The Rock Ethics Institute

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Witnessing Ethics

When Oct 30, 2003
from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Where Nittany Lion Inn, Boardroom 1
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Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Women's Studies, Stony Brook University

Kelly Oliver is Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Women’s Studies at Stony Brook University. Her specializations include 19th and 20th Century Continental Philosophy (particularly Phenomenology and Existentialism, and Contemporary French Philosophy), Feminist Theory (particularly French Feminist Theory and Feminist Film Theory). She is the author of over fifty articles and seven books: The Colonization of Psychic Space (University of Minnesota, 2004), Noir Anxiety: Race, Sex, and Maternity in Film Noir (University of Minnesota 2002),Witnessing: Beyond Recognition (University of Minnesota 2001), Subjectivity Without Subjects: From Abject Fathers to Desiring Mothers(Rowman & Littlefield 1998), Family Values: Subjects Between Nature and Culture (Routledge 2002), Womanizing Nietzsche: Philosophy’s Relation to “the Feminine” (Routledge 1995), and Reading Kristeva: Unraveling the Double-Bind(University of Indiana 1995). She has edited eight books, including Feminist Interpretations of Nietzsche (Penn State Press 1998), The Portable Kristeva(Columbia 1998), Between the Psyche and the Social (Rowman & Littlefield 2003) and French Feminism Reader (Rowman & Littlefield 2000). Her work has been translated into Norwegian, Korean, and German. She has given hundreds of talks nationally and internationally. She serves on the editorial board for several journals; and she is Co-Director of the largest society for Continental Philosophy in North Amercia, Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy.

She has guest edited one issue of Hypatia (Philosophy of Language) and two issues ofStudies in Practical Philosophy (Global Feminism; Witnessing). While on the Executive Committee for Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP) she has organized several special sessions on race and Post-colonial Feminism. In addition to the Executive Committee for SPEP (which organizes an annual conference with over 100 sessions), she is currently on the APA committee for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) philosophy. She also serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including HypatiaStudies in Practical Philosophy, and New Nietzsche Studies. She is also on the editorial board for the Penn State Series in Continental Philosophy. She has served as program organizer for the Central APA Society for Women in Philosophy, for Central and Eastern division LGBT, and for the Philosophy division of the Popular Culture Association. As Chair of the Philosophy Department she manages a budget of over one million dollars and oversees over one hundred personnel.

Witnessing Ethics

The Richard B. Lippin Lectureship in Ethics

In her talk, “Witnessing Ethics,” Kelly Oliver challenges what has become a fundamental tenet of this trend in debates over multiculturalism, namely, that the social struggles manifest in critical race theory, queer theory, feminist theory, and various social movements are struggles for recognition. Testimonies from the aftermath of the Holocaust and slavery do not merely articulate a demand to be recognized or to be seen. Rather, they witness to pathos beyond recognition. The victims of oppression, slavery, and torture are not merely seeking visibility and recognition, but they are also seeking witnesses to horrors beyond recognition. Oliver associates this pathos beyond recognition inherent in struggles for recognition and testimony to atrocity with witnessing in its full and double sense. She develops a theory of subjectivity modeled on witnessing in its double sense of eye-witness and bearing witnesses to what cannot be seen. She concludes with a radical notion of responsibility born out of her notion of witnessing.