Summer School 2023
Ten 10-hour courses taught online January-February
When: 9 January - 17 February
Where: ONLINE. All courses will be taught via Zoom. Video recordings will also be available within a few days after each seminar for those who can't make the schedule. Readings are made available online before the school begins. Links to the Zoom classroom are sent out with the registration email. All payment must be made via credit card during enrolment. Also it's worth noting that Melbourne (AEDT) is 11 hours ahead of UTC (5pm here is 7am in Berlin and 10pm in LA).
Summer School Program
2 hours per week for 5 weeks
2 hours per day for 5 days
African Humanism, Decoloniality and Alternative Ontology
Lecturer: Augustine Obi
Starts: Mon 6:30-8:30pm 9 Jan
Full Schedule: Jan 9, 16, 23, 30, Feb 6
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
On the opening page of Critique of Black Reason, and in his Out of the Dark Night: Essays on Decolonization, the African philosopher and critical theorist Achille Mbembe asserts that ‘Europe is no longer the centre of gravity of the world.’ ‘As a matter of fact,’ Mbembe continues, ‘the destiny of our planet will be played out, to a large extent, in Africa.’ Exploring the complexities in decolonisation, Mbembe interrogates the philosophical, political and the overall intellectual heritage of African humanism, arguing that what gives African humanism its exceptional appeal is ‘the message of joy in a great universal future (which it) equitably opens to all peoples, all nations, and all species’. Mbembe retraces the critique of Western metaphysics, suggesting that its imperial frame — a racialized and racializing vision of singularity/alterity — must be ‘decolonised’ and ‘dis-enclosed’ in order to inaugurate a kind of alternative ontology, a project of what Mbembe finds in Fanon, called ‘the rise of humanity,’ ‘a humanity that is not given,’ and one which African humanism already embodies. But what exactly is African humanism? Is it possible to propose African humanism without reinforcing hierarchies among varieties of humanism or even perpetuating ‘the same logic of the colonizer’ which invalidates the existence of the other? If the western metaphysical subject must be decolonised and dis-enclosed as Mbembe proposes, what would this ‘decolonisation’ and ‘dis-enclosure’ look like? What exactly constitutes an alternative ontology?
This short course will attempt to explore these questions of African humanism, decoloniality and alternative ontology. Drawing primarily from the insights of Achille Mbembe’s Critique of Black Reason, Out of the Dark Night: Essays on Decolonization, and Jean-Luc Nancy’s view of Being as singular-plural, the course attempts to sketch out what constitutes a balanced or responsible decolonial thinking. Ultimately, the course aims to provoke a discourse around decoloniality of Being by using African humanism as an example of how the racialized other has always registered and articulated an otherwise ontology that puts the rhetoric of the western metaphysical subject on trial. It seeks to explore how Jean-Luc Nancy’s view of Being as singular-plural and Mbembe’s notion of cosmopolitan vision for the future of humanity underscore a true vision of decolonisation and how this vision opens up a space for an alternative ontology.
LECTURE ONE & TWO: BLACKNESS AND THE STRUGGLE FOR REASON
To be begin, we consider the different theories that were constructed to justify the denial of humanism from African people as seen in the celebrated works of Immanuel Kant, Baron de Montesquieu, David Hume, and Hegel. This will lead us to explore how African philosophers have repudiated this epistemic injustice through their invention of African philosophical thoughts mostly found in discourses such as Ubuntu, Negritude, Pan-Africanism, Bantu Philosophy, African concept of morality and justice, African concept of time, amongst other discourses. Though these African philosophical thoughts are yet to be fully developed like the western cathedral of thoughts, the challenge here is for us to be inspired by the frontiers of knowledge that African humanism is opening for the rest of the world, and how these discourses call for a redefinition of the African subject and at the same time point us to the other ways of philosophizing.
- Dismas A. Masolo, African Philosophy in Search of Identity, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. Chapter 8, "'Tradition' and 'Modernity': The Role of Reason", (1994), pp. 194-246.
- Placide Tempels, Bantu Philosophy, Paris: Présence africaine, (1959).
- Senghor, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Nationhood and the African Road to Socialism, transl. by Mercer Cook. Paris: Présence Africaine (Original edition by Présence Africaine, 1961).
- John S Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy, New York: Anchor Books, Chapter 3, "The Concept of Time as a Key to the Understanding and Interpretation of African Religions and Philosophy", (1969), pp. 19-36.
- Michael Onyebuchi Eze, ‘Humanism as History in Contemporary Africa,’ in Taiwan Journal of East Asian Studies, 8:2 (December 2011), pp. 59-77.
- T. Metz & J. Gaie, ‘The African Ethics of Ubuntu/Botho: Implications for Research on Morality’, Journal of Moral Education, 39:3 (2010), p. 275.
LECTURE THREE: “A PERSON IS A PERSON THROUGH ANOTHER PERSON”: THE PHILOSOPHY OF UBUNTU AND AFRO-COMMUNITARIAN DEBATE
Understood as an ontological claim to a shared humanity, ‘ubuntu’ has gained wider recognition amongst African philosophers as the term that encapsulates the core of African humanist ideology. Lecture three will attempt to delineate the different contours of the concept of ubuntu, paying particular attention to its origin, how it foregrounds black subjectivity, and the ontological and socio-political elements that constitute this African relational philosophy. After exploring the origin and constitutive elements of ubuntu, we will turn to the perennial debates which often attend the Africanist notion of humanism, with particular focus on those arguments that have all coalesced to configure ubuntu as the ground from which African humanism emerges and develops.
- Ifeanyi Menkiti, ‘Person and Community in African Traditional Thought’ in African Philosophy: An Introduction, R. A. Wright (ed) (Lanham: University Press of America, 1984).
- Leonhard Praeg, ‘Essential building blocks of the Ubuntu Debate; or: I write what I must,’ South African Journal of Philosophy, (2017) 36:2, 292-304.
- Micheal Onyebuchi Eze, Ubuntu: Ideology or Promise?” in Exploring Humanity: Intercultural Perspectives on Humanism, National University of Taiwan Press: 247-259
- Motsamai Molefe, Critical Comments on Afro-Communitarianism: The Community Versus Individual, in Filosofia Theoretica: Journal of African Philosophy, Culture and Religions, (January-June 2017) 6:1.
