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The New School for Social Research
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Department of Anthropology
6 East 16th Street, Room 926
New York, NY 10003
Tel: 212.229.5757 ext. 3016
79 5th Ave, Room 926
New York, NY 10003
Senior Secretary: Charles Whitcroft
Student Advisor: Charles McDonald
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Anthropology Student Handbook (PDF)
Expected CompletionSpring 2016
Curriculum vitae (PDF)
Dissertation TitleDasein as Attention
Dissertation AbstractI show that attention in the form of Achtsamkeit and Aufmerksamkeit becomes a major concept for Heidegger after the completion of the Beiträge, beginning with works such as the 1939 On the Essence of Language and the 1941-42 The Event. The 1951-52 What is Called Thinking? contains perhaps the most sustained treatment of the phenomenon, with Heidegger translating the νοεῖν of Parmenides as in-die-Acht-nehmen. I discuss how attention figures in Heidegger’s work, and then argue on that basis that the effort of attention enables more profound presencing, including that of our own. When Being is understood as presencing, this implies that attention is intimately related to the very Being of beings, as Heidegger argues in What is Called Thinking?
Areas of expertise
Heidegger, Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, Cognitive Science, Philosophy of Science
I was formerly a business school professor at the University of Iowa and the University of Pennsylvania
Mutual Understanding The State Of Attention And The Ground For Interaction In Economic Systems
What Calls For Attention?
ProfileAfter completing a Combined BA Honours in Economics and Political Science at Carleton University (Ottawa, ON), I studied International Political Economy (IPE) and economic law at the University of Kent Brussels School of International Studies.
Since coming to The New School I have developed technical skills in modeling, statistical analysis and programming (e.g., Stata, R, Mathematica, LateX). My dissertation applies these quantitative techniques to economic topics in an explicit legal-institution framework. Focusing on variegated property rights regimes in areas of contested ownership -- namely, corporate governance in a principal-agent model and the internalization of greenhouse gas emissions through a pollution property rights regime -- enables a detailed institutional framework for modeling game theoretic bargaining. I embed these economic problems in a deeply theorized property rights framework derived from legal analyses.
I look forward to applying my empirical and analytical skills in public, private and academic forums.
Mutual Understanding, the State of Attention, and the Ground for Interaction in Economic Systems
Dissertation TitleInsight and Exercise: Gymnastic in Plato's Parmenides
Dissertation AbstractResearch Statement
Areas of expertise
AOS: Platonic Ethics and Metaphysics, Aristotle, Hellenistic Philosophy and Neo-Platonism. AOC: Early Modern Philosophy, Hermeneutics, History & Philosophy of Music
Philosophy 1: Ancient
Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment
SyllabiPhilosophy 1: Ancient
Dissertation TitleOrganizing a Phenomenological Wissenschaftslehre
Areas of expertise
19th and 20th century European philosophy, political philosophy, and the philosophy of science
Expected CompletionSpring 2017
A Genealogy of the Given from Kant to McDowell
The core motivation behind the idea of “the given”—that there must be a passively received, non-conceptual aspect to perceptual experience—is as enticing as it is controversial. For many, it seems that “non-conceptual content” is both phenomenologically obvious and epistemologically necessary. Others counter that it is a myth that does not—and cannot—exist. In my dissertation, I argue that the contemporary notion of “non-conceptual content” is a mongrel made up of distinct and incompatible ideas. To show this, I provide genealogy of “the given,” showing how the seemingly innocuous metaphor of “givenness” in Kant came to be imbued with a variety of different, incompatible, meanings in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. My genealogy reveals there is no such thing as “the given,” but only a motley group of distinct ideas in psychology, philosophy of mind, and epistemology. I bring out how separating out the various strands tangled within “the given” allows us to clarify—and even dissolve—many problems in contemporary debates over “non-conceptual content.”
Kant, Philosophy of Mind, History and Philosophy of Psychology
Jake Browning is currently a PhD candidate at the New School for Social Research. Originally from Albuquerque, NM, Jake studied Religion at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, CA. His dissertation, "A Genealogy of the Given from Kant to McDowell," explores issues in the history of philosophy--focusing on Kant, 19th century psychology, and analytic philosophy--and the philosophy of mind--focusing on issues in perception and consciousness. Jake teaches at a number of universities around the city on topics such as the history of philosophy, ethics, and the philosophy of law. He is also co-editor (with Zed Adams) and contributor to the forthcoming volume, Giving a Damn: Essays in Dialogue with John Haugeland (MIT Press, Winter 2016).
