CUNY Philosophers To Participate in 2018's "A Night of Philosophy and Ideas"

CUNY Philosophers To Participate in 2018’s “A Night of Philosophy and Ideas”

Several CUNY Philosophy faculty members, alumni, and students will participate in this year’s A Night of Philosophy and Ideas, an annual “all-night marathon of philosophical debate, performances, screenings, readings, and music”, completely free and open to the public. This year’s event spans twelve hours (from 7pm on Saturday, January 27th to 7am on Sunday, January 28th) at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch in Grand Army Plaza.

PhD Candidate Ian Olasov discussed the event with New York Times reporter Alexandra S. Levine for the paper’s “New York Today” feature. Levine highlighted other public philosophy initiatives Olasov has spearheaded:

Here’s something you might not expect to find at a farmers’ market or street parade: philosophy.

For nearly two years, Ian Olasov, a doctoral candidate in philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and the founder of Brooklyn Public Philosophers, has set up an “Ask-a-Philosopher” booth in places like Union Square. There, he and fellow philosophers help passers-by with questions tougher than how to get where they are going.

The most common question they get (not surprisingly, he said) concerns the meaning of life.

“But there are other questions of pressing popular concern that people might not recognize as philosophical,” said Mr. Olasov, 31. “‘What does it mean to say that race or gender are socially constructed?’ ‘What is money?’ ‘What makes Bitcoin money?’”

During this volatile time in our country, the conversation has also shifted considerably, he added.

“One thing that strikes me is how much public talk there is about how we can ‘know’ things or how the institutions that create and disseminate knowledge should be organized — like the press,” Mr. Olasov told us. “Or the role of experts in a democracy. Or what makes scientific institutions trustworthy?”

One way to join the discussion: the Night of Philosophy and Ideas.

The overnight philosophy marathon on Jan. 27, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. at the Brooklyn Public Library, will bring philosophers and the public together for debate, performances and more. (It’s free, and you can see the schedule here.)

Last year’s event, which took place a week after President Trump’s inauguration and hours after the first travel ban was announced, drew thousands of attendees. Mr. Olasov remembered the message of the opening address: “We’re at a place where all across the world, people are dissatisfied with the basic structure of society — somehow, liberalism and capitalism and globalization are failing people — and we need to think about it.”

“There was this really intense and lovely sense of common purpose for the night — the sense of a bunch of people who may or may not be like-minded but are committed to reasoning together and trying to figure things out,” he said.

If you can’t make the marathon, check out these other local and online forums: Brooklyn Public Philosophers, the Gotham Philosophical Society, and The Stone from The New York Times.

 


Sessions from the event schedule featuring CUNY Philosophy faculty, students, and alumni are listed below.

8:00pm
BETTER LIVING THROUGH FEMINISM
Linda Martín Alcoff
Presented in partnership with The New York Times’ “The Stone”
Society, Sciences & Technology Division 

8:30pm
WHY SOCIAL JUSTICE TODAY MEANS ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
Omar Dahbour
Art & Music

DILEMMA SERIES: BAD ACTOR
Dana Grabelsky
Info Commons Room 5 

9:00pm
WHAT IS POLITICALLY NORMATIVE OF ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’?
Frank M. Kirkland
Society, Sciences & Technology Division

DILEMMA SERIES: DOWNER DOG
Ben Abelson
Info Commons Room 4 

9:30pm
DILEMMA SERIES: FLYER’S REMORSE
Massimo Pigliucci
Info Commons Room 5

10:00pm
DILEMMA SERIES: HUNG-OVER, -UP
Arina Pismenny
Info Commons Room 4

10:30pm
DILEMMA SERIES: DRAWING THE LINE
Joanna Smolenski
Info Commons Room 5

12:30am 
BETTER LIVING THROUGH STOICISM
Massimo Pigliucci
Presented in partnership with The New York Times’  “The Stone”
History, Biography, Religion Division

DILEMMA SERIES: GREEN SCRUM
Vincent Peluce
Info Commons Room 5 

1:30am
NIETZSCHE AND BUDDHISM
Samir Chopra
Languages & Literature Division

DILEMMA SERIES: WEED WACKED
James Rowe
Info Commons Room 5

2:30am
THE PROBLEM OF REAL NEWS
Ian Olasov
Languages & Literature Division 

 

A Night of Philosophy and Ideas is co-presented by Brooklyn Public Library and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, and produced in connection with La Nuit des Idées, a project of the Institut Français, Paris.