The ForArt Lecture 2014. Catherine Malabou on Plasticity: The Phoenix, the Spider and the Salamander.
In this lecture, Catherine Malabou, Professor at the Center for European Modern Philosophy, Kingston University (UK), will discuss the concept of plasticity that has been central to her work at the intersection of philosophy and neuroscience.
Catherine Malabou on her topic: "In this lecture, I would like to present the concept of plasticity which has become a major category in philosophy, arts, psychology, but also and mainly neurobiology and cell biology, to just name a few. Starting with a general definition of this concept, I will then analyse how it helps us to move away from previous conceptions of the relationship between subjectivity and materiality and open new ones, which include a new vision of the mind, the body, and of meaning all together. In order to tie together all these questions, I chose to interpret a sentence, taken from Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit : “The wounds of the Spirit heal, and leave no scars behind.” This sentence, Hegel speaks of speaks of “recovery,” of healing, of the return, of the reconstitution of the skin after a wound, that is, of plasticity. I would like to suggest that three readings of this sentence are possible: a dialectical reading, a deconstructive reading, and a third reading that I will call post-deconstructive. This will help me to stage three moments of the history of philosophy : Hegelianism, deconstruction and post-deconstruction. These three readings come from three ways of understanding recovery, healing, reconstitution, return, or regeneration. I will present these three readings via three paradigms of recovery: the paradigm of the phoenix, the paradigm of the spider, and the paradigm of the salamander. Each time, I will see how the central meanings of plasticity (forming, explosion, healing) are always and intimately linked together.
Catherine Malabou, Professor at the Center for European Modern Philosophy at Kingston University, graduated from the École Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines (Fontenay-Saint-Cloud). Her agrégation and doctorate were obtained, under the supervision of Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Marion, from the École des hautes études en sciences sociales. Her dissertation became the book, The Future of Hegel, Plasticity, Temporality, Dilaectic (Routledge, 2005). Central to Malabou's philosophy is the concept of "plasticity," which she derives in part from the work of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and from medical science, for example, from work on stem cells and from the concept of neuroplasticity. In 1999, Malabou publishedCounterpath, co-authored with Derrida. Her book, The New Wounded (Fordham 2011), concerns the intersection between neuroscience, psychoanalysis, and philosophy, thought through the phenomenon of trauma. Coinciding with her exploration of neuroscience has been an increasing commitment to political philosophy. This is first evident in her book What Should We Do With Our Brain? (Fordham 2006) and continues in in her book on feminism (Changing Difference, Polity books 2012).