Emmanuel Levinas: The Origin of Responsibility”
Levinas Philosophy Summer Seminar
July 8 to 12, 2013 in Vilnius, Lithuania
Directed by Richard A. Cohen
Themes of the 2013 Seminar: The ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995) represents one of the most profound and innovative contributions of 20th century thought. Arguing against the millennial Western priority given to being and truth at the expense of persons and goodness, Levinas calls for a fundamental reorientation according to which ethics would be recognized as “first philosophy.” The defining mark of ethics, however, would no longer lie in a concern for self, in self-esteem or the quest for happiness, or even in an adherence to being or history as sources of value and the meaningful. Rather ethics would originate in a more difficult primacy of the other person: in moral agency infinitely responsible to and for the other. Beginning with careful phenomenological studies of embodiment and worldliness, Levinas, by an admitted “abuse of language,” articulates an ethics of absolute moral imperatives which arise in the inordinate and commanding proximity of encounter with the other person. How can another have primacy over self? Does not even the injunction to “Love your neighbor as yourself” admit that love of self invariably comes first? The whole of Levinas’s thought is devoted to the unsettling proposal that all meaningfulness begins in moral responsibility for the other. In the service of such responsibility, language, labor, science and truth, not to mention politics and justice, find their true source. To understand this extraordinary claim; to appreciate the argument; to question its validity; to grasp more precisely the complex intersection of being, body, world, proximity, otherness and morality; these are the topics and aims of the 2013 Levinas Philosophy Summer Seminar. (Apply)
Visit the related website: The Institute for Jewish Thought & Heritage.
PRO-PO-GO: Challenges of Ontology Coordination Across Organisms
May 15 and 16 at the Ramada Inn, Amherst, NY
A meeting to promote the coordination of the Gene, Protein, and Plant Ontologies and of other reference ontologies used in plant biology
The goals of this meeting are:
1. To inform members of the Protein, Plant, Gene Ontology and related communities of developments in their respective ontologies in order to promote cross-ontology coordination.
Specifically: a. To enhance the treatment of plant-related proteins in the Protein Ontology; and,
b. To address issues concerning reuse of GO terms to describe plant-related entities, or examples in the treatment of plant life cycle and development stages.
2. To address general issues which arise when ontologies need to be extended to cover multiple species of organisms;
3. To contribute to the cCrop (Common Reference Ontologies for Plants) initiative;
4. To contribute to the ontological understanding of phenotype and disease across organisms;
5. To identify potentially fruitful applications which enhanced ontology coordination might bring.
A limited number of places are available for additional participants. Please contact Barry Smith for further information.
Note that this meeting is co-located with the BFO 2.0 meeting, which will take place in Buffalo on May 13-14.
The challenges of ‘big data’ for military, security and intelligence domains subject of UB workshop
By PATRICIA DONOVAN Published April 8, 2013
According to IBM, human beings produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day and 90 percent of the data in the world today was created in the past two years. Sensors gather it from everywhere: social media sites, digital pictures and videos, security data, commercial transaction records, research in every field, cell phone GPS signals, military communications, and email records to name a few.
The result is the proliferation of “big data,” enormous data sets that most relational database management systems (Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, etc.) find difficult if not impossible to process because they require massively parallel software running on tens, hundreds or even thousands of servers.
“Ontologies for Information Integration” (OI2), an April 18 workshop at the University at Buffalo, will address non-traditional solutions to the problem of capture, curation, storage, search, sharing, analysis and visualization of big data in order to improve the interoperability of US government information.
It will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Zebro Room, NYS Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, 701 Ellicott St., Buffalo. (full article)
For further details on the UB Workshop, April 18th : Ontologies for Information Integration (OI2)
Barry Smith named to major NIH immunology research team
By PATRICIA DONOVAN Published February 14, 2013
A team of UB researchers has been selected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support the collection, analysis and exchange of scientific data for scientists investigating immunology and immune-mediated diseases. They will work within the framework of the Bioinformatics Integration Support Contract (BISC), which was awarded to a multinational and multidisciplinary team of researchers by the NIH’s Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (DAID).
The UB group will be responsible for the ontological aspects of the project. The team will be led by Barry Smith, Julian Park Professor of Philosophy, adjunct professor of neurology and computer science, and director of the National Center for Ontological Research.
“There is no universal standard terminology in medical and related fields,” Smith explains. “The way a term is used may be particular to a research area or even a specific research group. This makes it difficult for scientists to communicate with one another and share and find, or compare, data.
“Ontologies are complex systems that describe the meanings of terms in a shared vocabulary and their relationships to one another,” he says. “They make it possible for scientists from different fields and different places to speak the same language.
