Evening School Sem2 2024

Three courses running July - October

The Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy is proud to present the Evening School Sem2 2024 curriculum.  All courses are 24 hours in length.  As always significant discounts apply for those enrolling in multiple courses. If you have any questions which aren't in our FAQs please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

When: 29 July - 31 October

Where: All courses will be at the Nicholas Building, Level 9, Room 19, 37 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000 and online via Zoom. Also it's worth noting that Melbourne (AEST) is 10 hours ahead of UTC (5pm here is 7am in Berlin and 10pm in LA).

Payment: All payment must be made via credit card during enrolment.

Distance Enrolment: Please note that distance students will have access to the live Zoom lectures as well as access to the recordings of these lectures.  For in-person students the recorded lectures will be released to students at the end of the semester.

Fees (AUD):

Courses Waged Unwaged
1 $265 $180
2 $330 $220
3+ $370 $260
Enrol

 

Evening School Programme

2 hours per week for 12 weeks

Mon 6:30-8:30pm
Starts 29 Jul
Works of Gilles Deleuze (part 2)
Lecturer: Jon Roffe
Wed 6:30-8:30pm
Starts 31 Jul
Nick Land’s Accelerationist Philosophy
Lecturer: Vincent Lê
Thu 6:30-8:30pm
Starts 1 Aug
Education: The Priority of Philosophy
Lecturer: A.J. Bartlett

 

Course Descriptions


Works of Gilles Deleuze (part 2)

Lecturer: Jon Roffe

Starts: Mon 6:30-8:30pm 29 Jul

Full Schedule: July 29, August 5, 12, 19, 26, (Break), September 9, 16, 23, 30, October 7, 14, 21, 28

Location: Nicholas Building on Swanston Street and Online via Zoom.

This course comprises part two of a full-year program that will present a survey of all of the works of Gilles Deleuze. The course will be structured around a single requirement - to read and discuss each book entirely on its own terms. We will not, therefore, be looking to construct 'the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze' but just to understand, in miniature, each of his works. In this way, the aim will be to appreciate the specificity and richness of these works without subordinating them to the register of generality. The final week of the semester will be devoted to questions and discussion of the works we have discussed so far. This is the second part of the course following the first, which was delivered in semester one of 2024. Recordings of that course are available in the MSCP archive. 

Readings: each week, two short readings will be provided. The first will be an extract from the work under discussion, while the second will be from an interview, or some other work, that casts light on Deleuze's aims.

Level: Intermediate. No familiarity with Deleuze's philosophy will be presumed, but his works are rich and sometimes challenging.

Course Schedule

29 July

Anti-Oedipus

5 August

Kafka

12 August

A Thousand Plateaus 1

19 August

A Thousand Plateaus 2

26 August

A Thousand Plateaus 3

2 September

BREAK

9 September

Francis Bacon

16 September

Cinema 1: The Movement-Image

23 September

From Cinema 1 to Cinema 2

30 September

Cinema 2: The Time-Image

7 October

Foucault

14 October

The Fold

21 October

What is Philosophy?

28 October

Q&A


Nick Land’s Accelerationist Philosophy

Lecturer: Vincent Lê

Starts: Wed 6:30-8:30pm 31 Jul

Full Schedule: July 31, August 7, 14, 21, 28, September 4, (Break), 18, 25, October 2, 9, 16, 23

Location: Nicholas Building on Swanston Street and Online via Zoom.

This course will trace the development of Nick Land’s accelerationist philosophy as it emerges through his critical engagement with canonical figures like Kant, Heidegger, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud, Bataille and Deleuze and Guattari, as well as the philosophy of artificial intelligence. The course’s guiding thread is that Land’s seemingly contradictory shifts in position are actually motivated by the same underlying motive to critique anthropomorphizations of reality by confronting us with the brute fact of our inexorable death beyond which we cannot trespass. Seen in this way, his various shifts in position do not signal a change in his overarching aim, but in what he sees as the best means to effectuate his critique of anthropocentrism. In particular, we shall see that, while what we will term the “young Land” from 1988-1992 identifies an insurrection against capitalism as the key mechanism for de-anthropomorphizing thought, the “mature Land” from 1993 onwards re-evaluates capitalism’s technological innovation as the best means to critique anthropocentrism by confronting us with the coming artificial superintelligence, which renders our own intelligence radically contingent and finite.

