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Walker Ames Lecture / Objectivity and the Humanities – Prospects for a New Realism (Markus Gabriel)
WhenWednesday, Mar 6, 2019, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Campus locationKane Hall (KNE)
Campus room110
Event typesAcademics
Event sponsorsUW Graduate School

Department of English

Department of Philosophy

Department of History

Department of Anthropology

Department of Germanics

Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (UW Bothell)

Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (UW Tacoma)

Department of Architecture

Department of Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media
Target AudiencePublic and Academic…

Prof. Dr. Markus Gabriel (Philosophy, Bonn University)

Objectivity and the Humanities – Prospects for a New Realism

In this lecture, Markus Gabriel will argue that we need to change our paradigm concerning objectivity in the humanities. Over the last decades, the humanities have come under pressure from the scientific worldview. To many, it seems as if the humanities provide us at best with less-than-objective knowledge claims.  Arguably, there are at least two overall reasons for this. On the one hand, the scientific worldview tends to associate objectivity with the kind of knowledge-acquisition, explanation, and justification characteristic of the natural sciences. On the other hand, the humanities themselves have contributed to the impression that they might be less relevant than the natural sciences to epistemic progress due to internal problems having to do with the very concept(s) of knowledge, reality and objectivity.

New Realism is a term for a whole series of current trends in philosophy that has important consequences for our understanding of knowledge in general. In particular, it reshapes our account of the human being qua source and object of knowledge claims. In this context, New Realism draws on a crucial indispensability thesis: we simply cannot eliminate the standpoint from which humans gather information about human and non-human reality alike from our account of reality itself. In light of this thesis, it turns out that the humanities are fully-fledged contributions to objective knowledge about reality – a fact we cannot ignore without succumbing to illusion. Against this background, the talk concludes that the so-called “scientific worldview” is untenable: it is built upon a denial of knowledge we actually possess, and so, by not being scientific enough, it fails to respect its own premises.

About Markus Gabriel

Markus Gabriel received his PhD (Dr. phil.) (2005) and his Habiliation (2008) at the University of Heidelberg. After a postdoc at NYU he taught as Assistant Professor at the New School for Social Research from 2008-2009. Since 2009 he holds the chair in epistemology, modern, and contemporary philosophy at the University at the time becoming Germany’s youngest full professor in philosophy. In 2012 he became Director of the International Center for Philosophy at the University of Bonn. In 2017 he became founding director of the multidisciplinary Center for Science and Thought which brings together natural science and philosophy on common research topics (including consciousness and intelligence; Quantum Gravity and anthropic reasoning; the Simulation hypothesis and the relation between physics and metaphysics). He is the author of many books, including Fields of Sense. A New Realist Ontology; the two international bestsellers: Why the World does not Exist and I am not a Brain and most recently Neo-Existentialism. In these books, he lays the ground for a philosophical position now widely known as “New Realism”. He has been a visiting professor at UC Berkeley, PUC-Rio de Janeiro, Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne, the University of Palermo, the University of Lisbon, and many others.…
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