For Immediate Release — March 9, 2004



Philosophers to Consider Dreaming, Knowledge, Truth and Nonexistent Entities

GENESEO, N.Y. — In celebration of the lifelong achievements and scholarship of philosopher and University of Iowa Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Panayot Butchvarov, the philosophy department at the State University of New York at Geneseo is sponsoring an April 3-4 conference titled "Exploring the Thought of Panayot Butchvarov." The conference will feature readings and discussion on a variety of provocative topics, and all sessions will be held in the George D. Newton Lecture Hall, Room 204, on the Geneseo campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Philosophers from SUNY Geneseo, Illinois State University, University of Iowa, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, St. John’s College at Annapolis, Md., and the University of Texas at Arlington will offer their readings on both days. Among the topics to be considered are: "Rethinking the Subject Matter of Protometaphysics," "Knowledge, Truth and Unthinkability," "Beyond Skepticism in Ethics" and "Are there Nonexistent Entities?"

Butchvarov will be on hand for the readings, and will offer his response to each, to be followed by discussion among those in attendance. The conference will kick off on April 3 with a welcome from SUNY Geneseo President Christopher C. Dahl at 8:55 a.m.; readings will begin both days at 9 a.m., and the fourth, and last, session each day will end at 4 p.m.

Conference organizer and SUNY Geneseo Associate Professor of Philosophy Larry Blackman said that he is pleased that the college will host philosophers from around the nation and that the conference is to be held in honor of Butchvarov. "This is good for the department and good for the college, and it brings attention to the man and to the discipline," he said. "Philosophy actually has quite an appeal to it. It’s understood that philosophers don’t solve problems, but we certainly give a lot of thought to them. We’d like to think that we shed some light on a lot of things. And, it’s fun."

Blackman added that there is a Geneseo/Iowa/Butchvarov connection. "While Professor Butchvarov was teaching at Syracuse University, among his students were Bill Edgar, who is now Distinguished Teaching Professor and chair of the philosophy department at SUNY Geneseo, and Stacey Edgar, associate professor of philosophy at SUNY Geneseo," he said. "And among Butchvarov’s students at the University of Iowa were Theodore Everett, currently associate professor of philosophy at Geneseo, and Dennis Bradford, associate professor of philosophy at Geneseo. In fact, Bradford even did his Ph.D. dissertation under Butchvarov." Blackman added that several Geneseo graduates have also gone on to study philosophy at the University of Iowa.

Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1933, Panayot Butchvarov is the author of five books and more than 30 articles on a wide variety of topics in the field of philosophy. His articles address ideas of consciousness, the concept of possibility, identity, ethics, and reality. He served as editor of the Journal of Philosophical Research from 1993 to 2002, was president of the American Philosophical Association, Central Division, in 1992-93, and has taught at several institutions of higher education, including the University of Baltimore, the University of South Carolina, Syracuse University, and the University of Iowa, where he served as chair of the department of philosophy from 1970-77.

Butchvarov, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1959, earned his bachelor’s degree from Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1952, and his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 1954 and 1955, respectively.

Geneseo’s Blackman tells the story of when Butchvarov was sixteen years old, and what he had to do to escape his Communist homeland: "He and two of his friends rowed a boat for three days and nights across a segment of the Black Sea from Bulgaria to Turkey," he explained. "Bulgaria was then under Communist rule, and he wanted his freedom. However, to reach his destination in the West, he needed to swim across the Bosporus, which is a strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. He was swimming in an easterly direction, but he was arriving in a part of the world that gave him access to the West politically. Typically, Professor Butchvarov is very modest about this feat. He said that swimming across the Bosporus was like ‘swimming across a river – no big deal.’ My own view is that the act required enormous courage and dedication. I don’t know how wide the Bosporus is at the point where he crossed it, but swimming it must have been extraordinarily dangerous."

"Exploring the Thought of Panayot Butchvarov" is made possible by the Geneseo Foundation, Campus Auxiliary Services, the Office of the Provost, the Geneseo Student Association, the philosophy department and the philosophy club at SUNY Geneseo.

For more information on the conference, contact Associate Professor of Philosophy Larry Blackman by phone at (585) 245-5231, or by e-mail at

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