Introduction of the American Philosophical Association
I am deeply honored to have been asked by Eric Weislogel to make some introductory remarks on behalf of the American Philosophical Association.â€ First let me say that I was delighted last December when the APA Eastern Division Executive Committee voted to recognize the Metanexus Institute as an Ã¬affiliated organization,Ã® allowing it to hold sessions at the annual Eastern Division Meetings of the American Philosophical Association.â€ This recognition reflects the substantial overlap of interests between the Metanexus Institute and the American Philosophical Association.â€ I am also pleased to let all of you know that just at the beginning of this month Dr. Weislogel became a member of the American Philosophical AssociationÃs Committee on International Cooperation.
The APA and the Metanexus Institute are in many ways very different kinds of organizations, but at the same time they share some very basic commitments.â€ The Metanexus Institute is an international network with a variety of local initiatives.â€ It is explicitly interdisciplinary.â€ The American Philosophical is a national organization comprised of three basically regional divisions.â€ It is also a disciplinary association.â€ Yet the discipline of philosophy is by its nature interdisciplinary, and the American Philosophical Association is a much more international organization than it might at first glace appear.â€ Many of you have some disciplinary identification as philosophers.â€ Many of you donÃt.â€ But the very fact that you are here is evidence that you are interested in the love of wisdom, in Greek, Ã¬Ï†Î¹Î»Î¿Ï‚Ï‰Ï†Î¯Î±.Ã®â€ Philosophy, as you know, touches on virtually every intellectual interest that is included among the membership of Metanexus.â€ We invite each of you, whether you professionally identify yourself as a philosopher or not, to join the American Philosophical Association.â€ Clearly we share a common pursuit of wisdom, and a common concern to address humanityÃs most pressing questions.
At the same time, the Metanexus Institute is an international network, while the American Philosophical Association is predominantly a national organization.â€ Nevertheless the APA has a long-standing concern with international scholarly dialogue as well.â€ Among the APAÃs 11,400 members, nearly 1000 fall under the category of International Associate Member.â€ That membership is enjoyed at a substantial discount because our international members are not able to make use of many of the benefits of APA membership.â€ Nevertheless, they are clearly able to make use of many others, hence our large contingent of international associate members.â€ But the APAÃs international outreach goes well beyond its international membership.â€ A look at history will help here.
The American Philosophical Association traces its roots to the beginning of the twentieth century.â€ It is surely fair to say that American Philosophy came into its own during the twentieth century.â€ Prior to that time, the United States was clearly a philosophical backwater.â€ Many of the prominent American Philosophers of the early twentieth century engaged in philosophical study in Europe, particularly in Germany and England.â€ It was natural, then, for those early American philosophers to feel strong ties both to colleagues and to places on the European side of the Atlantic.â€ The First World War was, of course, a devastating event, tearing apart a world in ways that threatened the intellectual, as well as the political fabric of that world.â€ In 1916, as the war ravaged much of Europe, but before the entrance of the United States into the war, the American Philosophical Association, the predecessor organization of our present Eastern Division, passed a resolution introduced by Maurice Raphael Cohen.â€ I read that resolution:
Recognizing that international cooperation in science and philosophy has been at the basis of what is most valuable in civilization, and that the animosities aroused in the present war threaten to make such cooperation impossible in the future, we reaffirm our faith in international cooperation in the search for truth, and we pledge ourselves to do all in our power to the end of that community of philosophers, as typified by such institutions as the International Congress of Philosophy, be restored as soon as possible.â€ Resolved, that a committee be appointed to report on ways and means in which the American Philosophical Association may be made to serve that end.â€ (PR 26: 197)
The APA Committee on International Cooperation, the APA committee on which Dr. Weislogel serves, was born.â€ The initial focus of the committee was two-fold.â€ The World War had clearly created tremendous hardships for the European philosophical community.â€ The APA Committee on International Cooperation responded by offering modest financial assistance to European philosophical journals and by providing books for philosophical libraries in Europe and also in Japan.â€ Roughly 75% of the books provided went to Germany and Austria, while most of the remaining 25% went to Japan.â€ The second focus of the committeeÃs early work was to develop a proposal to host the Sixth World Congress of Philosophy in the United States.â€ The Congress was held in Cambridge, MA, in September of 1926.â€ It is perhaps worthy of note that seventy-two years later, in 1998, the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy was held in Boston, MA, just across the Charles River from Cambridge.