LECTURE FOUR: WESTERN SUBJECT AND THE AFRICAN OTHER: DECOLONISATION AS DESTRUCTION
One of the questions that has often attended African humanist ideology or ubuntu is: If ‘a person is a person through another person,’ does this person also make allowance for the humanity of a stranger? In other words, is it possible that ubuntu can promote a narrow view of relationality, one which essentialises community and deploys it as a vehicle to advance tribal hierarchies that invalidate the existence of the other? In this fourth lecture, we will see how this exclusionary sense of community does not only haunt African humanist ideology, but also pervades the whole of western philosophical tradition. Specifically, we will extend Achille Mbembe’s concept of the ‘seeing power of race’ in Critique of Black Reason to explore how the same racialized and racializing vision of singularity/alterity that underpins western philosophical tradition, and its formation of the modern world can be reinforced when African humanist ideology denies the existence of the western other.
- Schalk Hendrik Gerber, ‘From Dis-Enclosure to Decolonisation: In Dialogue with Nancy and Mbembe on Self-Determination and the Other,’ in Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection: African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology in Dialogue, 2018, 9(4), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040128.
LECTURE FIVE: DECOLONISATION AS NON-ESSENTIALISED-COLOUR-BLIND UNIVERSALISM
Having seen how an undiscerning absorption of western philosophical tradition and African humanist ideology can lead to the reinforcement of the same repudiated logic of dehumanisation, lecture five will explore what provides for a responsible decolonial thinking. Building on Jean-Luc Nancy’s interpretation of Dasein as irreducibly ‘singular-plural’ and Achille Mbembe’s project of ‘nonracialism’ and ‘dis-enclosure,’ we show how a true decolonisation is consistent with the reimagination of ubuntu or African humanist ideology as an African gift that speaks to the Fanonian emancipatory project of ‘the rise of humanity,’ — ‘a humanity that is not given, but instead ‘pulled up and created over the course of struggles.’ We will conclude the lecture with some comments about the significance of decolonisation for the inauguration of an alternative ontology that seeks to understand the ways sexuality, geography, gender, race, and coloniality shape knowledge production, and how these different subjectivities can engage in dialogue and consider themselves as gifts to be exchanged.
- Jean-Luc Nancy, Being Singular-Plural in Being Singular Plural, Stanford: Stanford University Press: 2000a.
- Jean-Luc Nancy, Shattered Love in Inoperative Community, ed Peter Connor, Minneapolis: Minneapolis University Press, (1991), pp. 82-109.
- Jean-Luc Nancy, Dis-Enclosure in Dis-Enclosure: The Destruction of Christianity, New York: Fordham University Press, (2008), pp. 158-62.
- Achille Mbembe, Critique of Black Reason, Johannesburge (2017).
- Achille Mbembe, Out of the Dark Night: Essays on Decolonization (2020).
- Minka Woermann, ‘Postcolonial Thinking and Modes of Being-With Others,’ Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, XXII, 2020, 3, pp. 833-848
- Nelson Maldonado-Torres, ‘On the Coloniality of Being,’ Cultural Studies 21:2, 240-270.
The Mathematical Ontology of The Immanence of Truths - Withdrawn
Lecturer: J. Bova
Starts: Tue 6:30-8:30pm 10 Jan
Full Schedule: Jan 10, 17, 24, 31, Feb 7
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
The Immanence of Truths is the final volume of Badiou’s Being & Event trilogy and the most important work of mathematical ontology to appear in this century. While there are many angles from which to approach the text, my focus, in the short time we have together, will be on Badiou’s stunning introduction of large cardinal theory—the rational thought of the higher infinite—into continental philosophy. In the understated idiom typical of mathematicians, ‘large’ cardinals are infinities which, if they are not contradictory (and therefore can exist at all) are too immense for their existence to be established in standard set theory (ZFC), which Badiou identified with ontology in Being & Event. This extended ontology pivots on the interpretation of four instances of large cardinals: strongly inaccessible, weakly compact, measurable, and large large cardinals. Roughly, these are taken typify the infinite considered from below, from the outside, from the inside, and from above. The ultimate goal of this seminar is for each participant to work toward eidetic intuitions of some or all of these large cardinals—that is, having a vision of the things themselves—guided by Badiou’s trailblazing interpretation. It is intended for ambitious, though not necessarily experienced, participants, and I’ll encourage you to use chat liberally outside of meeting hours to work through issues with me.
Session 1. January 10, 2023
- Text: General Introduction, Prologue, C3.4 and C9-S10 of Section II: The Modernity of Finitude: Covering-Over.
- Recommended reading: Section I: The Classic Forms of Finitude, rest of Section II: The Moder- nity of Finitude: Covering-Over.
- Forms: Axioms of standard (ZFC) set theory, ‘Russell’s Paradox,’ Cantor’s Theorem, the Cu- mulative Hierarchy of sets V , the Constructible Universe L, the Axiom of Choice.
Session 2. January 17, 2023
- Text: Section III: The Supremacy of Infinity
- Forms: Inaccessible cardinals, models of ZFC, [worldly cardinals], compactness, weakly compact cardinals
Session 3. January 24, 2023
- Text: Section IV: Approaching the Absolute
- Forms: Measurable (‘complete’) cardinals, filters and ultrafilters, proper classes, elementary em- beddings, ultraproducts and ultrapowers, the fundamental theorem
Session 4. January 31, 2023
- Text: Section V: Conditions for Defeating Covering-Over
- Forms: Scott’s Theorem, 0#, Silver’s Theorem, Jensen’s Theorem.
Session 5. February 7, 2023
- Text: Section VI: Parmenides’ Revenge, Section VII: The General Theory of Works-in-Truth, General Conclusion.
- Recommended reading: Section VIII: Works Based on the Object: Art, Science, Section IX: Works Based on Becoming: Love, Politics.
- Forms: Reflection principles, consistency strength, the large cardinal hierarchy as a non-whole, su- percompact cardinals, huge cardinals, n-huge cardinals, Kunen’s Theorem, proper classes again.
Please read the texts prior to each meeting, if at all possible. The presentations may include some summaries, for purposes of reminding, but will not be designed primarily for that purpose.
Hegel for Social Movements
Lecturer: Andy Blunden
Starts: Wed 5:00-7:00pm 11 Jan
Full Schedule: Jan 11, 18, 25, Feb 1, 8
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
This course will present a social philosophy based on a reading of Hegel’s philosophy which is relevant to our times, rather than a meditation on an early-19th century German philosopher.
The resources called upon to render Hegel’s philosophy into a form relevant to the present epoch are drawn from Marx and the Soviet Cultural Psychologist, Lev Vygotsky and the Soviet Activity Theorists. The course will take the form of relatively short lectures with ample time devoted to a dialogue between the presenter and the participants.