“The UB team will develop and disseminate ontologies for immunology and infectious disease, and train NIAID-funded researchers in their use,” Smith says.
The five-year, BISC contract, which has a maximum potential value of $30 million, is designed to enable scientists to easily access and exchange complex, interoperable data sets to accelerate scientific discovery. (further details)
Plato's Academy: North Tonawanda Campus (PANTC) Bioethics Conference
Friday, August 2, and Saturday, August 3, in Park Hall, Room 280
John Martin Fischer will deliver the keynote address.
Further event details to follow, for more information contact conference chairs:
James Delaney, Niagara University firstname.lastname@example.org
David Hershenov, SUNY Buffalo email@example.com
(papers to be available in advance on a conference web page)
2013 George F. Hourani Lecture Series: "The Metaphysics of Good and Evil"
David S. Oderberg, Professor of Philosophy, University of Reading, U.K.
September 23, Monday, 4:00pm – 8:30pm
Opening lecture with reception to follow
Location: UB Center for Tomorrow (Main Meeting Room), North Campus
September 25, Wednesday, 4:00pm – 6:30pm
Lecture and discussion
Location: UB Center for Tomorrow (Main Meeting Room), North Campus
September 26, Thursday, 11:15am – 12:45pm
Conferences with faculty and graduate students in Philosophy Department Seminar Room
Location: 141 Park Hall
September 27, Friday, 4:00pm - 6:30pm
Lecture and discussion
Location: UB Center for Tomorrow (Main Meeting Room), North Campus
Lectures and events are free and open to the public on the North Campus
University at Buffalo, Amherst, New York
For further event information, call 716-645-0163.
Faculty News Archive
Fall 2012: Baumer honored for 50th Year of Service
Professor William Baumer (right) receiving his 50th Year Service and Gratitude Award from Department of Philosophy Chair, Professor David Hershenov. Presented at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society for the Department of Philosophy Fall 2012 Welcome Party.
Fall 2012: Paul Kurtz In Memoriam
Paul Kurtz, philosopher, prolific author, publisher, and founder of several secular humanist institutions as well as the for-profit independent press Prometheus Books, died on Saturday, October 20, 2012 at his home in Amherst, New York. He was 86.
Professor Kurtz was widely heralded as the "father of secular humanism." With his fifty plus books (many translated into foreign languages around the world), multitudinous media appearances and public lectures, and other vast and seminal accomplishments in the organized skeptic and humanist movements, he was certainly the most important secular voice of the second part of the 20th century. He was an ardent advocate for the secular and scientific worldview and a caring, ethical humanism as a key to the good life.
Kurtz was a professor of philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo from 1965 to his retirement in 1991 as professor emeritus. He founded the publishing company Prometheus Books in 1969, Skeptical Inquirer magazine and the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) in 1976, Free Inquiry magazine and the Council for Secular Humanism in 1980, and the Center for Inquiry in 1991. Later projects included the launching of a scholarly journal, The Human Prospect, and a new nonprofit think tank, the Institute for Science and Human Values (both in 2010) where he served as chairman up until his death. For more information about Paul Kurtz's life and legacy, visit http://www.instituteforscienceandhumanvalues.net/
Fall 2011: Jorge Gracia Awarded the Aquinas Medal
The American Catholic Philosophical Association has bestowed the Aquinas Medal on Jorge Gracia. The Aquinas Medal is arguably the most prestigious award given to a philosopher working in the area of medieval philosophy or Catholic philosophy. Gracia delivered the Medalist address at the annual ACPA meeting, held October 27-30, 2011 at St. Louis University. http://www.acpaweb.org/2011meetcall.htm
The past Aquinas Medal winners are some of the most important philosophers in the field. Gracia will be joining the ranks of Jacques Maritain, Etienne Gilson, Bernard Longeran, Joseph Owens, John Wippel, Josep Pieper, (Pope) Karol Wojtyla, G.E.M. Anscombe, Peter Geach, Anthony Kenny,Michael Dummett and Alasdair MacIntyre. Click here to view photos of the Aquinas Medal ceremony
Summer 2011: Kah-Kyung Cho Receives the Oustanding Contributions to International Education Award
The Council on International Studies and Programs has bestowed upon Professor Cho the 2011 award for Oustanding Contributions to International Education. The letter announcing the honor states that "This award is a tribute to Professor Cho's many important, longstanding contributions to international education at UB, particularly his efforts to foster strong scholarly ties to Asia and Europe, his distinguished leadership role in many international associations and organizations, his mentorship of countless international students, and his own extensive international research and scholarship." This university-wide award honor's faculty and staff who have made exceptional and longstanding contributions to international education at UB in one or more of the following areas:
- promoting international education
- creating novel models/opportunities for study abroad
- directing study abroad programs
- mentoring international students
- attracting international students
- securing grants in support of international education
- developing and organizing international events/activities on campus
- creating international curricula
- developing and teaching new courses with an international focus
- service/achievement with international focus in the broader community
"Professor Cho was nominated for his considerable contributions in nine of the ten areas!"
