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Seattle University


Questioning "I Can Do It Again"

Visiting LeRoux Chair to deliver public lecture on Feb. 27

Written by Karen Bystrom, Arts and Sciences
February 23, 2018

Michael Barber, S.J., the LeRoux Endowed Chair in winter quarter 2018, will present "Pragmatic Everyday Life: Impetus and Obstacle to Knowledge” February 27 in the Popko Lounge in Lemeiux Library. There will be a reception immediately after the lecture.

Fr. Barber's description his lecture: "Knowledge begins in the pragmatic world of everyday life, as a matter of knowing how to master the world in which we are situated. Such mastery and knowledge are accompanied by the sense of 'I can do it again' that is activated when we confront similar situations or even when we run into obstacles or disruptions to our life's pragmatic projects (e.g. in disabilities or natural disasters). For Edmund Husserl and Alfred Schutz the confidence that 'I can do it again' is foundational to everyday life. Paradoxically, this pragmatic knowing so fundamental to all subsequent knowledge, this desire to establish and maintain that comforting sense that 'I can do it again,' can lead to a pathological suppression of questions in a variety of ways, from the opposition to strangers to the dismissal of objections from other social groups even before they can be voiced (e.g. through what Charles Cooley called the 'looking glass'). Schutz suggests ways in which we might escape such pragmatic constraints on knowing whether through life disruptions or the adoption of new attitudinal stances akin to the adoption of the phenomenological epoché."

Michael Barber completed his PhD at Yale University in 1985. He is professor of philosophy at St. Louis University, where he also held for five years the position of dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of six books and more than 70 articles on the phenomenology of the social world. His biography of Alfred Schutz, The Participating Citizen, won the Ballard Prize in 2007.

The College of Arts and Sciences, Seattle University's largest college, provides funding for the William F. LeRoux, S.J. Endowed Chair in Arts and Sciences. The endowed chair is awarded to a Jesuit academic in the arts, humanities or social sciences. The appointment is for one academic quarter (10 weeks in fall, winter or spring). The chair is required to teach one course and conduct a public lecture, with remaining time available to advance his scholarship and engage with the Seattle University community.

William F. LeRoux, S.J. came to Seattle University in 1958 as a professor in theology. He served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (1977 – 82) and as an assistant to the vice president for University Advancement from 1982 until his death in 2004. He was a much beloved ambassador to alumni and friends.