Monday, March 23, 2015

Plastic Bodies by Tom Sparrow

Out now from OHP with a preface by Catherine:

Plastic Bodies: Rebuilding Sensation After Phenomenology

by Tom Sparrow (foreword by Catherine Malabou)
Series: New Metaphysics
Sensation is a concept with a conflicted philosophical history. It has found as many allies as enemies in nearly every camp from empiricism to poststructuralism. Polyvalent, with an uncertain referent, and often overshadowed by intuition, perception, or cognition, sensation invites as much metaphysical speculation as it does dismissive criticism.
The promise of sensation has certainly not been lost on the phenomenologists who have sought to 'rehabilitate' the concept. In Plastic Bodies, Tom Sparrow argues that the phenomenologists have not gone far enough, however. Alongside close readings of Merleau-Ponty and Levinas, he digs into an array of ancient, modern, and contemporary texts in search of the resources needed to rebuild the concept of sensation after phenomenology. He begins to assemble a speculative aesthetics that is at once a realist theory of sensation and a philosophy of embodiment that breaks the form of the 'lived' body. Maintaining that the body is fundamentally plastic and that corporeal identity is constituted by a conspiracy of sensations, he pursues the question of how the body fits into/fails to fit into its aesthetic environment and what must be done to increase the body’s power to act and exist.

Author Bio

Tom Sparrow teaches in the department of philosophy at Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Levinas Unhinged (Zero, 2013) and The End of Phenomenology: Metaphysics and the New Realism (Edinburgh, 2014).

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New Book Series: New Perspectives in Ontology

Posted at Philosophy in a Time of Error by Peter Gratton:

My colleague Sean McGrath and I have started up a series with Edinburgh UP, ‘New Perspectives in Ontology’. Our board is now just about in place, including Maurizio Farraris (Turin), Iain Hamilton Grant (University of the West of England), Garth Green (McGill), Adrian Johnston (U. of New Mexico), Catherine Malabou (King’s), Jeff Malpas (U. of Tasmania), Marie-Eve Morin (Alberta), Jeffrey Reid (Ottawa), Hasana Sharp (McGill U.),
Uwe Voigt (Augsburg, Germany), and Jason Wirth (Seattle U.), among others–so quite divergent in ontological methods and theses. I’ll post further links and such when they are available. Here is what we are thinking with the series:
After the fundamental modesty of much post-Heideggerian Continental philosophy, the time is now for a renaissance in new ontologies. This series aims to be a forum for this work, with authors boldly claiming answers to the oldest questions of our existence while often working within the Continental tradition to move beyond the stale hermeneutics and phenomenologies of the past.
Key features:
• A much needed home for new work in ontology not tapped by studies in Deleuze or speculative realism, especially those coming out of traditions rising from German Idealism through Heidegger and beyond.
• Written in an intrepid style, the books in this series will be targeted at intelligent adults and courses teaching metaphysics and ontology.
• Pushing no doctrinal program, the series aims to be the place for debating ontological commitments with the winding down of social constructivism and vulgar forms of postmodernism.
Edinburgh as a whole has become an important place for publishing new and invigorating work in Continental philosophy and ontology, with excellent distribution and pricing. So I’m quite happy to work with them.
We have several works already under consideration–quite great stuff. If you have ideas, feel free to drop us a line.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

LGS Summer Academy (June 2015)

