Winter School 2020

Eleven philosophy short-courses taught online June - July.

The Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy is proud to present the Winter School 2020 curriculum.  All courses are 10 hours in length.  All courses will be taught via Zoom. 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: 22 June - 31 July 2020

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 approximately 1 hour before class.  All payment must be made via credit card during enrolment.  Also it's worth noting that Melbourne is 10 hours ahead of UTC (5pm here is 9am in Berlin and Midnight in LA).

 

Fees:

Courses Waged Unwaged
1 $120 $80
2 $180 $120
3 $210 $140
4+ $240 $160
Enrol

 

 

Winter School Programme

2 hours per week for 5 weeks

Mon 5.00-7.00pm
Starts 22 June
Lifeforms
Lecturer: Dr Ben Woodard
Mon 7.30-9.30pm
Starts 22 June
A Human Geometry: The Films of Hal Hartley
Lecturer: Dr Jon Roffe
Tues 5.00-7.00pm
Starts 23 June
Nancy Fraser: neoliberalism, identity politics, feminism and class struggle
Lecturer: Elise Addlem
Tues 7.30-9.30pm
Starts 23 June
Frantz Fanon and Achille Mbembe: The Legacies of Colonialism
Lecturer: Assoc Prof Peter Gratton
Wed 5.00-7.00pm
Starts 24 June
Heidegger’s Identity and Difference
Lecturer: Prof Andrew Benjamin
Wed 7.30-9.30pm
Starts 24 June
Philosophy and Protest
Lecturer: Margarita Varava
Thur 5.00-7.00pm
Starts 25 June
Antipodean Environmental Philosophy - Withdrawn
Lecturer: Dr N.A.J. Taylor
Thur 5.00-7.00pm
Starts 25 June
Proust Among the Philosophers
Lecturer: Louis Klee
Thur 7.30-9.30pm
Starts 25 June
Forms of Rationalism and its Adversaries: Bridging The Gap between Continental and Analytic Philosophy
Lecturer: Andrea Giuseppe Ragno
Fri 5.00-7.00pm
Starts 26 June
An Introduction to Hegel’s Science of Logic
Lecturer: Dr Nahum Brown
Fri 7.30-9.30pm
Starts 26 June
A Genealogy of Citizenship
Lecturer: Dr Irene Dal Poz

2 hours per day for 5 days

6.30-8.30pm
27-31 July
The Last Days of the Dialectic: An Historical and Philosophical Introduction to the Early Badiou’s Politics
Lecturer: Dr Robert Boncardo

 

Course Descriptions


Lifeforms

Lecturer: Dr Ben Woodard

Schedule: 5.00-7.00pm. 5 Mondays June 22 - July 20.

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

This class will provide a conceptual history of the relationship between biology and biophilosophy by focusing on the numerous ways life has been formalized across the sciences and philosophy. In particular it will examine how life as a general concept in western thought has been pulled between four conceptual clusters: teleology (Kant, Blumenbach) self-organization (Schelling, Herder), function (Bernard, Cuvier) and form (Goethe, Geoffroy). The aim of the course is to show how these biological and biophilosophical concepts are still with us in the post-Darwinian present and are helpful in understanding contemporary abuses of biology (such as neo-Darwinian biopolitics or eugenics) without  hastily extracting the biological from the biophilosophical.

Week 1 – Teleology

  • “Architechtonic of Pure Reason” -Kant
  • “Kant's biological teleology and its philosophical significance”-Hannah Ginsborg
  • “Spontaneous Generation”-Stella Stanford

Week 2 – Self-Organization

  • Selections from First Outline - Schelling
  • “Degeneration”-Joan Steigerwald
  • “Schelling’s Concept of Self-Organization”-Marie Heuser-Kesler

Week 3 - Functions

  • Selections from Introduction to Experimental Physiology-Bernard
  • Selections from Objectivity-Lorraine Daston
  • “Machine and Organism”-Canguilhem

Week 4 - Forms

  • Selections from The Metamorphosis of Plants-Goethe
  • “Metamorphic Plants”-Dalia Nassar
  • “Goethe’s Botany”-Agnes Arbor

Week 5 - Darwin after Darwin

  • Selections from The Origin of Species-Darwin
  • “Analogy, Metaphor, and Narrative”-Gillian Beer
  • “Bergson’s Creative Evolution”-Keith Pearson

 


A Human Geometry: The Films of Hal Hartley

Lecturer: Dr Jon Roffe

Schedule: 7.30-9.30pm. 5 Mondays June 22 - July 20.

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

The cinema of Hal Hartley has been the victim of the worst tendencies in popular film criticism. By relegating his films to the associated, reductive categories of the ‘independent,’ the ‘quirky’, or worse, to the cul de sac of its own alleged ‘stylistic niche’, this criticism has predominantly precluded a meaningful engagement with these films, overlooking in particular the formalist elements of his work.

The aim of this course will be to develop a comprehensive conceptual portrait of Hartley’s cinema that moves beyond, while situating, the two prominent features of mainstream film criticism: the framework of genre, and the focus on narrative.

The set readings will be a series of interviews with Hartley, along with a small number of other more theoretically oriented texts. Each seminar will conclude with a screening of one of Hartley’s films.

Seminar 1: Hartley’s formalist realism. Beyond genre.

Our ultimate aim in this first seminar will be to understand the sense in which Hartley’s cinema is a formalist realism, in a sense that both encompasses and transforms these two broad, well-known and contested tendencies. This first seminar will also introduce the central formal device in Hartley’s films: the tableau.

Screening: Trust

Seminar 2: Form of expression. From the tableau to the threshold

This seminar, we will focus on developing a robust concept of the tableau, in both its plurality and the unity in composition that it provides the formal organisation in Hartley’s films. In this seminar we will also pay attention to two other formal features of Hartley’s work: the lack of establishing shots in any conventional sense, and a persistent, positive use of the out-of-frame. The latter point will allow us to see in what sense Harltey’s films involve an extremely rarefied place for events.

Screening: The Book of Life

Seminar 3: Form of content. The asymptote of humanity

In this seminar, we will return to the question of genre by examining its role in a trio of films: The Book of Life (1999), No Such Thing (2001), and The Girl From Monday (2005). More broadly, our interest will be to grasp the formal components of Hartley’s anthropology: his presentation of the form of social reality, and the concomitant form of resistance to this reality.

The grace of the Fall. The fall is grace itself.

Screening: The Girl from Monday

Seminar 4: Substance of content. The impossibility of misanthropy

This seminar will consider Hartley’s moralism, and the major claims made in his films for a kind of inverted misanthropy. The fourth seminar will also consider the status of dialogue in Hartley’s films, oriented by his claim that these films are essentially examples of the Western in which the dramatic element of the gunfight has been replaced with dialogue itself.

Screening: No Such Thing

Seminar 5: Summary. The inverted gaze

The final seminar will present an overview of the account developed in the previous sessions. In order to summarise the trajectory of the course as a whole, however, Hartley’s cinema will be presented as an effort to undo the logic of the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, at both the level of content and that of expression.

