17th International Graduate Conference in Philosophy - University of Essex 20th and 21st June, 2014 ‘Pleasure and Pain’

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17th International Graduate Conference in Philosophy - University of Essex 20th and 21st June, 2014 ‘Pleasure and Pain’ (http://www.essex.ac.uk/philosophy/news_and_seminars/grad_events/pleasure_and_pain.aspx)

Keynote speakers: Dr. Clare Carlisle, King’s College London Dr. Timothy Secret, University of Essex

Pleasure and pain are highly contested concepts in the history of philosophy. Yet these concepts simultaneously underpin modes of life; the way we conceptualise and relate to pleasure and pain directly influences our ethical and political action. But the precise nature of these concepts remains problematic. While for Aristotle pleasure was inextricably linked to happiness, Hellenistic schools linked pleasure and pain to desire, and urged non-attachment to the external world in order to transcend the painful perils of everyday life and attain a higher state of tranquility. Conversely, the problem of subjective or social suffering in terms of individual and social pathologies has also been addressed by members of the Frankfurt School in order to inspire to radical social change. Debate has also raged as to whether pleasure and pain are on a continuum, or whether they might co-exist as some kind of intensive magnitude. Certain practices use extreme pain in order to produce pleasure — as we see in masochism, for example. Pleasure and pain, then, are at once ethical, political, and personal. But what is the contemporary status of these concepts? Without divine retribution, or the promise of untold pleasures in an afterlife, are we left, as Mandeville predicted, in some kind of hedonistic frenzy? Is pleasure possible without suffering? What, if any, duties do we have towards others to stop their pain and suffering? In this conference, we seek to explore these questions relating to pleasure and pain understood in the broadest possible sense. We invite abstracts of around 300 words for presentations of 40 minutes on any topic related to pleasure and pain.

Submissions from graduate students working within all traditions of philosophy are encouraged. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: • Hedonism, Epicureanism, and Hellenistic philosophy • Philosophy of love, desire, and sex • Pain and pleasure in art and aesthetics • The role of the emotions in suffering and happiness • Psychoanalytic theories of pleasure and pain • Pleasure, pain, and the emotions in early-modern philosophy • Mental health, illness, and suffering • Masochism • Social pathologies and Critical Theory • The problem of evil • Death • Sacrifice and renunciation • Asceticism • Moral philosophy and the prevention of pain • Feminist critiques of pleasure and pain.

Successful applicants will be notified by the end of March.

Categories: Conference