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FAU’s Center for Body, Mind and Culture Hosts Inaugural Conference

BOCA RATON, FL (March 8, 2007) – FAU’s Center for the Body, Mind and Culture will host its inaugural conference “Minding the Body: Transcultural and Interdisciplinary Perspectives” March 29-30 on FAU’s Boca Raton campus, 777 Glades Road.   The keynote speaker for the conference is Arthur Danto, art critic for The Nation and Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Columbia University. Other conference speakers include experts in philosophy, history, religion and nursing.   All lectures and events are free and open to the public.   Parking is free, but Friday parking requires a one-day permit which is available at FAU’s Glades Road and Broward Avenue entrance.

Danto’s lecture, “The Body in Philosophy and Art,” will take place on Thursday March 29 at 5:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Building, room 101.  It will focus on the centrality of bodies as a topic in contemporary art, comparing and attempting to reconcile the very different ways in which artists and philosophers have depicted and analyzed the body.  A reception will follow the lecture.

Danto is the author of many influential books, including Nietzsche as Philosopher, Mysticism and Morality, The Transfiguration of the Commonplace, Narration and Knowledge, Connections to the World: The Basic Concepts of Philosophy, and Encounters and Reflections: Art in the Historical Present, a collection of art criticisms which won the National Book Critics Circle Prize for Criticism in 1990.    In a New York Times review of Danto’s most recent book , Unnatural Wonders: Essays from the Gap Between Art and Life,   Barry Gewen wrote, “Arthur C. Danto  is arguably the most consequential art critic since Clement Greenberg. He is an erudite and sophisticated observer, a trained academic philosopher who is also wholly at home in the world of modern art, about which he writes with forcefulness and jargon-free clarity.”  

Lectures and panel discussions on Friday, March 30, will run from 9:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Senate Chambers of the University Center. The first lecture is “The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetic Dimensions of Human Understanding,” by Mark Johnson, Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Philosophy at the University of Oregon.   Johnson will explore the nature and pervasiveness of aesthetic experience in human life, looking at how the study of art can illuminate the study of how all meaning is created.   This lecture will be followed by “Material Virtue: Ethics and the Body in Early China,” by Mark Csikszentmihalyi, chair of the department of East Asian languages and literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  This lecture will examine why and how the Chinese turned to a focus on a physical basis for a moral life.  

            Afternoon lectures, which will begin at 1:30, will include “Pathologies of the Lived Body,” delivered by Shaun Gallagher, professor and chair of philosophy and cognitive science at the University of Central Florida.   Gallagher will examine basic philosophical issues such as the question of free will by examining what happens to the basic sense of self in those who develop disorders in how they receive sensory information from their bodies. Next, Hans-Peter Krüger, professor of philosophy at the University of Potsdam, Germany, will lecture on “Brain, Conduct, and Embodiment: Positionality as a Key to Human Nature.”   This lecture will explore the question of human nature by analyzing the ways in which humans differ from other living beings in how they distinguish between their bodies, selves and environments.   The final lecture of the day is “Touch as Therapy” with Marlaine Smith, FAU’s Helen K. Perrson Eminent Scholar Chair in Community Caring at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing.   Smith will examine the therapeutic value of various techniques of touch and the implications of research on these therapies for the healing arts.   A panel discussion will conclude the conference.

The Center for Body, Mind, and Culture in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters is an interdisciplinary initiative dedicated to promoting research, programming and teaching of topics concerning the body-mind-culture connection. These topics include health and illness, fitness and disability, body image in art and culture, fashion, cosmetics, athletics, nutrition, sexuality and gender, sensorimotor learning and therapies, performance arts, martial arts, spirituality and meditation, and other body-mind disciplines (Western and non-Western). The Center is directed by Richard Shusterman, Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in the Humanities and professor of philosophy.

For more information about the Center and the conference, visit 


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