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College to Host Philosophy Symposium

A symposium on a wide range of philosophical subjects will be held at MCC on Thursday, April 19. The program, in the College Center, will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Participants select the areas in which they are interested; they do not have to attend the entire program. Several students and faculty from other colleges and universities in New Jersey are expected to attend, as well as the Philosophy Club from Edison High School.

“This program is an effort to have a discussion on campus about philosophy,” said Giuseppe Rotolo, the Philosophy program coordinator at MCC. “In particular, we’ll examine the relationship between art, history and philosophy. We’ve received several papers from New Jersey academics that we’ll be examining at this event. I’m very excited about the day. It should be stimulating and interesting.”

MCC has a student-led Philosophy Club that has been in existence for two years. Members have helped Dr. Rotolo organize the event.

“It’s important to expose students to philosophy and how it relates to movies, art, music and history,” he said. “I want them to understand that philosophy is part of everyday life.”

The program features four panel discussions. The first examines literature, mythology and metaphors. Moderated by English Professor Emanuel di Pasquale, the panel will look at the role of metaphors in establishing the frames in which critical thinking and debate operate. For example, if society says “crime is a beast” then criminals must be caged or killed. But if it refers to crime as a virus, then criminals suffer from an infection and should be treated. This discussion will show there are moral and philosophical implications to the frame metaphors chosen. Panelists include Paula Bell, Steven Barnhart, Mathew Spano and Dan Zimmerman, all from MCC.

Next is a student panel, in which three students share their understanding of philosophy by highlighting specific topics. MCC student Alexander Lewis will address “The Oppression of Women in Video Games,” William Paterson University student Brian Kobylarz examines the topic “Philosophy Does Many Things, While Being its Own Thing,” and MCC student Brandon Myers explores “The Lack of Realization and Its Ultimate Triumph.” Donovan Dixon, an MCC student, will moderate the panel.

The next group will analyze the relationship between history and philosophy. Professor Terrence Corrigan will explore “History, Mythology, and Hate: The Construction of Irish and African Races in the Nineteenth Century”; Timothy Hack, chair of the History and Social Sciences Department, will present “The Curious Case of a Notorious Slave-Catcher”; and Professor Eugene Nasser will look at “Learning and Knowing: Epistemic Differences in Philosophy and History.” It will be moderated by Professor Cristobal Espinoza-Wulach.

The final panel is on “Philosophy and Art” and asks the questions, “What is beauty and where can we find it? How does an artist know if a work of art is complete or is still in the making? What makes art – ‘Art?’ and what is the role of the artist?” It will be moderated by retired MCC Professor Saul Kelton who will be joined by Professor Susan Altman, who will focus on “Hard Looking: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected,” retired MCC Professor Michael Greenhouse looking at “A Porous Nature: Beginnings and Endings,” MCC Professor Richard Thompson exploring “An Uncanny Truth: What is Art When Anything is Possible?; and Brandyn Heppard of Raritan Valley Community College focusing on “Art FORM: On the Essence of Art.”

The program concludes with a viewing and Discussion of “Se7en,” a film about two homicide detectives in a desperate hunt for a serial killer who justifies his crimes as absolution for the world’s ignorance of the Seven Deadly Sins. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Rotolo and Professor Thompson.

“I’m grateful to all the participants,” Dr. Rotolo said. “This promises to be a wonderful intellectual experience for our academic community.”