Past Events Santa Barbara

God and the Science of Emotion, or A Spinozist Answer to the Question: “Why Did the Affective Turn Take Place?” 150 150 Tom Carlson

God and the Science of Emotion, or A Spinozist Answer to the Question: “Why Did the Affective Turn Take Place?”

November 29, 2018 at 4 p.m.

Robertson Gymnasium 1000A 

Recent decades have witnessed an upsurge of interest in emotional phenomena. But while the emotions themselves have been extensively studied, the very fact that there has been such a tremendous increase of interest in them remains underexplored and the explanations that have nonetheless been given to account for it are, as a rule, partial, circumstantial, circular or other unsatisfactory. Here I propose an alternative explanation to this second-order phenomenon based on Spinoza’s metaphysics, in the framework of which finitude is regarded not as a monolithic term, as is customary, but as a matter of degree, and the emotions are conceived as secondary affections of God, i.e., particularly finite beings. The growing fascination with the emotions is accordingly explicable in terms of a growing fascination with the finite, a process that accounts for the historical emergence of the sciences as it leads from theology, through physics and chemistry, as well as the life, human, and social sciences, to, most recently, the science of emotion, the science of the infinitely small.

Avraham Rot is a junior fellow at the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies in Hamburg. He has a PhD in intellectual history from Johns Hopkins University, and has been a junior visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna and a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University and at the Freie Universität Berlin. He currently teaches philosophy and intellectual history at Johns Hopkins University and George Washington University.

Seminar with Jonathan Lear: Gettysburg Mourning 1003 816 Nina Rismal

Seminar with Jonathan Lear: Gettysburg Mourning

December 6, 2018 at 3 p.m.

Robertson Gymnasium 1000A

John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor at the Committee on Social Thought and in the Department of Philosophy; Roman Family Director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and society at the University of Chicago; and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Lear works primarily on philosophical conceptions of the human psyche from Scorates to the present. His publications include Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation (2006) and, most recently, The Idea of a Philosophical Anthropology (2017) and Wisdom Won from Illness: Essays in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis (2017).

Trajectories of Spirit 500 300 Nina Rismal

Trajectories of Spirit

Trajectories of Spirit

Three events with philosopher Hans Ruin
Professor at Södertörn University, Stockholm and author of Being with the Dead: Burial, Ancestral Politics, and the Roots of Historical Consciousness (Stanford U. Press, forthcoming)

Monday, April 30 2018, 4:00 PM

Public Lecture: “The Hearing Eye: Weber and Husserl on Science as Spiritual Calling”
This lecture discusses Max Weber’s 1917 lecture “Science as a Vocation” and compares it with Edmund Husserl’s 1911 essay “Philosophy as Rigorous Science,” attempting for the first time to develop the deeper underlying similarities between their approaches to theoria as also a listening to a call, and the parallel attempts to give science in the modern era a spiritual foundation.


Tuesday, May 1 2018, 3:30 PM

Seminar: “Pneumatology in St. Paul and Kierkegaard”
A seminar discussion of Professor Ruin’s essay “Anxious Spirits – Pneumatology in Heidegger, Paul, and Kierkegaard,” in Topos 1 (2014): 39-52. The text is an attempt to interpret the Pauline concept of pneuma as a category of historical life, and as a metaphor for the transmission of tradition.


Thursday, May 3 2018, 3:30 PM

Seminar:“Being with the Dead”
A seminar discussion surrounding the main ideas of Professor Ruin’s forthco- ming book with Stanford University Press, Being with the Dead. Suggested reading: “Speaking to the Dead – Historicity and the Ancestral,” Danish Yearbook of Philosophy 48-49: 115-137. By comparing literature and history as two ways of depicting a journey to the land of the dead, it gives a new perspective on the birth of historical writing.


Location for all three events: Room 4080, Humanities and Social Sciences Building, University of California, Santa Barbara

Copies of the readings may be requested at

PROVOCATIONS | Session #1 | What do we owe to trolls and Nazis? 500 300 Nina Rismal

PROVOCATIONS | Session #1 | What do we owe to trolls and Nazis?

