Philosophy department preps for ‘Sellars in a New Generation’ conference

Aaron Corpora

Kent State’s Philosophy Department will host the “Sellars in a New Generation” conference to welcome scholars and academics from around the world from April 30 to May 2.

The conference will celebrate the work of the famous philosopher, Wilfrid Sellars, whose influence in the philosophical world continues to be felt.

“Sellars made contributions to a huge variety of different areas in philosophy,” said David Pereplyotchik, an assistant professor of philosophy at Kent State who will present at the conference.

This is the first conference of its kind at Kent State, in which philosophers will come and share what they believe to be Sellars’ most important studies.

Deborah Barnbaum, professor and chair of the department who has been in charge of coordinating the event, said she believes that Sellars is too often overlooked when it comes to discussing some of history’s most important philosophers.

“Sellars in a New Generation” will be a conference filled with people who have been influenced on his teachings and research, Barnbaum said. Professors from as far away as Cambridge University in England and graduate students from as far as Australia and Japan will make their way to Kent State for the event.

“This is part of that new generation that we are trying to reach,” Barnbaum said. “New scholars who are just coming up bringing their own new findings about Sellars and extending it forward.”

Every speaker and presenter featured will be a graduate student, and eight different colleges and universities will be represented. Friday and Saturday will be reserved for distinguished professors and academics to share their research.

The first step in setting up the conference was to find some big names to share their work on Sellars. This process began by getting into contact with Willem deVries of the University of New Hampshire.

“deVries is maybe the world’s foremost expert on Sellars,” Pereplyotchik said. “He was one of Sellars’s students and has published pretty much entirely on Sellars throughout his career.”

After deVries got on board, the process of bringing people in became easier. 

“Professor Pereplyotchik knows a number of other people in the Sellars arena which allowed us to reach out to a few other people,” Barnbaum said. “Once you get a critical mass of very prominent people, other people want to jump on board.”

In addition to the wealth of Sellars experts that will be in attendance, the conference is open for free to anyone. Kent State philosophy professor Frank Ryan said he will be attending out of sheer interest of the event.

“I’m looking forward to it because these are some of the most influential people in the world that we’ll get to hear,” Ryan said. “These are people who look at things in an entirely different way.”

Contact Aaron Corpora at [email protected].