The London Graduate School
Summer Academy in the Critical Humanities
June 22-25 2015
Right to Philosophy
Featuring Etienne Balibar, Andrew Benjamin, Howard Caygill, Rebecca Comay, Catherine Malabou, Martin McQuillan, Simon Morgan Wortham, Stella Sandford and Bernard Stiegler
The London Graduate School is pleased to announce its 2015 Summer Academy, an intensive week-long programme offered annually for postgraduate students of any institutional affiliation.  This year the theme of the Summer Academy is Derrida’s Right to Philosophy. Once more the event will be held in central London, and the venue is University College London.
The ensemble of texts found in Du droit à la philosophie reflect Derrida’s engagement from the 1970s onwards with French political debates about the reform of national education and the future of philosophy teaching in the university in France and beyond. Here, he intervenes in the question of the institutional conditions and possibilities of philosophy as both an historical legacy and ongoing provocation to the future.In 1975 Derrida co-founded the Greph (Group de Recherches sur L’Enseignment Philosophique), a group committed both to theoretical investigation and activist intervention. Greph was founded in response to a perceived political and ideological attack on philosophical education on the part of the French government, operating under the general sponsorship of a matrix of economic, political, and techno-industrial and techno-military powers. While the election of Mitterand’s socialist government in 1981 hardly brought such concerns to a satisfactory conclusion, a state initiative was launched to establish an international college of philosophy in France, and Derrida took a leading role in the difficult process of negotiation and consultation that led to its inauguration in 1983, becoming the first director. At the time this call was being finalised, we learned of the threat of closure of the Collège international de philosophie (CIPH), which must surely provoke a renewal of the struggles that characterised its founding.
For Derrida, philosophy’s asymmetrical contract with the university—neither belonging nor not-belonging to the institution as a part of the whole, the universitas, which it itself allots—makes possible an opening on to the very question of the structure and effects of the university space, not least in its relations with the wider world (although Derrida is always most vigilant about the very fragile and deconstructible relationship between the supposed ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of the institution). In other words, it is philosophy’s ‘with-against’ relation to the university that often interests Derrida in his interventions in political debates about French educational reform during this period. Derrida is less concerned with a straightforward defence of philosophy in its accepted scholarly guise than in transformative moves and gestures that make possible the ‘other’ of philosophy itself. Here, the question of the right to philosophy acquires a multiple sense. Whether one can ever proceed to the ‘philosophical’ directly as much as whether philosophy is a duty, privilege or justification (itself a question that is not always well served by excessive ‘directness’) is posed by Derrida as, among other things, a continued provocation to the question of the institution. If such questions about philosophy, the university and its ‘outside’ are just as urgent and pressing now as they were forty years ago, it is to the extent that they also make possible a certain powerful and productive resistance to discourses about what is ‘urgent’, dutifully or directly necessary, unanswerably pragmatic, and so forth—discourses that strongly facilitate dominant forms of governmentality and power today. The plight of the CIPH–still uncertain despite its apparent reprieve–is of course linked to a political discourse of pragmatism, so it is in this vein that our focus will very much be on the continuing relevance of Right to Philosophy as much as its historic context.
As always, registration for the Summer Academy is free, but by application and selection only. The number of places is limited. The London Graduate School will receive applications from 1 November 2014 onwards. The closing date is 20 February 2015.To apply, please send an expression of interest, current CV, and sample of recent work by email to Professor Martin McQuillan ( and Professor Simon Morgan Wortham ( Please make the subject heading of your email ‘LGS Summer Academy 2015’. Students are welcome to make their own arrangements for accommodation during the week, or alternatively we will be able to direct you to campus accommodation available at a subsidised rate. All tuition and course-attendance is wholly free of charge for all selected candidates.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Summer School in German Philosophy: “The ‘idealism’ in German Idealism” (July 20-31)

5th International Summer School in German Philosophy: “The ‘idealism’ in German Idealism”
(July 20-31)


Keynote Addresses/Visiting Professors:
  • Karin de Boer (KU Leuven)
  • Angela Breitenbach (Cambridge)
  • Catherine Malabou (CRMEP, London)
  • Clinton Tolley (San Diego) 

Course description:
  • The first week (July 20-24) with Prof. Forster will mainly focus on Kant’s “transcendental idealism”. We will discuss the emergence of, and the original philosophical motivations for, such a position in Kant’s precritical writings, and above all his arguments for it in the Critique of Pure Reason (1781/7), where special attention will be paid to the Transcendental Aesthetic, the Transcendental Deduction, the Principles, and the Antinomies. We will also consider, though more briefly, the historical fate of, and the philosophical prospects for, such a position after Kant. 

  • The second week (July 27-31) with Prof. Gabriel will mainly focus on idealism in Fichte and Hegel. On some very problematic straw-man readings, Fichte and Hegel aim at developing a Kantianism without things in themselves by simply dropping the very idea of a thing in itself and thereby claiming that we must contend ourselves with Kantian appearances all the way down. Against such straw-man readings – made prominent by figures as different as Heidegger and Russell – the second week of the course with Prof. Gabriel will be dedicated to Fichte’s and Hegel’s early understanding and criticism of transcendental idealism as proposed by Kant. In particular, we will read passages from Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre 1794 and Hegel’s Faith and Knowledge(1802). The leading question will be how Fichte and Hegel are able to incorporate an improved variety of the Kantian distinction of theory-orders separating transcendental idealism from empirical realism. Arguably, this early stage of what was later dubbed “German Idealism” is actually concerned with spelling out the structure of the metaphysics and epistemology needed in order to make sense of both the very existence of a first-order realist theory layer and the overall intelligibility of the facts obtaining and the objects existing within the domain posited on the higher-order level of idealistic theorizing. Thus, surprisingly, German Idealism might come to be seen as providing a deflationary meta-theory for Kant’s enterprise. 

