for Political Philosophy

Conferences

We believe the root of politics is friendship and conversation between people aiming at a common good. This is the animating spirit of our conferences. Our approach to dialogue is that both sides speak and listen and learn, setting in motion a constructive feedback mechanism that replaces the security dilemma with creative and constructive possibilities.

 

Upcoming Conferences

Stay tuned for details! 


Past conferences

Simone Weil Center Roundtable Discussion with Michael Lind: On Blocs, Civilizations and Causation in Politics
april 2018, Washington dc

Michael Lind, author of numerous articles and books on economics, politics and international affairs, is the ASU Future of War Fellow at New America in Washington, DC, which he co-founded. The Simone Weil Center invited him to join us in a round table discussion this April (2018) to discuss, among other topics, his concept of bloc politik (see article in The National Interest). 

Read full notes from the evening here. 

 

‘REASON, FREEDOM AND TRANSCENDENCE’ 
SEPTEMBER 2017, MOSCOW

The Simone Weil Center held its second conference. Prof. Paul Robinson convincingly argued that the breakdown in rational dialogue between the US/EU and Russia can be traced, in large part, to differing perceptions as to what constitutes a reasonable (‘rules-bases’) order. The West privileges its own understanding of rights, while Russia insists on realism and equality, and rejects the universality of Western rights-based language.  A possible alternative order, one articulated in complementary forms by participants on both sides, might be a modified ‘civilizational realism,’ one that requires from all sides a large dose of humility in order to ensure that respect for differing civilizational orders does not end up becoming a fig leaf for civilizational chauvinism. But achieving such an order, and such a humility, appears to require the sorts of political changes that Prof. Pabst, among others, has termed ‘post-liberal.’

A detailed overview appears in The American Conservative and can be accessed here.

 

‘CONSERVATIVE RUSSIA, (POST)-LIBERAL WEST: IS A DIALOGUE POSSIBLE?’
FEBRUARY 2017, WASHINGTON D.C.

Our first “mini-conference” brought together prominent Western specialists in the areas of international relations, Russian affairs, and political philosophy.  It concluded that today’s negative dynamics between the U.S. and Russia are not predetermined, and that an initiative to further a more constructive dynamic was needed, and possible, but would be difficult.

A constructive dynamic can be set in motion by: a.) engaging with well-reasoned, values-based pluralist trends already well represented within Russian elite discourse and institutions; and b.) recognizing that, when push comes to shove, we already share with Russia common religious and civilizational roots, including (but not restricted to) Christianity and Greek antiquity. But it is up to an often reluctant ‘West’ to finally acknowledge this last point.  The notes to this conference have been very well received, and are available upon request.

 
 

“ … with this conference and these papers, the Simone Weil Center has already produced something more serious, of more value and of higher intellectual quality than anything  …  the think [sic] tanks in DC have regarding Russia since god knows when. Nothing they have produced can touch this.”

James Carden, contributing writer, The Nation; executive editor, American Committee for East-West Accord

 

 

“ … I wanted to commend you on gathering such an outstanding group of Western and Russian scholars to discuss issues that are both quintessential to mutual understanding and highly topical. 

As our Russian interlocutors, who included some of that country’s leading public philosophers, pointed out, this was one of the most useful and illuminating discussions they have ever had with their Western counterparts.

I am convinced that this could be the beginning of a foundational dialogue between our two countries, and I feel privileged to have been able to participate in it.”


Nicolai N. Petro, Ph.D., Hon. D.Phil., Silvia-Chandley Professor of Peace Studies and Nonviolence, University of Rhode Island.

 
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