Screening: Henry Fool

 


Nancy Fraser: neoliberalism, identity politics, feminism and class struggle

Lecturer: Elise Addlem

Schedule: 5.00-7.00pm. 5 Tuesdays June 23 - July 21.

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

In this course, I will give an introduction to the philosophy of critical theorist and feminist scholar Nancy Fraser. Fraser, we’ll suggest, brings critical theory into the 21st century, exploring class struggle in a way that concentrates on the contingent, real-life individual that is as a person of colour, LGBTQI, feminist for example, and one living in the neoliberal, financialised world. Fraser develops a framework of justice that makes an examination of present-day political and social struggles theorisable. Currently a professor at the New School of Social Theory, Fraser approaches the present day with a faith in material conditions, while taking capitalism to be more than merely just an economic system. She continues the work of critical theory to make it more relevant than ever, exploring philosophical concepts in a way that is both rigorous, yet accessible. Fraser's theory is fundamental to discussions of social justice in the contemporary sphere. We will read excerpts from Fraser’s most prominent works to gain an understanding of her thought and thereby use it to analyse the current political-social crisis we face. Focusing on the central theme of justice, Fraser’s thought begins by considering the unique political juncture that ‘justice discourse’ and American social justice theory faced in the 1980s and early 1990s and it takes us all the way to the present age of Trump. Fraser unifies a Marxist analysis of late capitalism and neoliberalism with an inclusive feminist theory that refuses to reduce problems to a single dimension.

Lecture 1 Critical theory versus late-capitalist liberal feminism

In her early work, Fraser integrates the previously divergent insights of poststructuralism, critical social theory, feminist theory and pragmatism to examine issues of dominance and subordination in late-capitalist societies. First, we look at Fraser’s critical theoretical-feminist approach, before we see how she applies this to late-capitalist society. We will see why Fraser calls liberal feminism the handmaid of capitalism and how she overcomes this essentialist view and renews critical theory for feminism.

Essential reading:

  • Fraser, N., (1985). What’s critical about critical theory: The case of Habermas and gender. New German critique, 35, pp. 97-131.
  • Fraser, N., (1989). Struggle over needs: Outline of a socialist-feminist critical theory of late captialist political culture. in Unruly practices: Power, discourse, and gender in contemporary social theory. University of Minnesota Press, pp. 161-187.

Recommended reading:

  • Fraser, N., (1989). Apologia for political radicals. in Unruly practices: Power, discourse, and gender in contemporary social theory. University of Minnesota Press, pp.1-13.
  • Fraser, N. (1989). Women, welfare, and the politics of need interpretation. in Unruly practices: Power, discourse, and gender in contemporary social theory, University of Minnesota Press. pp. 144-160.
  • Fraser, N. (1992). Sex, lies, and the public sphere: Some reflections on the confirmation of Clarence Thomas. Critical inquiry, 18(3), pp. 595-612.

Lecture 2 Redistribution or recognition: a theoretical exchange on social justice

In Redistribution or Recognition (2003), with perhaps her most important interlocutor ‒ recognition theorist Axel Honneth ‒ Fraser considers the meaning of justice: recognising an individual's identity and/or meeting their material needs. A fellow critical theorist who draws heavily upon Hegel, Honneth’s recognition theory was a reaction to what he saw as social justice theory’s over-emphasis on material conditions at the expense of accounting for symbolic relations. Fraser argues that recognition of symbolic relations is important, but that these relations are not the whole story of justice. In a dialectically related way, meeting the material needs of people is fundamental to justice.

Essential reading:

  • Fraser, N. & Honneth, A. (2003), Redistribution or recognition: A political-philosophical exchange, Verso. pp. 1-6.
  • Anderson, J., & Honneth, A. (2005). Autonomy, vulnerability, recognition, and justice. in J. Christman & Anderson, J. (Eds.), Autonomy and the challenges to liberalism: New essays. Cambridge University Press. pp. 127-149.
  • Fraser, N. (1997) From redistribution to recognition? Dilemmas of justice in a “postsocialist” age. in Justice interruptus: Critical reflections on the postsocialist condition, Taylor & Francis, pp. 31-82.

Recommended reading:

  • Fraser, N. & Honneth, A. (2003), Redistribution or recognition: A political-philosophical exchange, Verso. pp. 48-109.

Lecture 3 Fraser’s bifocal theory of justice and critique of identity politics

In her critique of recognition, Fraser examines the reification of cultural identity at the expense of individual identity. From her anti-essentialist perspective of social justice, both recognition theory and social justice discourse have come to focus too much on individual identity and symbolic relations. Therefore, she argues, it runs the risk of reifying cultural identity. Over and against the gender essentialism of second-wave feminism, Fraser proposes a ‘deconstructive version of anti-essentialism’.

Essential reading:

  • Fraser, N. and Honneth, A. (2003), Redistribution or recognition: A political-philosophical exchange, Verso, pp. 26-47 and pp. 211-236.
  • Fraser, N. (2009). Multiculturalism, antiessentialism, and radical democracy, in Justice Interruptus: Critical Reflections on the Postsocialist Condition, Taylor & Francis, pp. 302-328.

Recommended reading:

  • Fraser, N. Heterosexism, misrecognition, and capitalism: A response to Judith Butler, Social Text, 52/53, pp. 279-289.
  • Fraser, N. and Naples, N. (2004). To interpret the world and to change it: An interview with Nancy Fraser, Signs, 29(4), pp. 1103-1124.

Lecture 4 Marx, social justice and the political in a neoliberal world

In keeping with her goal to weigh theory against the current world, her more recent thinking considers a range of issues, from the crisis of care in the financialised world to the interdimensional power struggles we face. Fraser reconfigures her social justice framework, adding the political sphere to the spheres of distribution and recognition. She maintains that it is possible for feminist theory to also maintain a critique of capitalist society, and indeed that it is the only way to understand the feminist struggle.

Essential reading:

  • Fraser, N. Reframing justice in a globalizing world. in Scales of justice: Reimagining political space in a globalizing world, Polity Press. pp. 31-69.
  • Fraser, N. and Jaeggi, R. (2018). Conceptualising capitalism. in Capitalism: A conversation in critical theory. Polity Press. pp. 22-47.

Recommended reading:

  • Fraser, N. (2013). Between marketization and social protection: Resolving the feminist ambivalence. in The fortunes of feminism: From state-managed capitalism to neoliberal crisis. Verso. pp. 181-192.
  • Leonard, S. and Fraser, N. Capitalism’s crisis of care. Dissent.

Lecture 5 Radical democracy and the new feminism

What is feminism for all of us, and how can we make it a reality in the age of Trump? And how is anti-capitalist change possible at this moment in history? Fraser is heavily critical today of the corporate, neoliberal feminism represented by mainstream figures such as Hilary Clinton and Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg, which, Fraser argues, necessarily implies a refusal to think through the material conditions of social reproduction. Fraser offers a manifesto for an anticapitalist feminism for the so-called 99 percent and does so within the context of the Me Too movement.