Why study Nick Land? is a question that we must immediately address. After all, the sceptic will object, didn’t he abandon serious academic scholarship when he resigned from his lectureship at Warwick University in the late nineties? Despite now living on the margins of academia, Land is far more influential on contemporary philosophy, political theory and aesthetics than the sceptic might imagine. In philosophy, for instance, he taught former Warwick students Iain Hamilton Grant and Ray Brassier, two of the founding figures of speculative realism, perhaps the most significant contemporary philosophical movement in its quest to rid philosophy of its pervasive humanism in favor of new and strange voyages into the Great Outdoors. Moreover, the specter of Land is endemic throughout the art scene through cultural theorists like Mark Fisher and Kodwo Eshun and artists like Orphan Drift, Jake and Dino Chapman and Kode 9 (Steve Goodman), all of whom seek to liberate art from its anthropoid prison. Land is also the key influence on accelerationism, arguably one of the most important contemporary political theories in its mission to expand and repurpose technocapitalist processes as a prelude to radical social change. Several cyberfeminists have also drawn on Land’s work, such as Luciana Parisi’s theory of future technology’s potential to abstract sex from reproduction through advances in biogenetics and human enhancement. It would thus seem that Land’s shadow stretches far and wide over the contemporary philosophical, political and cultural conjuncture. So, much as Heidegger needed to be studied to comprehend his influence on Sartre, Levinas, Merleau-Ponty, Derrida and other philosophers and phenomenologists, so, too, do we need to read Land as a symptom of the situation in which we are in.

This course’s guiding question concerns how Land could have such a significant influence on contemporary continental philosophy’s return to metaphysics, materialism and realism. Our initial hypothesis is that, despite his various positions and myriad subject matters, the driving motor of all of his work is the seizure of death as the organon for the critique of thought’s pretention to project itself onto an inhuman cosmos, since death marks the absolute limit concept of thought. A second, interconnected question that the course will consider is how he can be positively appraised by both left- and right-wing political and cultural theorists. The hypothesis here is that his guiding thread of confronting humanity with our mortality led him to turn away from the critique of capitalism to its rehabilitation as just such a destructive mechanism for melting all anthropic values into air. So the course’s key contention is that the underlying ambition across all of his work is to critique anthropocentrism by analyzing various philosophers for the extent to which they can recognize their finitude.

The course’s basic structure will be to trace the development of Land’s thought, from his earliest writings in the late 1980s to his fully formed accelerationist philosophy throughout the 1990s, by providing an exegesis of the major figures he engages with before turning to see how he interprets and uses them. While he is influenced by many figures, the eight key thinkers are Kant, Heidegger, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud, Bataille, and Deleuze and Guattari, as well as the philosophy of artificial intelligence. 

Weeks 1-2. Critique of Capitalist Reason: Kant

Land’s earliest writings focus on the critique of capitalism, and its philosophical expressions through Kant and the phenomenologists, for anthropomorphizing a chaotic and destructive cosmos with our parochial concerns for order and homeostasis. In the first two weeks, we will do a close reading of his critique of Kant’s transcendental idealism for ideologically reflecting Western capitalist imperialism’s attempts to geographically distance itself from the very third world labor that constitutes it while also threatening to annihilate it through sublime, insurrectionary resistance.

Suggested readings:

  • Nick Land, “Kant, Capital and the Prohibition of Incest: A Polemical Introduction to the Configuration of Philosophy and Modernity,” in Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987- 2007, eds. Robin Mackay and Ray Brassier (Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2012), 55-80.
  • Nick Land, “Delighted to Death,” in Fanged Noumena, 123-144.

