Beth Lord, Peg Rawes, and Christopher Thomas will be presenting papers at the annual joint conference of the Society for European Philosophy and the Forum for European Philosophy (SEP-FEP 2014) at the University of Utrecht, Sept. 3-5, 2014.
We are delighted to be joined by Caroline Williams on our panel, “Self-Determination in Spinoza: Interdisciplinary Approaches”, on Sept. 5.
Beth Lord – ‘Spinoza’s Ratios and Relational Autonomy’
Peg Rawes – Spinoza’s Geometric Thinking and Housing Rights’
Christopher Thomas – ‘Spinoza’s Problem of Indeterminacy and Melville’s Bartleby’
Caroline Williams – ‘Thinking Nature After Spinoza: Towards a Morphology of Subjectivity’
SEP-FEP is the largest annual conference of continental philosophy in Europe. Programme, information and registration information can be found here: http://philosophyafternature.org/
Beth Lord will give a short talk and lead a discussion on some of the project themes as part of the University of Aberdeen’s Cafe Philosophique series. Cafe Philosophique is a series that allows you to discover, discuss, and question the big ideas in philosophy in a relaxed, informal setting. This is a free, public event – no need to book in advance, and everyone is welcome!
Mon. 16 June, 2014, 7:00-8:30 PM
The Blue Lamp Pub, 121 Gallowgate, Aberdeen
Beth Lord: Is Equality Good for Us?
We all think equality is a good thing. But are some kinds of equality better than others? We’ll explore what we mean by equality and how it can contribute to our wellbeing as individuals and communities.
There is a press release/news item on the University of Aberdeen website here.
This first event brought together our advisory group members, Alex Ely (Mae Architects), Deborah Garvie (Shelter), Brian Quinn (CABE/Design Council), Phil Hamilton (Peter Barber Architects) together with Sarah Wigglesworth (Sarah Wigglesworth Architects and University of Sheffield), Andrea Phillips (Goldsmiths) in a series of discussions which enabled us to draw out links between contemporary architectural and urban design understandings of wellbeing, equality and, importantly in the present time, inequality that informs the disciplines. Held at UCL, it was attended by colleagues and students from UCL and other UK institutions, together with architects and members of the public as part of UCL’s Urban Lab ‘Cities Methodologies’ week of events.
Beginning with technical concerns about standards of provision, Alex and Deborah highlighted how the Government’s current housing standards review follows the guidance on minimum space standards that Alex and CABE have worked on, together with Design for London’s design guide, and which – if implemented – would go some way towards the still much-valued Parker Morris Space Standards. Deborah also very usefully emphasised that the capacity for implementation is vastly increased if standards were to be put into the industry’s building regulations, rather than as political policy. In the second panel Brian and Phil addressed design and wellbeing relations within the urban context, bringing out issues including infrastructural design (transport), and mobilising the social space of the Southern-European street for driving housing design concepts, as well as housing for the vulnerable where the ‘front door’ is also a key constituent of the individual ‘home’. In the final session Sarah and Andrea’s discussions brought in the perspective of the rights of the individual&community, where choice enables wellbeing and ‘agency’ for the specific needs of a community (such as the elderly).
Discussions which did not get unpacked during the day – and noted in the summing up by Andrew Saint (Survey of London UCL), and Anne Bottomley (University of Kent) – were issues of land value and property speculation and the long-term management of housing, as aspects that have historically, and currently, very actively determine the capacity of an individual/community’s wellbeing/equality. So very clearly highlighting material for Part 2 of the discussion within the next months….
Our first project event yesterday was a great success, with 6 speakers, 2 respondents, and some very high quality discussion. Much of the material was new to me, making it all the more interesting to think about ways of linking current housing design debates with Spinoza.
For example, it became clear through the presentations that the concept of wellbeing must be understood to be dynamic: it changes with people’s circumstances. This was particularly thematic in Sarah Wigglesworth’s presentation of the DWELL project, which is focused on designing housing for older people. But it also emerged in Andrea Phillips’s paper on how we might develop art – and public art – in housing developments for differing (and maybe unforeseen) kinds of wellbeing rather than in the interests of privatization. Phil Hamilton’s discussion of the projects of Peter Barber Architects, and Brian Quinn’s presentation on CABE’s Building for Life report, also drew this out: different kinds of wellbeing may be served by different, context-specific, approaches to the design of housing and public space. A surprise question that arose was whether access to a car improves wellbeing or not – which reminded me of Anthony Paul Smith’s paper in Spinoza Beyond Philosophy which treats this as a Spinozistic question of “personal capacity vs. environmental responsibility”.
It was also great to hear the development of discussions we’ve previously had with Alex Ely of mae Architects and Deborah Garvie of Shelter; and wonderful to have the interdisciplinary contributions of lawyer Anne Bottomley and historian Andrew Saint.
My own contribution to the day took the form of live-tweeting: a new experience for me, and one that helped me to understand the potentialities of Twitter as a mode of networking and broadcast.
Some of the publications discussed by Alex Ely, Deborah Garvie, Brian Quinn, Sarah Wigglesworth, and Andrea Phillips in their sessions at today’s Equalities of Wellbeing and Housing workshop.
London Housing Design Guide http://www.mae-llp.co.uk/projects/by-name/london-housing-design-guide.html
Sustain: A Roof Over My Head: http://england.shelter.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/760514/6424_Sustain_Final_Report_for_web.pdf
Shelter: Little Boxes, Fewer Homes: http://england.shelter.org.uk/professional_resources/policy_and_research/policy_library/policy_library_folder/briefing_little_boxes,_fewer_homes
Julie Myerson’s Home: the Story of Everyone who ever lived in our house: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Home-Story-Everyone-Lived-House/dp/0007148224
The Design Council: Building for Life 12 http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/knowledge-resources/building-life-12
Elizabeth Taylor’s Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mrs-Palfrey-At-The-Claremont/dp/1844083217
Andrea Phillips, “Art and Housing” in Social Housing/Housing the Social: Art, Property and Spatial Justice: http://research.gold.ac.uk/6855/