Professor Manuel Vargas (University of California, San Diego) will be giving the keynote address at the Puget Sound Undergraduate Philosophy Conference on Thursday 1/31 at 5:00pm in Trimble Hall, Trimble Forum. Here below is his abstract for the talk:
“The Philosophy of Accidentality”
In a now mostly forgotten mid-20th century philosophical tradition, a peculiar quasi-nationalist existentialist project flourished. The animating idea of this tradition was that the agency of individuals is oftentimes structured by culture and norms in subtle ways that merit careful philosophical investigation. This presentation revisits some of those ideas, including the idea that under some conditions agents can be especially aware of the contingent nature of culturally specific norms and values, and that this awareness can produce a particular experience of normative instability. This experience—call it accidentality—turns out to be useful outside of the historical context of its genesis. In particular, thinking about accidentality can illuminate various forms of social subordination and socially-scaffolded agency, including cultural alienation, biculturality, and double consciousness.