Hahn Lectures Robert E. Innis, June 26, 2024

The FPC is pleased to announce the 2024 Hahn Lectures. This year we are honoring the work of Robert E. Innis, University of Massachusetts Lowell. These lectures will be delivered during the Second International Conference on the Thought of Susanne Langer, Langer, Creativity, and American Thought, June 24-28. We have set aside Wednesday morning of this week-long conference for the Hahn Lectures. Here is the schedule, and below, abstracts and biographies of the speakers.

The lectures are free and open to the public, no reservation required, and held at the American Institute of Philosophical and Cultural Thought, Murphysboro, IL, 62966. To attend on-line, please request a zoom link here: personalist 61@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 26

The Lewis Hahn Lectures: Schedule


Innis in Focus: Moving Toward a “Presentational Philosophy”

Jared Kemling, Rend Lake College


Follow the Footnotes; Connect the Dots; See the Gestalt: Reflections on the Scholarship of Robert E. Innis

Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin, University College London


A Trail of Linkages: Lingering with Langer

Robert E. Innis, University of Massachusetts, Lowell

The Lectures

A Trail of Linkages: Lingering with Langer

Robert E. Innis, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Susanne Langer’s work has been for all of us a rich source of insights into the fundamental structures of the distinctiveness of the human form of life. About this distinctiveness, as Langer wrote in Philosophy in a New Key, “in the fundamental notion of symbolization … we have the keynote of all humanistic problems.” To understand symbolization, however, one must uncover its antecedent enabling conditions as well as its consequences, powers, and range, that make possible the open ambient and embodied meaning structures that make up the cultural frames in which we carry out our lives. Langer’s intellectual journey, to practically her dying day, involved such an uncovering. Everyone here at this meeting has some original linkage, or linkage event, with Langer’s work that has informed and continued to motivate their continual returns to it. Such returns make up a trail of linkages. But Langer’s work is itself a trail of linkages, linkages to the rich empirical and conceptual sources upon which she relied and which she exploited in creative synthetic ways. In this lecture, I will chart my own trail of linkages with Langer’s work, which began with my fortuitous purchase of Philosophy in a New Key at the Lion Bookstore in Rome in 1963. Such a trail has led to linking Langer to parallel research projects in aesthetics, language theory, cultural psychology, and other fields. I want to illustrate, or indicate, some ways of how, since 1977, I have attempted to draw attention to aspects of the richness and stimulating power of Langer’s work that link it to parallel and complementary projects of uncovering the nature, range, and scope of symbolization as the keynote of humanistic problems. Clearly, this is something everyone else here has also tried to do over long periods, as we have persistently lingered with Langer on our shared intellectual and life paths.

Follow the Footnotes; Connect the Dots; See the Gestalt: Reflections on the Scholarship of Robert E. Innis

Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin, King’s College London

Starting with a look at Robert Innis’ (impressive) curriculum vitae as a source ‘text’, this paper will reflect (somewhat speculatively!) on Innis’ scholarly journey as an exemplification of scholarship in general. It will identify three stages: first, the intuitive,  associative process of gathering data guided by specific interests or questions;  second, the experimental process of connecting data in particular configurations around specific themes; third, the seemingly passive ‘waiting’ for a unified Gestalt to emerge – to reveal itself – that makes sense of the connections and bestows on them disclosive meaning. Drawing on  Karl Bühler’s and Susanne Langer’s notions of Gestalt, the paper suggests that the process of scholarship is not in principle different or less ‘creative’ than the process of making art. Moreover, as in the making art, it is impossible in scholarship to predict in advance how much time each stage will take and, indeed, if the third stage will ever be reached. That being so, it concludes that the current academic climate with its pressure on production of results is not typically conducive for genuinely explorative and meaningful scholarship.