Essential reading:

  • Arruzza, C., Bhattacharya, T., and Fraser, N. (2019). Feminism for the 99%: A manifesto. Verso.
  • Fraser, N. and Jaeggi, R. (2018). Conceptualising capitalism. in Capitalism: A conversation in critical theory. Polity Press. pp. 146-157.

Recommended reading:

  • Fraser, N. (2017). From progressive neoliberalism to Trump— and beyond. American affairs, 1(4).

 


Frantz Fanon and Achille Mbembe: The Legacies of Colonialism

Lecturer: Assoc Prof Peter Gratton

Schedule: 7.30-9.30pm. 5 Tuesdays June 23 - July 21.

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

The writings of Frantz Fanon (1925-61) and Achille Mbembe (1957- ) take on the racist legacies of the West while charting a “new humanism” that could finally speak to the existential freedom of each and every one of us. Both Fanon and Mbembe use resources from within the tradition of Continental philosophy (Hegel, Marx, Freud, Sartre, and early Lacan, among others, for Fanon; Hegel, Heidegger, Bataille, Lacan, Foucault, Derrida, and Nancy, among others, for Mbembe), along with thinkers from within Africana philosophy, to confront the legacies of slavery, colonialism, and apartheid, which have done so much to upend the lives of countless blacks in Africa and beyond. Allergic to any essentialist notions of identity tied to a mythical past or to one’s race, both Fanon and Mbembe offer the glimmers of a post-racial politics while providing devastating and often searing accounts of the effects of colonialism on the colonized and formerly colonized.

This course will review these thinkers’ most important writings to assess Fanon’s critical race theory and his call for overthrowing violent colonial regimes as well as Mbembe’s writings on what he dubs the postcolony and the necropolitical stakes of new forms of colonialism. The class will thus move from Fanon’s psychological account of the “inferiority complex” of the colonized to his account of liberatory practices under colonialism to Mbembe’s histories of the dehumanization of Africans, all to arrive in the final hours of the class with a discussion of Mbembe’s extended reading of Fanon as offering a model of a curative and reparational politics we need in order to transition from regimes of violence toward a future politics worthy of the name. Those who take this course, therefore, will gain insights into these two Francophone thinkers’ influence on Continental philosophy, critical race theory, and post-colonial theory as well as activists the world over.

LECTURE 1:

This class will go over the major themes of Fanon’s classic, Black Skin/White Masks, carefully following his account of the lived experience of the black under colonialism. We will concentrate the preface and chapter 5 to see how Fanon offers a theory of (mis)recognition in the colonial situation that locks the black in “crushing objecthood.”

Readings:

  • Frantz Fanon, Black Skin/White Masks, selections.
  • Lewis Gordon, What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to His Life and Thought, selections (for those who wish to read a secondary source).

LECTURE 2:

On this day we will finish Fanon’s Black Skin/White Masks to consider the revolutionary potential of his conclusion and the “new humanism” he calls for. We will then turn to selections from Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth, a work that was completed just before his death and would be read during the 1960s and after by revolutionaries and black power movements in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Francophone Africa, and elsewhere. We will read Fanon’s defense of anti-colonial violence with the subtlety needed to understand how he doesn’t simply, as some believe, offer an over-romanticized view of the cleansing and unifying function of violence.

Readings:

  • Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, selections.
  • Nigel Gibson, Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination, selections (for those who wish to read a secondary source).

LECTURE 3:

We turn to the writings of Achille Mbembe, in particular his award-winning work Critique of Black Reason (2016). We will follow Mbembe’s discussion of the legacies of colonialism, enslavement, and apartheid on the African continent as well as the depictions of the black Other that went along with them. We will also see where Mbembe takes his distance from what he believes to be the racial essentialism of previous generations of black philosophers (those engaged in the other side of black reason) in order to offer his own world “politics” of the “in-common.”

Readings:

  • Achille Mbembe, Critique of Black Reason, selections.
  • Josias Tembo and Schalk Gerber, “Toward a Postcolonial Universal Ontology: Notes on the Thought of Achille Mbembe,” in The Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference (London: Spring, 2019) (for those who wish to read a secondary source).

LECTURE 4:

This class will continue looking at Mbembe’s Critique of Black Reason to explore further his account of black reason and its effect on the contemporary period. We will also concentrate on what he means by the “becoming black of the world,” which clearly has stakes for politics beyond the areas of the world that were formerly colonized.

Readings:

LECTURE 5:

This class will look at Mbembe’s Necropolitics to understand further his account of contemporary world politics and its relation to violent practices first seen under colonialism. We will then concentrate on chapter 5, which provides a reading of Fanon’s curative politics, and the book’s conclusion, which offers Mbembe’s “ethics of the passerby.”

  • Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics, selections.

 


Heidegger’s Identity and Difference

Lecturer: Professor Andrew Benjamin

Schedule: 5.00-7.00pm. 5 Wednesdays June 24 - July 22.

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

Martin Heidegger’s Identity and Difference is the English translation of two of his most important lectures. Both were given in 1957. Their concerns are straightforward:  an engagement with the concepts of identity and difference set within the context of Heidegger’s own radical reconfiguration of the question of Being. While the second lecture is ostensibly on Hegel, the two lectures as a whole engage philosophers as diverse as Plato, Parmenides, Leibniz and Nietzsche.

The overall aim of the course will be to introduce fundamental elements of Heidegger's thought through a careful and rigorous study of these two texts.

Procedurally we will work line by line through the two texts tracing the developments of Heidegger’s own arguments. What will be developed is an understanding of Heidegger’s own terminology. Each of Heidegger’s philosophical engagements will be examined both with reference, firstly to Heidegger’s own source texts; for example, Parmenides Fragment 1,  and then secondly by reference to other writings by Heidegger.

Course Plan:

The pages number below refer to page numbers in Martin Heidegger, Identity and Difference. (Translated and Edited by Joan Stambaugh) University of Chicago Press. 1969.

Week 1. Pages 21-30

Topics: Introduction to the concept of ‘Identity’, ‘Sameness’ and ‘belonging-together’; Parmenides Fragment 1.

Week 2. Pages 31-41

Topics: Introduction to the concept of ‘Being’ and ‘event of appropriation’.

Week 3. Pages 42-52

Topics: Hegel, Hegel’s Logic, ‘aufhebung’

Week 4. Pages 53-62

Topics: Hegel, metaphysics, logos.

Week 5. Pages 63-72

Topics: Introduction to the concepts of God,  Metaphysics; Leibniz.

It is essential that the volume Martin Heidegger, Identity and Difference, be brought to each class.

 


Philosophy and Protest

Lecturer: Margarita Varava

Schedule: 7.30-9.30pm. 5 Wednesdays June 24 - July 22.

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

In the last decade, the topic of protest has become mainstream both in media and research. Protest and social movements as an empirical phenomenon are spreading around the globe from right-wing and conservative to socialist, feminist, and environmentalist activities. While the empirical mechanisms of protests constitute important puzzles for sociology and political science, this course will study compelling texts of social and political philosophers to extract the ontological constituents of protest.

