Athens Dialogues at Harvard University–Saturday, November 3, 2012



Professor Mark Schiefsky
Professor and Chair, Department of the Classics Harvard University


Technology is sometimes viewed as a force that diminishes the creative possibilities of human life at the same time as it enhances material prosperity. This meeting will explore an alternative view that takes its inspiration from the ancient Greek conception of tekhnê as a form of knowledge that embraces art, craſt, and science. Gathering together an internationally renowned group of scholars, educators, and practitioners, the meeting will examine ways in which an appreciation of technology as tekhnê can help to bridge perceived gaps between the sciences (pure and applied), the arts, and the humanities.
A live stream of the event will be available at:


Harvard campus – The Science Center, Hall A. 52 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA



Michael Herzfeld, Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences, Harvard University
An Anthropologist’s Angst: The place of the Civil and the Civic in the World Order of Knowledge
Constantinos Daskalakis, Associate Professor of Computer Science, MIT
Economics, Engineering and Computation

11:00-11:30 Coffee Break

11:30-13:00 Panel II–PHILOSOPHY

Sean Kelly, Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University
Physis, Techne, and Bestand
Albert Borgmann, Professor of Philosophy, University of Montana
What is Technological Literacy? Techne and Stoicheia

13:00-14:00 Lunch reception

George Khushf, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Director, Center for Bioethics University of South Carolina
Doctor, Something isn’t Right: on the Techne of Transforming a Patient’s Lack of Ease into a Disease
Joseph Brain, Professor, Harvard School of Public Health
Determinants of Healthy Aging

15:30-16:00 Coffee Break

16:00-17:30 Panel IV–SCIENCE, ART AND BIO-ART

Suzanne Anker
Visual Artist, Theorist, School of Visual Arts, NYC
Interweaving Traditional and Experimental Media
John Durant
MIT Museum Director and Adjunct Professor in the Science, Technology & Society Program
Science, Technology and Art: Hitting the Sweet Spot?

17:30-18:30 Discussion

Michael Herzfeld was educated at the Universities of Cambridge (B.A. in Archaeology and Anthropology, 1969), Athens (non-degree program in Greek Folklore, 1969-70), Birmingham (M.A., Modern Greek Studies, 1972; D.Litt., 1989); and Oxford (Social Anthropology, D.Phil., 1976). Before moving to Harvard, he taught at Vassar College (1978-80) and Indiana University (1980-91) (where he served as Associate Chair of the Research Center for Language and Semiotic Studies, 1980-85, and as Chair of the Department of Anthropology, 1987-90). Lord Simon Visiting Professor at the University of Manchester in 1994, he has also taught at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (1995), Paris, at the Università di Padova (1992), the Università di Roma “La Sapienza” (1999-2000), and the University of Melbourne (intermittently since 2004), and has held a visiting research appointments at the Australian National University and the University of Sydney (1985), at the University of Adelaide, and at the Université de Paris-X (Nanterre) (1991).
Constantinos Daskalakis is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the MIT, a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and an affiliate of the Laboratory for Information and Decision Sys- tems (LIDS) and the Operations Research Center (ORC). He completed his undergraduate studies in Greece, at the National Technical University of Athens, and obtained a PhD in Computer Science from UC Berkeley. Aſter Berkeley he was a postdoctoral researcher in Microsoſt Research New England, and has been at the faculty of MIT since 2009. Costis is interested in Algorithmic Game Theory and Applied Probability, particularly in computational aspects of markets and the Internet, in social networks, and in computational problems in Biology. Costis and his collaborators, Paul Goldberg and Christos Papadimitriou, were honored by the Game Theory Society with the first Game Theory and Computer Science Prize for their work on the Computational Complexity of Nash equilibria. Their same work was honored with the 2011 SIAM Outstanding Paper Prize. Costis was also the recipient of the 2006 Best Student Paper Award at the ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce, a 2007 Microsoſt Graduate Research Fellowship, the 2008 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award, a 2010 Sloan Foundation fellowship in Computer Science, and the 2011 MIT Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Distinguished Teaching.
Sean Kelly earned a Sc.B. in Mathematics and Computer Science and an M.S. in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences from Brown University in 1989. Aſter several years as a graduate student in Logic and Methodology of Science, he finally received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998. He taught in Philosophy and the Humanities at Stanford and in Philosophy and Neuroscience at Princeton before joining the Harvard Faculty in 2006. His work focuses on various aspects of the philosophical, phenomenological, and cognitive neuroscientific nature of human experience. This gives him a broad forum: recent work has addressed, for example, the experience of time, the possibility of demonstrating that monkeys have blindsighted experience, and the understanding of the sacred in Homer. He has taught courses on 20th century French and German Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Philosophy of Perception, Imagination and Memory, Aesthetics, and Philosophy of Literature.
Albert Borgmann has an MA in literature from the University of Illinois (Urbana) and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Munich (Germany). Since 1970 he has taught at the University of Montana. His special area is the philosophy of society and culture with particular emphasis on technology. Among his publications are Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life (University of Chicago Press, 1984), Crossing the Postmodern Divide (University of Chicago Press, 1992), and Holding on to Reality: the Nature of Information at the Turn of the Millennium (University of Chicago Press, 1999).
George Khushf initially was trained as a civil engineer, receiving his B.S., summa cum laude from Texas A&M in 1984. His graduate studies were in religion and philosophy, with an M.A. thesis on Kierkegaard and Hegel in 1990, and a Ph.D. dissertation on herme- neutics in 1993, both from Rice University. While pursuing his graduate studies, he worked with the Center for Ethics, Medicine, and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine. In a two year post-doctoral position at Baylor College of Medicine he gained experience addressing ethical issues that arise in health care settings. In 1995 he moved to his current position at the University of South Carolina, where he is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Director of a Center for Bioethics that works with their medical school and teaching hospital. His research focuses on topics in bioethics and the philosophy of engineering and medicine. He regularly consults with state agencies, hospital systems, and engineering research teams to help address ethical and policy challenges that arise in their practices. He has published on topics ranging from concepts of health and disease, clinical reasoning and decision-making, administrative and organizational ethics, determination of death, human-machine interfaces, and nanobiotechnology.
Dr. Joseph Brain’s research emphasizes responses to inhaled gases, particulates, and microbes. His studies extend from the deposition of inhaled particles in the respiratory tract to their clearance by respiratory defence mechanisms. Of particular interest is the role of lung macrophages; this resident cell keeps lung surfaces clean and sterile. Moreover, the lung macrophage is also a critical regulator of inflammatory and immune responses. The context of these studies on macrophages is the prevention and pathogenesis of environmental lung disease as well as respiratory infection.