In solidarity with the Faculty Association of Southern Illinois University, Philosophy and Waste will be held — both conference and Keynote — will be held at the Big Muddy Independent Media Center, 214 N. Washington St., Carbondale, IL.

“It is almost as if philosophy — and most of all the great, deep, constructive philosophy — obeyed a single impulse: to get away from the place of carrion, stench, putrefaction. And just because of this distance, which gains its depth from that most wretched place, philosophy is no doubt in perennial danger of itself becoming just as thin, untrue, and wretched.” (Adorno, “Metaphysics and Materialism”)

Today, we “know” that “there is no away.” Reflecting on the concept of the “away,” and tracing its impossibility, leads to what Timothy Morton calls “the ecological thought”: that all beings (and not just living ones) exist in a mesh, where no divisions can be strictly upheld.  The thought is a moment of enlightenment, of consciousness raising, that corrodes the phenomenal boundaries and holes that shape our world.

Nevertheless, we still act as if there is an “away” —  a place where thought need not go, where things lose their thingness and blend together into quiet, motionless nothing; a black hole from which no effects can escape, and thus no thoughts need enter.

This is likely a major form of repression today: we must subdue our knowledge of the interconnectedness of all beings in order to participate in a lifeworld which is built on the idea that we can “get away from the place of carrion,” etc. And, clearly, this repressed is returning in the material forms of ecological crises, an Anthropocene age where our activity returns to shake the ground on which we act. The psychic forms in which this repressed is returning are perhaps even harder to detect.

The idea for a conference that focuses on the relation between philosophical thought and the concept of waste was born from these and other lines of thought, and I am very happy to announce that, from the looks of it, we all may walk away with a slightly better understanding of these issues — and likely a few more.

Our Keynote speaker is Professor Timothy Morton, who will be delivering a public lecture entitled “Ecological Ethics after the End of the World.” Obviously, you don’t want to miss that.

Also, I am very pleased to announce that Professor Elizabeth V. Spelman will be presenting a paper entitled “Combing Through the Trash: Philosophy Goes Rummaging.”

In addition to those two stars, we will have 6 thought provoking graduate student papers, 6 thought evoking respondents and 6 opportunities to let what has been evoked flow out and bump up against the brilliance of others.

Please do not hesitate to send me an email with any questions about travel arrangements or anything else. I’ll be updating this blog as more information (posters, precise schedules, etc.) becomes available.