Colloquium: Reflecting on being thankful after the death of God – Prof Paul van Tongeren, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen & KU Leuven

The Department of Philosophy at the University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a colloquium:
Reflecting on being thankful after the death of God – Prof Paul van Tongeren, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen & KU Leuven
We are faced with a certain embarrassment when it comes to being thankful in our time. The embarrassment does not relate so much to the thankfulness over against someone who gave us something, but the thankfulness for our existence, for those things “given to us” by chance and maybe even “for everything”. This thankfulness we cannot express well anymore, because we do not know whom we should be thankful to. I try to explain the connection of this thankfulness with what Nietzsche calls nihilism, and try to find a way which would enable us to be “thankful” even without God. With this in mind I twice make a journey through the history of reflection on thankfulness: the first time to trace the origin of the prevalent concept of thankfulness, the second time to identify aspects which have become or remained hidden. I draw on these hidden aspects to coin an alternative concept of thankfulness, which I then illustrate with reference to the well-known imagery of the Three Graces.
Venue: University of Pretoria, Humanities building, 20-4
Date: Friday, 12 February 2016
Time: 11:30-12:30

3rd Annual Conference of the Centre for Phenomenology in South Africa – 2nd CFP: Identity and Difference

3rd Annual Conference of the Centre for Phenomenology in South Africa
2nd CFP: Identity and Difference
27-29 March 2015

University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Organized by Rafael Winkler, Abraham Olivier, Rianna Oelofsen

Miguel de Beistegui (University of Warwick)
Babette Babich (Fordham University)

Identity and difference raise a host of philosophical questions ranging from metaphysical problems concerning the nature of multiplicity, alterity, personal identity and subjectivity to ethical and political issues such as inclusiveness, diversity, solidarity and resistance. Since the second half of the 20th century these notions have enjoyed special attention as the vast literature on the metaphysics, ethics and politics of identity and difference testifies. This includes a wide array of works by continental philosophers (Deleuze, Lyotard, Heidegger, Levinas), analytical philosophers of mind (Parfit, Shoemaker, Dennett, Searle) as well as moral and political philosophers (Taylor, Rawls). The significance of place and time for the constitution of personal and political identities and differences has also been receiving considerable attention recently, opening up philosophical debates in literature, art, architecture, anthropology and geography.

This conference aims to offer an open forum for reflection on the rich discussion on identity and difference and invites contributions from all traditions of philosophy and other related disciplines, and is not limited to the reception of this theme in the phenomenological tradition.

The topics of the conference include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Identity and difference in metaphysics/phenomenology/philosophy of mind/ political philosophy/ethics
  • The meaning or experience of identity and difference
  • Selfhood, personhood, autonomy, alterity
  • The nature of and relationship between subjectivity and political collectivity
  • The relations between personal identity, time, memory, space and place
  • The formation of cultural identities and global change
  • Identity politics and the politics of difference
  • Aristotle, Locke, Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, Deleuze, Lyotard, Derrida, Levinas, Wittgenstein, Parfit, Dennett, Searle, Shoemaker, Taylor, Rawls, Fanon, Appiah on the notions of identity and difference


Please provide a 700 word abstract for blind review and send it The full paper should be no more than 3.500-4.000 words (the conference format allows for a 35-40 min. presentation followed by a 10-15 min. discussion). Proposals for panel discussions are also welcome.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is the 31st of January 2015. Notification of acceptance will be sent latest by the 21st of February 2015.

Conference fees:

The fee for the full three-day conference (including teas and lunches) for participants is R1026 (including VAT) (R342 per day for persons wishing to attend only one or two days). It is free of charge for all participating graduate and PhD students.


A limited number of bursaries will be available for travel and accommodation.


The organisers recommend that conference participants stay at Plumpudding Guesthouse ( or The View (, which are within walking distance from the UJ Auckland Park Campus. The current rate at Plumpudding Guesthouse is R650 per night inclusive of breakfast.

For more information about the conference, visit the website of the Centre for Phenomenology in South Africa: Alternatively, please contact Rafael Winkler (, Catherine Botha (, Abraham Olivier (, or Marianna Oelofsen (

Seminar: Dr Sirkku Hellsten

The Stellenbosch University philosophy department is pleased to announce a final seminar for the year.

Dr Sirkku Hellsten from Finland is current head of the philosophy department at the University of Dar es Salaam and will be presenting a seminar in our department (room 628 of the Arts and Social Sciences building, corner of Merriman Ave and Ryneveld St in Stellenbosch) next Wednesday26 November, 12:30-14:00.  The title of her seminar is: Rhetoric, politics and ethics of governance in Africa in the era of globalization. 


