How to Think Together: The Social Life of the Mind
Wednesday, May 3, 2023
4:00 pm EDT/GMT-4Join us at HAC to meet and hear from Visiting Scholar Jana Bacevic
Thinking is usually conceived as a solitary activity. Yet, as Hannah Arendt recognized, we are never truly alone when we think: this is not only because all thinking happens in language, which is already social, but also because thinking – like other forms of human activity – relies on institutionally and socially mediated spaces and forms of interaction with others. These spaces of interaction, however, have become both increasingly fragmented – through the proliferation of digital platforms and massification of higher education – and increasingly contentious, reflected in conflicts around ‘free speech’, ‘culture wars’, and other forms of political polarization. Is there a way to think together that does not reproduce existing political divisions, even when it aspires to transcend them?
In this talk, Visiting Scholar Jana Bacevic explores thinking together as a way to conceive of ‘the life of the mind’ that does not require a separation of interiority from the space of appearance. Building on Arendt’s recognition of the tension between solitude and acting together, the talk discusses the possibility of seeing irreducible and potentially irreconcilable political plurality as a precondition, rather than an outcome or corollary, of the life of the mind. The concluding part addresses the political and ethical implications of this mode of thinking, including for contemporary discussions around academic freedom and freedom of speech.
Jana Bacevic is Assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology at Durham University, UK, and contributing editor of The Philosopher, UK's longest-running public philosophy journal. Jana's work is in social and political theory and the politics of knowledge production; she has published extensively on the relationship between knowledge and social and political dynamics. Her current work is on non-reciprocity, including in contexts such as 'free speech wars', academic freedom, and public health.
Jana has a PhD in sociology (Cambridge, 2019) and a PhD in social anthropology (University of Belgrade, 2008). In the intervening period she was lecturer at the Central European University, Marie Curie Fellow at Aarhus University, and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge; she also worked as consultant and advisor for a range of governments and international organizations in the field of education policy and minority rights. More about Jana's work is available at www.janabacevic.net. Jana's project at Bard, provisionally entitled 'How to think together: the social life of the mind', addresses the challenges of thinking and knowing in politically plural collectivities vs. in solitude.
For more information, call 845-758-6822.
Time: 4:00 pm EDT/GMT-4