The course will start from the readings on the first rebels of the ancient Greek police – the philosophy of Cynics and Diogenes of Sinope, demonstrating how protest shaped their philosophical practices and how these practices themselves became a form of protest. Against this background, the main premise of the course is: what if protest is an ever-present element of philosophy, which is always standing against philistinism and ossification?

Subsequently, the course will present major ideas of contemporary philosophical research on protest: anarchists (e.g. Bakunin), Habermas and ‘new social movements’, radical democratic theory (from Badiou to Mouffe and Laclau), Giddens and social philosophy, as well as liberal interpretations of protest and civil disobedience (Rawls).

The course readings will tackle the relations between protests and law, protest and power, differences between protest in democratic and non-democratic arrangements, rational and irrational protest motivations, and the role of protest in social change – asking the question of what philosophy can bring to the understanding of protest and how protest can shape philosophical practice.

Lecture 1. Diogenes of Sinope: “stand out of my light”

In week one, we engage with the philosophy of Diogenes of Sinope, including his lifestyle and relations with power, the so-called decent citizens of Athens, and material goods. By appealing to natural laws of the functioning of human beings and society in opposition to ‘unnatural’ social norms, Diogenes performs his rebellious philosophical ideas. In contrast to Plato, who suggests philosophers for the role of governor, Diogenes contests this nexus. Using philosophical approach, he actively voices the contingency of all authorities. Furthermore, we will consider how Diogenes provocative idea of cosmopolitanism, in fact, constitutes a protest against Greek governors and local laws, demonstrating their contingency in the context of global world.

We will conclude that the ground for Diogenes anti-social, anti-power, and anti-philistinist behavior is philosophical reason, the ability to see beyond the surface. This attitude can also be juxtaposed with Kant’s idea of antagonism as “the unsocial sociability of men”, which later influences Nietzsche as well. The session will set up the idea of Diogenes’s philosophy as a driving force for his protest lifestyle and vice versa, demonstrating how philosophical reason is performed as critical and protest enterprise.

Key readings:

  • Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers. Book VI. Chapter 2. Diogenes (404-323 B.C.)
  • Kant, Immanuel, Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose. Fourth and Fifth Positions.
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich, Gay Science. Book III. 125. The Madmen.
  • Helen Small, Nietzsche and the Cynics. aeon.co [URL] https://aeon.co/essays/what-nietzsche-learnt-from-diogenes-the-cynic

Lecture 2. Anarchism of Bakunin: “the urge to rebel”.

In week two, we turn to Bakunin’s anarchist account on protest, rebellion, and revolution. Similar to Diogenes of Sinope, Bakunin bases his ideas on the assumption of ‘natural laws’ and ’true’ human nature, which is moral, cooperative, and rational. This vision is linked to the role of protest expressed in the idea of social revolution: restoring a free and natural human condition. We will see how in Bakunin’s writings, the following concept of protest is developed: the protest against state authority is not a way towards chaos but towards a truly rational and moral society.

As a result, we will see how Bakunin elevated the status of protest as a philosophical concept, connecting it with existential agenda of the human being, thus exposing the ability of protest to present a more ‘just’ motivation and behavior than existing political structures, institutions, and authorities. This also illustrates the relation of anarchist protest with the law: the legal system can be overcome because the natural human condition has the ability to maintain an order based on ‘natural’ laws.   

Subsequently, it will be demonstrated how the anarchist philosophy of Bakunin sets up the concept of protest as a ground breaking strategy for ‘changing it all’ within the polity instead of local changes, thus, introducing the idea that the whole social order can be a subject of global change.

Readings:

  • Bakunin, Michael, Statism and anarchy; translated and edited by Marschall S. Schatz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
  • Newman, Saul, From Bakunin to Lacan: Anti-Authoritarianism and the Dislocation of Power, Lexington Books, 2001. pp. 37 - 55.

Lecture 3. New Social Movements

In week three, we will focus on the theory and practice of ‘new social movements’ as a specific concept, encompassing all the protest movements that emerged in the 1960s: student protests in France, anti-war and anti-racism movements, among others. Entering this epoch signified the abandoning of a program of global political changes, aiming at reforms and not revolutions. Furthermore, we will consider how new social movements focus their agenda on non-material claims and values, and as such stand in contrast to the strikes of the 19th century.

Exploring Habermas’ and Gidden’s texts, we will see how the epoch of new social movements followed the logic of diversity, introducing new rights and freedoms. In contrast to the united agenda of the anarchist and Marxist revolutions, new social movements multiplied their agendas and normative claims. It will be shown that new social movements can be best characterized not as revolutionary action, but a betterment of law and policies, as well as a way towards ‘dialogic democracy’. In this framework, social movements represent a particular kind of criticism of social structures, which stipulates social change within a given polity. We will conclude that the epoch of new social movements designed democracies of the 20th century as a space for permanent contention and criticism.

Key readings:

  • Habermas, Jürgen, New Social Movements. Telos, 1981, 21 (49), pp. 33 – 7.
  • Habermas, Jürgen, Toward a Rational Society: Student Protest, Science, and Politics. London: Heinemann, 1971.
  • Giddens, Antony. Beyond Left and Right: The Future of Radical Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press., 1994, pp. 15 - 17.

Lecture 4. Rawls and a liberal view on protest and civil disobedience 

In week four, we consider how Rawls aims to set up limits and rules for civil disobedience, providing its justification for a set of specific circumstances. We will explore Rawls’ account in a dialogue with Walzer and Arendt, as well as the contemporary critique of his arguments, concerning the limits of protesting legal and legitimacy frameworks, in which civil disobedience takes place. We will consider how Rawls’ critics, while acknowledging his arguments, claim that his liberal account is ‘too liberal’ in the sense that it does not allow to challenge the grounding principles of a polity.

At the end of the lecture, we will see how a critical discussion around Rawls’ justification of civil disobedience signified the question of how protest is able to challenge the legitimacy of democratic norms, as well as claim meaningful social change without abandoning the principles of democratic orders, broadly conceived.

Key readings:

  • Rawls, John, A Theory of Justice. Revised edition, Harvard University Press, 1999, pp. 323 - 326. 
  • Bleiker, Roland. Rawls and the limits of civil disobedience. Social Alternatives, Vol. 21. 2002, pp. 37 - 40.
  • Walzer, Michael, Obligations: Essays on Disobedience, War, and Citizenship (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970), p. 24. 20
  • Arendt, Hannah, Crises of the Republic: Lying in Politics, Civil Disobedience, On Violence, Thoughts on Politics and Revolution, New York: Harcourt, 1972.

Lecture 5. Radical democracy and protest: back to rupture

“A real movement, which abolishes the present state of things” - that is the description of communism given by Marx and Engels. This can be seen as a ground for a radical democratic theory agenda: not building a normative ideal, but instead pursuing political action.

