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MCC Hosts First Ever Community Colleges of NJ Philosophy Symposium


By Alexander Lewis and Harsh Godhani
Head Social Media Editor and Campus & Community Editor


The MCC Philosophy Program with the help of the Philosophy Club will be hosting “The Contagion of Ideas,” the first-ever Community Colleges of New Jersey Philosophy Symposium (CCNJPS),   at the Art Gallery and Black Box Theatre in the College Center on April 19 from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Philosophy Professor, Philosophy Club Adviser and moderator of the event, Giuseppe Rotolo, said, “All the community colleges of New Jersey are participating [with] professors coming in from other colleges, so it’s going to be a pretty big event.”

Rotolo said, “… this is called ‘The Contagion of Ideas’ because we’re doing something that is multi-disciplinary [by] … bringing in sciences [and many other subjects].”

Professors and their students are welcome to participate in as many activities as they would like and some professors may offer extra credit or at least a pass for an excused absence and students will be provided with proof of attendance at the symposium said Rotolo.

According to the symposium event page, submissions for the panels will be either a free submission in any area of philosophy or a panel submission about how the panelist discovered philosophy and why they study it.

According to the official itinerary of the event, a free continental breakfast will be from 9:30 to 10 a.m. and a free hot lunch buffet will be from 1 to 2 p.m. in the College Center, Corral restaurant.

There will also be door prizes for students who attend the event based on many sessions they attend, according to the document.

Rotolo said that after breakfast there will be an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. and an overview of the scheduled panels, which usually last between 45 minutes to one hour and will also feature audience participation.

According to the document the panels will be: the philosophy, literature and mythology panel, from 10:15 to 11:30 a.m.; the student panel, from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.; the keynote address and lunch from 1 to 2 p.m.; the philosophy and history panel, from 2:15 to 3:30 p.m.; and the philosophy and art panel from 3:50 to 5:00 p.m.

The first panel of the day will be the “Frame Metaphors: Literature and Myth as Tools to Think ‘Outside the Box,” the philosophy, literature and mythology panel, according to the document.

This panel will feature MCC professors Paula Bell, Steven Barnhart, Dan Zimmerman and English Chair Mathew Spano, according to the document.

According to the document, the panel will discuss the different philosophical and moral implications of the different metaphors we choose to use in our daily lives.

The second panel of the day will be the “Discovering Philosophy” student panel, according to the document.

According to the document, the panel will feature “It’s in the Game: The Oppression of Women in Video Games” by MCC student and Philosophy Club President Alexander Lewis, “The Lack of Realization and Its Ultimate Triumph” by MCC student Brandon Myers and Philosophy Does Many Things, While Being Its Own Thing” by  West Paterson University student Brian Kobylarz.

Lewis, said, “I am going to talk about the oppression of women in video games and specifically analyze the oppressive nature of harassment and sexism in modern gaming culture.”

Myers said, “My piece is mostly animal consciousness and sentience and how it ties into the question of existence.”

Rotolo said, “After lunch, we’re going to have a history panel [and have] history faculty and philosophers discussing the relationship between history and philosophy.”

According to the document the philosophy and history panel will feature “History, Mythology, and Hate: The Construction of Irish and African Races in the Nineteenth Century” by MCC faculty member Terrence Corrigan, “Learning and Knowing: Epistemic Differences in Philosophy and History” by MCC faculty member Eugene Nasser and “The Curious Case of a Notorious Slave-Catcher” by MCC History and Social Sciences Chair Timothy Hack.

“They’re going to explain to us what’s the difference history and myth, how do we decide that’s a historical fact rather than just mythology or a fable,” said Rotolo.

Rotolo said the next panel, the art panel, blends philosophy and art to try and establish what is a piece of art and what is not.

According to the document, the philosophy and art panel will feature “An Uncanny Truth: What is art when anything is possible?” by MCC faculty member Richard Thompson, “Hard Looking: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected” by MCC faculty member Susan Altman, “A Porous Nature: Beginnings and Endings” by former MCC faculty member Michael Greenhouse and “Art FORM: On the Essence of Art” by Brandyn Heppard, Assistant Professor of Philosophy from Raritan Valley Community College.

“We have four great panelists there: one is gaming and animation program person [Thompson, who] is going to talk to us about this idea of reality; we have the art professor of the College, [Susan Altman], who is going to explain to us the classical version of it; then we have a painter, [Greenhouse]… who is going to explain to us, in his creative process, when and how he knows that what he’s painting is actually going to become art rather than thrown in the trash; and then we have a philosopher and musician [Heppard],” said Rotolo.

After the art panel we’re going to show a movie, the Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman suspense thriller, “Se7en” and we will be serving soda and popcorn during the movie said Rotolo.

For more information about the symposium contact Giuseppe Rotolo at [email protected] or 732-548-6000 x3493.

If you are interested in joining the Philosophy Club, the next meetings will be in Raritan Hall, Room 135 from 11 a.m. to noon on March 28 and April 4.

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