A distinguished panel addresses this question on the occasion of the publication of Professor James Miller’s new book, Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche.
Panelists include Simon Critchley, professor of philosophy at The New School for Social Research and author of The Book of Dead Philosophers; Anthony Gottlieb, author of The Dream of Reason, a three-volume history of philosophy; James Miller, professor of political science and chair of the Committee on Liberal Studies at The New School for Social Research; Astra Taylor, independent filmmaker and director of Zizek! and Examined Life: Philosophy Is in the Streets; and Cornel West, author of Race Matters and Class of 1943 Professor at Princeton University. The panel will be moderated by Lewis H. Lapham, editor of Lapham’s Quarterly.
This event is presented by Farrar, Straus & Giroux and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library and sponsored by the Committee on Liberal Studies.
Simon Critchley was born in Hertfordshire in 1960, and currently lives and works in New York as Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. He works in continental philosophy, the history of philosophy, literature, ethics and politics.
Critchley argues that philosophy commences in disappointment, either religious or political. These two axes may be said largely to inform his published work: religious disappointment raises the question of meaning and has to, as he sees it, deal with the problem of nihilism; political disappointment provokes the question of justice and raises the need for a coherent ethics. The Book of Dead Philosophers is his eighth book.
Lewis H. Lapham is an American writer. He was the editor of Harper's Magazine from 1976 until 1981, and from 1983 until 2006. He also is the founder of a publication about history and literature entitled Lapham's Quarterly. He has written numerous books on politics and current affairs.
James Miller is professor of political science and chair of the Committee on Liberal Studies at The New School for Social Research. He is author of the book Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche
Astra Taylor holds an MA in Liberal Studies from the New School for Social Research and has been an instructor in sociology departments at the University of Georgia and State University of New York, New Paltz where she has taught classes on social theory, globalization, and the sociology of film. Her writing has appeared in the Monthly Review, The Nation, Adbusters, Salon, The Baffler, and Bomb Magazine. She is the director of Zizek!, a feature documentary about the world's most famous philosopher.
Cornel West is a philosopher, author, critic, and civil rights activist. His works include The Ethical Dimensions of Marxist Thought, Race Matters, and The African-American Century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Century.
Cornel West argues that philosophy should not be viewed as an instrument to counter disappointment. "Disappointment is a constant companion all the time," says West. "Sorrow is a constant companion for a blues man like me."