No background reading is required but participants might wish to orient themselves by browsing my home page: https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/index.htm.
Session 1: What is the difference between Hegel and Marx?
Session 2: In what sense was Hegel and Idealist?
Session 3: What is the subject matter of Hegel’s Logic?
Session 4: The substance of human life is activities.
Session 5: The structure of Hegel’s Logic?
Session 6: Concept and activities?
Session 7: Marx’s Capital and Hegel’s Logic.
Session 8: The concept of class in the 21st century.
Session 9: The life-cycle of an activity.
Session 10: Discussion.
Each evening there will be two sessions. Each session will be opened with a short lecture before assigning participants into break-out groups for 5 minutes, and then the remainder of the hour will be Q&A. There will then be a 5-minute break before starting the second session.
Orders will be taken for the book “Hegel for Social Movements” (2019) $25
Jacques Derrida’s Ethics and Politics of Mourning
Lecturer: Aleksander Kopka
Starts: Wed 7:30-9:30pm 11 Jan
Full Schedule: Jan 11, 18, 25, Feb 1, 8
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
The course offers a systematic study of the notion of mourning in the philosophy of Jacques Derrida that provides a unique and crucial access to the politico-ethical dimension of his work. The course is designed to show how the question of mourning inspires a more insightful way of thinking about politics and ethics based on the call for radical and unrestrained responsibility for the mortal other(s). As such, it brings forth the connection between the thought of mourning and four political notions that consist in the hyperbolic demand that Derrida often refers to as “the law of the other”: justice, hospitality, and democracy to come. During the course, students will be introduced to numerous texts of Jacques Derrida, from his early writings on phenomenology and Emmanuel Levinas, throughout his writings on mourning from 1980s and 1990s, to his last seminars The Beast and the Sovereign. They will gain understanding of the psychoanalytic theory of mourning, the most crucial aspects of deconstruction (and hauntology), the impact of psychoanalysis on the thought of deconstruction, and how all of it translates into Derrida’s ethical and political proposals with regard to such issues as nationalism, citizenship, refugeeism, sovereignty, and global capitalism.
Week 1: The Discourse of Mourning / Mourning and Friendship
We will introduce the theme of mourning in the philosophy of Jacques Derrida and to his writings of mourning gathered mainly in the collections of essays The Work of Mourning. Furthermore, we will explore the relation between mourning, friendship and “the end of the world.”
- Derrida, Jacques. Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas. Trans. P.-A. Brault, M. Naas. Stanford–California: Stanford University Press, 1997.
- Derrida, Jacques. Learning to Live Finally: the Last Interview. Trans. P.-A. Brault, M. Naas. London: Palgrave McMillan, 2007.
- Derrida, Jacques. Rams. In: Sovereignties in Question: The Poetics of Paul Celan. Eds. T. Dutoit, O. Pasanen. New York: Fordham University Press, 2005 (required reading).
- Derrida, Jacques. Memoires for Paul de Man. Trans. C. Lindsay, J. Culler, E. Cadava, P. Kamuf. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.
- Derrida, Jacques. The Work of Mourning. Eds. P.-A. Brault, M. Naas. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2003.
Week 2: Mourning – from Psychoanalysis to Deconstruction
This week, we will look into Freudian concept of “the work of mourning”. We will also examine the relation between psychoanalysis and deconstruction.
- Freud, Sigmund. Mourning and Melancholia, any edition (required reading).
- Derrida, Jacques. «Eating Well,» or the Calculation of the Subject. In: Points... Interviews, 1974-1994. Ed. E. Weber. Trans. P. Kamuf et al. Stanford–California: Stanford University Press, 1995.
- Derrida, Jacques. Fors: The Anglish Words of Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok. Trans. B. Johnson. In: Abraham Nicolas, Torok Maria: The Wolf Man’s Magic Word: A Cryptonymy. Trans. N. Rand. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986.
- Derrida, Jacques. Glas. Trans. J.P. Leavey, R. Rand. Lincoln–London: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.
- Derrida, Jacques. Living On: Border Lines. In: Parages. Ed. J.P. Leavey. Trans. T. Conley, J. Hulbert, J.P. Leavey, A. Ronell. Stanford–California: Stanford University Press, 1986.
- Derrida, Jacques.
- Derrida, Jacques. Resistances of Psychoanalysis. Trans. P. Kamuf et al. Stanford–California: Stanford University Press, 1998.
Week 3: Trace, Writing and Life-Death
In this part, we will study Derrida’s argument about the originary contamination of life and death, which goes back to his early phenomenological writings and is exemplified by the notions of trace, survival [survie] and life-death [la vie la mort]. We will look into Derrida’s remarks on the heterogeneous character of auto-affection and how it relates to death and mourning.
- Derrida, Jacques. Aporias. Trans. T. Dutoit. Stanford–California: Stanford University Press, 1993.
- Derrida, Jacques. Dissemination. Trans. B. Johnson. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1981 (required reading – fragments).
- Derrida, Jacques. Life Death. Trans. P.-A. Brault, M. Naas. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2020.
- Derrida, Jacques. Margins of Philosophy. Trans. A. Bass. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1984.
- Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Trans. G. C. Spivak. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 2016.
- Derrida, Jacques. Voice and Phenomenon: Introduction to the Problem of Sign in Husserl’s Phenomenology. Trans. L. Lawlor. Evanston–Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2011.
Week 4: The Politics of Mourning: Hauntology
This week we will focus on the notions of spectrality and hauntology. We will also examine the political potential of Specters of Marx in relation to the notion of mourning. Furthermore, we will discuss Derrida’s critique of global capitalism.
- Derrida, Jacques. Abraham’s Melancholy: Interview with Michal Ben-Naftali. Trans. E. Anderson, P. Lynes. “The Oxford Literary Review” 2017, no. 2, vol. 39, pp. 153-188.
- Derrida, Jacques. Spectres of Marx. Trans. P. Kamuf. London – New York: Routledge, 2006 (required reading – fragments).
- Derrida, Jacques, Maurizio Ferraris. A Taste for the Secret. Ed. G. Donis, D. Webb. Trans. G. Donis. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001.
- Derrida, Jacques, Bernard Stiegler. Echographies of Television: Filmed Interviews. Trans. J. Bajorek. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007.
- Fraser, Nancy. Cannibal Capitalism. London–New York: Verso, 2022.
- Gibson-Graham, J-K .The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It). Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 2006, pp. 238-250.
