BSP Annual Conference 2019 – programme, abstracts and biographies

The British Society for Phenomenology Annual Conference 2019 – the Theory and Practice of Phenomenology.

2019 Programme:

Here is the second draft of the 2019 programme. Please note, timings and panels may change over the next few weeks as speakers confirm and register for the conference.

The third draft of the the programme should be issued soon after 31 July 2019.

Keynote Speakers:

Keith Crome
Principal Lecturer in Philosophy, and Education Lead for the Department of History, Politics and Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University.

“Education as Child’s Play”
While schooling is a serious business, and education requires discipline, we are often told by educationalists, and also by our students, to make learning fun. There is an obvious extrinsic justification for doing this. As John Dewey noted a century ago in Democracy and Education (1916), experience has shown that allowing pupils to play makes going to school a joy — or at least provides relief from the tedium and strain of regular school work — and management less of a burden. Nevertheless, the link between education and play, familiar to us all (who hasn’t learnt by playing?), is fundamental. The aim of this talk is to explore this connection and its implications for a radical conception of education. I will begin with the contention that the originary co-belonging of play and education has been obscured by the rise of homo faber and the animal laborans, and the attendant overpowering of homo ludens. I will argue that a failure to recognise this vitiates Dewey’s celebrated pragmatist account of education. I will attempt to suggest that it is possible to think beyond the horizon of Dewey’s work by following Eugen Fink in conceiving the phenomenon of play as a mode of activity irreducible to either praxis and poiesis. Such a conception permits us to return to and rethink the originary correspondence between education and play as it was recognised by the Ancient Greeks.

Biography: Dr Keith Crome is Principal Lecturer in Philosophy and Education Lead for the Department of History, Politics and Philosophy at Manchester Metropolitan University. He served as President of the British Society for Phenomenology from 2014 — 2018, and is currently a member of the editorial collective of the Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology. He has published widely on 20th century French Philosophy and he is the author of Lyotard and Greek Thought (Palgrave, 2004) and co-editor of The Lyotard Reader and Guide (Edinburgh University Press, 2006). His current research focuses on the history of character. He is working with the Cooperative College on a project examining the role that character plays in ideas and practices of cooperation.

Linda Finlay
Integrative Psychotherapist, freelance Academic Consultant (Open University), and Editor of the European Journal for Qualitative Research in Psychotherapy.

“First person plural? Exploring the emergence of ‘multiple selves’ in existential psychotherapy”
The idea of multiple selves (subjectivities) is contested and understood in various ways across different psychotherapeutic modalities and philosophical cultures.  Traditional humanistic theory champions the idea of a private, unique, authentic, core self while post-modern variants celebrate plurality.  Psychoanalytic theory accepts each person as being psychologically fragmented and made up of unconsciously introjected parts of others while social constructionist approaches celebrate the selves which emerge fluidly and relationally in different contexts. These debates are similarly reflected in the phenomenological literature as some scholars promote the existence of a foundational essential self while others argue for multiplicity evolving out of the nature of our primordial relational being.
These debates are similarly played out in the existential psychotherapy world. This is the focus of my presentation where I will present two case studies from my client work. The key question to be addressed is how do we understand – and work with – what seems to be the ubiquitous appearance of different ‘selves’ in the therapy room?  I aim to use the therapy examples as a springboard to examine ways competing philosophical ideas might be applied to practice. For instance, might it be possible to empirically evidence the existence of a ‘minimal self’ nestled within a multiplicity of narrative and/or temporal selves?  Thinking about practice itself, are multiple selves best viewed as a metaphorical device to capture emerging ‘parts’ of subjectivity?  Should our aim in psychotherapy be unification? Or should we set aside ontological assumptions and simply work with what/who presents itself/themselves?

Biography: Dr Linda Finlay is an existentially-orientated Integrative Psychotherapist and Supervisor (UKCP registered) currently in private practice in the UK, though she has worked in various institutions in the mental health field since 1978. She also teaches psychology, counselling and research methodology at the Open University, UK. She has published widely, and her most recent book, Practical ethics in counselling and psychotherapy: A relational approach, is published by Sage. Among her other books are Relational integrative psychotherapy and Phenomenology for therapists: Researching the lived world (both published with Wiley). Her particular research interests include exploring relational dynamics and applying relational-reflexive approaches to investigate the lived experience of disability and trauma. She is currently Editor of the European Journal for Qualitative Research in Psychotherapy.

Dylan Trigg
FWF Lise Meitner Senior Fellow in the Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna.

“As strange as the lunar landscape”
This talk examines the role anonymity plays in the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty. Anonymity is a critical theme throughout Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy, which is played out in his elaborations on the nature of time, materiality, and bodily perception. The concept is critical because it allows Merleau-Ponty to explain how perception is both general and singular in the same measure, how temporality can be contemporaneous and immemorial, and how the body is both one’s own while at the same time marking a prehistory that is never entirely my own. Yet despite its widespread presence, Merleau-Ponty’s account of anonymity tends to privilege themes of integrity and synthesis while neglecting how anonymity can serve as a threat or rupture to the unity of selfhood, especially in the context of psychopathologies.
I will unpack this claim by looking at three modalities of anonymity: temporal, material, and corporeal. From a Merleau-Pontian perspective, each of these modalities is stipulated on the premise that anonymous levels of existence can be integrated into lived perception, not least in the gesture of an “I can.” Thus, Merleau-Ponty’s observation that the body is “as strange as the lunar landscape” when viewed too closely or that “an anonymous and general existence…plays the role of an innate complex beneath the level of my personal life” recognises a level of anteriority to lived experience, but one that is ultimately assimilated into the living subject. By looking at atypical and pathological instances of embodiment, such as anxiety and depersonalization, we are introduced to another aspect of anonymity, which issues a challenge to the notion that anonymity can be synthesised into lived experience. I will conclude by turning to some of the broader implications of Merleau-Ponty’s account of anonymity. Far from a conceptual issue peculiar to Merleau-Ponty, I suggest that the problem of anonymity is central to phenomenology more broadly insofar as the concept registers the limits of both the body and the world as one’s own.

Biography: Dr Dylan Trigg is an FWF Lise Meitner Senior Fellow at University of Vienna, Department of Philosophy. He has previously held research and teaching positions at the University of Memphis, University College Dublin, and Husserl Archives, École Normale Supérieure. He earned is PhD at the University of Sussex (2009), MA at the University of Sussex (2005), and BA at the University of London, Birkbeck College (2004). Trigg is the author of several books, including: Topophobia: a Phenomenology of Anxiety (2016); The Thing: a Phenomenology of Horror (2014); and The Memory of Place: a Phenomenology of the Uncanny (2012). With Dorothée Legrand, he is co-editor of Unconsciousness Between Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis (2017). His research concerns phenomenology and existentialism; philosophies of subjectivity and embodiment; aesthetics and philosophies of art; and philosophies of space and place.

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