2014 Research Seminars
Philosophy @ UWS
Convenor: Dr Sabrina Achilles
Time: 3.30 pm - 5.00 pm / Venue: Bankstown Campus, 3.G.27
Richard Rushton, Deleuze, Finance Capital and Contemporary Hollywood (19th November)
Wednesday 19 November, 3.30pm - 5.00pm
Bankstown Campus, Room 3.G.27
Gilles Deleuze, in Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, defines some aspects of the movement-image in terms derived from Marx's formulae for capitalist exchange. The large form of the action-image — SAS´ — corresponds to Marx's C-M-C formula of commodity exchange, while the small form of the action-image — ASA´ — corresponds to monetary exchange, M-C-M. In this paper, I denote the form of capital exchange appropriate to the age of finance capital, the age Deleuze referred to as one of 'control societies', in order to posit correspondences between these forms of finance capital and some narrative aspects post-classical Hollywood cinema. In doing so, I examine a range of recent Hollywood films, including Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Brad Bird, 2011) and Man of Steel (Zack Snyder, 2013).
Richard Rushton (opens in a new window) is Senior Lecturer in Film at Lancaster University (UK). He is the author of The Politics of Hollywood Cinema (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), Cinema After Deleuze (Continuum, 2012) and The Reality of Film
(Manchester University Press, 2011).
Michelle Boulous Walker, "Philosophy, Complexity, and Reading" (12th November)
Wednesday 12 November, 3.30pm - 5.00pm
Bankstown Campus, Room 3.G.27
In an age of internet scrolling and skimming where concentration and attention are fast becoming endangered skills, it is timely to think about reading and the many forms that it can take. In this paper I make the case for thinking about reading in philosophical terms. Starting with Friedrich Nietzsche's call "to read well… to read slowly, deeply, looking cautiously before and aft, with reservations, with doors left open, with delicate eyes and fingers", I argue that philosophy involves the patient work of thought that allows us to sink into the world. In this, philosophy resembles the work of art, the kind that both invites and implores us to take our time, to engage with the complexity of the world, and to dwell slowly in it. At its best, philosophy teaches us to read slowly; in fact, philosophy is the art of reading slowly, and this inevitably hits up against many of our current institutional practices and demands. With the help of writers as diverse as Friedrich Nietzsche, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Virginia Woolf, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, and others, I explore the case for reading slowly, receiving impressions, encountering complexity, and opening to imagination and intensity.
Michelle Boulous Walker is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy in the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics at The University of Queensland. She is author of Philosophy and the Maternal Body: Reading Silence (Routledge 1998) and editor of Performing Sexualities (IMA 1994). Other publications span the fields of European philosophy, aesthetics, ethics, and feminist philosophy. Her teaching interests include ethics, film, and literature. Her current research focuses on ethics, aesthetics and reading, and she has recently completed a manuscript entitled Slow Reading: Philosophy and the Institution, concerned with ethical response and what it means to read philosophically.
Ronit Lentin, "Israel/Palestine: State of Exception and Acts of Decolonisation" (22nd October)
Wednesday 22 October, 3.30 pm - 5.00 pm
Bankstown Campus, Room 3.G.27
Israel is variously theorised as a settler-colonial society, an apartheid state, an ethnocracy and a racial state. Following the most recent massacre of Gaza, this paper theorises the biopolitical regime prevalent in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in 1967, and within the state of Israel itself, as a settler-colonial racial state and a classical state of exception (Agamben, 2005).
The most relevant critique of theorising Israel/Palestine as state of exception is Svirsky and Bignall's (2012) argument that Agamben's project, firmly anchored in Western political thought, is conceived without reference to colonialism and anticolonialism, and ignores the critical interventions by colonised people engaged in acts of decolonisation.
This paper engages with this critique by re-examining the theorisation of Israel as state of exception and a settler-colonial racial state (Goldberg, 2009; Wolfe, 2006), and discussing Berda¹s (2012) analysis of the bureaucracy of the West Bank permit regime as constantly producing exceptions based on racial hierarchy and replicating colonial ruling systems.
Racism, according to Foucault (2003: 255), makes it possible to establish a relationship between my life and the death of the other. In Israel/Palestine such a relationship is enacted through a range of governmental technologies from the 1948 ethnic cleansing to current policies of land confiscations, West Bank permit regime and the ethnic cleansing of Israel¹s Bedouin citizens and Palestinian subjects, all establishing a relationship between Israel¹s Jewish citizens¹ life and the death of the Palestinian other.
This paper is as much a Fanonian as an Agambenian project; as Agamben does not fully address the potentialities of resistance to the state of exception, I draw on Shenhav's (2006) postcolonial reading of Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth, to analyse the decolonial interventions enacted by Palestinians.
