Mercedes Valmisa: “Rethinking Agency for Social and Political Change”

October 25, 2022 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Via Zoom

Lecture by Melissa Valmissa (Gettysburg College)

To attend, join zoom link here.

What if I told you that there’s no such thing as an individual action? That every time you eat, go for a run, or read a book, you are not the sole agent behind what you are doing, but are instead engaged in a process of co-creation – as much acted upon as acting? While this would be close to common sense for a Classical Chinese philosopher, it might seem counterintuitive to those of us raised in Western contexts.

In this talk I invite the audience to challenge the ideology of individualism and rethink our notion of agency and agents in order to develop more effective courses of acting-along-with-others. We are co-constituted, co-acted, and co-dependent on others—from the air we breathe to the ground that affords our walking. If we start seeing the world like this, it has the potential to make things much better for the many life forms that inhabit this planet.

Mercedes Valmisa is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Gettysburg College. Her research focuses on social philosophy and is oriented by multi-cultural and interdisciplinary approaches, including Chinese and Buddhist philosophies, Sinology, and the Anglo-European and Hispanic traditions. Her first book, Adapting: A Chinese Philosophy of Action (Oxford University Press, 2021) reconstructs the philosophy of adapting as an open-ended model of effective relational action particularly well-suited to account for the interdependent, embedded, and collective character of human agency.