Monthly Archives: April 2018

May 16th, Spinoza at Durham

An announcement from the Centre for Cultural Ecologies, a quondam partner of Newcastle Philosophy:


We are pleased to announce Psycho-Physical Causations, a seminar with HENRI ATLAN, on occasion of the publication of his new book on Spinoza and Contemporary Biology (Odile Jacob, 2018).

Prof. Atlan will offer a reading of Spinoza’s Ethics, Part III, Proposition 2:
“The body cannot determine the mind to thinking, and the mind cannot determine the body to motion, to rest, or to anything else (if there is anything else).”

The seminar will include the response of Dr. Michael Mack (Durham University) and a Q&A.

Wednesday 16th May, 4pm to 6pm (venue TBA)

Suggested reading: Henri Atlan, The Sparks of Randomness, Vol. II Chapter 6 (“A Spinozist Perspective on Evolution and The Theory of Action”)

Henri Atlan is an emeritus professor of biophysics, as well as the founder and director of the Research Centre in Human Biology at the Hadassah Hospital, in Jerusalem. He is also directeur d’études in philosophy of biology at the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, in Paris. He is the author of seminal works such as Entre le cristal et la fumée (Editions du Seuil, 1979), Les Étincelles de hazard (Editions du Seuil, 1999; The Sparks of Randomness, Stanford University Press, 2011-2013), and Le Vivant post-génomique (Odile Jacob, 2011).

Michael Mack is the author of Spinoza and the Specters of Modernity: The Hidden Enlightenment of Diversity from Spinoza to Freud (New York: Continuum, 2010).

For more information, please contact Dr. Mauro Senatore (Durham University),

This seminar is organised thanks to the support received from the British Academy and the Centre for Cultural Ecology at Durham University.

Another Gabriel event, 25th April, in Durham

Durham Castle Lecture – Professor Markus Gabriel

25th April 2018, 20:00 to 21:30, Senate Room, Durham Castle, University College

‘Are We Real? Consciousness and Fiction’

It is a widespread believe in our contemporary natural scientific culture that central features of our mind are fictions or illusions of sorts. The prominent philosopher Daniel Dennett even claims that illusionism about phenomenal consciousness (our qualitative experience of reality as rich with colors, sounds, tastes, smells, etc.) should be “the obvious default theory of consciousness.” Remarkably, illusionists about consciousness typically do not offer actual error theories that tell us in what precise sense consciousness counts as a fiction or an illusion. I will argue that this blind spot is not a coincidence, but rather a consequence of theoretical deficiencies in the hypothesis of illusionism itself.

In my talk, I will dismantle the assumptions motivating views about ourselves as minded agents that claim that we are subject to some kind of user-illusion created by the brain (or some better specified subsystem of our organism). In this context, I will distinguish various forms of illusion about ourselves and argue that illusionism and fictionalism about the mental lives of humans (and other minded animals) are themselves cases of a thoroughgoing ideological delusion. They serve the function of denying facts that would otherwise lead to an insight into the normative dimension of the human being.

Biography: Markus Gabriel is Chair in Epistemology, Modern and Contemporary Philosophy at the University of Bonn where he is also the director of the International Centre for Philosophy. He received his Dr. (2005) and his Habilitation (2008) from the University of Heidelberg. He has been a Visiting Scholar and (Visiting) Professor at many institutions (including NYU, the New School for Social Research, UC Berkeley, the University of Lisbon, the University of Palermo and the Catholic University in Rio de de Janeiro). He primarily works in epistemology, metaphysics/ontology and the history of philosophy (Ancient Philosophy, Post-Kantian Idealism). He is the author of more than 10 books, among which his recent Why the World does not Exist (Polity Press).

This lecture is free, and open to all.

No tickets or registration are required. Seats are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Doors open 7.30pm, lecture commences 8pm.

Contact for more information about this event.

Markus Gabriel, Brains. 24th April, Lit and Phil

Dear All,


An extra-mural event to which you’re warmly invited, by an exceptional philosopher, Markus Gabriel:


The 21st Century Brain

Markus Gabriel


24 April at 19:00–20:30

Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne

23 Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SE


Professor Markus Gabriel from the University of Bonn will offer a critical perspective on the rise of the brain sciences in shaping who we think we are. What are the consequences, both individual and social, of recoding ourselves at a neuronal level? Gabriel became Germany’s youngest-ever professor of philosophy at the age of 29. He already has over 20 books to his name and his most recent one is /I Am Not a Brain/.


Admission is £4 for this event or £10 for all three talks in the season. Free for students of unwaged. No advance tickets being sold. Just turn up on the night!