Pascal Engel is directeur d’études at Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris. He has published about 250 articles and a number of books in philosophy of language, philosophy of logic, philosophy of mind and epistemology, among which The Norm of Truth (Prentice Hall, 1991), Philosophie et psychologie, (Gallimard, 1996) Ramsey , Truth and Success (with J. Dokic, Routledge, 2002), Truth (Acumen 2002), Va savoir (Herman, 2007), Les lois de l’esprit ? Julien Benda ou la raison (Ithaque, 2012), and Voluntà, Verità e credenza (Jouvence, 2014).

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Must Intellectual Life Be Boring?

If (and only if) one agrees that the goal of intellectual life is the pursuit of truth, what form should it take? The aim of believing only truths seems absurd, since so many truths are boringly trivial, including in normal science. We expect to get significant truths. But what is a significant truth? Isn’t it completely relative or contextual? How is it possible to combine such a boring and apparently empty ideal, aiming at truth and knowledge, with the kind of excitation and curiosity that we hope to experience in the life of the mind? Engel will try to suggest an answer which combines normative considerations about knowledge and some insights from virtue epistemology, but also attempts to steer away from the kind of pragmatism, relativism and neo-sophistry which pervades intellectual life today.

Time: 7 pm
Location: Ukrainian Institute of America / East Room