Theory and Practice, Society of Fellows, Univ. of Chicago May 8-9, 2015

full name / name of organization: 
Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, University of Chicago

The University of Chicago Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts will host a two-day conference addressing the theme of Theory and Practice. The conference seeks to explore the tenuous relationship between theory and practice in the human and social sciences, and the practical dimensions of theoretical interventions in struggles for political emancipation, institutional structures, and artistic, historical, and scientific movements.
Our keynote speaker will be Danielle S. Allen (UPS Foundation Professor, School of Social Sciences, Institute for Advanced Study).

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.
Marx's celebrated admonishment articulates the tension between theoria and praxis central to the Western tradition. Plato and Aristotle grappled with the question of the best way of life
for a human being—the theoretical contemplation of the philosopher, or the practical political engagement of the statesman. In the modern period, Kant and Hume focused on
the fallibility of human judgment in attempting to act on the basis of moral principles or theoretical precepts. If the tension between theory and practice is a 'problem', then, it is a
productive one, for precisely this tension itself continues to generate innovative forms of both thinking and acting.

Much humanistic inquiry directs its theoretical gaze toward the practical work of artists of various stripes, but this gaze is hardly detached. The praxis of creative artists often takes its
orientation from the theoretical categories of scholars and, from Dante and Goethe to contemporary conceptual art, many artists see their work as contributing productively to
theoretical inquiry. There is increasing pressure on universities to produce research with demonstrable practical import, and the very question of how the theoretical work of scholars relates to the 'outside world' is central to current debates about the very meaning or worthwhileness of a university in contemporary society. Presentations will investigate how
the relationship between theory and practice is lived, conceptualized, and contested across socio-political, historical, philosophical, aesthetic, ethnographic, literary, and theological experience.

The conference will take place on May 8th-9th, 2015.
Please send 300-400 word proposals for 20-minute papers or 200 word proposals for panels (which may or may not include suggestions for specific papers) to the conference organizers, David Egan and Jared Holley,at by March 14th. Submissions should also include a separate document with the author's name, contact details, and institutional affiliation. Participants will be notified by March 31.