Faculty-Centered Initiatives

The following faculty-centered programs are a new component of the annual themed programming. These efforts are aimed at fostering cross-disciplinary collegial community. If you have a program you wish to pursue related to the theme of transformations please contact Jose Preciado, [email protected].

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Book Club and Public Talk: Kyla Schuller, Biopolitics of Feeling

Calling all SDSU faculty for a book club focused on Kyla Schuller’s book: The Biopolitics of Feeling: Race, Sex, and Science in the Nineteenth Century. The book invites interdisciplinary conversation around the way social narratives about feeling and sensation impacted and framed scientific studies and discourses about race. In particular, it examines racialized assumptions about who has the capacity to feel, and whose feelings are most important. We will meet once in late fall and once in early spring in preparation for a visit and public talk by Kyla Schuller, to be held at SDSU on February 13 at 12:30 P.M. in the Gold Auditorium, Biosciences Center.

The central concern of The Biopolitics of Feeling is to show how modern-binary notions of sex and race are shaped by colonialist and eugenics-based ideas about which populations can be labeled as civilized. If the concept of biopolitics describes how liberal-democratic societies maximize the health and vitality of some of its members while targeting others for dispossession and death, then Schuller demonstrates how biopolitics was shaped – and continues to be impacted – by racist ideas about which bodies are sensitive to feeling and sensation. [See how she connects these ideas to the most recent US presidential election here:https://www.thenation.com/article/the-trouble-with-white-women-an-interview-with-kyla-schuller/] For questions please contact Amira Jarmakani at [email protected]

All book club members will receive a free book, and must be committed to attending at least one of the two book club meetings. Sign up for the event here by October 1

Faculty Sponsor:

Anca Segal, Biology, [email protected]
Amira Jarmakani, Women's Studies, [email protected]
Arlette Baljon, Physics, [email protected]
Catherine Clune-Taylor, Women's Studies, [email protected]


Spirituality Without Religion and the Rhetoric of Enlightenment

Location: Conrad Prebys Aztec Union Theatre
Date: Monday, October 7, 2019
Time: 12:00P.M.

The idea of enlightenment is central to modern spirituality. I argue that the idea is fundamentally unclear and that “spirituality without religion” is really just privatized, experience-oriented religion. Enlightenment is an ambiguous concept, not as ingular  tate, and its many meanings are often incompatible. I focus on “Buddhist modernism,” which downplays the metaphysical and ritual elements of traditional Asian Buddhism, while emphasizing mindfulness and scientific rationality. Buddhist modernists try to demythologize enlightenment by turning it into a scientifically comprehensible psychological state, while they also romanticize enlightenment as an intuitive and nonconceptual epiphany. “Neural Buddhists ” maintain that enlightenment is a scientifically identifiable brain state. I argue that these ideas are all unworkable and that the modern spiritual concept of enlightenment is incoherent. The larger moral is that religion and science may be able to coexist, depending on the attitude they take toward each other, but science can’t legitimize (or delegitimize) religion, and they can’t be merged into one.

Evan Thompson is a professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia. He writes about the mind, life, consciousness, and the self, from the perspectives of cognitive science, philosophy of mind, phenomenology, and cross -cultural philosophy. This talk - on the transformation of enlightenment or awakening experiences - is taken from his forthcoming book “Why I am Not a Buddhist“ (Yale University press, January 2020). Evan has (co) -authored several other best selling books. He was elected as the 2020-21 president of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association.

Faculty Sponsor:

Arlette Baljon, Physics, [email protected]