European Philosophy and the History of Ideas
The largest centre in Melbourne focusing specifically on European philosophy and the History of Ideas
This research group is the largest centre in Melbourne focusing specifically on European philosophy and the History of Ideas. In a period widely criticised for its loss of historical memory, EPHI is founded on the conviction that we are the legatees of rich philosophical traditions, from Europe and around the world, that remain worthy of study, both for their own sake, and in relation to our continuing and emerging concerns. Its members draw on key works and figures in the history of ideas in order to critically examine a number of concepts that are central to our contemporary thinking about ourselves, our world, and how we ought to live. They also explore how various philosophical ideas in European and global traditions have shaped wider cultures in different periods and, in turn, been shaped by wider institutional, economic, political, and social forces.
EPHI aims to facilitate dialogue between researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds with a view to developing new connections between the history of philosophical thought, abstract thinking about concepts, theoretical reasoning about the world and its contents, and practical reasoning about individual and collective activity. To this end, the group hosts a fortnightly research seminar as well as several focused workshops throughout the year.
Geoff Boucher is a senior lecturer in Literary Studies at Deakin University. He is the author of number of books and articles on politics, culture and psychoanalysis, including Zizek and Politics (2010—with Matt Sharpe), The Times will Suit Them (2010—with Matt Sharpe) and The Charmed Circle of Ideology (2008). His most recent works are Understanding Marxism (2012) and Adorno Reframed (2012).
Sean Bowden's current research explores the philosophical connections between the work of Gilles Deleuze and the work of contemporary American pragmatists such as Robert Brandom. This research is developed in two directions. On the one hand, the research project is one in the history of ideas, insofar as it clarifies a number of Deleuze's and Brandom's key philosophical concepts with reference to the work of the classical American pragmatists and the history of German idealism. On the other hand, the project synthesizes in novel ways Deleuze's and Brandom's work in order to develop new ways of thinking about key philosophical notions such as meaning, objectivity, normativity, action and agency.
Leesa Davis has research interests in Buddhist and Hindu Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Non-duality in Asian Thought and Cross-cultural or World Philosophies. Her research has centered on how the key philosophical tenets of Buddhist and Hindu non-dual contemplative traditions underpin meditative practices and has focused on the issues raised by ontological differences in theory and phenomenological similarities in practice. She is currently working on a book on the use of paradox and contradiction in Zen Buddhism that presents well known "crazy wisdom" stories as being representative of basic Buddhist metaphysics and, as such, are examples of "philosophy in action". A proposed extension of this research, in terms of how philosophy is "lived" is exploring ideas of philosophy as a way of life or "practiced philosophy" in Eastern and Western cultures.
George Duke's main research areas are the philosophy of law and the history of political thought; in particular natural law jurisprudence and the relationship between political authority and practical reason. He also has ongoing research interests in the history of analytical philosophy (with a focus upon reference and ontology) and ancient philosophy (with a focus upon the legal and political thought of Plato and Aristotle).
Russell Grigg is currently working on a new psychoanalytic account of melancholia. Dissatisfied with Freud’s analysis for various reasons, he has been developing an Lacanian account of melancholia that should give a greater understanding of this serious subjective position. The research includes a critique of the term “depression” and its widespread use and abuse. In counterpoint, as it were, Grigg is working on a psychoanalytic approach to laughter for a collection of essays on this topic. And, finally, Grigg is in the throes of translating Lacan’s Seminar 6, Formations of the Unconscious, for publication in 2015.
John Morss is based in the Deakin Law School and is interested in the contributions and insights of European philosophical traditions, both analytic and continental, to questions such as sovereignty, citizenship, international relations and pluralism. Recent projects include an investigation of the collectivist perspective in international legal theory and an interrogation of the international legal status of what I have come to call the Vatican/Holy See complex. Current projects include a critical assessment of the problematic uptake in legal theory of the claims of Agamben, and relatedly a monograph proposal evaluating the impact of critical traditions of scholarship on international jurisprudence over the past quarter century.
