TUJ Philosophy Lecture Series Vol. 7: “Cavendish’s Color Theory and Rejection of Mechanical Philosophy”

You are invited to a lecture on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, by Colin Chamberlain, Professor of Modern Philosophy at The College of Liberal Arts, Temple University, Philadelphia. This lecture investigates early modern philosophers — such as Galileo Galilei, René Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, Walter Charleton, Robert Boyle, Nicholas Malebranche and John Locke — who hold that color is an illusion created by the human mind. These philosophers accept the mechanical hypothesis, according to which physical nature is like a giant machine, fully described in terms of a privileged set of mechanical or geometrical properties like size, shape, position, solidity, and motion. Material things, according to this hypothesis, are ‘the lean, spare objects of geometry,’ to borrow Dan Garber’s apt phrase, and are not really colored. The apparent redness of a ruby, or the greenness of grass, are rather human projections onto an otherwise colorless world. Chamberlain argues that Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673) — philosopher, poet, science fiction writer, and playwright — provides a refreshing alternative to this early modern consensus. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Cavendish holds that material things are generally colored in the way they look to be. Cavendish’s material world is in technicolor, as compared to the drab, geometrical world of the mechanists. Her world is Oz to their Kansas. Unlike the early modern mechanists, Cavendish does not convict color experience of gross illusion, nor does she posit a deep rift between colorful appearances and colorless reality. Instead, she takes color experience at face value as transparently revealing the colors objects really have. This is the seventh installment in the “TUJ Philosophy Lecture Series,” organized by Adjunct Professor Jordanco Sekulovski.

The TUJ Philosophy Lecture Series is a non-profit forum of Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ) for the promotion of critical thinking. The lectures are free, open to the public, and feature speakers from universities around the world. The lecture series is a great way to learn about recent research in philosophy and in the humanities as a whole.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018
19:00 – 20:30 (doors open at 18:30)
Temple University, Japan Campus, Azabu Hall, 1F The Parliament Student Lounge (access)
Not required

About the Lecturer

Colin Chamberlain is Professor of Modern Philosophy at The College of Liberal Arts, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA. He specializes in early modern philosophy, especially Descartes and Malebranche and has studied at the University of Toronto, Harvard University, the University of Notre Dame, and the École Normale Supérieure.