Week 5: The Politics of Mourning: Democracy, Justice and Hospitality
In this part, we will examine Derrida’s notions of democracy, justice and hospitality with regard to our responsibility for the mortal other.
- Butler, Judith. Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? London–New York: Verso, 2016.
- Butler, Judith. The Force of Non-Violence. London–New York: Verso, 2020.
- Derrida, Jacques. Rouges: Two Essays on Reason. Trans. P.-A. Brault, M. Naas. Stanford–California: Stanford University Press, 2005.
- Derrida, Jacques, Anne Dufourmantelle. Of Hospitality. Trans. R. Bowlby. Stanford–California: Stanford University Press, 2000.
- Derrida, Jacques. The Beast & the Sovereign, vol. 2. Trans. G. Bennington. Chicago–London: The University of Chicago Press, 2011.
- Derrida, Jacques. Violence and Metaphysics. In: Writing and Difference. Trans. A. Bass. London–New York: Routledge, 2009.
Reading Walter Benjamin’s “Theses on the Concept of History”
Lecturer: Gregory Marks
Starts: Thu 6:30-8:30pm 12 Jan
Full Schedule: Jan 12, 19, 26, Feb 2, 9
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
Of all Walter Benjamin’s works, few are as elusive, electrifying, and divisive as his “Theses on the Concept of History” (1940). Written in the final months of Benjamin’s life, before his tragic flight from Vichy France, the theses stand as the final statement of his life’s work and a central text for the later reception of his thought. The twenty short fragments that make up the theses put forward a provocative blend of Marxism and messianism to criticise the traditional categories of the philosophy of history, from its ideological notions of progress and its complicity with the atrocities of empire, to its limited conceptions of historical time and the dampening of political spirits that comes with its abdication to the “inevitable” course of history.
To make sense of Benjamin’s combination of historical materialism and secularised messianism, this course will take up a close reading of his theses, reading each in turn and examining the main themes, images, and concepts as they are introduced. The reading of the theses will be placed in the context of Benjamin’s earlier writings on history, culture, and modernity, to help explicate Benjamin’s last work in the light of his lifelong interests and preoccupations. Benjamin’s major influences will be discussed, from the revolutionary ideas of Lukacs to the messianism of Rosenzweig, and comparisons will be carried out with other major works in the philosophy of history, from Vico and Hegel through to Nietzsche and Marx.
The question of Benjamin’s ongoing relevance will also be broached by placing his writing in conversation with contemporary discussions of historical injustice, climate catastrophe, and political struggle. Where needed, reference will be made to key contemporary commentators on the theses, with the goal of setting Benjamin’s reception in contrast with an attentive reading of his work, to allow the reader to critically assess the significance of the theses on their own terms.
Week 1: What is Historical? (Theses I, II, III, IV)
Week 2: To Seize the Truth (Theses V, VI, VII, VIII)
Week 3: Catastrophe and Praxis (Theses IX, X, XI, XII)
Week 4: The Shape of History (Theses XIII, XIV, XV, XVI)
Week 5: The Messianic Remnant (Theses XVII, XVIII, A, B)
- Walter Benjamin, “On the Concept of History,” in Selected Works, vol. 4, eds. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge: Belknap, 2003), 389-400.
- Walter Benjamin, “Paralipomena to ‘On the Concept of History,’” in Selected Works, vol. 4, eds. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge: Belknap, 2003), 401-411.
- Michael Löwy, Fire Alarm, trans. Chris Turner (London: Verso 2016).
The Development of Hegel and Nāgārjuna’s Dialectic
Lecturer: Brendan Duncan
Starts: Fri 6:30-8:30pm 13 Jan
Full Schedule: Jan 13, 20, 27, Feb 3, 10
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
Although the origin of dialectic is typically placed very early in the history of philosophy—either in Parmenides, Heraclitus, or Plato—dialectic arguably became a principal object of philosophical consideration only in the 19th century with Hegel. At the very least a claim could be made that Hegel’s is the proper name that, even to this day, is most intimately associated with dialectic. In the tradition of Buddhist logic and ontology, however, dialectic reached the apogee of its importance much earlier. For while the great systematic philosophies of Buddhism came later, an argument could be made that dialectic as such reached its peak in the 2nd century with the founder of Madhyamaka Buddhism: Nāgārjuna.
The aim of this course is to introduce and trace the historical development of Hegel and Nāgārjuna’s concept of dialectic. “Concept” in the singular, because it is the contention of this course that, despite the nearly two-thousand years between them, Hegel and Nāgārjuna understood dialectic in a substantially similar way—a convergence which is not, however, a coincidence, for the two share a common point of reference. In various places throughout his work Hegel states that the foremost antecedent to his notion of dialectic is the sceptical operation of Pyrrhonism—a claim that might strike us as surprising, given the normative story of the origin of dialectic. But in recent decades Buddhist studies has arrived at a consensus: there was some form of historical contact and consequent philosophical influence of Pyrrhonian scepticism and early Buddhism on one another. This course therefore follows, with an eye to the genesis of the concept of dialectic, two possible lines of historical influence: one extending from the earliest Buddhist texts through Pyrrho and Sextus Empiricus to Hegel, and another running from Pyrrho and his Greek influences through these same Buddhist texts to Nāgārjuna.
Week 1. Introduction to the concept of dialectic
This first week will introduce Hegel and Nāgārjuna’s notions of dialectic and argue for their substantial similarity. Several key logical and ontological terms related to dialectic will also be introduced and discussed. On Nāgārjuna’s side these are: negation, svabhāva, dependent origination and emptiness; on Hegel’s: negation again, the logical conditions of determinateness, the notion of finite and infinite thought-contents and the related distinction between Verstand and Vernunft.
- Hegel, Encyclopaedia Logic, §79-82, trans. Suchting, Geraets and Harris.
- Nāgārjuna, Mulamadhyamakakarika, chapter 24, in Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings, trans. Jay L. Garfield.
- Nāgārjuna, Mulamadhyamakakarika, chapter 2, trans. Mark Siderits and Shoryu Katsura.
- Jan Westerhoff, Nāgārjuna: A Philosophical Introduction, chapter 2: “interpretations of Svabhava,” 19-45.
- Tsongkhapa, “The Actual Object to Be Negated,” in The Great Treatise on the States of the Path to Enlightenment vol. 1, trans. Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee.
