Philosopher asks, "Are you an ...?"

Aaron Jones For Immediate Release: March 28, 2013

BLOOMSBURG — There are words that aren’t spoken in polite company, but still are part of the common vocabulary.

Philosopher Aaron James will speak about one of those terms and the traits it identifies in a free lecture at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11, in Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania’s McCormick Center, room 2303.

James said in a Huffington Post blog that the term relates to “a person who systematically allows himself special advantages in cooperative life out of an entrenched sense of entitlement that immunizes him against the complaints of other people.” His lecture, “Are You an A**hole?” builds on his book with a similar title, which offers a philosophical analysis of the term and the people to whom it applies.

James is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Irvine. He earned a doctoral degree from Harvard University and recently was an American Council of Learned Societies Burkhardt Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. The idea for his latest book came from a 2008 encounter with a fellow surfer who, he said, “was blatantly breaking the rules of right-of-way.”

Scott Lowe, chair of BU’s philosophy department, said James’ lecture falls within the field of popular philosophy, which connects common cultural themes to philosophical concepts. BU faculty have examined topics ranging from cats, dogs and beer to Ebenezer Scrooge and Monty Python in a contemporary manner.

“We want to demystify philosophy and make our discipline more accessible for members of the Bloomsburg community,” Lowe said.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. BU serves approximately 10,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.