Weeks 2-4. Reading with Fangs: Trakl, Heidegger, Derrida

The young Land’s other theoretical arch-nemesis is phenomenologists who for him include Hegel and Derrida as well as Husserl and Heidegger, insofar as he sees them all as more or less recapitulating Kant’s humanist hubris over the past two centuries. The third and fourth weeks will examine his critique of the phenomenological tradition, from Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit to Derrida’s deconstruction, and particularly Heidegger’s discussion of Georg Trakl’s poetry for misreading images of animality, irrationality and death as narcissistic symbols of spirit, reason and the soul’s immortality. As we shall see, Heidegger thereby ignores the conceptual resources that Trakl can arm us with to critique our delusions of grandeur in favor of an encounter with a radically inhuman nature.

Suggested readings:

  • Nick Land, “Narcissism and Dispersion in Heidegger’s 1953 Trakl Interpretation,” in Fanged Noumena, 81-122.
  • Nick Land, “Spirit and Teeth,” in Fanged Noumena, 175-202.

Weeks 5-6. A Brief History of Libidinal Materialism: Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud

Having critiqued Kant and the phenomenologists, the rest of Land’s early work traces another “libidinal materialist” tradition which seizes upon death in order to critique our pretentions to know and exhaust reality. The fifth and sixth weeks will consider his readings of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Freud as the first three modern thinkers to uncover a savage, impersonal world transcending our rational knowledge.

Suggested readings:

  • Nick Land, “Art as Insurrection: The Question of Aesthetics in Kant, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche,” in Fanged Noumena, 145-174.

Weeks 7-8. The Accursed Philosopher: Bataille

The seventh and eighth weeks examine how Land uses Bataille’s nihilistic conceptual armature to wage a ruthless critique of the origins of philosophy in Socrates’ repression of death when he immortalizes spirit.

Suggested readings:

  • Nick Land, “After the Law,” in Fanged Noumena, 229-260.

Weeks 9-10. Cosmic Capitalism: Deleuze and Guattari 

Although all of Land’s writings are motivated by the same driving motive to critique anthropomorphism by confronting us with our own demise, from 1993 onwards his works differ in two key respects. Firstly, he re-evaluates capitalism not as humanity’s repression of the inhuman Outside, but rather as the Outside’s immanent meltdown of our most cherished truths and values. More specifically, he envisions capitalism’s technological advancement in the fields of cybernetics and AI as exposing the limits of human reason before an artificial superintelligence. Although he develops these two theses simultaneously in the same texts, for clarity’s sake, weeks 9 and 10 will just focus on his re-evaluation of capitalism before considering how this connects with AI in the last two weeks. In both cases, however, the key work that inspires Land is Deleuze and Guattari’s two-volume Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Weeks 9 and 10 will thus trace how Land draws upon Deleuze and Guattari to develop his theory of capitalism as the ultimate deterritorialization of anthropomorphism, while also departing from their reservations about capitalism’s fascistic tendencies.

Suggested readings:

  • Nick Land, “Making it with Death: Remarks on Thanatos and Desiring Production,” in Fanged Noumena, 261-288.
  • Nick Land, “Machines and Technocultural Complexity: The Challenge of the Deleuze-Guattari Conjunction,” in Theory, Culture and Society 12, 2 (1995):131-40.

Weeks 11-12. Terminator as Ontology

If the mature Land’s first key thesis is the reconceptualization of capitalism as the agent of the Outside rather than its impediment, it is ultimately because of his second major thesis that capitalism’s constant revolutionization of the productive forces is leading to the creation of a technological singularity which will effectuate death’s transcendental materialist critique. The final two weeks will work through his writings throughout the 1990s to trace his theory that technology, from cyberspace and virtual reality to human enhancement and artificial intelligence, provide ever greater insights into the Outside beyond the finite bounds of our reason.

Suggested readings:

  • Nick Land, “Circuitries,” in Fanged Noumena, 289-318. 
  • Nick Land, “Machinic Desire,” in Fanged Noumena, 319-344. 
  • Nick Land, “Cybergothic,” in Fanged Noumena, 345-374.

