Dept. of Philosophy forms Noche Reading Group; honors Florentino Hornedo with first session

The Department of Philosophy organized a monthly reading group titled Noche. The name is short for Noche Alegre, a play of words from the University of Santo Tomas’s Noche Triste, the night before the examinations for the licentiate degree in Philosophy or Theology. That night of preparing oneself to demonstrate one’s knowledge in culmination is a form of celebration of philosophy’s vibrancy in the academe and the country.

This is something that this reading group seeks to highlight with the name Noche, however, not of gloom and anxiety but a night of joy in bringing together interested individuals willing to navigate through various texts. It is a joyful demonstration of philosophy’s sustained vitality in the UST Department of Philosophy and The Graduate School, and even in various spaces where serious philosophy practitioners and scholars reside.

Noche is a reading group that primarily aims to create space for philosophic discourse while widening the research horizon of the Philosophy students in the graduate and undergraduate Philosophy programs. This is a year-long activity to be held every last Saturday of the month with consideration to sudden suspensions of classes and activities due to inclement weather besides others. Each two-to two-and-a-half-hour session features a thinker representative of the five research thrusts of the Department of Philosophy, namely, Filipino Philosophy, Aristotelian-Thomistic Philosophy and Scholasticism, Oriental-East-West Comparative Philosophy, Continental European Philosophy, and Anglo-American Philosophy.

The first session held on October 31, 2020, focused on Dr. Florentino Hornedo’s essay titled “Free Fall: Postmodernism” originally published in Ad Veritatem as representative of Filipino Philosophy. October is the birth month of the late professor, who was born on October 16, 1938 and died on December 9, 2015. For the organizers, it seemed fitting to begin this year-long activity in memory of Hornedo, one of the pillars of secular philosophy in the university. 

The session was facilitated by Mr. Anton Heinrich Rennesland, and discussants were Dr. Fleurdeliz Altez-Albela and Dr. Roland Theuas Pada, who shed light on the essay. Both speakers were former students of the late professor and are doing research on his texts.

What made the discussion fruitful was the number of questions and insights raised both by faculty members of the Department of Philosophy but also those from other institutions across the country. With a close reading of the essay primarily discussed by Dr. Pada and Dr. Albela with some interjections by Mr. Rennesland, what was brought to fore was Hornedo’s brand of postmodernism that previews the human condition: free fall.

The essay distinguishes Structuralism, Poststructuralism, Phenomenology, and Postmodernity, with Hornedo showing their divergences but a certain dependency linked by difference in Derridian fashion. The essay despite its brevity is thought-provoking and “untimely” in a Nietzschean sense, as pointed out by Dr. Paolo Bolaños; it was written decades ago yet it still strikes a chord today. Hornedo illustrated how we currently live through the experience of jumping without the parachute of former ways of thinking—our own free fall.

Digesting this development also gave emphasis to the person of Dr. Hornedo himself and his own historicity as one of the pioneer thinkers to ponder on Postmodernism in the University. Dr. Jove Jim Aguas and Graduate School Dean Prof. Michael Anthony Vasco, Ph.D., both former students of Hornedo, elucidated several points when it came to questions raised about his type of philosophizing of the human person. Besides scholarly engagement with Hornedo’s thoughts, they fondly shared anecdotes of being his graduate students and even as having him as a thesis advisor and a panelist, respectively. This eventually led to the essay’s and session’s conclusion on a positive note as a form of tribute to the late professor, an untimely thinker signaling postmodernity.

This session was the first of five for the first cycle of Noche. The succeeding sessions feature the following representative of the research thrusts: Thérèse Bonin, Masahiro Morioka, Byung-Chul Han, and Nancy Fraser. The second cycle will run from April to August featuring Caroline Hau, Rebecca Konyndyk, Gayatri Spivak, Frantz Fanon, and Martha Nussbaum.

All sessions are open to the public however requiring pre-registration which usually is made available at the beginning of the month to provide ample time for all interested individuals to go over the material provided. Noche is jointly organized by the UST Department of Philosophy and the UST Graduate School. More information about the Noche reading group may be found on the Graduate School’s website and the Department of Philosophy’s Facebook page.

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