Week 2. Greek dialectic before Pyrrho
The second week will be devoted to the early conditions of dialectic on the Greek side. We begin by considering the pre-Socratic origins of argument forms essential to both the Late Pyrrhonism of Sextus Empiricus and Madhyamaka–most importantly reductio ad absurdum. But the bulk of the session will be devoted to Hegel’s puzzling views about the sceptical principle in Greek philosophy before Pyrrho. Hegel approvingly cites Diogenes Laertius’ claim that figures as diverse as Homer, Euripedes, Zeno, Democritus and Plato may all be counted among the sceptics. Moreover, we consider Hegel’s striking reading of Plato’s Parmenides, a text he calls the most ‘perfect and self-sustaining document of genuine scepticism.’
- Hegel, “On the Relationship of Skepticism to Philosophy,” in Between Kant and Hegel: Texts in the Development of Post-Kantian Idealism, trans. H.S. Harris.
- Hegel, “Heraclitus,” “Plato,” especially section c. on Dialectic, and “Skepticism Proper: Pyrrho, Aenesidemus, Sextus Empiricus,” in Lectures on the History of Philosophy vol. 2, trans. Robert F. Brown; pages 70-82, 175-224 and 302-316, respectively.
Week 3. Indian scepticism, materialism and logic before Buddhism
Week three initiates our discussion of the Buddhist-Pyrrhonist nexus determinative on Hegel and Nāgārjuna. We begin by looking at certain Buddhist texts from the Pali canon normally taken as representative of Early Buddhism. There are two purposes to this. First, we will try to discern to what extent pre-Buddhist Indian atheism, scepticism, materialism, and logic were formative on Early-Buddhism. These topics, however, are the subject of notorious scholarly disputation. Fundamental issues of chronology concerning the Buddha’s life and death, the Pali Canon, the relationship of Early Buddhism to non-Buddhist Indian philosophy, and even the normative sense of the term “Early Buddhism” itself are live and uncertain issues in Buddhist studies. We discuss these debates in some detail. Our second concern will be to identify elements within the Pali canon determinative on Madhyamaka, leading into our discussion in week four of similar elements that may have been determinative on Pyrrhonism.
- “Samaññaphala Sutta”, in The Long Discourses of the Buddha, trans. Maurice Walsh.
- Suttanipata, selections, trans. Bhikku Bodhi.
- Luis O. Gómez, “Proto-Madhyamika in the Pali Canon.”
Week 4. Early Pyrrhonism and Early Buddhism
Week four focuses on Pyrrhonism itself. It has four parts. First, we consider the historical evidence of Pyrrho’s association with India, as well as the character of the Buddhism he would have encountered there. Second we consider the extent to which we can disambiguate Early Pyrrhonism from the Late Pyrrhonism of Sextus Empiricus. Third, we further distinguish Pyrrhonism of both kinds from the erroneous but still widespread view of scepticism–Pyrrhonism, on the view we will consider, has nothing whatsoever to do with the “denial” of the “external world.” Finally, we take a close look at some texts from the Pali canon in order to bring into view certain striking doctrinal commonalities of Early Pyrrhonism with Early Buddhism.
- “Scepticism,” especially passage F. by Aristocles, in The Hellenistic Philosophers, trans. A.A. Long and D.N. Sedley, pages 15-18.
- The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha III.136, trans. Bhikku Bodhi.
- Christopher Beckwith, Greek Buddha, chapter 1 and appendices A and B. See also Adrian Kuzminkski, “Early Buddhism Reconsidered,” the reply from Charles Goodman, “Neither Scythian nor Greek,” which in the main responds to Beckwith’s book, and then Beckwith’s reply to Goodman, “Early Buddhism and Incommensurability.”
Week 5. Late Pyrrhonism and Madhyamaka
Week five looks at the relationship of Nāgārjuna’s Madhyamaka to Pyrrhonism, especially the Late Pyrrhonism of Sextus Empiricus. The similarity between Madhyamaka and Pyrrhonism, in point of doctrine and mode of argumentation, has been well documented by a number of scholars. We discuss this convergence in some detail and consider potential explanations. Moreover, we return to Hegel’s identification of dialectic and scepticism and argue that the principle of dialectic that Hegel claims to discern in Pyrrhonism is better attested in Nāgārjuna. We conclude our course by discussing the notion of dialectic that has emerged from the historical treatment and suggest some consequences of this result for the uptake and criticism of dialectic by three thinkers: Adorno, Deleuze and Jameson.
- Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Scepticism, selections, trans. Benson Mates.
- Nāgārjuna, Mulamadhyamakakarika, selections, trans. Mark Siderits and Shoryu Katsura.
- Thomas McEvilley, The Shape of Ancient Thought, chapters 15-18, but especially chapter 17.
- Adrian Kuzminski, Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism, chapter 2. See also Kuzminski’s Pyrrhonian Buddhism: A Philosophical Reconstruction.
Reading Capital Vol. 1
Lecturer: FTC Manning
Starts: Mon 10:30-12:30pm 13 Feb
Full Schedule: 13-17 Feb
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
This course welcomes new readers of Capital and Marx, as well as those who want to complete or deepen past readings of the book. The two goals are (1) develop a rich understanding and curiosity about Marx’s theory of the Capitalist Mode of Production, and (2) de-mystify commonly used concepts, phrases, and arguments derived from this book.
I will contextualize our reading of Capital in the field of competing interpretations (in particular, Value Form Theory, Marxist Humanism, Communization Theory, Marxist-Feminism, Leninism, and Marxism-Leninism-Maoism), but we will do no secondary reading, instead focusing on close readings of key passages in Capital.
Each week, I will highlight several concepts that are essential to the section we are reviewing (see schedule below). By the end of the course, participants should have a working understanding of these concepts as used by Marx.
Bring a copy of any Version of Capital Volume 1. I will have both the Fowkes and Moore & Aveling English translations on hand. The most common English version is the Penguin Edition of Volume 1 translated by Ben Fowkes. Choosing this edition has the benefit of being the most widely cited and widely owned. The second most available English translation is published most recently by New World Paperbacks in the 1970s and 80s, and translated originally in 1887 by Moore and Aveling. I slightly prefer some of the wording of this translation, as I find it more precise (if sometimes more wordy). Either of these, or any language translation you prefer, is welcome – I find having multiple translations can enhance our conversation.
Every session we will cover approximately 2 Parts of Capital, which comprises roughly 200 pages, give or take. Read the full section if you are able, and if you are not, I will assign a “bare minimum” reading of 10-20 pages, and a “more thorough” reading of 30-60 pages.
