Here is the schedule for our upcoming conference in Dundee… oh, did I mention that registration is FREE????? :)
Third Annual International Summer School in German Philosophy: “The Ontological Turn in Contemporary Philosophy”
The Relevance of the Human in Politics, April 27-28, 2012. University of Dundee
Keynote Speakers: Todd May, Christina Howells, James Williams, and Gerald Moore
The Post Graduate philosophy conferences at the University of Dundee have, over the last four years, explored the resurgence of interest in continental metaphysics. This year’s conference will continue to build on this theme, but in an explicitly political direction and explore the role of the human in the contemporary philosophy of politics. With the renewed interest in humanisms of all sorts, we are seeking to address the problematic of the human in politics: are humanistic political philosophies part of a bygone era? What is the potential place for the human, or a robust humanism, in both the academy and the popular sphere? Are the criticisms of post-phenomenological thinkers still relevant in light of recent philosophical interests and world events? To what extent can ‘post-humanist’ philosophies contribute to political desires?
This year, we will take an explicitly political turn by seeking to explore the importance, or unimportance, of the human in politics. Through an examination of the human, the conference will examine one of the overlooked aspects of the subject and subjectivity, a key concern of previous conferences at Dundee, as well as occurring under the unique historical conditions that have seen political uprisings emerge around the globe across various cultural, political, and religious spectrums.
We invite abstracts of up to 500 words for 20 minute presentations on topics generally related to the contemporary importance (or unimportance) of the human in politics.
Suggested topics include (but are by no means constrained to):
- Humanism and/or anti-humanism in Continental thought: particularly in relation to Badiou, Agamben, Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, Henry, Hardt/Negri, Zizek, Heidegger, de Beauvoir, Malabou, etc.
- 21st Century Humanism
- Humanism and its critics in German Idealism
- Post-human political theory
- Resurgence of interest in Sartre and existentialism
- The role of advanced media in political theory
- Politics and/or economics after ‘The Arab Spring’
- Political theory and the ‘Occupy’ Movements
- Speculative Realism, Object-Oriented-Ontology, and the critique of anthropocentrism
- The conditions of group action
- Neuroscience and political philosophy
- Ontology and Politics
- Feminism and human identity
Abstracts due by 15 February, 2012. Email to Austin Smidt at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
My supervisor at Aberdeen, Chris Brittain, giving an impassioned speech on the steps of St. Paul’s cathedral in support of the Occupy London Stock Exchange protesters a couple days ago:
Today we gather to support and pray for those who have gathered here to witness to the promise of a better society, and a better world. Like Abraham and Sarah, you have packed up your things, left the comfort of your routines, and journeyed to this square in order to interrupt the complacency of our society with unjust and irrational ways of living. You are accused of being a nuisance; mocked for being idealistic; and dismissed for not offering specific policy agendas for how to fix the our unstable economy, the banking system, declining social services, and complacent politicians.
Such critics miss the urgent need in our society for people with the courage and imagination to ‘hope against hope’. We need people who are unwilling to ignore that we are living in a time of crisis; willing to risk hoping that things can change; and prepared to ask their fellow citizens to admit that there are urgent issues that need to be resolved..
The playwrite Bertolt Brecht once wrote: ‘When a crime is committed, just as the rain falls, no one cries, Halt!’ The Occupy LSX movement have found the courage to stand up and say Halt! Halt the rising poverty and neglect of our social institutions! Halt political stagnation! Halt short term thinking; Halt procrastinating over issues we cannot afford to ignore!
Speculations is an open-access journal dedicated to exploring “Speculative Realism and post-Continental Philosophy.” As of today, the first volume has been released. Here is a list of the articles, including my review of After the Postsecular and the Postmodern: New Essays in Continental Philosophy of Religion, ed. Anthony Paul Smith and Daniel Whistler. It can be accessed a few different ways:
View individual articles/PDFs – FREE!!
Download the whole thing – FREE!!
