This volume of essays commemorates the fiftieth anniversary meeting of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP), hosted by Villanova and Pennsylvania State University and held October 19–22, 2011, in Philadelphia. The conference program, expanded for the occasion, underscored both the founding and growth of SPEP and its transformations and future(s)—the proliferation of new movements and new questions. From its first meeting, when a handful or two of phenomenologists, existentialists, and iconoclasts gathered at Northwestern University in 1962, SPEP has grown over the past decades to become one of the largest organizations for the study of philosophy in North America. Recollecting this history, we encounter a multitude of movements, including c ontinued interest in canonical figures such as Hegel, Nietzsche, Husserl, and Heidegger as well as engagement with the rise of poststructuralism and deconstruction, feminism, queer theory, science studies, postcolonial and critical race theories, and interrogations at the intersections of these fields. [End Page 79]
The forgetfulness of origins is a common theme of phenomenology; the recollection of origins remains perhaps its central contribution. On this occasion of celebrating the origins of this organization, we begin with reflections from four founding members on the history of SPEP.
Calvin O. Schrag is the George Ade Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Purdue University. Among his many accomplishments—a Fulbright Scholar at Heidelberg and Oxford and a Guggenheim Fellow at Freiburg—Schrag was also a co-founder of the journal Man and World (now the Continental Philosophy Review). From his first authored book, Existence and Freedom: Toward an Ontology of Human Finitude (1961), to more recent work in response to postmodernism, including The Self After Postmodernity (1999) and God as Otherwise than Being: Toward a Semantics of the Gift (2002), Schrag has been among the most prominent figures in American Continental thought. Perhaps it is the attentiveness to communicative praxis that led Schrag to join with a few others in laying the foundations for SPEP a half century ago; we are grateful for his founding role in bringing us together for philosophical encounters that exemplify the best of what he has so elegantly explored in his recent monograph, Doing Philosophy with Others (2010).
Edward S. Casey has been a constant friend of SPEP since its beginnings. In 1969, as young colleagues just out of graduate school, he and David Carr became the first co-directors (or as they were known then, co-secretaries) of SPEP. Forty years later, he has just finished a term as president of the American Philosophical Association Eastern Division. After receiving his doctorate from Northwestern in 1967, he taught at Yale, the University of California–Santa Barbara, the New School, Emory, and other institutions, but the place with which he is most associated is Stony Brook, where he resides as a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy. Speaking of “place,” Casey may be best known as the “space” (or “place”) guy, having written influential works that have become reference points for anyone working in this area—Getting Back into Place (1993) and The Fate of Place (1997)—and then developing his analyses of the place-world in relation to maps and (himself a painter) landscape paintings in his monographs of the past decade. Casey’s subtle descriptions—from aesthetics, ethics, and psychoanalytic theory to philosophies of space, time, and perception—and his nuanced practice of bearing witness to the neglected importance of basic phenomena in experience can already be seen in his earliest phenomenological works. We look forward to his future projects, [End Page 80] which will focus on the phenomenology of edges and the phenomenology of feeling.
David Carr is the Charles Howard Chandler Professor Emeritus at Emory University. His 1970 translation of Husserl’s The Crisis of European Sciences, as well as his own 1974 study of Husserl’s work, The Problem of History, brought Husserl’s last major work from the 1930s to English-speaking audiences. If Ed Casey has come to be known as the “space” guy, Carr—who served with Casey as the first of the SPEP co-directors—has earned a reputation as the “time” guy, with collections of essays such as...