The American Philosophical Association has not, of course, always been as good an international neighbor as it should have been.â€ We, perhaps like the residents of many other large and powerful nations, have too often felt smug and self-sufficient.â€ Yet we continue to work at our role as a part of a global intellectual community.â€ The American Philosophical Association, at this point in its history, stands deeply committed to international dialogue.â€ When I was hired two years ago as Executive Director of the American Philosophical Association, I made clear to the Board of Officers my own deep commitment to international scholarly dialogue.â€ The BoardÃs decision to hire me as Executive Director signaled a clear commitment on the part of the APA to strengthen its role as a part of an international scholarly community.â€
While this is surely not a new commitment, it is just as surely a strengthened commitment.â€ The American Philosophical Association has long been an active member of the International Federation of Philosophical Societies.â€ Many American Philosophers have participated in recent World Congresses of Philosophy in Brighton, Moscow, Boston, Istanbul, and many will participate at the up-coming World Congress of Philosophy in Seoul.â€ We in the American Philosophical Association affirm now, just as we did in 1916, that Ã¬international cooperation in science and philosophy has been at the basis of what is most valuable in civilization.Ã®â€ We in the American Philosophical Association affirm now, just as we did in 1916, that Ã¬the animosities aroused in Ã– present war[s] threaten Ã– such cooperation.Ã®â€ It is part of our work as philosophers, it is part of our work as scholars, to strengthen that cooperation in our common Ã¬search for truth,Ã® as our predecessors of 1916 recognized.
There is perhaps no clearer embodiment of the American Philosophical AssociationÃs commitment to international conversation than my own international travel schedule of the past year and a half.â€ In December of 2006, I represented the American Philosophical Association at the Interim World Philosophy Congress in New Delhi, India.â€ At the congress I was privileged to chair a symposium entitled, Ã¬Philosophy: Global or Regional?Ã®â€ At the symposium it was my honor to sit next to a scholar from Iran.â€ Despite the fact that our respective governments live out a relationship that is at best tense, and at worst hostile, my Iranian colleague and I shared a stage dedicated to international conversation and to international scholarship as the road we must travel in our common quest for truth, and also for peace and justice.
Almost exactly a year ago I was in this very city.â€ I attended the Third International Conference on Axiology in AlcÂ·la de Henares, a short thirty kilometers from here.â€ At that conference I presented a paper, Ã¬Scholarly Societies as Good Neighbors.Ã®â€ July 11 is my wifeÃs and my wedding anniversary.â€ We were flying home from Madrid on July 11, so we celebrated our anniversary with dear friends, John and Jan Abbarno, in a wonderful little basement room in a restaurant just a few kilometers south of here.â€ This year, of course, we were again in the air on our wedding anniversary.â€ To average the dates, we celebrated our anniversary this year with the marvelous day we enjoyed yesterday in Toledo.
When we leave Madrid later this week, we will spend but one full day in the United States.â€ Then we will fly to the wonderful old city of XiÃan, China, for the XiÃan Summit of the World Forum on Axiology.â€ While there I will present a paper, Ã¬Science and Democracy: Disciplining Politics.Ã®â€ From XiÃan I will return to Seoul, Korea, where I will present a paper, Ã¬Objectivity in Ethics,Ã® as well as participate in some Roundtable discussions.â€ Finally, this coming January I will attend an International Peace Conference in Kolkata, India, in which the APA is participating as a Ã¬collaborating organization.Ã®â€ I will present a paper, Ã¬Violence in Human Life,Ã® an evolutionary account of the role of violence in human life, leading to the conclusion that productive and mutually advantageous global relationships require that levels of violence be very minimal.
Let me emphasize that, while I enjoy these travels immensely, I attend these conferences and I present at them not simply as David Schrader, a philosopher, but I attend and I present representing the American Philosophical Association and its commitment to international scholarly cooperation and dialogue.â€ Let me then repeat an invitation that I offered to all of you a few minutes ago.â€ While the American Philosophical Association is a national disciplinary association, it is also an international scholarly society.â€ Again, we invite you whether you identify yourself primarily as a philosopher or not, whether you are American or not, to join the American Philosophical Association as yet another vehicle through which you can engage in the important scholarly conversations that we all agree are so important to the well-being of our common human family.
