4-14-2016 Jessica Wiskus

The Center for Interpretive and Qualitative Research
(CIQR -- "seeker": http://www.duq.edu/ciqr/)

Date: Thursday, April 14th, 2016
Time: 4:30-6:00pm
Location: Berger Gallery (207 College Hall), Duquesne University
Title: Discerning the Rhythms of the Soul: From Birdsong to Logos to Ethics (through Plato)
Presenter: Dr. Jessica Wiskus, Professor of Music, Duquesne University

Presentation Details:

What is the power of music - of melody - even of birdsong? Let us consider that Socrates, on the morning of his execution, claims that his final, most beautiful philosophical discourse will show him to be a "fellow servant with the swans," gifted with the art of prophecy. (And yet we seem to believe that we have no music from Socrates: we believe that we have words.) What, then, is language in relation to song - that is to say, what is logos as it moves through time?

This paper opens with simple questions as a way of initiating an investigation into the nature of rhythm - considered both in the phenomenological and ontological spheres. Although many themes of our inquiry bear an ontological significance (drawn as they are from the works of Plato and Augustine), we read them through a phenomenological register. Thus, we discuss perception, time-consciousness, and embodiment together with logos, ratio, and the soul. The aim is to become attuned to the positioning of our inquiry at the very relation between Being and becoming (in Plato's words); and here - through this relation or ratio - we search out a foundation for an ethics that might be characterized as rhythmical.

Dr. Jessica Wiskus serves as Professor of Music at Duquesne University, where she teaches courses in the history and philosophy of music and where she is the recipient of the university's Creative Teaching Award and President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Her work in teaching and in research is interdisciplinary in nature, seeking to elucidate musical expression as a form of philosophical thinking. Her book, The Rhythm of Thought: Art, Literature, and Music after Merleau-Ponty (University of Chicago Press, 2013), interprets the work of French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty, developing "rhythm" as a philosophical notion through the analysis of works by Mallarmé, Cézanne, Proust, and Debussy. This work at the intersection of music and phenomenology has been recognized as "unprecedented," "pioneering," "highly original," and "even dazzling." Her articles are available in The Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, Epoché, Philosophy Today, Angelaki, and Chiasmi International, among others. Trained as a professional musician, she received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale University in 2006 and has served as a member of the Duquesne faculty for over ten years.

All interested faculty, graduate students, and other parties are invited. Refreshments will be served.

For inquiries concerning CIQR, please contact the Center Coordinator, Fred Evans, Dept. of Philosophy, at evansf@duq.edu, 396-6507, or visit the CIQR website at www.duq.edu/ciqr.

*The Center has been officially approved by the Dean of the College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, The Graduate Council of the College, and the Council of Deans for the University. It is based in the College but open to members of all the schools of the University. It includes interpretive and qualitative research in both the humanities and the social and behavioral sciences (including the practice of the latter in Nursing, Education, Occupational Therapy and other professional schools).