Purchase a hardcopy – not so free, but CHEAP!!
*** For theobloggers in particular, you should really check out my review of After the Postsecular and the Postmodern. Not only is the book a welcomed volume to the future of Continental Philosophy of Religion (of Philosophy of Religion tout court), but it was co-edited by APS of An und für sich who has also graciously provided an online teaser of the volume.
I’m not sure I ever thought that John Piper and Hardt/Negri would make for good bedfellows, but in reading this interview with Michael Hardt, his and Negri’s notion of politics as a project of love has strong resonance with Piper’s Christian Hedonism. Here’s an excerpt from the Hardt interview:
Hardt: [How] can you get anyone to take you seriously when [you discuss love and joy in politics]? This is definitely an interest of mine, and I think of Toni’s, too. We’ve said to each other for a while, but without finding a way to do it, that we would like to make love a properly political concept. One has to expand the concept of love beyond the limits of the couple, even the psychoanalytic limits of coupling. One good model is through Christian and Judaic traditions, where love means, in a way, a constitution of the community. Premodern notions of love have this political character. As it has gained in sentimentality, love has lost its political efficacy. That’s one project. It seems to me a summation of various things that interest me to think of politics as a project of love.
I started becoming interested in politics as an undergraduate, but I was repulsed by the political atmosphere, which seemed to me mostly an atmosphere of moralism and abnegation—a search for purity, but a search that meant we should feel guilty for the privileges we have and try to avoid them. Or we should maintain a kind of purity by not watching violent movies, eating certain things and not others. In Central America, a lot of the activists coming from Europe and North America were driven by guilt and acting for the good of others. But I learned from the Central Americans that there was another kind of activism which was not about our guilt but about our joy. It was not about going and doing politics because I need to give up something in order to help others—I’m getting something out of it. One group thought, I’m here to help them. The other group thought, I’m here so that they can teach me how to live better.
Helping others is not even in tension with making my life better. All of that is part of the same thing. To make the world better, I don’t need to give up things, I need to gain things. I need to gain a more joyful life. I remember a lot of stifling discussions, “Well, you can never get people in the U.S. to do anything because they’re all so comfortable, and you’ll never get them to give up things.” I remember thinking, Man, those in the U.S. are all so miserable; if you could just show them the joy of what a different life could be. I remember thinking about politics, rather than as an ascetic redistribution, as a collective project for the increase of joy. The younger generation of activists today seems to have learned this. If one traces the transformations of activism in the U.S., ACT UP and Queer Nation were a real hinge, making demonstrations fun, making them funny, great slogans. The relationship between a demonstration and a party becomes quite confused.
Smith: Or even a carnival.
Hardt: Right. The whole talk now about movement as carnival is perfect for this. It may not be the only way of conducting politics, but it’s the only politics I want. That might be an adequate definition of love: a politics of joy.
Last week, Terry Eagleton wrote this piece deriding the world cup in particular (and football in general), claiming that football is the opium of today’s masses. While I think I grasp Eagleton’s struggle, I can’t help but wonder if he is being a bit too high and mighty. This is a tendency I notice among many academics. Not only is there a severe lack of FUN in academia, but there is also a desire to suck any pleasure out of the world in favor of a pious, puritanical intellectualism. Yes, of course global capitalism is an evil that must be fought, and fought hard. But is criticizing one of the things that actually has the power to make people happy and unite otherwise disparate cultures the solution? To be clear, I am not ignoring the power of sports or music or art or whatever to dull the attention of the “masses” and to cause the latter to become copacetic in their attitude toward the world that is in ever-dire need of action from said persons. Rather, what I’m wondering is how can we harness the power – the power to stimulate and the power to unite – that sports seems to exhibit for global liberatory ends. I’m not sure this is such an easy problem to solve. But I don’t believe that a wholesale write-off of sport is the answer. It seems that Eagleton may have jumped into the ditch on the other side of the road…