Thus Spoke the Body: Friedrich Nietzsche's Vision of Affirmation
My doctoral dissertation is a philosophical study of three perplexing and debated key notions in Nietzsche’s philosophy: the body (Leib), life affirmation (Bejahung) and will to power (Wille zur Macht). Drawing upon my previous philosophical, textual and conceptual analysis of the role of the body in Nietzsche’s works, my background in arts (music, dance, and theater), and the extensive manuscriptal research on Nietzsche’s still largely unpublished notes, I challenge two orthodox scholarly views: first, that Nietzsche’s philosophy is contradictory, and second, that since Nietzsche describes affirmation both as an unconscious occurrence and a conscious stance, that “life affirmation” provides a paradox. I argue that Nietzsche’s conception of dance can be developed into a philosophically robust resolution of this paradox as the best example of what affirmation looks like. By offering an account that is provisional and experimental, a Vision as he calls it, Nietzsche aims to extend the boundaries of what counts as possible and relevant for philosophical discussion, and more importantly, for living. Since the concept of “Wille zur Macht” is usually brought out as intimately tied to the concept of “life,’’ I show that there is a previously unacknowledged link between “will to power,’’ the etymology of the German concept “Macht” and “Liebe” (love), that provides grounds for my novel interpretation of the much contested three word - term “Wille zur Macht.’’ In fact, “Wille zur Macht’’ gains a new nuance when read in the context of Nietzsche’s ideas on love as a skill we need to learn. Instead of ignoring the plethora of instances where Nietzsche claims Leib to be unconscious, and
Nietzsche, Merleau-Ponty, Philosophy of the Body, Philosophy of Dance, Body Plasticity (Philosophy and Neuroscience), 20th Century Philosophy, Art, Design and Visual Culture.
Kant's Theory of Desire
My dissertation refutes the standard interpretation of Kantian disinterested pleasure as pleasure without desire. The upshot of this view is that it reveals the shared foundation of aesthetic, practical, and cognitive (knowledge-bearing) judgments in Kant’s critical system, while at the same time preserving the differences between them. Each mode of judgment has a unique relationship to the faculty of desire, and in this way, its own transcendental function. Kantian aesthetic judgments are acts of synthesis that can attend to self-contradictory forms and self-contradictory desires, which are strictly prohibited in the cognitive and practical domains. For this reason, aesthetic reflective judgments are crucial for attending to works of art, whose meaning often exceeds the order of concepts. Finally, the connection between aesthetic reflective judgments and desire is fundamental for grasping Kant’s conception of spontaneity, as a power beyond rules, which is in turn necessary for understanding both his conception of living organisms and our own higher-order mental capacities.
Kant and German Idealism, 19th Century, Aesthetics, 20th Century Continental Philosophy, Early Modern Philosophy.
Todd Kesselman is a PhD Candidate at The New School for Social Research. He is the editor of Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon, an interdisciplinary research project that is co-sponsored by The New School for Social Research, Columbia University, New York University, Brown University, and CUNY Graduate Center. His work focuses on the relation between pleasure and desire in Kant's aesthetics.
Aesthetics (Graduate Level) - Pratt Institute
Sublimity-Monstrosity-Disgust (Graduate Level) - Pratt Institute
Philosophy of Love and Desire (Graduate Level) - Pratt Institute
Early Modern Philosophy (Undergraduate Level) - Pratt Institute
Introduction to Aesthetics (Undergraduate Level) - The New School
“An Interest in the Impossible: The Meaning of Disinterest in Kantian Aesthetics,” Washington University Jurisprudence Review 6:1 (2013). Special Issue on Kant’s Critique of Judgment.
“Impossible Objects, Contradictory Wishes : An Affective Delimitation of Kantian Disinterest,” in De-Limiting Aesthetics (Turia and Kant).
“Tragedy and Modernity: An Interview with Simon Critchley,” in Impossible Objects (Polity, 2013).
“The Abject, The Object, and The Thing,” Special Issue: Kristeva, The Subject in Process. Cincinnati Romance Review (24: 2012).
“Solaris Rex: Tarkovsky and Kant’s Third Critique,” Monstrosity in Literature and Psychoanalysis (Turia and Kant, 2011).
“Disconcerting Forms: Comedy, Tragedy, and the Limits of Representation,” Metacide: In the Pursuit of Excellence (Rodopi, 2010).
“The State of Beauty: On the Exhibition Lebbeus Woods, Architect,” The Bottom Line, The Drawing Center Gallery, NYC, 2014.