Innis in Focus: Moving Toward a “Presentational Philosophy”

Jared Kemling, Rend Lake College

This presentation aims to celebrate Robert E. Innis’s considerable contributions to Langer-studies (and Aesthetics, Semiotics, American Philosophy, and much else). The constant touchstone of the talk is Innis’s authoritative text—Susanne Langer in Focus: The Symbolic Mind. I will seek to highlight the enduring themes of the book and to provide a forum for Innis to reflect on the importance and influence of the book, fifteen years after its publication. Ultimately, the presentation is a starting place for fruitful conversation and public discussion surrounding Innis’s ongoing philosophical project. Inspired by Innis’s work on Langer, the talk is largely meta-philosophical, reflecting on Langer’s understanding of philosophy and how we can integrate Langer’s insights into the practice of philosophy today. It covers three basic questions: (1) Has academic philosophy truly accomplished the transition to the “new key” that Langer heralded? My answer will be, briefly: no. (2) What must be done to accomplish such a transition? I will suggest that philosophy needs to be developed as an “art” and a “presentational form,” in Langer’s terms. To put another way—philosophy needs to be developed further as a practice and a way of life, rather than a largely rational-historical enterprise. (3) What would the “primary illusion” and “basic abstraction” of such an art form be? In a very limited sketch, I will suggest that the primary illusion of what we might call “presentational philosophy” might be “Wisdom,” and the basic abstraction might be “Wonder.”

The Speakers

Robert E. Innis is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. During the period 2015-2019 he was Obel Foundation Visiting Professor at the Niels Bohr Center for Cultural Psychology at Aalborg University. He has been Fulbright Professor of Philosophy at the University of Copenhagen (1990-1991), visiting Professor of Semiotics at Tartu University, and Visiting Professor of Excellence at the Catholic University of São Paulo. His books include Karl Bühler: Semiotic Foundations of Language Theory, Consciousness and the Play of Signs, Pragmatism and the Forms of Sense, Susanne Langer in Focus: The Symbolic Mind, Between Philosophy and Cultural Psychology, and Dimensions of Aesthetic Encounters.

Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin Originally from the Netherlands, Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin studied philosophy, history of art and violin in Amsterdam. Currently a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London and Research Associate at the Margaret Beaufort Institute in Cambridge, UK, she works on the interface of philosophical and theological aesthetics with a special interest in the work of Susanne K. Langer and the question of how art conveys meaning, as well as in socially engaged public art. Before moving to the UK, she taught at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto during which time she also served as the President of the Canadian Society for Aesthetics. She has published articles and book chapters on Kant, Langer, Merleau-Ponty, Calvin, art and embodiment, contemporary art and religion, Ai WeiWei, and is the author of The Philosophy of Susanne Langer: Embodied Meaning in Logic, Art and Feeling (Bloomsbury, 2020). She is the founding director and curator of the travelling exhibition ‘Art, Conflict and Remembering: the murals of the Bogside Artists’ about the Troubles in Northern Ireland, which has toured UK cathedrals and universities.

Jared Kemling Jared Kemling is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Rend Lake College. Jared received his PhD in 2018 from Southern Illinois University, writing a dissertation on Ernst Cassirer’s philosophy of symbolic forms and the idea of the person. His research interests are in German Idealism, Process Philosophy, Philosophical Anthropology, Philosophy of Culture, and American Pragmatism. He is an editor for the journal Eidos: A Journal for Philosophy of Culture, and a fellow of the American Institute for Philosophical and Cultural Thought. His edited books include The Cultural Power of Personal Objects: Traditional Accounts and New Perspectives (2021, SUNY Press) and (with Randall Auxier) Queen and Philosophy: Guaranteed to Blow Your Mind (2023, Carus Books). He has published articles in a variety of academic journals and presented at a number of international and national conferences.

About the Lewis Hahn Memorial Lecture

The Lewis Hahn Memorial Lecture is a periodic summertime lecture sponsored by the FPC. It was begun in 2012, in honor of Lewis Edwin Hahn, 1908-2004. Lewis Hahn was raised in west Texas, took his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1939, under the direction of Stephen Pepper. He had a full and successful career in the Philosophy Department of Washington University in St. Louis, being recruited to Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1973. He was author of several books and many articles and was especially distinguished by his efforts in comparative philosophy and inter-cultural philosophical and religious dialogue. From 1981 until 2001 he edited the prestigious Library of Living Philosophers. He served the Societies and the Foundation for the Philosophy of Creativity, in several offices and principally as its Secretary/Treasurer, from its founding in 1957 until his retirement from active service in the profession in 2001.

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