Spring 2011: Jiyuan Yu honored with the bestowal of a SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching.
On Thursday, April 21 at the Center for the Arts, Jiyuan Yu received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Recipients of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching was instituted by SUNY chancellor Ernest L. Boyer in 1973, have demonstrated outstanding teaching ability through superb classroom performance. They are scholars who bring to their classes broad academic interests, rigorous and innovative teaching methodology, and current, far-reaching knowledge. Their concern for students is evinced by the individual attention they accord each student and by their commitment to helping students to enhance their scholarly and creative abilities and to attain academic excellence. Full event details via: http://celebrate.buffalo.edu/faculty.php
Spring 2011: Ken K. Inada MEMORIAM
Dr. Kenneth K. Inada, 87, of Buffalo, NY, Henderson, NV, and Honolulu died on March 26, 2011. Born and raised in Honolulu, he graduated from Farrington High School and went on to receive a B.A. from the University of Hawaii, an M.A. from the University of Chicago, and encouraged by the famous Zen scholar, Dr. D. T. Suzuki, he went to Japan where he studied Asian Buddhism at the University of Tokyo (Todai), receiving a Ph.D. in 1960. He was the first U.S. citizen to receive a doctorate from Todai. After serving ten years on the faculty of the Philosophy Department at the University of Hawaii, he was recruited by the Department of Philosophy at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo in 1969, where he remained for the next 28 years, before retiring in 1997 at the rank of SUNY Distinguished Service Professor. To read more about his life and work, click: Ken K.Inada
Fall 2010: Randall Dipert
University at Buffalo military ethicist Randall R. Dipert, PhD, one of the founders of the National Center for Ontological Research at UB, recently made national headlines on his work on cyber wars. Dipert examined many aspects of this issue in his paper "Ethical Issues of Cyberwarfare," first published on the website of the Consortium for Emerging Technologies, Military Operations and National Security, or CETMONS. He states that cyber attacks are almost entirely unaddressed by traditional morality and laws of war. He also predicts we are facing is a long Cyber Cold War, marked by limited but frequent damage to information systems, while nations, corporations and other agents test these weapons and feel their way toward some sort of equilibrium. To read more about Professor Dipert's comments, please visit:
Summer 2008: Kenneth Barber MEMORIAM
Kenneth Barber, the long-time Director of Graduate Studies in the Philosophy Department, died unexpectedly and suddenly on May 30 after a brief illness. Ken joined the Department as an Assistant Professor in 1966, after receiving the PhD in philosophy from the University of Iowa, where he studied with Gustav Bergmann, Edwin Allaire, and Herbert Hochberg. Ken specialized in the Empiricist tradition in early modern philosophy, and instructed many generations of graduate students about his favorite philosophers. He also shepherded many generations of graduate students through the Philosophy Department’s graduate program. Ken’s most recent term of office as DGS began in 1985, when Peter Hare was chair, and continued, while John Kearns and Carolyn Korsmeyer chaired the Department, until his death. During that time, Ken gave graduate students the information, advice, and guidance that they needed. Ken was a voracious reader of literature as well as philosophy, and an avid collector of modern first editions. A wise and witty presence, Ken Barber made a strong and lasting contribution to the Philosophy Department and its graduate program.
Spring 2008: Carolyn Korsmeyer
Carolyn Korsmeyer was honored by means of a Humanities Institute Scholar Session in April entitled Bodily Senses: A Cross-Disciplinary Conversation on Taste, Smell and Touch. The presenters included Susan Feagin, Research Professor, Department of Philosophy and Editor of The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Temple University; Rosemary Feat, Professor in Romance Languages and Executive Director of The Modern Language Association, University at Buffalo; and Janet Lyon, Associate Professor of English, Women's Studies, and Science, Technology, and Society, Pennsylvania State University.
Spring 2008: Jiyuan Yu
Jiyuan Yu was appointed a Humanities Institute Faculty Fellow for the Spring 2008 semester. In April, he presented the Humanities Institute Faculty Fellow Lecture entitled "Philosophy and Cultivation of Virtue: Greece and China. A discussion of Yu's work in this context can be found at: http://www.asianstudies.buffalo.edu/contrib/newsletter/documents/ASN13.5.pdf
Spring 2008: Peter Hewitt Hare MEMORIAM
In the early morning of January 3rd, Peter Hare passed away quietly in his sleep. He was the victim of a pulmonary embolism. An obituary notice for Peter appeared in The Buffalo News January 9th.