Please send the following by April 15, 2015 to:
  • a, CV of no more than 2 pages
  • b, Statement of intent of no more than 1 page. Please mention in your statement whether you are interested in attending and participating in several seminars on the topic in German, which will be offered should demand warrant.
  • c, Writing sample of no more than 2,000 words in either English, French or German.

All students must in addition have at least one degree in philosophy.
All texts and discussions will be in English.
The course will be open to a maximum of 40 participants.

ICPH Fellowships:
The International Centre for Philosophy North Rhine-Westphalia will be offering several stipends for foreign graduate students to cover part of their traveling expenses and accommodations. To apply for a stipend, please send a short, separate letter outlining current funding status, financial need and projected travel expenses. Please note that there are no registration or course fees for the summer school.

We will help all participants find accommodation in Bonn (youth hostel, hotel rooms). More information regarding housing will be made available soon. Please contact us at: Participants will be responsible for meals outside official summer school dinners. All usual services (internet and library access, etc.) will be provided.

Strass de la philosophie: Avant demain

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Catherine Malabou: Plasticity Versus Inscription


Catherine Malabou at the Royal Institute of Art Stockholm: “Plasticity versus Inscription"
A. Mesnel, Land Salamander, 19th century. From C. Baenitz’s Textbook of Zoology in popular representation. 2nd edition (Berlin, Germany), 1877. pg 165.

The Domain of the Great Bear:
“Plasticity versus Inscription:
A Change of Paradigm”

Royal Institute of Art - Kungl. Konsthögskolan (KKH)A lecture by Catherine Malabou
Monday, 26 January 2015, 16h

Royal Institute of Art/Kungl. Konsthögskolan
Flaggmansvägen 1
111 49 Stockholm
About the lecture
The notions of trace, writing and inscription have been predominant in both philosophy and art since the turn of the 1970s. Claiming that all presence always consists in its own erasure, Jacques Derrida has shown that the movement of difference, or “différance,” is what always already displaces the metaphysical understanding of subjectivity, stability, and totality. However, the most recent discoveries in cellular biology, genetics, epigenetics, and neurobiology are challenging the hermeneutical importance of this paradigm of inscription. Neural networks, stem cells, genomes, are said to operate plastically, without leaving a trace but creating a form. A new vocabulary is thus emerging: firing, assemblies, populations. In her presentation, Catherine Malabou will evaluate the impact of such discoveries on the philosophical and artistic fields. Starting with Hegel, moving through Derrida, and ending with contemporary biology, Malabou will analyze three structures—totality, dissemination and regeneration—and will discuss them using three figures: that of the phoenix, the spider, and the salamander. Each time, images and concepts will be put into dialogue.
About the speaker
Catherine Malabou is a French philosopher. She is currently professor in the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) at Kingston University and joins the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm in autumn 2015 as International Visiting Chair in “Philosophy in the Context of Art” (a position alternated with Peter Osborne). Malabou graduated from the École Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines (Fontenay-Saint-Cloud) and her doctorate was obtained under the supervision of Jacques Derrida from the École des hautes études en sciences sociales.
Malabou’s contention that plasticity has become a major category in philosophy, arts, psychology, neurobiology and cell biology has opened up new perspectives on the way in which subjectivity and materiality, mind and body, are interrelated, along with new relationships between philosophy, arts and biology. In different ways, Malabou has studied how these interrelated significations are determining a vision of the form that would no longer be related to presence but to temporality (The Future of Hegel),historical metamorphoses (The Heidegger Change), and a change of paradigm from the trace to neural connectivity (What Should We Do With Our Brain? and Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing).

About The Domain of the Great Bear
“Plasticity versus Inscription: A Change of Paradigm” continues in the Royal Institute of Art’s series The Domain of the Great Bear and launches the Institute’s annual Research Week (26–30 January, 2015). The Domain of the Great Bear is the research platform of the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm—a series of public lectures, workshops and events focusing on art and production and the changing nature of the conditions for that production to address the challenges and aspirations for anyone claiming the category of artist. The Domain of the Great Bear serves as the Royal Institute of Art’s will as an institution to plant within the public domain a set of attitudes about art, architecture, knowledge and culture that extend from historicity forwards, and vice versa—forwards, backwards—to serve as a larger conversation piece about anything that claims itself as or beyond the art world. The Domain of the Great Bear continues throughout 2015.

About the Royal Institute of Art 
The Royal Institute of Art is a leading art institution of higher education located in Stockholm that offers both undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Fine Arts and Architecture.

Catherine Malabou at the Royal Institute of Art Stockholm: “Plasticity versus Inscription"