Susanne K. Langer: A Kaleidoscope of Ideas, an exhibition held at the Charles E. Shain Library and the Connecticut College Arboretum, runs from August 5 through October 2, 2022. Additionally, on September 10–11, Connecticut College hosted a two-day philosophy workshop, Susanne K. Langer: Feeling and Society. The two events invite students, researchers, and visitors to engage with the life and thoughts of a prolific American philosopher, Susanne K. Langer, who was affiliated with Connecticut College from 1954 to 1985.
A Kaleidoscope of Ideas
August 5 — October 2
Published September 11, 2022
A Philosophy Workshop
Feeling and Society
September 10 — 11
Published September 11, 2022
“Since we cannot have our fill of existence by going on and on, we want to have as much life as possible in our short span. If our individuation must be brief, we want to make it complete; so we are inspired to think, act, dream our desires, create things, express our ideas, and in all sorts of ways make up by concentration what we cannot have by length of days.”
Susanne K. Langer (1895–1985) became chair of the philosophy department at Connecticut College, her first permanent academic position, in 1954. By that time, she had published numerous articles and several books, including the best-selling Philosophy in a New Key (1942), lectured widely on aesthetics and world events, and taught at colleges across the States, assuring her stature–during her lifetime–as a major American philosopher. In the years leading up to her arrival at Connecticut College, she had embarked on intensive research in psychology and the biological sciences for what would become her final work, the three-volume Mind: An Essay on Human Feeling.
In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in Langer’s philosophy and her place in the philosophical canon, most notably in 2020 with the founding of the Susanne K. Langer Circle, an international and multi-disciplinary group of scholars. Its first international conference took place in June 2022 at Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, Germany. The exhibition and workshop on Langer, subtitled, respectively, A Kaleidoscope of Ideas and Feeling and Society, held at Connecticut College in the Fall 2022, follow suit.
A Note on the One World Symbol
In 1949, after the destruction wrought by World War II, Langer joined a diverse array of intellectuals proposing new systems of governance to foster a World Society. Feeling the need for a symbol to express this ideal of world citizenship, Langer designed the emblem above, a spiral inscribed in the hub of a wheel. Representing the importance of symbolism in Langer’s philosophy and her under-acknowledged concern for global politics, the One World Symbol also graphically denotes–from our perspective–the eddy, or whirl, of ideas in which Langer immersed herself.
Source: Langer, Susanne K. “Symbols and Emblems for a United World.” Common Cause: A Journal of One World 2 (xvii), 1949, 338-340.