A memorial celebration was held at 2pm on March 29, 2008 at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, New York. The organizers invited Peter's friends to speak at this celebration. They especially encouraged attention drawn to the diversity of Peter's intellectual and aesthetic pursuits. Also available were photos taken while traveling with him, photos of things that he enjoyed, and of Peter himself. Written statements (and in electronic form as well) were solicited for presentation at the memorial, and preservation afterwards for the family. Many former colleagues and students have written the department expressing their condolences. Here are exerpts from some of those messages:
Chandana Chakribarti: Peter was a member of my dissertation committee. I have been so fortunate to work under him. He was a great mentor and excellent guide.
John Corcoran: Here is a link to John's piece Remembering my Life with Peter Hare.
Cerasel Cuteanu (Universitatea Constantin Brancusi): On behalf of the College of Letters and Social Sciences of the Constantin Brancusi University in Targu-Jiu, Romania, I am writing to express our deepest sorrow for the loss of an incredible person, philosopher and professor -- Dr. Peter Hare. We had the great opportunity of meeting Peter last September at the international conference on pragmatism we organized at our university. We had unbelievably many things to learn from him. He was an outstanding thinker and a global philosopher.
Eva Koespell: Here is a link to Eva's piece Part of the Team.
Valerii Kuvakin (Moscow State University): The sad news about Peter’s death is so unexpected and shocking. I knew Peter for more then 25 years. He was one of the first Americans who opened his mind and home to the Russian students in early 80th. . It was period of the Could War and we were looking for mutual understanding and friendship. Peter and his marvelous wife Daphne were so open and friendly for all of us. He and Daphne introduced to us the best patterns of American culture and character. Peter happily combined the features of American democracy and nobility, high intelligence and curiosity, seriousness and sense of humor. I visited his home in Buffalo many times feeling very comfortable, calm, and happy. I never felt any distance between us in spite of huge difference in terms of our backgrounds and history. He was very sensitive about the Russian affairs and welcomed any step of my country toward democracy. Peter was one of the first sponsors of newly formed Russian Humanist Society, his visit to Russia (Novosibirsk) as a lecturer of the Summer school in 2006 was great opportunity to see and listen to him. He appeared to us again as a wise man of broad competence, deep knowledge of American and world culture, and the person of reach life experience. Peter’s death is great lost for us. Many Russians will keep good memory about this wonderful and kind personality.
Zosimo Lee: Peter lived a happy and productive life, and was a very charming man and prodigious philosopher.
Tim Madigan: I was thinking back fondly on all the crazy skits that Peter encouraged me to perform at various Philosophy Department events. His great humor was always an inspiration to me!
Marcus Marenda: Last time I saw Peter, we had an enjoyable conversation in the hallway. I have the fond memory of his trademarked excitely softening "of course, of course...you know".
Fall 2007: Barry Smith
Coordinated evolution of ontologies to support biomedical data integration paper now published in Nature Biotechnology: http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v25/n11/full/nbt1346.html
Summer 2007: Jiyuan Yu
Jiyuan Yu was appointed as the Aristotle Lecturer for the Philosophy Summer School: China, US and Britain session on Ancient Philosophy (July-August 2007) held at Shandong Universtiy, China. Each year the summer school selects four lecturers world wide who are well known and from top universities.
Spring 2007: Kah Kyung Cho
Kah Kyung Cho was invited by the International Federation of Philosophical Societies to its 22nd World Congress of Philosophy, Seoul, Korea in the summer of 2008 as one of three principal speakers on the topic "Tradition, Modernity and Post-Modernity: Eastern and Western Perspectives".
Spring 2007: Kah Kyung Cho
Kah Kyung Cho was invited to present at the BK 21 Distinguished Philosophy Lecture Series at Seoul National University on March 15, 2007.
Spring 2007: Barry Smith
Barry Smith has received a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Science, a part of the National Institutes of Health, for work on PRO: A Protein Ontology in Open Biomedical Ontologies, which is designed to allow more precise descriptions of proteins and more accurate prediction of their biological properties. He will work as part of a team led by Cathy Wu of Georgetown University.
Spring 2007: Jiyuan Yu
Jiyuan Yu was offered the status of Affiliated Chair Professor, Department of Philosophy, Renmin University of China, Beijing, an honorary position.