In week five, we will consider the change in protest actions within the last decade and discuss why this change can be productively grasped with instruments from radical democratic theory. The main change can be described as de-substantionalization of protest, namely, the priority of challenging the whole system of decision making within polities over concrete normative claims. Radical democratic theory can grasp this change through the following categories among others: exposure of political alternatives, transformative politics, and fugitive democracy. We will also study how the normative justification of protest is changing, taking into account the growing number of populist and right-wing movements, which claim fundamental changes.

We will finalize the course by considering whether radical democratic theory is able to provide a working framework for dealing with conceptual difficulties of coexistence or protest, law, order, and meaningful social change, exposed by the discussion around Rawls in week four.

Readings:

  • Badiou, Alan. The Rebirth of History: Times of Riots and Uprisings. London, New York: Verso, 2012.
  • Mouffe, Chantal, The Return of the Political, Verso: London, New-York, 1993. pp. 90-102
  • Volk, Christian, On a Radical Democratic Theory of Political Protest: Potentials and Shortcomings. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. Online first. 2018, pp. 1 – 23

 


Antipodean Environmental Philosophy - Withdrawn

Lecturer: Dr N.A.J. Taylor

Previously Scheduled: 5.00-7.00pm. 5 Thursdays June 25 - July 23.

Location: Withdrawn.

 


Proust Among the Philosophers

Lecturer: Louis Klee

Schedule: 5.00-7.00pm. 5 Thursdays June 25 - July 23.

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu is not only an enduring work of modernist literature, but something that continues to challenge and intrigue philosophers, among them Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Julia Kristeva, and Roland Barthes. This course will aim not to extract a theory from Proust—theories, as Proust once said, being like an object which still has its price tag on it—but to expand our understanding of how literature and fiction work as embodied philosophy, and what Proust can contribute to a philosophical understanding of time, memory, selfhood, desire, language, and sexuality. We will explore how in everything from Proust’s prose style and his notorious syntax through to his use of narrative structure and authorial self to build a decisive and original image of the workings of the mind; one that aims to map out a mental geography that includes the faculties of the intuition, imagination, judgment, intellect, and will. We will also examine the roots of Proust’s ideas in Pascal, Montaigne, Plato, Bergson, and Schopenhauer, and some of the parallels to Friedrich Nietzsche’s perspectivism. Finally, this course will offer the ambitious reader a guided way through first volume of À la recherche: Du côté de chez Swann.

Course Schedule

1. Picturing Proust, Translating Proust

  • Walter Benjamin, ‘Picturing Proust’
  • Extract from Lydia Davis, Proust, Blanchot and a Woman in Red 
  • Selection from In Search of Lost Time

2.  Self-Deceptions   

  • Extract from Malcolm Bowie, Freud, Lacan, and Proust
  • Extract from Pascal’s Pensées
  • Selection from In Search of Lost Time

3. The Proustian Self and le moi profond

  • Extract from Montaigne’s Essays
  • Extract from Contre Sainte-Beuve 
  • Selection from In Search of Lost Time

4. Proust and Signs 

  • Extract from Gilles Deleuze, Proust and Signs
  • Extract from Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory
  • Selection from In Search of Lost Time

5. Proust and Queer Desire

  • Extract from Anne Carson, The Albertine Workout 
  • Extract from Leo Bersani, Marcel Proust
  • Extract from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, The Weather in Proust
  • Selection from In Search of Lost Time

 


Forms of Rationalism and its Adversaries: Bridging The Gap between Continental and Analytic Philosophy

Lecturer: Andrea Giuseppe Ragno

Schedule: 7.30-9.30pm. 5 Thursdays June 25 - July 23.

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

Course Aim

By looking at the tension amongst rationalist theories such as Kantianism, naturalism, and mate- rialism, we will reflect and rethink the dispute between the analytic and the continental tradition in philosophy.

Course Outline

In  epistemology,  rationalism  has  been  understood  as  the  view  which  sees  reason  as  the  main source  for  knowledge.   Since  the  Ancient  Greek  philosophy,  reason  has  always  had  a  special status.   Within  the  history  of  philosophy,  reason  has  been  described  in  two  ways:   on  the  one hand  epistemically  and  on  the  other  instrumentally.  The  instrumental  approach  systematically accomplishes  the  targets  and  the  intents  set  out  by  a  specific  relation  between  thinking  and  its surroundings — the enterprise of science, for instance.  Instead, the epistemic approach focuses more on mapping each belief, model, system to their respective targets and on the efficiency of these cognitive and semantic maps.

In the first part of the seminar, we examine some of the ways in which pre-Kantian philoso- phies  have  elaborated  the  complex  relationship  between  rational  and  sensorial  knowledge  and the  world.    In  particular,  we  will  put  accent  on  the  works  of  Plato,  the  Cartesian  dualism, Spinozian monism, Leibniz, Hume’s empiricism and his influence on Kant’s philosophy.

Beginning  from  the  end  of  19th  Century,  philosophy  has  also  seen  a  break  into  two  traditions: Anglo-American  analytic  philosophy,  and  Continental  European  philosophy.  Generally,  the  di- vide is hold as the former blames the latter on the accounts of its irreducible experience, which seems to resist scientific formalisation and lead to relativism,  and the latter claims that the for- mer yields ethical and historical interpretations from epistemology.  Interestingly, some analytic philosophers shared the same opinion on metaphysics with continental philosophers.  An exam- ple is offered by Rorty’s destitution of metaphysics and Heidegger’s destruction of metaphysics.

Also,  their  political  views  were  both  disastrous  to  the  extent  that  they  both  were  apologetic  of either a naïve liberalism or fascist regimes.  However, the new century saw for both traditions a rehabilitation  of  metaphysics:  respectively,  a  strict  logical  rationalism,  which  is  often  deflation- ary  and  avoids  complex  issues,  and  the  speculative  realism,  which  spans  from  Object  Oriented Ontology to a metaphysical panpsychism.  What is criticised of these contemporary movements is  that  they  rehabilitate  a  ‘bad’  metaphysics,  i.e.   totality,  cynicism,  naivety,  instead  of  a  ‘good’ one, i.e.  difference, pluralism, relationality.

In the second part of the seminar, we will overview the revival of rationalism in contemporary philosophy.  We will start this journey by analysing the Kantian impact in Sellars, whose philoso- phy lies in the heritage of Piercian pragmatic naturalism aware of the Carnapian distinction of the analytic and the synthetic.  Similarly to Sellars, in a more continental fashion, Meillassoux vows to vindicate scientific and mathematical realism in light of postkantian philosophy.  By avoiding a vitalist and mathematical Platonism, reason reemerged alongside cognitive functionalism, meta- physical  naturalism,  and  logical  inferentialism  in  the  works  of  Brassier  and  Brandom.   Finally, we will conclude the seminar by looking at how Du Bois, Longino, Harding, and Anderson have articulated a crucial empiricist critique to the premises of rationalism with respect to postcolonial and feminist theories.  These positions maintain a strong realism in science.