Schedule for Reading Capital Vol 1
Session 1 Key Concepts: Commodities (& Fetishism of); General Equivalent; Value; Labor-Power
Part 1 Commodities and Money
Part 2 The Transformation of Money into Capital
Session 2 Key Concepts: Surplus Value, Constant and Variable Capital
Part 3: The Production of Absolute Surplus-Value
Part 4: The Production of Relative Surplus Value, pt 1
Session 3 Key Concepts: Absolute vs. Relative Surplus Value; Productivity of Labor;
Part 4: The Production of Relative Surplus Value, pt 2
Part 5: The Production of Absolute and Relative Surplus Value
Session 4 Key Concepts: Capitalist Accumulation, Growth, Totality, The Rising Organic Composition of Capital (Bonus: The Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall – TRPF)
Part 6: Wages
Part 7: The Process of Accumulation of Capital
Session 5 Key Concepts: Originary Accumulation (aka primitive accumulation); Colonialization (Bonus: Uneven Geographic Development, Accumulation by Dispossession, Racial Capitalism).
Part 8: So-Called Primitive Accumulation
“The South of the North and the West of the East”: A Decolonial Lens
Lecturer: Valery Arrows
Starts: Mon 1:00-3:00pm 13 Feb
Full Schedule: 13-17 Feb
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
The ancient Graeco-Roman philosophy, art and science, Mediaeval Times, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment are all complex cultural movements – and these mighty ancestors of our Western intellectual tradition flourished alongside the violent and expansive practice of colonisation, including invasion and cruel termination of any resistance and incompatible ways of life. The depth of agony borne by these conquests of land and water, people and resources is inconceivable and ongoing. Thus “colonial wounds” are entrenched in our everyday lives, and guide us in both subtle and significant ways.
This course brings your attention to the decolonial movement that has blossomed in our century. The recent research emerging from the deep continuous struggle has already impacted a multiplicity of disciplines, ranging from philosophy and literature to anthropology and psycho-analysis. Originally, decoloniality attacks the epistemological and normative paradigms deemed authoritative throughout Western culture. Humanity, universal science, disembodied mind, detachment, high art, private property, productivity, anthropocentrism, cosmopolitanism, autonomy, industry, systematicity and racial capitalism – these and many other dogmatisms and superstructures have buried potent forms of non-eurocentric and indigenous wisdom. In recent years, however, decolonial thinking has also influenced modern African, Asian, Middle East and Australian Aboriginal studies, resulting in the publication of a series of provocative papers that expose colonial forces and patterns in areas as diverse as sexuality studies, politics, agriculture and fashion. This course offers an introduction to the foundational decolonial motives and explores several promising trajectories in an attempt to deshape our self-understanding and foster living, relational thoughts and praxis.
1. The darker side of knowledge
- Walter Mignolo. The Darker Side of the Renaissance (University of Michigan Press, 2003)
- — The Darker Side of Western Modernity (University of Duke Press, 2011) Paul C. Taylor (ed). The Philosophy of Race vol. 1 (Routledge, 2012)
2. Dislocated consciousness in resistance
- Frantz Fanon. Black Skin, White Masks (Grove Press, 2007/1952) Albert Camus. Algerian Chronicles (HUP, 2014)
- Dylan Rodriguez. White Reconstruction (Fordham University Press, 2021)
3.1 Decolonising politics
- Robbie Shilliam. Decolonising Politics (Polity, 2021) Maya Ramnath. Decolonising Anarchism (AK Press, 2012)
- Hong An Truong, Nayoung Aimee Kwon & Guo-Juin Hong. “What/Where is ‘Decolonial Asia’?”, Social Text (Duke University Press, 2013)
3.2 Decolonising feminism
- Maria Lugones. “Toward a Decolonial Feminism”, Hypatia vol. 25: 745-759 (2010) Breny Mendoza.“Coloniality of Gender and Power: from Postcoloniality to Decoloniality”, in Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory (OUP, 2015)
- Francoise Verges. A Decolonial Feminism (Pluto Press, 2021)
4.1 Home: decolonising sex, family and parenthood
- Jarrod Hayes (ed). Decolonising Sex and Sexuality, a special issue of Journal of Middle East Women Studies (Duke University Press, 2018)
- Tanya Pace-Crosschild. “Decolonising childrearing and challenging patriarchal nuclear family through indigenous knowledges”, in Feminism and the Politics of Childhood (UCL Press, 2018)
- Chloe Ray. “On Birth and Being”, in A Decolonial Manual (punctum books, 2023)
4.2 Decolonising art, aesthetics and being
- Ruth Sonderegger & Ines Kleesattel. “Aesthetics and Politics”, in Aesthetic Theory and Practice (Rebus Press, 2021)
- Paul C. Taylor. Black is Beautiful: A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics (Blackwell, 2016) Elizabeth Burns Coleman. “Engaging with Indegenous Art Aesthetically”, in Aesthetic Theory and Practice (Rebus Press, 2021)
- Walter Mignolo & Rolando Vazquez. “Decolonial AestheSis: Colonial Wounds/Decolonial Healings”, Social Text (Duke University Press, 2013)
5. Terra Nullius: decolonising education and nature
- Achille Mbembe. “Decolonising the university: new directions”, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education vol. 15: 29-45 (2017)
- Fred Moten and Stefano Harney. The Undercommons: fugitive planning and black study (Minor Compositions, 2013)
- Arlo Kempf and George Dei. Anti-Colonialism and Education: the politics of resistance (Brill, 2006)
- Ravi Arvindt Palat. “Beyond Orientalism: Decolonising Asian Studies”, Development and Society vol. 29: 105-135 (2000)
- Shose Kessi, Zoe Marks & Elelwani Ramugondo. “Decolonising African Studies”, Critical African Studies vol. 12: 272-282 (2020)
- Cyrus Schayegh & Yoav Di-Capua. “Why Decolonisation?”, International Journal of Middle East Studies vol. 52: 137-145 (2020)
- T.J. Demos. Decolonising Nature (MIT Press, 2016)
The Works of Lyotard - Part 1
Lecturer: Graham Jones
Starts: Mon 3:30-5:30pm 13 Feb
Full Schedule: 13-17 Feb
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
The last decade has seen a renewal of interest in the philosophy of Jean-Francois Lyotard, an encounter that has foregrounded and re-evaluated various significant works previously eclipsed by his (often misunderstood) notion of the ‘postmodern’.
