Is philosophical inquiry bound by history, geography or culture?  Should the philosopher be responsible to the public?

On October 20, UCSC assistant professor of philosophy Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther and UCSC’s Institute of Humanities Research will host a public conference examining the relationship between philosophy and its multicultural context.

Participants will include researchers and thinkers from Google, San Francisco State University, San Jose State, Stanford, UC Santa Cruz, and the University of San Francisco.

“Multiculturalism requires reflection,” noted Winther. “It is of increasing impact to us here in California and of course globally, particularly as the flow of people and information continues to accelerate.”

“Philosophy is often criticized for living in an Ivory Tower,” Winther added. “This is particularly true for the dominant Analytic tradition, which seems to forget that it is, after all, people who are philosophizing.

"What difference might distinct cultural contexts—such as Latin American, Indian, or Central African--have on framing supposedly “universal” philosophical questions about knowledge, values, and beauty?”

Winther noted that one of the main objectives of the conference is to discuss how to develop a philosophy that is both sensitive to cultural context, and what might be universal about the human condition.

“Multiculturalism forces us to see that philosophy does not occur in a vacuum,” Winther observed.  “If you change the power and context of the philosophical inquirer, the questions and answers may change.”

Invited guests at the conference include Amir Najmi from Google, whose interests include a critical understanding of mathematical models and the role of human insight in machine learning. Or as Winthers puts it: “he is an engineer informed by the humanities.”

UCSC chemistry professor Scott Lokey will also discuss philosophy across the sciences, addressing a particular case of how philosophy can be part of a scientific dialogue.

The conference begins at 10 a.m. in UCSC’s Humanities 1 Building (Room 210) with opening remarks by dean of humanities William Ladusaw. It runs until 5:30 p.m., immediately followed by a reception. Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Shann Ritchie at the UCSC Institute for Humanities Research, (831) 459-5655.