Spring 2007: Barry Smith
Barry Smith has received funding from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to organize a training workshop on Infectious Disease Ontology to be held in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories in September 2007.
Fall 2006: Jiyuan Yu
Jiyuan Yu was invited as Keynote Speaker for the international conference "Western Philosophy and Modern China" dedicated to the opening of the Museum of China's Introduction of Western Philosophy, Zhongshan University, Guanzhou, China in December 2006.
Spring 2006: Kah Kyung Cho
Kah Kyung Cho was inducted as a member of the "Leading Philosophers of the World" (Phenomenology) by the International Biographical Center, Cambridge, England in May 2006.
Spring 2004: David Hershenov
David Hershenov is the recipient of a 2004 Young Investigator Award. This is a university-wide award for researchers at the beginning of their careers who have already done exceptional work. The award was presented at a ceremony on May 26, 2004.
Spring 2004: Barry Smith
Barry Smith has been promoted to the rank of SUNY Distinguished Professor. Appointment to this rank, the highest a faculty member can achieve in our institutional system, is a rare and special event. Only three faculty from UB were so honored this year and only eight in the entire SUNY system. Professor Smith, Julian Park Professor of Philosophy, is internationally reputed as one of the most creative scholars working in the field of applied ontology. He is the force behind some of the most revolutionary applications of philosophical ontology in the emerging field of informatics especially in the biomedical and geographic information sciences. Smith is involved with the Integrative Graduate Research and Education Training Program (IGERT) and directs the Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information Science (IFOMIS) at the University of Leipzig, Germany. The philosophy ontology program (MA in Philosophy with a specialty in Ontology and Information Science) at the University at Buffalo has evolved under his direction. Professor Smith edits The Monist: An International Journal of General Philosophical Inquiry, one of the oldest and most prestigious philosophy journals in the U.S.
Spring 2004: Barry Smith
The Volkswagen Foundation has awarded 913,200 euros (the equivalent of 1,125,000 U.S. dollars) to Professor Barry Smith for his project "Forms of Life: Philosophical Dimensions of Contemporary Biomedical Research." The project is in collaboration with Professor Heinz Sass of the Institute for Genetics, University of Leipzig and Professor Pirmin Stekeler-Weithofer, Institute for Philosophy, University of Leipzig. Barry Smith, recently-named SUNY Distinguished Professor at the University at Buffalo, is the director of the Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information Sciences (IFOMIS).
Project details: "Forms of Life: Philosophical Dimensions of Contemporary Biomedical Research" is an interdisciplinary collaborative project involving philosophers, biologists and medical informaticians. Its goal is a unified, synoptic and philosophically grounded theory of the most important founda-tional concepts of biomedical research. This theory will be developed and refined in close collaboration with scientists engaged in empirical research. It is designed to serve as the foundation for a new strategy for organizing and integrating information in the domain of biomedical informatics, and thus to show how philosophical research can enjoy a genuine practical relevance. It should thus also have con-sequences for philosophy itself, for example by providing new impulses for bioethics and medical ethics and by contributing to a new self-understanding of philosophy.
About the Volkswagen Foundation:
The Volkswagen Foundation initiative is focused on the cultural sciences and humanities disciplines. Scientists are invited to define project themes which take up problems of current importance to the wider society, problems which are in addition capable of being resolved only through interdisciplinary collaboration and if possible involve also the natural sciences. The Volkswagen Foundation will in this way contribute to the networking of scientists working on research projects in the humanities and also to stimulating work which spans the disciplines.
Fall 2003: John Corcoran
The University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain) has conferred on John Corcoran the degree Doctor Honoris Causa. To celebrate this occasion the Department of Logic and Moral Philosophy organized an international symposium in his honor. It was held on October 9-10, 2003 at CENTRO DE ESTUDIOS AVANZADOS/CASA DE EUROPA Santiago de Compostela (Spain) and organized by the Área de Lógica y Filosofia de la Ciencia de la U.S.C. Department of Logic and Moral Philosophy Faculty of Philosophy.
- Sociedad de Lógica, Metodología y Filosofía de la Ciencia en España
- Sociedad Española de Filosofía Analitica
- Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología
- Xunta de Galicia
- Universidad de Santiago de Compostela
- José M. Sagüillo (President)
- Concha Martinez (Secretary)
- José L. Falguera (Secretary)
Professor José Sagüillo, Catedratico (Distinguished Professor) of Logic at the University of Santiago de Compostela is a former graduate student in philosophy at the University at Buffalo.
Dr. Corcoran is a logic professor in the philosophy department at the University at Buffalo and 2002 recipient of a "Sustained Achievement Award" for senior University scholars.