This course, intended ideally as the first of three parts, will provide a guide to Lyotard’s philosophy. Structured as a chronological survey of his oeuvre, it will closely examine the major works both individually and in respect to the broader sweep of his on-going concerns. After a brief look at the themes presented in the two short, early works Phenomenology and Why Philosophize?, this first part will focus on and ‘unpack’ the two major texts, Discourse, figure and Libidinal Economy. It will also examine a selection of essays written between 1968 and 1977 that mark points of development, revision, and transition in respect to the ideas and arguments presented in these longer works and which pave the way for Lyotard’s subsequent endeavours. Finally, it will look at some of the interpretations, adaptations and criticisms made of Discourse, figure and Libidinal Economy.
Seminar 1: Introduction and Context
The first half of this seminar will provide some background for Lyotard’s concerns, touching on his education, activism and teaching in the context of contemporaneous philosophical and political issues in Europe. With this context in mind, the second half will introduce the key themes and debates subsequently explored in Lyotard’s ‘libidinal’ works.
Seminar 2: Discourse, Figure
The second seminar will provide an introduction to the ideas developed in Discourse, figure, with a particular focus on Lyotard’s aims and method. We will also delve into his theories about desire and unconscious processes, and their relation to the plasticity that he sees as intrinsic to artistic practice.
Seminar 3: Related Essays
Throughout the latter half of the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s Lyotard wrote a number of essays that developed and, in an ongoing manner, revised his ideas about art in respect to the works of Marx and Freud. This seminar will provide a general survey of these ideas and then focus on several specific essays that mark key points of transition and transformation in Lyotard’s philosophical development.
Seminar 4: Libidinal Economy
This seminar will examine Lyotard’s most controversial book, examining not just its claims about libidinal energy and the latter’s various forms of investment in psychic, social and political activity but also the text’s own highly ‘performative’ rhetorical style (and how this is intended to both reflect and enact the work’s subject-matter).
Seminar 5: Overview, criticisms and questions
This final seminar will wrap-up our analysis of Libidinal Economy before examining its initial reception by other philosophers and political activists, Lyotard’s own subsequent criticisms of his libidinal work, as well as the book’s subsequent ‘influence’. There will also be time at the end for addressing related questions and discussion of Lyotard’s philosophy more generally.
The Spirit/s of Surrealism between Hegel and Schreber
Lecturer: Thomas Mical
Starts: Mon 6:30-8:30pm 13 Feb
Full Schedule: 13-17 Feb
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
This unique course cross-examines the emergence of the psychoanalytic subject to articulate a nuanced theory of the spirit/s of surrealism for life. In this course we begin by questioning, connecting, and aligning the circuits of subjectivity and the spirit medium of surrealism between those 2 mad systems (Hegel mirroring Schreber mirroring Hegel), drawing our obscure knowledge the productive tensions created in their reciprocating proximities and intellectual interference patterns. The first source is the unique and influential psyche-soul-theology of Judge Schreber detailed in his modern Anatomy of my Nervous Illness (c. 1900) as well as the recent secondary literature that sketches a trajectory of media-philosophy of the ethereal drawn from Schreber’s panoramic textual psychosis. We pursue the markers of the channel for the modern subject emerging as a process, a questioning, tending towards a non-standard dualist worldview, where the subject is the construction site of other immaterial modern process formations (psychology, theology). In this manner, placing Schreber’s bifurcated soul under glass, we will also see the subtle influence of precedent in Hegel, detailed in his Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) which also strongly influenced modern Psychology and the Surrealists, Freud to Kojeve to Lacan. Hegel’s exegesis of Spirit in this cross-examination acts as a curious book-end to Schreber’s world-view. The world for Schreber was twofold, the world of the mechanical everyday and a second secret world of arcane permutations and communications, with the bifurcated subject ensnared in both.
Turning to surrealism, we will discover how surrealism founder Andre Breton's focus upon inner workings of thought (the psychic realism in the first surrealist manifesto) untethers the conscious processes elaborated in the Phenomenology of Spirit, reconsidered as a proto-surrealist work. Surrealism deviates from the valences of Geist (spirit, ….) in Hegel’s system in turning to psychoanalytic processes, obscure dialectics, supernatural forays, and creative practices including the search for trace surrealism in everyday spaces. The spirit of surrealism includes all the spirits in the world, the phantom limbs of urban life, representations of hauntings and indexical shadows in surrealist art and cinema. The exposure of the hidden unconscious through creative processes (such as automatism) arise from the prior spirits of German Romanticism, and the Romantic Science emphasis upon invisible forces of nature and the birth of the unconscious. While the strong influence of Hegel upon surrealism is well established, the difficult Hegelian principles are layered within surrealism arise from the French return of Hegel. We can follow Surrealism’s abductive logic and reality-shifting capacities, and the derangement of the dialectic for other effects.
We will parallel trace Schreber’s minor hauntology in some works of first and second-generation surrealism. We will seek intellectual pathways from Hegel and Schreber’s influence on 21stC occult surrealism of the present, valences of the uncanny, and hysterical realism when it approximates global surrealism. There will be some attention to theories of the ether, telepathy/clairvoyance, and all sorts of mad machinery… twittering-machines, paranoiac-machines, miraculating-machines, and influencing-machines. We note the contemporary re/turn to haunted media, forms of ethereal dwelling, the return of global surrealism and strange gothics, perhaps the dematerializing of the world order as the emergence of something more supernatural.
Course Content & Readings
The title for each weekly session draws together some of the primary categories of thought and analysis we will explore. The recommended reading lists are non-hierarchical, so posses or be possessed by these as you prefer. All readings will be housed in the course Box folder; many can also be found online. We will also include select visual works in the presentations.
Week 1: Tracking the Spirits of Phenomenology
The extension of thought from mind to world and back establishes a reciprocating mechanism requiring great precision of analysis to work through mimesis into a psychic realism, a self-consciousness within regimes of sprits. Here we begin with Hegel’s “Introduction” to the Phenomenology of Spirit taken as a proto-surrealist tale. This resonates, as we shall see, in tandem with Breton’s later search for the true operations of the psyche in the “Manifesto.” Between these two texts stretches an emergent circuitry we must discern for apprehending Spirit and spirits, actively surrealist.
- Hegel, “Introduction” in Hegel, G.W.F., A.V. Miller, and J.N. Findlay. Phenomenology of Spirit. Oxford University Press, 1977.
- Glenn Alexander Magee. Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2001. Chapter 4, “Hegel’s Initiation Rite: The Phenomenology of Spirit” pp. 127-149.
- Stephen Houlgate. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Bloomsbury. London: Bloomsbury, 2013. Chapter 3, “Spirit” pp. 143-172.
