[MaFLa] invitation to a philosophy talk by Claudine Tiercelin on`Should one be afraid of essentialism ?`- 21. January 5.30 PM

Krisztina Biber Biberk at ceu.hu
Wed Jan 15 12:57:58 CET 2014

The CEU Department of Philosophy cordially invites you to a talk 
(as part of its Departmental Colloquium series)
Claudine Tiercelin (College de France) 
`Should one be afraid of essentialism ?`
Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 5.30 PM, Zrinyi 14, Room 412
Essentialism, basically viewed both as aristotelian and
anti-scientific, was largely out of favor during the two thirds of the
twentieth century, thanks to the prevailing anti-metaphysical attitude
associated with the linguistic and logical positivist heritage (Quine).
Together with a revival of metaphysics, some new forms of essentialism
came to the fore, which were no longer tied to a substantialist or «
deep » approach, but insisted more (as in Kripke or Putnam’s versions)
on viewing essence as a modality. More recently, such conceptions have
been attacked (Fine) and other versions of essentialist metaphysics have
been proposed : either along neo-aristotelian lines (E. J. Lowe), or in
such versions as B. Ellis’s « scientific essentialism ». However,
essentialism still has a bad reputation in many circles, and not only
among metaphysicians but among scientists (and philosophers of biology
in particular). Now, are they right to be afraid of essentialism ? In
the first part of my talk, I shall proceed to a brief clarification of
the main meanings attached to the concepts of essence and essentialism ;
I shall then present, in broad outlines, the merits and limits of the
various essentialist responses that have been proposed to some
antimetaphysical reactions, before suggesting, in the last part of my
talk, another (hopefully more convincing and reassuring) approach, which
I have called « aliquidditism » - consisting mainly in viewing essence
along relational and dispositional lines – and which is part and parcel
of the dispositional realistic and scientific attitude I recommend in
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