(April 8-11 in Asia/Oceania)
Format: Zoom Conference
Presented by Seattle University’s Departments of Psychology and Philosophy, in partnership with The Gendlin Center of the International Focusing Institute
The Seattle University Departments of Psychology and Philosophy, in partnership with The Gendlin Center of the International Focusing Institute, is hosting a symposium advancing the work of Eugene Gendlin from April 8 to 10, 2021.
We invite participants to explore the implications of Gendlin’s posthumous collection Saying What We Mean: Implicit Precision and the Responsive Order (2018). This extraordinary collection, edited by Edward Casey and Donata Schoeller, brings together a series of essays demonstrating Gendlin’s creative and insightful ability to balance conversations across a wide range of voices in philosophy and psychology.
We are delighted to announce that Dr. Casey and Dr. Schoeller will be two of our featured speakers.
Gendlin had a unique capacity for thinking “at the edge” of conceptual formulations. He was able to discover, in words and concepts, an evasive connection between idea and experience. Gendlin sought to open up phenomena by exploring ideas that can only be thought in the mode of embodied practice. Gendlin’s hope was that he might awaken an appetite in his readers, a yearning to understand how “the experiential side always exceeds the concepts.” In this regard, Gendlin invites expansive efforts to explore embodied thinking and experiencing.
Registration is open at The International Focusing Institute.
Ed Casey is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at SUNY, Stony Brook. He is the author of numerous books, on topics ranging from imagination and memory to place and mapping. He labels his most recent work "peri-phenomenology," and he has written a series of three books in this vein: The World at a Glance, The World on Edge, and most recently Turning Emotion Inside Out. He is the co-editor (with Donata Schoeller) of Saying What We Mean, a collection of essays by Eugene Gendlin.
Ed Casey will discuss the role of emotion in Gendlin's later work: how it relates to felt sense, embodiment, and environment. Given the comparative paucity of attention to this topic on the part of Gendlin himself, he will lay out what its role is in Gendlin’s mature model of experiencing might be, connecting this role with his own recent work on emotion as emerging in places-of-presentation outside the closed domain of the human subject.
Robert C. Scharff is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of New Hampshire and Executive Director of ITERATA, a non-profit institute for the study of interdisciplinarity in science, industry, and higher education. He is author of Heidegger Becoming Phenomenological: Interpreting Husserl through Dilthey, 1916–1925 (2019); How History Matters to Philosophy: Reconsidering Philosophy’s Past After Positivism (2015); Comte After Positivism (2002); numerous papers on 19th and 20th century continental philosophy, philosophy of technology, positivism, and post-positivism; co-editor (with Val Dusek) of The Philosophy of Technology: An Anthology (2003, 2014. third edition pending); and former editor of Continental Philosophy Review (1994–2005). A long article on Gendlin’s work, “After Dilthey and Heidegger: Gendlin's Experiential Hermeneutics [with reply],” appears in Language Beyond Postmodernism: Saying and Thinking in Gendlin's Philosophy, ed. David Michael Levin (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1997), 190-233. Scharff is currently finishing a manuscript, Inheriting Technoscience: Essays on Heideggerian Themes.
Gendlin on Starting From Experience...And Knowing When You Do
When philosophers attend to what people say, they often carry with them the imagery of reading texts/statements, employing it resolutely, with the understanding that the task of philosophy is to slow things down in order to establish “the truth” of what people say. Of course, this approach is often powerful and widely useful but in the end, it gets everything backwards. When one is “being logical” and hovering over something text-like in order to analyze its meaning and determine its warrant, the whole story of how existential concerns come to be articulated into texts/statements, how experiential intricacy gives life to such articulations, and even the fact that this happens as a process and not just a series of moments when words get hooked onto a subject matter—all of this disappears and gets translated into the idea of “the context” or “background” of texts/statements, something to be drawn upon at will, but only if it helps us determine their “meaning.” How Eugene Gendlin would have us reverse this course and instead develop a philosophy that starts with (“comes from”) experience itself and not its products is my topic.
Donata Schoeller is a philosopher who teaches at the University of Koblenz and Iceland. She is the academic director of the European Erasmus Program Training in Embodied Critical Thinking. Donata Schoeller has published extensively on Gendlin’s philosophy. She has also translated A Process Model into German with Christiane Geiser, and has written a first introduction into this oeuvre in close collaboration with Eugene Gendlin and Neil Dunaetz. She is a Focusing trainer. As a TAE-teacher she is invited internationally to teach at Universities and Academies. She has three daughters and lives in Switzerland and Germany.
Reflecting a freedom to make sense on the basis of A Process Model
In A Process Model a tacit continuum is unfolding from the need for food to the need for meaning. Gendlin’s principle “interaction-first” interconnects the body, environment and meaning in ways that have many ethical implications. I would like to draw out one of these implications by laying out what I mean by a freedom to make sense. This raises the question if one should have a right of such kind of freedom as one has a right of freedom of speech. This would have major implications for our educational systems. My considerations are informed by bringing Gendlin’s thinking in dialogue with the philosophy of the political body of Corinne Pelluchon. If the living body figures as the sensitive and responsive framework of philosophical thinking, the political, social and personal.
Eric Severson is a philosopher specializing in the work of Emmanuel Levinas. He is the author of Before Ethics (Kendall-Hunt, 2021), Levinas's Philosophy of Time (Duquesne University Press, 2013) and Scandalous Obligation (Beacon Hill Press, 2011), and editor of eight other books on philosophy, psychology, ethics, theology and the philosophy of religion. He lives in Kenmore, Washington and teaches philosophy at Seattle University.
Is Responsibility Implicated?
In some of his later essays, Eugene Gendlin occasionally turns his phenomenological analysis of the body toward the social components of the human person. Newborns, he points out, already demonstrate gestures and reactivity in their bodies. Infants mimic, shaping their faces to match the faces before them, indicating the inheritance of responsiveness and gestural capacity. In this paper, Severson uses Gendlin’s methodology, and approach to the “responsive order of nature” to explore the question of responsibility as it relates to the body. To what degree does the body carry the implication of responsibility for the suffering of other? Is there, implicit in the body, any teaching on ethics? Severson asks these questions in light of visceral suffering caused by racism and white supremacy. Drawing resources from Hans-Georg Gadamer’s account of historicity, and Emmanuel Levinas’s own discussion of the body, Severson locates implicit responsibility for systemic racism in the historical, physical and social constitution of the human body.
In Saying What We Mean, Gendlin leaves for us a collection of intriguing enactments of this embodied thinking, with essays ranging across the spectrum of his adventurous thinking. Though all paper proposals working with Gendlin’s thought were welcome, we particularly solicited investigations into the four main themes of Saying What We Mean:
Elizabeth Cantor, Administrator, TIFI
Dr. Leslie Ellis, Independent Scholar, TIFI Board Liaison
Melanie Korpi, Organizer of Online Classes, TIFI
Dr. Kevin Krycka, Professor of Psychology, Seattle University, Symposium Chair
Dr. James Risser, Professor of Philosophy, Seattle University, Review Committee
Dr. Eric Severson, Instructor of Philosophy, Seattle University, Review Committee
Catherine Torpey, Executive Director, TIFI