By Katherine Duke ’05
To David Velleman ’74, a professor of philosophy at New York University, time does not really exist. “The enduring self and the passage of time are interdependent illusions,” he argues in the new, inaugural issue of the Amherst Lecture in Philosophy, posted in March at www.amherstlecture.org. It is the college’s first entirely electronic publication.
A year before the e-publication’s launch, Velleman came to campus to deliver his speech on time and self. Titled “So It Goes,” the talk was the first in an annual lecture series that the philosophy department has established, along with the companion Website.
“We’re really trying to use the full versatility of the Web,” says Professor of Philosophy Alexander George, who established the Amherst Lecture in Philosophy and who maintains the Website. Velleman’s talk is available as both a complete text file and an audio recording. The Web publication also includes photos and posters from the lecture. George reports that by mid-April, Web-surfing philosophy buffs had downloaded the lecture 287 times.
On the site, readers can sign up to receive e-mail announcements of the publication of new lectures. The second lecture, scheduled to post next fall, is by John Perry, the Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Stanford. Perry spoke on campus in October 2006 in a talk titled “‘Borges and I’ and I.” The speaker for 2008 will be Harry G. Frankfurt, bestselling author and professor of philosophy, emeritus, at Princeton. The lectures and the e-publication are free and open to anyone, thanks to the Forrey and Micken Fund in Philosophy and Science and in cooperation with Amherst’s library and information technology department.