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Philosophy & Religion | Spinoza Symposium Participants


Philosophy / Religion
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Battelle Tompkins, Room 120

Rivas, Flor I
Senior Administrative Assistant

Philosophy / Religion
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Washington, DC 20016-8056

Brent Adkins is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Roanoke College in Salem, VA. His primary interests are 19th and 20th Century European philosophy, Modern Philosophy, and politics. His most recent books are True Freedom: Spinoza’s Practical Philosophy (2009), Death and Desire in Hegel, Heidegger and Deleuze (2007), and Immanence and Imminence: Philosophy, Theology and Religion (forthcoming). He has published numerous articles in journals such as Kantian Review, International Philosophical Quarterly, and Philosophy Today.


Evan Berry is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion at American University and Co-Director of the Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs master’s program. His research interests focus on ideas of nature in modern western culture, particularly the religious roots of contemporary environmental discourse. Trained in both social scientific and theoretical methodologies, his current scholarship includes an ethnographic study of intentional communities in the Pacific Northwest, a critique of the philosophical assumptions of climate change ethics, and a book project on the role of religious language in the birth of the American environmental movement.


James Blair is Chief of the Unit on Affective CognitiveNeuroscience at the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr Blair received his PhD in Psychology from University College London in 1993. His primary research interest involves understanding the neuro-cognitive systems mediating affect in humans and how these become dysfunctional in mood and anxiety disorders. His primary clinical focus is in understanding the dysfunction of affect-related systems in youth with specific forms of conduct disorder. His research approach includes techniques employed in cognitive neuroscience (both neuropsychology and functional imaging), psychopharmacology and, more recently, molecular genetics.


Emilie Connolly is a graduate student in the Political Science department at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. She studies Political Theory and is particularly interested in Marx and Spinoza. Her presentation is the product of collaboration with Yitzhak Melamed, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Johns Hopkins University and a specialist in Early Modern Philosophy and German Idealism.


Sarah Donovan is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Wagner College. She received her PhD from Villanova University. Her research interests include social philosophy, feminism, and psychoanalysis.


Paola Teresa Grassi is an Organizational Consultant for con_ISMO, where she conducts workshops on Practical Philosophy. She received her PhD at Università degli Studi di Padova. Her most recent publication is “Adam and the Serpent: Everyman and the Imagination” in Feminist Interpretations of Benedict Spinoza (Re-Reading the Canon) (Penn State University Press, 2009).


Karen Houle is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Guelph, specializing in ethics and in social and political philosophy. She has authored articles on philosophical figures such as Foucault, Spinoza, Deleuze and Guattari, Derrida, Butler, and Irigaray; and on topics such as friendship, animal perception, abortion, surrogacy, intellectual property, feminism and ownership, politics and pedagogy, and standpoint epistemology. She has been nationally-recognized for her poetry: Ballast (House of Anansi Press, 2001) and During (Gaspereau Press, 2008).
She is a also member of the Canadian “Community of Practice in Ecosystem Approaches to Health.”


Jean Johnson, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the Senior Associate Dean for Health Sciences at George Washington University and is responsible for developing numerous health professions programs, including programs for the nurse practitioner, emergency health services and physical therapy. She has provided leadership on national nurse practitioner issues as President of the National Organization of Nurse Practitioners as well as President of the American College of Nurse Practitioners. Dr. Johnson has served on national committees such as the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Primary Care Committee, the Pew-Fetzer Patient Centered Advisory Group, the Health Sector Assembly, The National Capital Area Health Care Coalition, and the Pew Health Professions Commission.


Colin Marshall is Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow at New York University, where he received his PhD in 2010. His research focuses on Kant, Spinoza and metaethics, and he has recently published in the British Journal for the History of Philosophy and in Philosophers’ Imprint.


Heidi Ravven is Professor of Religious Studies at Hamilton College. Her specialization is the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza and the medieval Jewish philosopher, Moses Maimonides. She has also published on Jewish feminism and on the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel. Her work on Spinoza has led her to explore how contemporary neuroscience, especially the neuroscience of the emotions, forces us to rethink what it means for a person to be ethical. Ravven received an unsolicited four-year grant of $500,000 from the Ford Foundation to write a book titled, Searching for Ethics. In it, she is investigating the history of the way standard philosophy and Western culture in general approaches ethics, what is wrong about this approach, and how it could be set right. A major focus of the book is to rethink moral agency in the light of the new brain sciences. Spinoza’s prescient approach to ethics is at the heart of this book. Searching for Ethics will be published by The New Press in 2011.


Claire Raymond teaches for the Studies in Women and Gender Program at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She holds a doctorate in English literature from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and a BA in Philosophy from Yale University. Her dissertation, on the feminine elegy, was awarded the Heilbrun dissertation prize for feminist scholarship. She has authored two books, Francesca Woodman and the Kantian Sublime (2010), and The Posthumous Voice in Women’s Writing from Mary Shelley to Sylvia Plath (2006).


Hasana Sharp is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at McGill University and Secretary General of the Society for Social and Political Philosophy.  She received her PhD in Philosophy from The Pennsylvania State University. Her current research explores the ethical and political implications of Spinoza’s categorical denial of human uniqueness with respect to the rest of nature, especially in how a rejection of the opposition between humanity and nature transforms feminist and anti-racist politics. Hasana Sharp’s book Spinoza and the Politics of Renaturalization is forthcoming from University of Chicago Press (Fall 2011).


Daniel Spiro is the author of two novels of ideas, Moses the Heretic (Aegis Press, 2008) and The Creed Room (Aegis Press, 2006). For eight years, he has also served as the Coordinator of the Washington Spinoza Society, a discussion group sponsored by the Goethe-Institute Washington. He also coordinates the Jewish-Islamic Dialogue Society of Washington. He has published works on the role of religion in public schools and the philosophy of education, and regularly blogs under the name “Empathic Rationalist.” When not pursuing his love of philosophy and religion, he works as a Senior Trial Counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice, where he specializes in fighting health care fraud. 


James H. Stam is a Scholar-in-Residence at American University, teaching courses in the history of philosophy and logic. He has previously taught at Upsala College, Monmouth University, and Drew University. He was educated at Upsala College, the University of Vienna, and Brandeis University. Among other publications, his Inquires into the Origin of Language appeared in the Studies in Language series edited by Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle (Harper & Row, 1976).


Lauren Weis is an Assistant Professor at American University. Her research focuses on critiques of the Western metaphysical tradition articulated by feminist theorists, as well as how the philosophical approach of twentieth century thinker Bernard Lonergan helps to clarify the relevance of metaphysical thinking to feminist theory. She is also interested in the notion of epistemic authority and the ethical challenges related to questions of belief, trust, and judgment.