“Either/or: subjectivity, objectivity, and value”
By Katalin Balog (Rutgers, Philosophy)
Date: Wednesday, 15 May, 2019
Abstract: I propose a novel framework in philosophical psychology – one that is based on an underappreciated distinction made by Kierkegaard in a number of his major works – to shed new light on central questions in ethics. The main theme of this project is that since subjectivity, in ways that have not been widely appreciated, plays a key role in constituting value, the process of finding meaning, pursuing worthwhile projects and developing as persons is inextricably linked to a kind of thought – of which contemplation and reflection are examples – that is distinct from conceptual thinking and that has received too little attention in understanding the mind. My conclusion is that cultivating this kind of thought is necessary in the pursuit of a good life.
About the speaker: Katalin Balog is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Rutgers University-Newark. Her primary areas of research are the philosophy of mind/psychology and metaphysics. The problems that interest her most are, the nature of consciousness, subjectivity, the self, and free will. In her writings she argues that our lack of understanding the connection between mind and body is due to the nature of phenomenal concepts. According to her view, phenomenal concepts are partly constituted by the phenomenal states they apply to. She also argues that no matter whether the ultimate nature of consciousness is physical or non-physical, our subjective take on it plays a very special role in our lives that no objective understanding can possibly play. Professor Balog has published in journals such as Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Synthese, Journal of Consciousness Studies, and The Philosophical Review. She was the Winner in the American Philosophical Association’s 2017 Public Philosophy Op-Ed Contest for the essay “‘Son of Saul’, Kierkegaard and the Holocaust” which appeared in the New York Times. In addition, she has some recent essays on philosophy, culture, and politics in 3 Quarks Daily.