Required Readings

Week 1. Interpreting Ancient and Modern Rationalism:

  • Brassier, Ray  (2013).   That Which is Not:  Philosophy as Entwinement of Truth and Negativity, Stastis - 1, pp.  174–186.
  • Hume, David (1739). Part 3: Knowledge and Probability in Treatise of Human Nature, Book 1.

Week 2. Kant’s philosophy and the postkantian heritage:

  • Kant, Immanuel  (1787).  Transcendental Analytic,  and  Transcendental Deduction in Critique of Pure Reason.
  • Negarestani, Reza  (2018).   Chapter  I:  Between  Conception  and  Transformation  in  Intelligence and Spirit, Falmouth:  Urbanomic.

Week 3. Metaphysical naturalism:

  • Sellars, Wilfrid (1968). Chapter I – Sensibility and Understanding in Science and Metaphysics – Variations on Kantian Themes, Atascadero:  Ridgeview Publishing Company.
  • Brandom, Robert B. (2008). Modality and Normativity: From Hume and Quine to Kant and Sell- ars in Between Saying and Doing: Towards an Analytic Pragmatism, Oxford:  Oxford University Press.

Week 4. Rational Materialism:

  • Brassier, Ray (2016).Transcendental Logic and True Representings, Glass Bead.
  • Meillassoux, Quentin (2016). Iteration, Reiteration, Repetition: A Speculative Materialist Analy- sis of the Sign Devoid of Meaning, in A. Avanessian and S. Malik, eds., Genealogies of Specula- tion: Materialism and Subjectivity Since Structuralism, New York:  Bloomsbury Publishing.

Week 5. Feminist empiricism and the value-free ideal of science:

  • Longino, Helene  E.  (1995).    Gender,  politics,  and  the  theoretical  virtues,  Synthese  104,  pp.383–397.
  • Bright, Liam  K.  (2018).   Du Bois’ democratic defence of the value free ideal,  Synthese  195,  pp.2227–2245.

 


An Introduction to Hegel’s Science of Logic

Lecturer: Dr Nahum Brown

Schedule: 5.00-7.00pm. 5 Friday June 26 - July 24.

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

Even though the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) has been more widely discussed over the past two centuries, Hegel considered the Science of Logic (1812-1816) to be his major work. Along with Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, it is one of the greatest studies of ontology ever written. This course presents an overview of some of the main themes of the Logic by examining the opening and most famous passages of the book. We will look at Hegel’s contentious claim that the Logic must commence without presuppositions, his treatment of limitation and infinity, as well as the relationship between contradiction, essence, and modality. This course is built to be an advanced introduction to Hegel’s philosophy, to the Logic as a book, and to dialectical thinking as a method. However, rather than assert the abstract nature of dialectical thinking from the outset, we will focus instead on how some of the most important local arguments from the Logic express the complex, dynamic, contextualized subtleties of dialectical reasoning. This course is ideal for students who are interested in the historical foundations of continental philosophy and who would like to explore Hegel’s Logic as a precursor to the contemporary tradition. The aim is to open a path for further inquiry into the Logic, while also outlining one of the main arteries of Hegel’s complicated masterpiece through an examination of themes such as dialectical totality, the good infinite, productive contradiction, and the relation between possibility and actuality.

Primary Readings

Hegel, the Science of Logic, translated by di Giovanni, Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Suggested Readings (Hegel commentaries)

  • Burbidge, John W. The Logic of Hegel’s Logic. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2006.
  • Carlson, David Gray. A Commentary to Hegel’s Science of Logic. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
  • Hahn, Songsuk Susan. Contradiction in Motion: Hegel’s Organic Concept of Life and Value. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007.
  • Houlgate, Stephen. The Opening of Hegel’s Logic: From Being to Infinity. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2006.
  • Hyppolite, Jean. Logic and Existence, translated by Leonard Lawlor and Amit Sen. Albany: SUNY Press, 1997.
  • Longuenesse, Béatrice. Hegel’s Critique of Metaphysics, translated by Nicole J. Simek. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • Maker, William. Philosophy without Foundations: Rethinking Hegel. Albany: SUNY Press, 1994.
  • Malabou, Catherine. The Future of Hegel: Plasticity, Temporality and Dialectic, translated by Lisabeth During. London: Routledge, 2005.
  • Moss, Gregory S. Hegel’s Foundation Free Metaphysics: the Logic of Singularity. New York: Routledge, 2020.
  • Winfield, Richard Dien. Hegel’s Science of Logic: A Critical Rethinking in Thirty Lectures. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012.

Outline of the Course:

Week 1: Being, Nothing, Becoming and the Project of a Presuppositionless Science

 Arguably the most famous passage of the Logic comes at the opening of the book. Similar to Descartes’ opening lines in the Meditations on First Philosophy, Hegel proposes that the Logic must begin from an indubitable starting place that is free of all preconceptions, suppositions, and prior determinations. The first lesson of this seminar focuses on the momentous task of what it would mean to clear away all preconceptions about thought and reality and to allow a presuppositionless science to commence. To this end, we will analyze two short readings: Hegel’s “With What Must the Beginning of Science be Made?” and his initial description in “Being” of being, nothing, and becoming.  

Readings from Hegel, the Science of Logic:

  • “With What Must the Beginning of Science be Made?,” 45-57
  • “Being,” 59-60

Week 2: The First Movement of the Logic: From Being to Nothing

Hegel’s Logic contains an almost dizzying amount of movement, points-of-transition, developmental stages of analysis, and dialectical arguments that turn systematically but rapidly from concept to concept. In our second lesson of the seminar, we will wrestle with the question of how the Logic begins to move at all. This investigation will take us deeper into the structure of Hegel’s presuppositonless starting point in being, nothing, and becoming. We will explicate the five “Remarks” connected to the opening of the Logic to come to terms with the question of how and by what means the concept of nothing emerges from the concept of being. This is a hugely important task since it is, ultimately, the question of how the Logic begins to advance. We will also look at a number of secondary commentaries of the Logic, which attempt, in one way or another, to make sense of the transition from being to nothing. And we will look at what I call the “dialectical totality” interpretation, which views the transition to be a natural consequence of the radical starting point of a science that claims no prior supposition.

Readings from Hegel, the Science of Logic:

  • “Remark 1: The Opposition of Being and Nothing in Ordinary Thinking,” 60-66
  • “Remark 2: Defectiveness of the Expression ‘Unity, Identity of Being and Nothing’,” 66-69
  • “Remark 3: The Isolating of These Abstractions,” 69-78
  • “Remark 4: The Incomprehensibility of the Beginning,” 78-80
  • “Remark 5: The Expression ‘to Sublate’,” 81-82

Week 3: Limitation, Finitude, and the Good Infinite

In week 3, we turn to Hegel’s very exciting discussion of the finite and the infinite. We will try to understand how the “indeterminate being” of the starting point becomes the “determinate being” of existence and finitude. We will focus in particular on the role that negation plays in establishing the positive limits, constitution, and determination of things. In the second hour of the seminar, we will study Hegel’s passages about the “good infinite.” We will attempt to say why the good infinite is good, and also draw connections between infinity and Hegel’s presuppositionless starting point.