What do we owe to trolls and Nazis?

Community Discussion Group PROVOCATIONS | Session #1

March 16th, 2018, 6-8 p.m.

SBCAST @ 513 Garden St., Santa Barbara


How do democratic virtues change as our civic life increasingly moves online? Should we try to reason with Nazis? Must we show respect to trolls? Drawing on case studies and participants’ own experiences, this workshop will ask hard questions about democracy and citizenship in the digital age. We will listen to Lindy West’s story, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS,” and read excerpts from Angela Nagles’ Kill All Normies to consider what the evolution of online communi- ties and the “culture wars” might mean for American democracy.

The event will be followed by a reception.

Stanley Cavell and Emersonian Perfectionism 807 459 Nina Rismal

Stanley Cavell and Emersonian Perfectionism

Stanley Cavell and Emersonian Perfectionism

A Seminar with Andrew Norris (UCSB) & Sandra Laugier (Panthéon Sorbonne)

February 13th, 2018, 2-5 p.m.

Board Room @ Mosher Alumni House, University of California, Santa Barbara

Liberals like John Rawls often argue that perfectionism is incompatible with democracy, as it entails establishing criteria of human perfection or self-realization that are at best restrictive of individual autonomy and at worst discriminatory towards lesser, “imperfect” forms of life. Stanley Cavell, in contrast, argues that perfectionism as it is understood by Ralph Waldo Emerson is an essential moment in democratic politics. In this special seminar, open to the entire UCSB community, two scholars of Cavell will draw out and defend this claim and attempt to clarify its implications. Following up on Professor Sandra Laugier’s February 12 public lecture, “The Politics of Voice,” the February 13 seminar will focus on the Introduction and fifth chapter of UCSB Professor Andrew Norris’ recent book, Becoming Who We Are: Politics and Practical Philosophy in the Work of Stanley Cavell (Oxford, 2017), along with Stanley Cavell’s “Aversive Thinking: Emersonian Representations in Heidegger and Nietzsche.”

Copies of the readings may be requested at

The Politics of Voice 500 300 Nina Rismal

The Politics of Voice

The Politics of Voice


with Sandra Laugier
Author of Recommencer la philosophie: Stanley Cavell et la philosophie en Amérique (Vrin, 2014) and Why We Need Ordinary Language Philosophy (Chicago, 2013)

Discussant: Pierre Fasula (PhD Paris 1) Postdoctoral Fellow, Humanities and Social Change Santa Barbara Center

February 12 2018, 4:00 PM
Alumni Hall @ Mosher Alumni House, University of California, Santa Barbara

In this talk I defend an “ordinary conception of politics” that stems from Wittgenstein, Cavell, and Emerson. In place of ideal forms of government and abstract definitions of the principles of democratic politics, I show that living in a given state endows individuals with practical knowledge about the political order. Community is what gives me a political voice and what can just as well take it away from me, disappoint me, or deceive me to the point that I no longer want to speak for it or let it speak for me. This introduces skepticism and self-reliance into politics and political activism.


Copies of the readings may be requested at

Animals, Contradictions and Value 500 300 Nina Rismal

Animals, Contradictions and Value

Animals, Contradiction, and Value

Dinesh Wadiwel, University of Sydney
Author of The War Against Animals (Brill, 2015), co-editor of Foucault and Animals (Brill, 2016), and convenor of the Human Animal Research Network (HARN)

Discussant: Jan Dutkiewicz
The New School /UCSB

January 29 2018, 4:00 PM
Mosher Alumni House, University of California, Santa Barbara

Animals are neither objects nor machines, and yet they appear on balance sheets and super market shelves like any other commodity. Whereas animal rights theory has traditionally argued for greater moral recognition as an antidote to this contradiction, this paper reaches to Karl Marx to explore the unique structural position of animals under capitalism and to conceptualize political change.