The new narrative of ‘Africa is rising’ is heard all over the world: African countries are rapidly gaining more economic power and business competitiveness. With this economic empowerment, many African governments are regaining – and reclaiming – their sovereignty after decades of colonialism – and alleged subsequent neo-colonialism by Western powers. Today’s politically, socially and economically transitional situation, the traditional partnership between African countries and their Western partners is briskly changing. African leaders are less willing to listen their former ‘colonial masters’ and (later day) ‘paternalistic donors’ about the direction of development that Africa should adapt to. With this regained confidence in increasing opportunities in international markets and other collaboration, many leaders in the continent call for African solutions for African problems, and call off the Western interference which is seen to be part of these problems to start with. Political rhetoric of ‘second liberation’ emphasizes African values and traditions, and builds pressure to discredit and disregard the allegedly Western values as foreign interference, paternalism and forms of neo-colonialism. In fact it often appears that many African leaders now want to convince their people that if something originated in the West, it is only good for Western countries; and thus, somehow it must necessarily be bad for Africa.
This paper wants to take a closer look at the rhetoric of ‘new sovereignty’ and expose some crimes against logic that have turned into crimes against the people in Africa. The paper is structured as follows: firstly, I will discuss how the current economy-based, Western originated concept of development has gradually created a transitional socio-politico-economic context that integrates some of the most egoistic individualistic practices with various suppressive and biased communalistic traditions in Africa. This integration is labelled here as ‘afro-libertarianism’. Secondly, I will show how the Western development and business practices have contributed to the current leadership crisis in Africa. I will also show how the unwarranted generalizations and false polarizations between Western individualism and African communalism are used to reject fundamental governance reforms and to slow down democratic processes. The hypocrisy that African leaders blame the West for is reflected in their own actions: they call for rebirth of African communalist solidarity traditions, while they themselves have intensely adopted libertarian-justified self-interest in their own political practice.

Please contact me should you require any further information regarding this seminar.

Warm regards

Andrea Palk

Department of Philosophy

Stellenbosch University

Private Bag X1

Stellenbosch • 7602


Tel: +27 21 808 2057 • e-mail:

FINAL CFP: Colloquium on ‘Contrasts and contests about philosophy’ at the PSSA Conference 2015

The colloquium on ‘contrasts and contests about philosophy’ will form part of the annual conference of Philosophical Society of Southern Africa (PSSA), Monday 12 – Wednesday 14 January 2015. The colloquium will be run as a special parallel session throughout the conference. There is no additional registration fee for attending this colloquium. It forms part of the PSSA 2015 conference and will be held at the same venue. Find the tab for PSSA 2015 on the NMMU webpage ( Please check for updates.

Participants are invited to submit multi- and interdisciplinary contributions on questions in and about philosophy. Submissions should focus preferably but not exclusively on Africa. Submissions on the following topics are particularly welcome:

  • What is the character and meaning of philosophies dominated by the Western epistemological paradigm in South Africa? (Notably, the label ‘non-Western’ is objectionable to the extent that it positions other philosophies as parodies of Western philosophy. The fact that this has been so historically, and continues in contemporary South Africa underscores the ethical and political objection to the use of ‘non-Western’.)
  • The concept of ‘dialogue’ is one of the controversial topics in the unfolding discussions in and about philosophy. Is dialogue possible between diverse philosophical traditions (e.g. Indian, African, Chinese and Western)?
  • Is there such a thing as ‘the Western epistemological paradigm’?
  • Is there an African philosophical paradigm?
  • Why and how do ‘deconstructive’ and ‘reconstructive’ challenges arise in African


  • The significance of hermeneutics in the philosophy of liberation with special focus on Africa.
  • What is the relationship between philosophy and the culture from which it emanates?
  • Intellectual decolonisation as a liberation issue in any of the following disciplines:

    philosophy, religion, theology, psychology, mathematics, medicine, science, economics,

    politics, environmental ethics, ethics and business ethics.

  • Is it important, within the larger society, that philosophy in South Africa or Africa shake off

    the Western paradigm? Why or why not?

  • A critique of “the underside” in intellectual decolonisation as an issue in liberation.

    Abstracts of no more than 200 words should reach the conference organisers by 31 October 2014. Please note that the number of presentation slots is limited and that early submission is advisable.

    Confirmation of papers accepted for the conference will take place by 15 November 2014. If you require this information at an earlier date, please indicate this to the conference organisers.

    The conference organisers are Andrea Hurst and Karen Du Plessis, email:

    Papers presented at the colloquium may be submitted for publication in a special issue of the South African Journal of Philosophy (SAJP). To be considered for inclusion, full papers must be prepared for anonymous review and submitted to the SAJP online at where they will be directed to the Guest Editor, Prof Mogobe Ramose. When you are asked to select a

section/category please select the option ‘special edition’. For more detail please consult the SAJP Call for papers, available on the NMMU Philosophy webpage (

PPA 2014: Conference Programme

Here is the programme and list of abstracts for the 9th Annual Conference of The Postgraduate Philosophy Association of Southern Africa.  The conference will be taking place at Innovation Centre, University of Kwazulu Natal on the 19th and 20th of July.

All are welcome!

For more information regarding the conference, please contact Elmarie Venter:

CFP 1: Spring Colloquium 2014

Call For Papers

The annual Spring Colloquium will be hosted this year in Cape Town by the Philosophy Dept of the University of the Western Cape.  The Colloquium will take place on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 September.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 200 words to:  The closing date for submissions is 30 June.

The Colloquium will be held here: Kolping Guesthouse is just 30 minutes’ drive from Cape Town International Airport, and 5 minutes’ drive from the Durbanville wine route.

Attendees are asked to please make their own accommodation arrangements directly with Kolping Guesthouse.  Rates are R880 per person per night for a single room and R725 per person per night for a shared room.  This rate covers conference costs, accommodation, and meals.  When making your reservation, please be sure to specify that you are attending the Philosophy Spring Colloquium, so that you can take advantage of the special rates we have arranged.  Please be sure to make your reservation before 30 June.

Should you choose not to stay at Kolping Guesthouse, the conference fee will be R220 per day, which includes lunch and tea.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Simon Beck & Jess Lerm