Readings from Hegel, the Science of Logic:

  • “Something and an Other,” 90-95
  • “Determination, Constitution, and Limit,” 95-101
  • “Infinity,” 108-120

Week 4: Contradiction and Essence

This week is devoted to Hegel’s treatment of contradiction in the “The Essentialities or the Determinations of Reflection” chapter of the “Doctrine of Essence.” One reason why Hegel is a controversial figure in the history of Western philosophy is because he appears to oppose Aristotle’s exposition of the law of non-contradiction in book Gamma of the Metaphysics. While Aristotle claims that contradiction leads to indeterminateness and absurd paradox, Hegel can be interpreted to claim that contradiction is the motor behind dialectical reasoning. We will look at various readings of Hegel that attempt to qualify or limit what he means by productive contradiction. And we also look at the relationship between essence and contradiction. There is a long tradition in the West of philosophers who argue for the categorical separation of the universal from the particular. Does Hegel undermine this separation through his exploration of the primacy of contradiction over identity? We will attempt to answer this question and also reflect on the opening passages of the Logic from the terms of contradiction.     

Readings from Hegel, the Science of Logic:

  • “The Essentialities or the Determinations of Reflection,” 354-385
  • “Ground,” 386-388

Week 5: Actuality, Possibility, and Contradiction

In our last seminar, we will examine Hegel’s notoriously difficult “Actuality” chapter, which is the penultimate chapter of the “Doctrine of Essence.” The “Actuality” chapter offers a dense but rewarding developmental conceptual analysis of the modal categories of “actuality,” “possibility,” “contingency,” and “necessity.” Close attention will be paid to the role that contradiction plays in Hegel’s understanding of the relationship between actuality and possibility. And we will explore how Hegel develops themes like dialectical totality and the good infinite in terms of modality.

Readings from Hegel, the Science of Logic:

  • “Actuality,” 477-488

 


A Genealogy of Citizenship

Lecturer: Dr Irene Dal Poz

Schedule: 7.30-9.30pm. 5 Friday June 26 - July 24.

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

On 28th March 2020, in the midst of Covid-19 outbreak, the Portuguese government decided to temporarily grant citizenship rights to all migrants and asylum seekers with pending residency applications. This choice is in sharp contrast with the strict immigration policies adopted by most Western states and was justified by Claudia Veloso, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, by saying that “people should not be deprived of their rights to health and public service just because their application has not yet been processed".  Why is granting citizenship rights such an important but controversial political choice? What does being a citizen precisely mean? Is citizenship, as Hannah Arendt claims, a meta-right that entitles to other rights and political recognition? And does this juridical conception of citizenship live up to its promises of political participation and inclusion? This module addresses citizenship as a crucial yet often unexplored notion in the contemporary political discourse. To problematise its current conceptualisation and use, the module proposes a genealogy of citizenship. It reconstructs when this juridical definition of citizenship has emerged in Western political theory and how it impacts individuals’ agency and political participation.

Aim:

The module aims at participants gaining a critical understanding of the notion of citizenship via a close reading and discussion of some key texts in political theory. It also provides learners with theoretical tools to problematise the connection between citizenship and other crucial political categories, for example rights, resistance, state, and security.

The course is aimed at an undergraduate level and no prior knowledge of the texts that we will examine is required. Each session will be organised around a lecture, which will be followed by a Q&A or a guided discussion.

For each lecture, some recommended and some additional readings will be indicated.

Readings might be subject to changes.

Structure:

Week 1: Historical Overview and the Citizen in the Polis

The first week will introduce the module and offer an overview of the concept of citizenship in Ancient Greek. It will include a guest lecture by Dr Valentina Moro (Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies of South-Eastern Europe, University of Rijeka, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

By relying on the work of contemporary philosophers and political theorists (Christian Meier, Nicole Loraux, and Josine Blok), Dr Moro will talk about the emergence of the concept of citizenship in the Athenian democratic system. She will also mobilise the Ancient Greek tragedy to investigate how the citizens’ political identity is discursively constructed.

We will then focus on the Cynics and their provocative behaviours. Through an analysis of some secondary sources (Michel Foucault and Pierre Hadot), we will question if and how the bios kynikos successfully challenges the above-mentioned model of citizenship based on civic membership.

Recommended reading:

  •  Isin, Engin. “Who is the New Citizen? Towards a Genealogy”, in Citizenship Studies 11 (2007), 115-132.

Additional readings:

  • Foucault, Michel. The Courage of Truth: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1983-1984, trans. by G. Burchell. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. 
  • — . The Government of Self and Others: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1982-1983, trans. by G. Burchell. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 
  • Goulet-Cazé, Marie-Odile. Le cynisme, une philosophie antique, Paris: Vrin, 2017.  
  • Hadot, Pierre. What is Ancient Philosophy? trans. by M. Chase. Cambridge: London: Belknap Press, 2004. 
  • Meier, Christian. The Greek Discovery of Politics, trans. by D. McLintock, Cambirdge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.
  • Sellars, John. “Stoic Cosmopolitism and Zeno’s Republic” in History of Political Thought 28: 1 (2007).  

If you are interested in the notion of genealogy, see also:

  • Lorenzini, Daniele. “On Possibilising Genealogy”, Inquiry (2020) - online first.
  • Lorenzini, Daniele, and Martina Tazzioli. “Critique without Ontology: Genealogy, Collective Subjects and the Deadlocks of Evidence”. Radical Philosophy 207 (2020), 27-39.

Week 2: The Birth of the Modern Concept of Citizenship

The second week will explore the birth of the modern concept of citizenship, with a focus on Thomas Hobbes and John Locke’s theories of social contract. By discussing some passages from the Leviathan and the Second Treatise of Government, this lecture will introduce some key concepts to understand the modern notion of citizenship: political representation, the juridical subject and the right to political resistance. In particular, we will reconstruct why and how citizenship has been conceptualised in juridical terms. We will also unpack the two main characteristics of the legal sovereign subject: equality and freedom.

Recommended reading:

  • Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan, ed. by R. Tuck, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, Chapters XIV, XVI and XXI.

Additional readings:

  • Locke, John. Second Treatise of Government, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1980.
  • Skinner, Quentin, “Hobbes on Representation”, in The European Journal of Philosophy, 13:2, (2005), 155–184.  
  • “Hobbes and the Purely Artificial Person of the State”, in The Journal of Political Philosophy, 7:1 (1990), 1-29.
  • Hobbes and Republican Liberty, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  • Tuck, Richard. Hobbes, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Week 3: The Rights of the Citizen and Rights of Man

Are national rights outdated? Do human rights outweigh the rights of the citizen? Or can human rights exist independently of civil rights? In the third lecture, I will try to answer these questions by addressing Hannah Arendt’s famous critique of human rights and looking at some appropriations and radicalisation of Arendt’s position (e.g. Jacques Rancière and Giorgio Agamben). In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt in fact takes issue with the abstractedness of human rights and suggests that citizenship is a fundamental “right to have right (…) and a right to belong to some kind of organised community” (296-297). The third week will unpack the implications of Arendt’s equation between being stateless and being rightless.