Education: The Priority of Philosophy

Lecturer: A.J. Bartlett

Starts: Thu 6:30-8:30pm 1 Aug

Full Schedule: August 1, 9, 15, 22, 29, September 5, (Break), 19, 26, October 3, 10, 17, 24

Location: Nicholas Building on Swanston Street and Online via Zoom.

The question of education never goes away. For better or worse, it is prioritised every election cycle as of key concern; at least at the level of rhetoric, which speaks to a significant part of its history, even if all concerned are entirely, ironically, ignorant of any such history; it is posited as the cure for all social ills and the ill of any socius; it is a matter of money – too much or too little; and money, it is supposed, guarantees the appearance of the object, and attaining the object is then the guarantee, it is supposed, of the best life in this best of all possible worlds. The claims to education can be multiplied in this manner — all these ‘questions of education’. ‘Questions’ is itself an ironic terminology, because the above ‘questions’ are not posited on the basis of an enquiry, but are effectively asserted knowledge; all clearly assume the knowledge of education. That is to say, education, what it is, is known. Yet, as we can see by the contradictory or maybe dialectical positing of education as filling or lacking, cure or poison, and so on, that it is exactly what education is that is lacking. This lack fuels the rhetoric, which fuels the work of instrumentalisation, which fuels the work of legitimacy, that accompanies every status quo. 

At his trial Socrates was described as the singular figure in all Athens who did not educate. He corrupted the youth and undermined the ideological state apparatus. Plato built an entire ‘education’ system on this corruption, this corruption by truths as he almost puts it. He links education, thereby, not to the rhetoric of the politicians, the interests of the businessmen, or the knowledge of the poets, but to something ‘subtractive’ or corruptive of each and, as combined, the state. This Athenian state of education can, in Lacan’s terms, get along without truth very well. But can it? And if it ever did, why does the question of education return in every epoch, under every and any form of state – all the ones retailed in the Republic for example which, as forms, perverted or converted, reach down the centuries as manifest to this day. Plato, we might say, is or should be, our contemporary. 

This course will contend and present four orienting contentions: 

  • that the Platonic corpus is oriented by one key Idea  – education. Education is the core of the dialogues, around which it produces its form or its ‘object body’
  • that this radical and subjective intervention into the dominant intellectual and pedagogical ethos of ‘all Hellas’ not only traces out an educational trajectory anathema to that ‘state’ ethos, but in doing so provides education with its concept.
  • consequently, that the received image of Plato given to us in the last century or so occludes the radical, subjective core of Plato’s intervention and thus its history 
  • that this received image has had a significant role to play in the construction of what education ‘is’ today, this via philosophy itself and in terms of the institutions which still pretend to bear Plato’s name, the Academy.

By examining ‘education’ as presented in the dialogues – what it cannot be but is interminably represented as, and by juxtaposing these enquiries with some more immediate interventions – Bourdieu, Ranceire, Friere, et. al. – we will see that Plato is our contemporary, and that to think education other than in the terms it is consistently and instrumentally represented to us is our priority; the priority of philosophy.

The course will range across the dialogues of the Platonic corpus but most attention will be given to: Apology, Phaedo, Sophist, Cratylus, Republic and Laws. The Idea of education manifest in these dialogues is that education is a matter of truth. The course will explore this Idea of education: an Idea being always subtractive of knowledge. 

A series of passages from the dialogues will orient each lecture:

Lesson 0: W 1. Overview of course, conceit and other corruptions unknown.

Lesson 1: W 2/3. Introduction: with regard to this question of an education by truths.

Lesson 2: W 4/5. In the dialogues: representation or known knowledge.

Lesson 3: W 6/7. In the dialogues: what is unknown in known knowledge and what ‘makes a hole in it’.

Lesson 4: W 8/9. In the dialogues: the obscure subject of education.

Lesson 5: W 10/11. In the dialogues: from what is no-where to be seen, to what is not impossible.

Lesson { }: W 12. What is to be Done?

Course Descriptions