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State University of New York at Stony Brook Department of Philosophy Presents

Karen Burke Memorial Lecture

Donald A. Landes

Université Laval, Québec
“The Art Of Character: Between Repitition and Creation in Bergson and Merleau-Ponty”

Donald A. Landes received his PhD in philosophy from Stony Brook in 2010. His dissertation, “Corporeality: From a Logic of Expression Towards an Ethics of Bodies in Merleau-Ponty” was directed by Professors Edward Casey and Hugh Silverman†. After completing a two-year SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship at McGill University, he became Assistant Professor at Concordia University (non-tenure-track) for three years. He accepted his current position in 2015 as Assistant Professor in the Faculté de philosophie at Université Laval, Québec, where he is also the co-director of the research group Laboratoire de philosophie continentale. In addition to numerous articles on twentieth-century continental philosophy, ethics, and the history of philosophy, he is the author of Merleau-Ponty and the Paradoxes of Expression (Bloomsbury, 2013) and The Merleau-Ponty Dictionary (Bloomsbury, 2013), as well as the translator of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception (Routledge, 2012).

Throughout his work, Henri Bergson returns to the image of character and personality in an effort to provide an image of duration, that heterogeneous and continuous flow of becoming, that trajectory of self-creation or ongoing individuation that he identifies as the essence of consciousness and perhaps beyond. His intuitive method thereby reorients philosophy to trajectories of expressive being in and of the world. Yet this illustration via character reflects the light of Bergson’s philosophy back upon character itself, providing us with a nascent reflection on individuation (instead of subjectivity) and an emerging thought of intersubjectivity (instead of co-existence). In this presentation, I take up Bergson’s understanding of character as reorienting philosophical reflection toward fleeting ontological objects that I collect under the term trajectories, that paradoxical movement of expression that is, as Merleau-Ponty puts it, “ever new and always the same.” If, I argue, character is an open movement of self-cultivation, then ethics needs to focus on the virtuous practice of taking up and transgressing boundaries in and through the trajectories of intersubjective expression.


Wednesday, March 28th, 2018


Harriman Hall, Room 214

Reception to Follow


Harriman Hall, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3750 Telephone 632-7570 Fax 631-632-7522

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