NSSR Philosophy

september links

Could the New School Become a Cooperative?

Review of The Golden Age of Phenomenology at the New School for Social Research

Review of Genuisas’ Stretching the Limits of Productive Imagination

Review of Genuisas and Nikulin’s Productive Imagination: Its History, Meaning and Significance

Review of the Arendt-Scholem Correspondence

Ágnes Heller: Orbán is a Tyrant


august links

Ashoka Mody on R.J. Bernstein’s reading of Arendt.

Omri Boehm argues that Israel has given up on being a democracy.

Vishwa Adluri and Joydeep Bagchee’s workshop on The Mahabharata.

The New School launches the New University in Exile Consortium.

july links

Richard J. Bernstein on Hannah Arendt on politics in “dark times”.

Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt… in the opera (!)

Alice Crary (and others) on Cavell and the democratic task of thinking.

In 1937, Thomas Mann suggested that New School adopt the motto, “To The Living Spirit” to honor the spirit of free inquiry. The revived Robert H. Mundheim Medal to the Living Spirit honors individuals who embody this ideal.

yirmiyahu yovel

Yirmiyahu Yovel, who taught philosophy at the New School from 1994 to 2010, died on June 10th. Yovel was born in Haifa, Palestine (British mandate) in 1935 and was educated at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (PhD 1968), the Sorbonne, and Princeton. His research focused on Spinoza, Kant, and post-Kantian German philosophy.

Before becoming an academic, Yovel worked in radio and television, notably reporting from the Sinai frontline during Israel’s 1967 and 1973 wars. Yovel was active politically, advocating for an independent Palestinian state. (There are few English sources about his political activities but Yovel’s wikipedia biography contains some details).

Yovel is perhaps best known for his historical work on Spinoza, which maintains that the philosopher’s work must be understood in the context of culture of the Marranos, Spanish Jews who had been forcibly converted to Christianity.  (Yovel’s book on the Marranos is reviewed here). In reconstructing this context, Yovel came to an original interpretation of Spinoza’s works and their place in history, producing the two-volume Spinoza and Other Heretics (Princeton University Press, 1992 (vol.1 and vol.2). He won the Israel Prize in 2000.

Here is Yovel’s lecture, recorded shortly after his retirement from the New School, on “Spinoza in Kant’s Critique”:

ns professor murdered

A psychology professor at the New School was murdered in his home on May 7th. The co-chairs of the psychology department have released a statement about the professor, Jeremy Safran:

Jeremy Safran was brutally murdered yesterday. Jeremy’s contributions to the Department and to the field of Psychotherapy Research cannot be underestimated. He joined the New School faculty in 1993, shortly after the APA had placed the Clinical Psychology Program on probation. He quickly found himself Director of Clinical Studies and later Chair of the Department, and with characteristic energy and determination, worked not only to move the Clinical Psychology Program to full accreditation, but to make it the vibrant, respected program it is today.

The motives of the suspect, who has been identified as Mirzo Atadzhanov, remain unknown. The New York Post reports that he is currently being held without bail and is thought to have committed the murder in Safran’s house with a knife:

A prosecutor said Atadzhanov broke into the basement of Safran’s Prospect Park South home and fatally attacked Safran with a knife while the psychology professor was working out. Atadzhanov stabbed Safran five times— twice in the chest and three times in the stomach, according to the prosecutor.

Though much information about the murder remains unclear, some further lurid details were reported by the Post:

Cops found an unconscious Safran on the floor of his basement with trauma to his head and body and a hammer lying next him. He was pronounced dead at the scene. During their search of the basement, officers found his 28-year-old blood-soaked attacker hiding in a closet.


Further details may remain unknown until the case is brought to trial.

What is known are further details about Jeremy Safran, the intellectual. In addition to his role in the New School psychology department, Safran was the author of several thoughtful essays available online. In the spirit of honoring his work rather than focusing on his death, here are a few of his easily accessible works:

Who’s Afraid of Sigmund Freud?” examines the rise and fall of psychoanalysis in the United States, arguing that its comparative marginalization in recent decades has allowed psychoanalysis to develop in some interesting, new directions.

Psychoanalysis Today” provides a concise account of what psychoanalysis is, and what it is not, arguing that it should not simply be identified with the work of Freud, especially when it is considered in its American context.

Don’t Worry… Be Happy!” argues that although optimism is an important value, positive psychology goes too far, making it difficult to cope with the tragic parts of life.

Authenticity, American Style” makes the case that as authenticity has become more important within American culture, it has become increasingly less connected with integrity and morality. The essay applies this model to the current state of politics, particularly, to the current presidency.

Although the news of his murder is currently in the headlines, professor Safran’s life and work should be celebrated. He will be missed by many of his friends, colleagues, and students.

spring links

There have been a few notable pieces published about the New School and its people over the last semester. Here are some highlights:

Diane, meanwhile, was absorbing everything she could about photography and the New York art world, studying at the New School for Social Research under Berenice Abbott—a photographer who had evolved out of the Parisian avant garde of the 1920s to become a documentarian. Arbus then went on to study in 1956 with Lisette Model, also at the New School. It was Model, a French-Austrian known for her massive 16 x 20 photographic portraits of the extremes of society—rich and poor, beautiful and ugly—who was considered to have the most influence on Arbus, outside of her husband.

-a new exhibition at the Smithsonian on the work of Diane Arbus.

