March 2, 2007
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.—The first “issue” of a new journal, The Amherst Lecture in Philosophy, has been published and is available only online (www.amherstlecture.org). The first electronic publication from Amherst College, The Amherst Lecture in Philosophy each year invites a distinguished philosopher to the college for a public lecture; last March J. David Velleman, professor of philosophy at New York University, gave the inaugural talk. An attractively laid-out copy of his text, titled “So It Goes,” and supporting materials such as a digital audio recording and photographs, are now available at no cost through a fully archived and catalogued publication online. The Amherst Lecture in Philosophy is supported from the Forry and Micken Fund in Philosophy and Science, in cooperation with the Amherst College Library and Information Technology Department, and is free and available to all interested readers.
Velleman is a 1974 graduate of Amherst College and received a Ph.D. degree in philosophy from Princeton University in 1983. His Amherst lecture, “So It Goes,” is about the “the sense in which the enduring self is indeed an illusion.” Velleman maintains that “this illusion goes hand-in-hand with another—namely, the illusion of the passage of time. Seeming to be an enduring self, even though one is not, is what makes time seem to pass, even though it does not. And the appearance that time passes, I argue, is the source of the suffering that is allevi–ated when both illusions are dispelled.”
Velleman’s most recent book, Self to Self (2005), brought together essays on personal identity, autonomy and moral emotions. Although the essays were written independently, they are unified by the encompassing thesis that there is no single entity denoted by “the self,” as well as by themes from Kantian ethics, psychoanalytic theory, social psychology and Velleman’s work in the philosophy of action. His work in the philosophy of action includes the book Practical Reflection (1989) and a series of papers titled The Possibility of Practical Reason (2000). He has also published papers on the right to die and (with Paul Boghossian) the metaphysics of color. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation, Velleman serves (with Stephen Darwall) as founding co-editor of Philosophers’ Imprint.
The second Amherst Lecture in Philosophy was “‘Borges and I’ and ‘I’,” given in October 2006 by John Perry, the Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University. Perry is a scholar who has contributed to logic, philosophy of language, metaphysics and philosophy of mind—and also a humorous 1995 online essay on “Structured Procrastination,” and “Philosophy Talk,” a radio program that “questions everything except your intelligence.” “‘Borges and I’ and ‘I’,” will be published online in the fall. Interested readers can “subscribe” by e-mail at no cost at the Website and receive notification of future publications.
March 2, 2007