- Baugh, B. French Hegel: From Surrealism to Postmodernism. Routledge, 2003. (reading selection TBD)
- Butler, J. Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France. Columbia University Press, 2012. (reading selection TBD)
- Kojeve, A. Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1969. (reading selection TBD)
Week 2: Conjuring the Spirit/s of SurrealismV (Everyday Marvellous)
The consciousness of spirits, informed by the Hegel-Schreber Enlightenment, is transformed this week into an investigation of surrealism and the occult, a hybrid world of dreams fused with reality, pulsing with spirits. In surrealism psychic realism situates us as “modest recording devices” and theories of desire that are written in luminous letters, and surrealist theories of the everyday as marvellous. In these protocols the sensorium in the mind becomes open to derangement and re-arrangement in the radiant world, which we will illustrate with a range of occult works from surrealist visual culture, past and present. We can follow Surrealism’s abductive logic and reality-shifting capacities, and the derangement of the dialectic for other effects.
- “First Manifesto of Surrealism” in Breton, A., R. Seaver, and H.R. Lane. Manifestoes of Surrealism. University of Michigan Press, 1969. - Alternate link: http://www.kristinedoor.com/uploads/1/1/4/0/11407928/manifestopdf.pdf
- Rabaté, J.-M. “Genealogy One: Hegel’s Plague” in Rabaté, J.-M. The Future of Theory, Oxford, UK ; Malden, MA : Blackwell Publishers, 2002 - Link: https://www.blackwellpublishing.com/content/BPL_Images/Content_Store/Sample_Chapter/9780631230120/001.pdf
- Sheringham, M. Everyday Life: Theories and Practices from Surrealism to the Present. Oxford University Press, 2009. (reading selection TBD)
- Bauduin, T.M., V. Ferentinou, and D. Zamani. Surrealism, Occultism and Politics: In Search of the Marvellous. Taylor & Francis, 2017. (reading selection TBD)
- Choucha, N. Surrealism and the Occult: Shamanism, Magic, Alchemy, and the Birth of the Artistic Movement. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 1991. Chapter 4, “The Surrealist Manifestoes, Automatism, and Austin Oman Spare” pp. 51-74.
- Conley, K. Surrealist Ghostliness. Nebraska, 2013. (reading selection TBD)
- Lepetit, P. The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism: Origins, Magic, and Secret Societies. Rochester, VT & Toronto, ON: Inner Traditions, 2012. Chapter 3 “Surrealism and the Labyrinth of the Mind”, pp. 84-115.
- Masschelien, A. The Unconcept: The Freudian Uncanny in Late Twentieth Century Theory. SUNY Press, 2012. (reading selection TBD)
- Mundy, J., V. Gille, D. Ades, Tate Modern, and Metropolitan Museum of Art. Surrealism: Desire Unbound. Princeton University Press, 2001. (reading selection TBD)
Week 3. Schreber’s Media Occult Theology
In this case we attend to the precise and peculiar dualist cosmology of Judge Schreber in his self- diagnosis of his psychosis. Soul voluptuousness, miraculating machines, unmanning rays, fleeting improvised men, divine bird communication, and many other curiosities all circulate in this apparent media occult theology. This document exposes a diversifying hysterical realism of intricate lines of thought and a hypersensitive sensation system to rival Hegel’s Phenomenology, and we will use the intense body of works on Schreber to tease out more of these hidden correlations.
- Santner, E.L. My Own Private Germany: Daniel Paul Schreber's Secret History of Modernity. Princeton University Press, 1997. (reading selection TBD)
- Schreber, D.P., and R. Dinnage. Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. New York Review Books, 2000. (reading selection TBD)
- Labbie, E. and Uebel, M, “We Have Never Been Schreber: Paranoia Medieval and Modern” in Cole, A. and Smith, D.V. (eds). The Legitimacy of the Middle Ages: On the Unwritten History of Theory. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010. pp. 127-158
- Lothane, Z. In Defense of Schreber: Soul Murder and Psychiatry. Hillsdale, NJ, and London: The Analytic Press, 1992. (reading selection TBD)
- Sconce, J. The Technical Delusion. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2019. Chapter 4, “The Will to (Invisible) Power” pp. 157-167
Week 4. Automatism, “Modest Recording Devices,” and other Mad Machines
The question of automatic writing, automatic processes, and the wild proliferation of forms of automatism in the present time deserves a close-up look, here informed by the surrealist practices of automatism to signal-jam reflective consciousness so as to unlock mysteries. We will investigate how Surrealist artists functioned as experimental automatons and performed as modest recording devices to their own subconscious flows, and in so doing how they established a future realm of mad artistic machines, influencing machines, and widening nets of subliminal machinic thought.
- Lomas, D. “‘Modest recording instruments’: science, surrealism and visuality” in Art History, Volume 7 issue 4, September 2004.
- Tausk, V. “On the Origin of the Influencing Machine in Schizophrenia” (1919) - Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3330285/pdf/184.pdf
- Lomas, D. “Becoming Machine: Surrealist Automatism and Some Contemporary Instances Involuntary Drawing” in Tate Papers - Link: https://www.tate.org.uk/research/tate-papers/18/becoming-machine-surrealist-automatism-and-some-contemporary-instances
- Thompson, R. L. “The Automatic Hand: Spiritualism, Psychoanalysis, Surrealism” in Invisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture, Issue 7, Spring 2004. - Link: https://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/Automatic_Hand.pdf
Week 5. From Ethereal Dwelling to Haunted Media
In the final week we turn to the practical applications of our dual origins of modernity, specifically the challenge of a dual model of interiority. Here we can appreciate the mental structures of the psyche in tension with the base materialism of the interior world, encased in the architectural object, but adrift in the city. The ambient spaces of contemporary dwellings recall the deluge of signals in Schreber’s world. Here we amplify the construct of the surrealist house, locating automatism even in the subtle equipment of doorknobs and light switches. The interior of the self and of the house is bathed in media, and is haunted by media.
- Hollier, D., and B. Wing. Against Architecture: The Writings of Georges Bataille. MIT Press, 1992. (reading selection TBD)
- Levy, S. “Menace: Surrealist Interference of Space” in Mical, T. Surrealism and Architecture. Routledge, 2005.
- Milutis, J. Ether: The Nothing that Connects Everything. University of Minnesota Press, 2005. (reading selection TBD)
- Alison, J., M.A. Caws, and Barbican Art Gallery. The Surreal House. Yale University Press, 2010. (reading selection TBD)
- Matheson, N. Surrealism and the Gothic: Castles of the Interior. Taylor & Francis Group, 2020. (reading selection TBD)