Recommended reading:

  • Arendt, Hannah. The Origins of Totalitarianism, New York: Harcourt, 1973, 267-302.

Additional readings:

  • Agamben, Giorgio. “Beyond Human rights” in P. Virno and M. Hardt, eds. Radical Politics in Italy: A Potential Politics, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996, 159-164.
  • Gündoğdu, Ayten. Rightlessness in an Age of Rights: Hannah Arendt and the Contemporary Struggles of Migrants, New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • Lechte, John and Saul Newman. Agamben and the Politics of Human Rights: Statelessness, Images, Violence, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013.
  • Rancière, Jacques. “Who Is the Subject of the Rights of Man?” South Atlantic Quarterly 103:2–3 (2004).

Week 4: Citizenship, Security and Individual Responsibility

In the fourth week, we will analyse citizenship through the lens of the notion of security. This investigative line has become particularly important in the wake of the War on Terror. Most scholars, however, tend to stress the exceptionalist (e.g. Agamben and Judith Butler) or de-politicised (Copenhaghen School) nature of securitarian measures. In this lecture, I suggest that security is a way of governing the population that requires responsibilised citizens. We will discuss what kind of political subject emerges out of this securitarian paradigm by focusing on the category of vigilant and resilient citizen. We will also question whether these security measures affect all citizens in the same way.

Recommended readings:

  • Aradau, Claudia. “Forget Equality? Security and Liberty in the "War on Terror"”, in Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, 33:3 (2008), 293-314.
  • Hagmann, Jonas,  Hendrik Hegemann and Andrew W. Neal. “The Politicisation of Security: Controversy, Mobilisation, Arena Shifting. Introduction by the Guest Editors” in ERIS – European Review of International Studies, 3 (2018), 3-29.

Additional readings:

  • Aradau, Claudia and Rens van Munster. “Poststructuralist Approaches to Security”, in Routledge Handbook of Security Studies, ed. by M. D. Cavelty and T. Balzacq, London: Routledge, 2017, 75-84.
  • Isin, Engin. “The neurotic citizen”, in Citizenship Studies, 8:3 (2004), 217-235.
  • Neal, Andrew W.Top of Form Security as Politics. Beyond the State of Exception, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019.

Bottom of Form

If you are interested in an analysis of monitoring and security measures during the Covid-19 outbreak, see Tazzioli, Martina. “Covid’s Borders: Peer-to-peer Surveillance and “Common Good””, in Political Economy Research Centre, Goldsmith University of London (2020) - online

Week 5: Citizenship and the Promise of Inclusion

The contemporary model of citizenship depends on the fiction of a sovereign subject of rights and on its freedom to act without constraints (Hobbes). Nonetheless, even if all citizens enjoy the same abstract legal status, do they all have the same capacity to freely act and negotiate social norms? Security studies offered us some insights regarding the inequalities hidden behind the legalistic and abstract notion of citizenship. The feminist scholarship will expand this critique. Specifically, we will mobilise Saba Mahmood’s sociological and anthropological studies on women’s piety movement in Egypt. Mahmood’s research on the inhabitation of social norms will allow us to problematise the notions of agency and resistance.

Recommended reading:

  • Mahmood, Saba. “Feminist Theory, Agency, and the Liberatory Subject: Some Reflections on the Islamic Revival in Egypt”. Temenos - Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion 42: 1 (2006), 31-71. 

Additional readings:

  • Cremonesi Laura, Orazio Irrera, Daniele Lorenzini and Martina Tazzioli. “Introduction: Foucault and the Making of Subjects: Rethinking Autonomy between Subjection and Subjectivation”, in Foucault and the Making of Subjects, ed. by L. Cremonesi, O. Irrera, D. Lorenzini and M. Tazzioli, London: Rowman & Littlefield International, 2016, 1-10.
  • Mahmood, Saba. Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005. 
  • McNay, Lois. “Agency”, in The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory, ed. L. Disch and M. Hawkesworth by New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, 39-60.

 


The Last Days of the Dialectic: An Historical and Philosophical Introduction to the Early Badiou’s Politics

Lecturer: Dr Robert Boncardo

Schedule: July 27-31 6.30-8.30pm

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

How does political change happen? Why does it very often fail to happen? What challenges are faced by those who fight for political equality? This course will confront these inescapable questions through an historical and philosophical study of the ‘Union of French Communists’, a small political group lead by Alain Badiou, France’s most famous living philosopher, in the years 1969 to 1982. The course’s content will be drawn from archival research recently done in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and L’Institut Mémoire de l’édition contemporaine, as well as from interviews with Badiou himself. Through a close examination of the group’s tracts, pamphlets, newspapers and books, students will learn about the daily reality of political militancy for Badiou and his comrades—from engaging in strikes and factory occupations, to organising with poor farmers, supporting migrant workers, and intervening in the women’s movement. They will also discover in unprecedented detail what tactics Badiou’s group employed and the overall strategy they pursued, as well as consider the group’s various successes and failures. At each stage of the course students will engage with material from Badiou’s 1982 book Theory of the Subject, a notoriously difficult work that nevertheless comes alive when read alongside his group’s activities. We will explore Badiou’s theorisation of an historical and materialist dialectic, scrutinise his borrowings from the Lacanian psychoanalytic tradition, and contemplate the way he uses theatre and poetry to illuminate the dynamics of political action. By the end of the course students will not only have learnt about a forgotten chapter—or chapters—in French political history; they will also have developed a better understanding of the reality of politics as Badiou both practiced it and theorised it during this tumultuous decade.

(Note to students who took last year’s course ‘The Communist Hypothesis’: the present course deepens, expands and in some cases corrects that course’s content on the basis of my recent research in France and discussions with Badiou himself. You will therefore find a richer presentation of themes you are already familiar with, as well as large amounts of completely new material).

Course Outline

Lecture One: From Social Democracy to Marxism-Leninism: Badiou’s ’68 and its Afterlives

Lecture Two: Between Left and Right Deviations: the UCFML’s Maoist Politics, 1969-1973

Lecture Three: ‘The People, and the People Alone…’: Avant-gardes and Alliances, 1974-1978

Lecture Four: ‘The Situation is Frankly Disastrous’: Fragmentation and Decline, 1978-1981

Lecture Five: The End, The Eve: The Year of Living Courageously: 1982

Course Materials

  • Alain Badiou, Theory of the Subject (Bloomsbury, 2009)
  • Alain Badiou, The Adventure of French Philosophy (Verso, 2012)

 

 

Events

March 9 - June 19 Evening School Semester 1

June 22 - July 31 Winter School 2020

Deadline 30 JuneEssay Prize 2020

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Course Descriptions