As I close in on the end of my allotted time, let me say a bit more about the concrete ways in which the American Philosophical Association and the Metanexus Institute work toward common purposes.â€ First let me say a bit more about the APAÃs efforts to foster international scholarly discussion, and then conclude with a few comments on the intellectual scope of contemporary philosophical work carried out at the meetings of the American Philosophical Association.â€ The APA Committee on International Cooperation has generated a great deal of interest among the APA membership.â€ The number of APA members who are nominated for membership on the Committee on International Cooperation is typically higher than the number nominated for membership on the APAÃs other committees.â€ The Committee on International Cooperation sponsors regular special sessions at all APA meetings.â€ The committeeÃs sessions feature philosophers from all corners of the world, Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and Latin America, focusing on the state of philosophical dialogue in those areas and on the dialogues between philosophers in those areas and philosophers in the United States.â€ The Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association has dedicated special funding to provide support for international philosophers participating in these sessions who lack adequate support from their home universities or their home countries.â€ It will, I think, be useful simply to note the number and variety of internationally focused sessions at the American Philosophical Associations that have taken place during the past year: Ã¬Is there an African Analytic Philosophy?Ã® Ã¬Artificial Intelligence: East and West,Ã® Ã¬Asian-American Feminist Philosophers,Ã® Ã¬Philosophy of Science in India,Ã® Ã¬German Philosophy in the AmericasÃ® (note that this is Ã¬in the Americas.Ã®â€ The session was sponsored by the APA Committee on Hispanics.), Ã¬Contemporary Philosophy of Mind in Latin America and Spain,Ã® Ã¬Pyrrhonism in Latin America,Ã® and Ã¬The Influence of American Philosophy in Scandinavia.Ã®â€ â€ In addition, there were a number of Korean philosophers in attendance at the most recent Eastern Division Meeting providing information on the up-coming XXIInd World Congress of Philosophy in Seoul in just over two weeks.â€ These illustrations should help to make clear the extent of the American Philosophical AssociationÃs commitment to global scholarly conversation, a goal that the APA clearly shares with the Metanexus Institute.
Let me conclude with a few comments about the intellectual scope of the American Philosophical Association.â€ As I look over the program for this 2008 Conference of the Metanexus Institute, I donÃt believe I see a session title that would be out of place at an American Philosophical Association meeting.â€ There are, of course, differences in size and emphases.â€ And American Philosophical Association meetings are much larger.â€ Last yearÃs meetings ranged in size from 2,300 people at the Eastern Division Meeting to 750 people at the Central Division Meeting.â€ Some of the sessions at American Philosophical Association meetings concern technical problems in philosophy that would be out of place at a Metanexus conference.â€ Likewise, American Philosophical Association meetings give a very prominent place to sessions dealing with issues in ethics and social philosophy.â€ At the same time, APA meetings feature less emphasis on issues relating to religion.â€ Needless to say, philosophy of religion is one of the traditional subdisciplines of philosophy.â€ Any meeting of the American Philosophical Association will include numerous sessions dealing with issues relating to religion, but religion clearly does not constitute as central a part of APA meetings as it does of Metanexus conferences.
I will finish by noting a few parallels between sessions at this 2008 Conference of the Metanexus Institute and American Philosophical Association meetings.â€ There is a session this coming Wednesday on Ã¬Evolution.Ã®â€ At this past springÃs Pacific Division Meeting, Elliott Sober presented the APAÃs annual Prometheus Lecture, Ã¬Evolution Without Metaphysics.Ã®â€ The basic claim of Professor SoberÃs lecture was there was no fundamental conflict between evolutionary and theistic accounts of the origins of life.â€ Questions of self form a major theme in this Metanexus conference.â€ Questions of self seldom form a major theme at American Philosophical Association meetings, yet they clearly are always represented.â€ There are a number of sessions that are part of a mini-conference on reduction and levels of reality.â€ Questions of reduction are another regular feature of American Philosophical Association meetings.â€ Then, of course, there are the Metanexus sessions dealing with religion and science.â€ Both religion and science, and sometimes the two together, are common themes at American Philosophical Association meetings.â€ The historical interface between natural science and theology has been an important theme in my own professional research for well over a decade.â€ Moreover, the 2007 Pacific Division Meeting features a mini-conference on Ã¬Models of God.Ã®
I hope that I have succeeded this morning in making clear the large areas of convergence between the work of the Metanexus Institute and the American Philosophical Association.â€ Both organizations have taken promising initial steps toward a very constructive and productive relationship.â€ Our offices are less than 75 kilometers apart, with the Metanexus Institute located in Bryn Mawr, PA, and the American Philosophical Association in Newark, DE.â€ Eric Weislogel serves, as you all know, as the Executive Director of the Metanexus Institute.â€ He is also an active member of the American Philosophical Association, serving, as IÃve already noted, on the APA Committee on International Cooperation.â€ Finally, it has been my privilege to develop a strong bond of friendship with Eric over the past two years.â€ He is not only a valued professional colleague, but a good friend as well.â€ In every respect, then, the basis for productive collaboration between the Metanexus Institute and the American Philosophical Association on projects of mutual interest is strong.
I want again to thank Dr. Weislogel for his gracious invitation for me to address this 2008 Conference of the Metanexus Institute.â€ I encourage all of you to give serious thought to joining us in the American Philosophical Association.â€ I look forward to visiting with many of you about matters of common interest over the remaining course of this conference.â€ Thank you!