Kyoto Conference on Coleridge and Contemplation, 27-29 March, 2015
The conference aims to recover a contemplative direction in Philosophy and in Literary Studies and returns to the poetic works and philosophical writings of S. T. Coleridge in the service of reflections on contemplation.
Each day of the three-day conference will commence with a keynote lecture. There will also be panel discussions and sessions for shorter papers.
Graduate students are encouraged to attend, and there are some chances for transport funding, so please e-mail for details. The event is an excellent opportunity to learn about and further explore issues in literature and philosophy relating to contemplation, poetics, and aesthetic engagement. Please feel free to email Peter Cheyne, Kyoto Notre Dame University: firstname.lastname@example.org .
The second stage of this project is to produce a book collecting essays developed from the conference. This will include essays developed from the Keynote and Invited Panel Lectures, and will also give an opportunity for selected papers to be developed and published.
Contemplation has recently received some attention in the aesthetics of art and natural environments. It nevertheless remains generally neglected in literary and philosophical studies, despite the fact that it was a theme of profound importance to authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Philo, Plotinus, Proclus, the Desert Fathers, Aquinas, and so on until the modern era. Serious thinking about contemplation resurged with the Romantics, but unlike some other Romantic themes that remain with us, contemplation became an almost abandoned personal and cultural ideal, returned to only occasionally, for instance with T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets.
This forgetfulness of contemplation contrasts with the shared attitude of Plato and Aristotle, reflected in writers such as Aquinas, that contemplation is the ultimate end and good of the human soul, the sabbatical end of the workaday means. Understood thus, contemplation is a kind of noetic, synthesizing stillness that inspires our better energies, and aims to commune with or participate in Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. It is not the opposite of, but rather the currently neglected yet superordinate complement to the discursive, analytic tendency to focus on finessing distinctions and divisions, a tendency ascendent in English-language Philosophy, and to a lesser extent in the other Humanities, for the last hundred years.
Kyoto Notre Dame University, 2014