Paper Presentation: Philosophical Practice During the Pandemic, and Post-Pandemic:
Dancing in the Noosphere
Abstract: This essay reflects on widespread non-medical problems posed by the pandemic, especially its intensification of the transplanting of human consciousness into virtual domains. Resuscitating Teilhard de Chardin’s 1922 conception of the noosphere—“the thinking envelope of earth”—we illustrate how the digital tradition that Chardin anticipated emerged from the oral, written and visual traditions preceding it. We identify some perceptual defects of the noosphere, in terms of their deleterious effects on cognition and socialization. We also assess some epistemic and political difficulties that ensue from attempts to control the “power source” of the noosphere, namely consciousness itself. Finally, we cite brief examples from Indian philosophy, Greek mythology, Victorian literature, Kabbalistic lore, and cosmo-biological speculation, all of which offer explanatory frameworks for interpreting the pandemic. Implicitly and explicitly, this address calls philosophical practitioners to action, as both COVID-19 and its accelerated population of the noosphere raise a plethora of non-medical yet vital human concerns. Philosophical counselors are positioned to help humanity re-conceive and therefore reinvent itself, in constructive pathways, during these trying times. And to that end, we need to adapt our philosophical practices to the noosphere as well; for it, like philosophy herself, is a product of rational consciousness. The presentation’s format is a talk illustrated by slides, followed by a Q&A. Suggested time frame is a 50-60 minute talk and a 20-30 minute discussion.
Lou Marinoff, Professor, The City College of New York
Lou Marinoff, a Commonwealth Scholar originally from Canada, earned a PhD in Philosophy of Science at University College London. He is Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Asian Studies at The City College of New York, founding President of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association (APPA), and Editor of APPA’s Journal, Philosophical Practice. Lou co-organized the First International Conference on Philosophical Practice (Vancouver, 1994) and organized the Third ICPP in New York in 1997. To date he has published thirteen books and more than seventy combined book chapters and journal articles. In 2019 the West University of Timisoara conferred an Honorary Doctorate on Lou for his contributions to philosophical practice.