It was Mr. Tishman who announced in 1965 that the United States Steel Corporation would furnish more than 42,000 tons of steel for the John Hancock Center in Chicago. He said it was the largest steel contract for a commercial structure since the Empire State Building. The experience that the Tishman company gained as it built the 100-story Hancock Center stood the firm in good stead with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the search for a general contractor for the World Trade Center. Tishman was chosen over two competitors in 1967 to do the job.

-The New York Times Obituary of John L. Tishman, construction tycoon and chairman of the New School.

“Our discovery of trends, whether they concern the growth of financial power or restricted possibilities for investment, have to be conditioned by ifs. This recognition is not only resignation but consolation too,” she wrote, “because the absolutist easily reaches the end of the road .” While evoking “dark times,” these comments asked graduates to see their training in engaged, critical social research as vital to sustaining a healthy republic.

-Ellen Freeberg, Gina Walker and Lara-Zuzan Golesorkhi on The New School’s “Intellectual Foremother,” Frieda Wunderlich.


recent book reviews

Here are some (relatively) recent reviews of books by the faculty and graduates of NSSR:

Erick Raphael Jiménez, Aristotle’s Concept of Mind, Cambridge University Press, 2017, 265pp., $99.99. Reviewed by Matthew D. Walker, Yale-NUS College.

Dmitri Nikulin (ed.), Memory: A History, Oxford University Press, 2015, 397pp., $35.00. Reviewed by Kimberly Rivers, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Zed Adams and Jacob Browning (eds.), Giving a Damn: Essays in Dialogue with John Haugeland, MIT Press, 2017, 373pp., $50.00. Reviewed by Hans Pedersen, Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

James Dodd, Phenomenology, Architecture and the Built World: Exercises in Philosophical Anthropology.  Brill, 2017, 298pp., €110,00. Reviewed by Kevin Berry, University of Pennsylvania.


ancient philosophy resources

At a time in which pressing a few buttons gives one access to millions of different books, significant texts in ancient philosophy often remain expensive, out of print, or simply difficult to find. However, an increasing number of these texts are available online. Here we list some internet resources where ancient philosophical texts can be found, in their original language as well as in translation. We also list a few websites dedicated to particular works and philosophers.

If you are looking for a Greek or Roman text online, the first place to check is the Perseus Project. This site has hundreds of texts available in the original language and in translation, as well as an invaluable automatically linked dictionary. However, although Perseus is great in terms of both content and its user interface, it is nowhere close to having every ancient book. Still there are online resources to cover many of the gaps. Here is a list of websites that offer free access to ancient texts.

The Library of Ancient Texts links to many ancient Greek and their translations in modern languages.

Mikros Apoplous (“the little sailing”) is a library of texts in ancient Greek, with modern Greek translations.

Wilbour Hall specializes in texts in ancient and medieval mathematics and astronomy.

The Internet Classics Archive contains a large number of classical texts in English translation.

Sacred Texts‘ classics section is small but has a few hidden gems, like Lucian’s ‘Syrian Goddess’, although overall, the translations are not scholarly.

Finally, free books can be downloaded in pdf via Project Gutenberg, Google Books, and Internet Archive.

open access journals

Over the last 25 years, academic journals have increasingly come under the control of just a few large companies. As a relatively recent study puts it,

…in both natural and medical sciences and social sciences and humanities, Reed-Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer, and Taylor & Francis increased their share of the published output, especially since the advent of the digital era (mid-1990s). Combined, the top five most prolific publishers account for more than 50% of all papers published in 2013.

Needless to say, reviewers and authors put in countless unpaid hours of work to produce the content of academic journals. That content is then sold back to the universities in which those reviewers and authors typically work, securing a tidy profit for the publishers.

Philosophy is no exception to this general trend. The most widely read journals in the field belong to the same companies. But philosophers are starting to reclaim their work from the big publishers. Although we neither endorse the following journals nor provide a comprehensive listing, here are some peer-reviewed journals that are currently publishing free, open, online scholarship in philosophy. For each journal, we include a link and short description of the content, adapted from the journal’s website.

Argumenta: analytic philosophy.

Contemporary Aesthetics: an annual journal of aesthetics.

Dia-Noesis: ethics, ontology, metaphysics, epistemology, political philosophy, philosophical anthropology, non-western traditions.

Disputatioanalytic philosophy.

Ergo: history of philosophy, analytic and continental traditions, formal and empirically informed philosophy.

Essays in Philosophy: each issue is dedicated to a particular topic.

Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics: methodology, history, and ethics of economics.

Hermeneia: themed issues covering hermeneutics, art theory and criticism.

Journal of Ancient Philosophy: greek and roman philosophy.

Journal of Evolution and Technology: ethics and emerging technologies.

Kritike: filipino philosophy, east-west comparative philosophy, continental philosophy, anglo-american philosophy.

Logos and Episteme: a quarterly journal of epistemology.

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews: reviews of new books in philosophy.

Parrhesia: continental philosophy.

Philosophers Imprint: a refereed series of original papers in philosophy.

Public Reason: moral and political philosophy, published biannually.

Spontaneous Generations: history and philosophy of science.

Theoria: logic, history and philosophy of mathematics, history and philosophy of science, philosophy of technology, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind and cognition.

july links

Espen Hammer on the the need for utopian thinking

Michael Weinman on celebrating the Fourth of July in Jerusalem

Hannah Arendt’s newly published lecture on revolution

There was also an interesting debate earlier this year, which we discovered only recently, between Michael Weinman and Charles Snyder on Aristotelian courage and US military intervention.