Public Philosophy

I serve on the board of Gotham Philosophical Society, a nonprofit organization devoted to fostering public philosophical dialogue within the New York City community.   

Recent Events

MAGICAL ART:  THE POWER OF IMAGES IN HITCHCOCK’S VERTIGO 

Date: Monday, March 19 2018. Time: 6 pm. Place:  Cornelia Street Café (29 Cornelia Street, near Sixth Avenue and West 4th Street)

Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo is a brilliant, suspenseful mystery exploring the often dangerous intimacy between love, compulsion, and death. It is also a profound meditation on the power of art. While it invites us to go on seeing art as a mimesis – a “representation,” or “imitation” of life – it also cryptically asks whether art objects might do more than merely represent life, even whether they might exercise power over death.

James Stewart’s Scotty has been compared to Orpheus in quest of Eurydice; I suggest that he’s worth comparing to Admetus, who wished he could be Orpheus, and who imagines clinging to a statue to recapture his lost wife. The spell cast by Hitchcock in Vertigo shows us just how bewitching art can be when it has us under its sway.

Nickolas Pappas is Professor of Philosophy at City College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, where he has taught since 1993. He is the author of several books and around 40 articles, mostly on topics in ancient philosophy. His books include the Routledge Philosophical Guidebook to Plato’s Republic, now in its third edition; and most recently The Philosopher’s New Clothes (Routledge, 2016).

Approaching all manner of topics from philosophical, artistic, and legal perspectives, Gotham Philosophical Society aims to provide each other with a deeper, more rounded, and ‘objective’ understanding than would be possible otherwise. This time we have love in our sights.  This community symposium is sponsored by Gotham Philosophical Society and features Leo Glickman (the lawyer), Jane LeCroy (the poet), and Joe Biehl (the philosopher).  

Date: Thursday, February 15 2018. Time: 8 pm. Place: Las Tapas (the bar), 808 West 187th Street, New York, NY.

 

My former logic student, Jason Cutmore, gave a piano performance and a talk on music ontology.

BEYOND THE MARKETPLACE MELTING POT: A RETURN TO MEANINGFUL MUSIC CLASSIFICATION 

Date: December 11, 2017. Time:  6:00-7:30 pm.  Place: Cornelia Street Café (29 Cornelia Street, near Sixth Avenue and West 4th Street)

It has been said that there are not different types or categories of music, only good music and bad music.  How can we know the difference between good and bad music however?  Well, on some accounts, there are indeed different types (‘low’ vs ‘high’ art), some of which are by definition bad, others good.  Yet, on other accounts, music is music – there are no essential differences in kind, and it is simply each listener’s favorable or unfavorable reaction to any given song or piece of music that decides its quality.  In this presentation, a novel way to identify musical types is proposed, one that seeks to illuminate meaningful musical distinctions in the natures and functions of three musical kinds (folk, mass, and art music), with some surprising results.  A brief piano performance will precede the talk.

Jason Cutmore is a concert pianist, teacher, and the founder and director of the Canadian music festival, Alberta Pianofest.  He has performed across much of North America, Europe, and India, and has published articles in peer review journals and trade magazines.  Mr Cutmore lives in New York City, and is currently completing a Master’s degree in Philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Past Events

I read “Mystery of the Mirror” from Leonard Cohen and Philosophy: Various Positions at the Cornelia Street Cafe. (See below.) Leonard Cohen and Philosophy was  recently reviewed in The Hopkins Review <https://muse.jhu.edu/article/615172> and in the CAML Review, the official publications of the Canadian Association of Music Libraries <http://caml.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/caml/article/view/40270>.

LEONARD COHEN AND PHILOSOPHY

Please join us Sunday, January 25 2015 as authors Babette Babich, Christopher Ketcham, and Lisa Warenski read selections from Leonard Cohen and Philosophy , edited by Jason Holt (2014 from Open Court Publishing Company).  Time: 6:00 pm.  Where: Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014 (near Sixth Avenue and West 4th St.)

With his uniquely compelling voice and unparalleled depth of artistic vision, the aesthetic quality and intellectual merit of Cohen’s work are above dispute; here, for the first time, a team of philosophers takes an in-depth look at its real significance. Join us for an evening of philosophical reflection on the work of this most enigmatic and mysterious pop-star poet.

“Cohen famously said that there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. This book takes the brilliant light of Cohen’s words and shines it into Plato’s cave with such strength the prisoners are not only free but see the sun.” — Kimberly Baltzer-Jaray, author of Doorway to the World of Essences