(September 8, 2010)

Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073

Philosophy Professor takes debate to Cyberspace

SHREVEPORT, La. (Centenary News Service)— When Socrates and his students engaged in the art of reasoned discourse some 2,000 years ago in the streets of Athens, little could they have imagined that it would eventually lead to inquiry and debate between individuals not even within arm’s distance of one another, but perhaps thousands of miles apart and accomplished via the internet.

Enter Philosophy TV, a video website devoted to philosophical thinking.

Ken Aizawa
Dr. Ken Aizawa

Earlier this month, a group of philosophy graduate students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, launched a web site dedicated to videotaped philosophical discussions. These are not, however, ordinary video discussions. The participants speak by phone, but they are simultaneously taping themselves on their own webcams linked to their computers. The independently recorded sides of the conversation are then edited and juxtaposed, et voilá, Philosophy TV.

Centenary College’s own Dr. Kenneth Aizawa is one of the first philosophers to be a part of Philosophy TV. In an episode that goes live on September 16, Dr. Aizawa and Dr. Mark Rowlands of the University of Miami discuss what is called the "hypothesis of extended cognition."

"The easiest way to explain the issue is by way of an example," said Dr. Aizawa. "Consider the widespread use of the iPhone. Those who believe in extended cognition believe that the phone often becomes literally a part of one’s mind. This is the view Dr. Rowlands defends. For my part, I think that this is merely loose, informal or metaphorical talk. Human memory and computer memory are, of course, both called ‘memory,’ but serious scientific research on human memory does not try to exploit this as a deep theoretical insight."

Dr. Christopher Ciocchetti, Chair of Centenary’s Philosophy Department, comments that Aizawa is in impressive company at Philosophy TV. He notes as an example that the September 13th episode will be a discussion between Dr. Peter Singer of Princeton University and Dr. Michael Slote of the University of Miami. In 2005, Singer was named one of the 100 most influential people.

"It is quite a pleasure to be a part of Philosophy TV," Aizawa said. "There are all these important philosophers…then there’s me. I consider myself very fortunate."

Dr. Aizawa is the Charles T. Beaird Professor of Philosophy. Aizawa’s endowed chair was created by local philanthropist, businessman, and philosopher Charles T. Beaird in recognition of the importance of philosophy and its centrality in a liberal arts education.


About Centenary College of Louisiana

Centenary College is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1825, it is the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Centenary is one of 16 colleges and universities constituting the Associated Colleges of the South and has been recognized as "One of the Best 371 Colleges" by the Princeton Review and one of "America's Best Colleges" and one of "America's Best Private Colleges" by Forbes.com. In 2008 Centenary College celebrated 100 years in Shreveport and Bossier City.

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