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2024 Annual Aquinas Lecture

The Annual Aquinas Lecture

Each year, DSPT hosts the Annual Aquinas Lecture designed to engage contemporary scholarship and culture in a way that enriches both.  A scholar presents on a topic related to current research in the field of Thomistic studies.

This year, James Kintz, PhD, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at DSPT, will present on the topic of "Personhood and the Problem of Mutual Awareness." 

Annual Aquinas Lecture
Thursday, March 7 | 7:00 pm
2301 Vine St, Berkeley, CA

The lecture will also be streamed on Zoom. RSVP to attend the lecture in person or to request a Zoom link to stream the lecture online.

Join us on Zoom!

Annual Aquinas Lecture
Thursday, March 7 | 7:00 pm

Join the Zoom livestream here!

Passcode: 647588

Personhood and the Problem of Mutual Awareness

Many scholars have noted that social activities such as joint attention involve a sui generis mode of experience in which mutual awareness arises. In such cases, it is not that one person’s experience can be reduced to her own first-person perspective, but rather is tied up with that of her co-attenders. Indeed, mutual awareness involves something akin to a shared first-person perspective. Yet those who attempt to explain the shared character of these experiences face a series of puzzles, one of which concerns the nature of personhood. While this topic has been largely neglected in the broader discussion of mutual awareness, on a common understanding persons are ontologically independent entities who can exist and operate apart from others. As a result, the awareness that accompanies a person’s cognitive acts is unique to the one engaged in that act. If we adopt such an ontology, however, then it is unclear how we could achieve a genuinely shared awareness with others. Nevertheless, Dr. Kintz will suggest that we can make progress here by turning to the philosophical anthropology and cognitional theory of Thomas Aquinas. As Dr. Kintz argues, on a Thomistic framework persons are intrinsically relational, and have certain cognitive and conative powers that can only be co-actualized with other persons within interpersonal relations. Further, on this model we only fully realize what it is to be a person with others. Dr. Kintz will close by sketching an account of how this ontology contributes to a satisfactory theory of mutual awareness.

James Kintz, PhD

From the Presenter

I have a wide range of philosophical interests, but my research tends to focus on issues in metaphysics, medieval philosophy, and philosophy of mind. In current work I explore various features of Thomas Aquinas’s theory of cognition, historical and contemporary accounts of personhood, and the nature of intersubjectivity.

As Plato taught, philosophy is an intrinsically dialogical activity, and thus my goal in the classroom is to engage students in a conversation in which we critically evaluate arguments and examine our own presuppositions. I often find it helpful to consider historical theories alongside contemporary theories; this can be mutually enlightening as we seek clarity on perennial topics in philosophy. Further, whenever possible I like to bring work from other disciplines (e.g., physics, psychology, art) into the conversation, which can help call attention to philosophical claims that need to be evaluated more carefully, as well as reveal ways in which the tools of philosophy are valuable for interdisciplinary discourse.

I am a member of the American Philosophical Association, the American Catholic Philosophical Association, and the Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy.