosophy Department and the Webster University Philosophy Department.

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed Under: Philosophy

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Switch to our mobile site