FAH/PHIL Guest Lecture – “Theory Does Not Exist” by Prof. Allen Miller, University of South Carolina, USA


Prof. Allen Miller, University of South Carolina, USA


7 Dec 2018


16:30 - 18:00





This paper argues that Theory, as such, does not exist.  Instead, it contends that what is commonly called “Theory” is in fact part of much more complex set of dialogues.  Civilization is a delicate web that depends on long conversations extending over great expanses of time, and we should not fool ourselves about how easily its thread is snapped.  The Dark Ages actually happened, as did Nazism, and ISIS.  Basic questions about meaning, truth, justice, and ethics, about the importance of reading, thinking, writing, and reflecting, about the nature of the beautiful, the abject, and the sublime can only be posed in terms of the history of their previous usages, predications, and definitions.  The capacity to interrogate our present condition, to imagine alternatives to it, and to persuade others to join us in trying to realize those alternatives—as well as the conceptual quality and texture of those alternatives—is precisely dependent on the continuity and context of this conversation.  The inability for the next generations to continue it or to understand the complex nature of its genealogy and the subtle determinations that differentiate it from calculations of pure utility or economic rationality is a real possibility.  War, ecological disaster, educational mediocrity, the unwillingness to recognize or support that which cannot be subjected to a brutal immediate use all threaten to snap the threads that weave the text of this conversation.   This paper examines what is called “Theory” as part of this much larger conversation, rendering it at once less unique and so potentially less revolutionary, and at the same contending that the series of questions we call “Theory” is an integral part of the fragile conversation that constitutes the history of civilization(s).


All are welcome




Philosophy and Religious Studies Programme
Tel: (853) 8822 4768
Email: fah.philosophy@um.edu.mo