Antonia Pont's current research involves an exploration and clarification of what is commonly designated 'practice' – its mechanisms, features, structural operations, what constitutes it, and what it might enable or serve as preparation for. This exploration involves clarifying the relation, if any, between practice and evental constellations, as framed respectively by Badiou and Deleuze (and informed by some of Derrrida's central manoeuvres and articulations). Recent papers and chapters have centred on: applying a notion of Deleuzian repetition to practice in relation to rote learning of poetic artefacts; interrogating behavioural busy-ness as an obstruction to Badiouian events (and the notion of when, and if ever, inaction can ever be efficacious); and the use of certain pranayama practices as analogous frames for understanding and even facilitating encounters with ontological registers and mechanisms (Irigaray and Badiou). With her pedagogical work situated within the Creative Arts and Literary disciplines, Antonia intends this project to be both philosophically rigorous as well as potentially useful for practitioners and theoreticians in these fields, and to inform aspects of pedagogy, in a broad sense. Currently she is researching towards a book-length manuscript to map some aspects of practice's lineage and offer a particular and productive framing of the term, in order to provide a structured and pragmatic account of its mechanisms and role in thinking change, inventiveness, and the broader question of "how to live".
Jack Reynolds is writing a book on the relationship between phenomenological philosophy and the empirical sciences (and hence on meta-philosophy). In arguing for the compatibility of weak forms of methodological naturalism with phenomenology, he contests many of the standard interpretations of this relationship. He is also doing research on time, and on inter-subjectivity and the perception of others, where he draws on the phenomenological tradition as well as findings in developmental psychology and the cognitive sciences.
Matt Sharpe is currently doing research around questions to do with the nature of reason and intellectual inquiry, and their changing place in the wider ethical, political, and religious cultures of the West. He is writing a book on Albert Camus, which presents Camus as a philosophical author whose ideas and impulses draw on a deep appreciation of classical Mediterranean culture, and an ongoing engagement with pagan and Christian myths and cultural formations. He is also part of an ARC Discovery project, led by Michael Ure at Monash, and with Professor Keith Ansell-Pearson, based in Warwick. The project focuses on changing conceptions of philosophy's place in Western culture, and the fate of the classical idea of philosophy as a way of life, encompassing ethical practices, a broadly shared consensus about the shaping role reason can play in forming character, as well as (but never without!) theory-construction. This project thus branches into the history of ideas, the philosophy of rhetoric, and the philosophy of education.
Patrick Stokes works across the analytic-continental divide, on a range of questions broadly concerned with subjectivity and its situation in moral space and moral time. He is currently undertaking a one-year research project "Online Interactions with the Dead," funded by the Deakin University Central Research Grants Scheme. This project considers the way the dead persist in online forms and assesses the implications of these new forms of posthumous persistence for personal identity and our understanding of death. He is also writing a monograph, The Naked Self, which brings the work of Søren Kierkegaard into dialogue with contemporary analytic philosophers of personal identity, as well as editing (with John Lippitt) a collection on Kierkegaard and narrative selfhood, and writing on topics such as the moral psychology of K.E. Løgstup and the ethics of conspiracy theory. He is a frequent media commentator on philosophical matters and a regular contributor to The Conversation, Radio National, Triple R FM and New Philosopher magazine.
James Williams is working on a book on the process philosophy of signs. The idea comes out of his research on Deleuze and Whitehead. Williams' aim is to develop a formal account of signs independent of fixed relations. This formal definition will then be set to work in art, technology, science and politics in order to offer criticisms of the reception of signs as giving priority to static relations in specific practical cases. The current research comes out of his earlier work on structuralism and post-structuralism. It also connects to his book on Deleuze’s philosophy of time since, there, he argues for a process philosophical interpretation of Deleuze’s syntheses of time: Gilles Deleuze’s Philosophy of Time: a Critical Introduction and Guide (Edinburgh University Press, 2011). Williams' interests in process philosophy and time extend to work on education and the management of time, with forthcoming chapters on Deleuze and Whitehead on education, articles on Barthes, Peirce and Deleuze on signs, and critical work attacking the deep dependence on aims and objectives in the management of time.