Ronit Lentin retired recently as associate professor of sociology at Trinity College Dublin. She published extensively on Israel/Palestine, racism and immigration in Ireland, and gender and genocide. Her books include: Conversations with Palestinian Women (1980), Israel and the Daughters of the Shoah: Reoccupying the Territories of Silence (2000), Women and the Politics of Military Confrontation: Palestinian and Israeli Women's Narratives of Dislocation (2002), Racism and Antiracism in Ireland (with Robbie McVeigh, 2002), Race and State (with Alana Lentin, 2006/8), After Optimism: Ireland, Racism and Globalisation (with Robbie McVeigh, 2006), Thinking Palestine (2008), Post-Memory and Melancholia: Israelis Memorialising the Palestinian Nakba (2010) and Migrant Activism and Integration from Below in Ireland (with Elena Moreo, 2012).
Jean-Philippe Deranty, "Lost paradigm: The fate of work in post-war French philosophy" (15th October)
Wednesday 15 October, 3.30pm - 5.00pm
Bankstown Campus, Room 3.G.27
In this paper, I try to substantiate the claim that a major theoretical stake in the great shift that occurred in post-war French philosophy with the emergence of structuralism, was the conceptual place occupied by work. I show the ways in which work functioned as a paradigm in the decades immediately preceding the structuralist wave, well beyond its immediate significance as a social determinant of politics. I then try to identify key moments in structuralist and post-structuralist literature in which the disappearance of the work paradigm is particularly striking. Finally, I ask what gets lost with the disappearance of the work paradigm and under what conditions work could become philosophically central once again.
Jean-Philippe was educated in Paris (Lycée Louis-le-Grand, Ecole Normale Supérieure and Paris IV-Sorbonne), and Germany (Hegel Archive in Bochum and Freie-Universitat in Berlin). He began working at Macquarie University as an Associate Lecturer in Philosophy in 2002. He is the currently the Head of the Philosophy Department. He is an editor of the journal of critical theory, Critical Horizons, foreign correspondent for Actuel Marx, and a reviewer for the yearly bulletin of Hegelian studies, published by Archives de Philosophie. His research interests include: Social and Political Theory; German philosophy, especially Hegel and the Hegelian tradition; Critical Theory, especially the work of Axel Honneth; Phenomenology, especially Merleau-Ponty; and Continental aesthetics.
Mark Kelly, "Gilles Deleuze's 'societies of control' thesis" (17th September)
Wednesday 17 September, 3.30 pm - 5.00 pm
Bankstown Campus, Room 3.G.27
In this paper, I critically assess Gilles Deleuze's 'societies of control' thesis, in relation to both the work of Michel Foucault which inspired it, and the work of which it inspired in turn, including that of Hardt and Negri, and Lazzaratto. I argue, contra Deleuze and his reading of Foucault, that contemporary society continues to be a form of the disciplinary–biopolitical society identified by Foucault as existing already in the nineteenth century. The argument for this is dual. On the one hand, I point to claims by Deleuze that have not been born out by subsequent development, particularly the claim that disciplinary institutions are breaking down: while some institutions have declined, others (particularly the prison) have massively expanded, leaving no clear pattern of decline. On the other hand, I argue that characteristics specifically assigned to societies of control by Deleuze are already part of disciplinary power as conceived by Foucault, noting indeed that Foucault uses the word 'control' as a synonym for discipline.
While acknowledging changes, I thus argue that any transition from Fordism to post-Fordism is at most a modification of disciplinary power, rather than a matter of a new technology of power in a Foucauldian sense. I hence seek to downplay the political importance of this change in favour of a reading of our society as exhibiting continuous tendencies. I conclude by agreeing with commentators who argue that neoliberalism is more accurately characterised as a return to nineteenth century conditions.
Mark Kelly was appointed Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts and ARC Future Fellow at the University of Western Sydney in 2014. His ARC project, 'The invention of norms: how ethics, law, and the life sciences shape our social selves' aims to show how the concept of the norm has shaped our understanding of the world, changed our society, and become part of our personal lives. He has authored three books on the thought of Michel Foucault – The Political Philosophy of Michel Foucault (Routledge, 2009), Foucault's History of Sexuality Vol. I (Edinburgh, 2013), and Foucault and Politics (Edinburgh, 2014) – and published on topics in political philosophy, including a forthcoming book, Biopolitical Imperialism (Zero).
Bryan Cooke, "Every action is an acclamation: Agamben on the Glorious Redundancy of (Economic) Governance" (3rd September)
Wednesday 3rd September, 3.30pm - 5.00pm
Bankstown Campus, Room 3.G.27
One of the goals of Hannah Arendt's project in The Human Condition is, famously, the attempt to revive a radical republican conception of democratic politics which she sees as occluded by the dominance -- especially in the Anglophone world -- of liberal political philosophies centring on notions of individual rights. At the heart of this argument -- at least as regards her account of the various modes of "la vita activa" in The Human Condition -- is Arendt's insistence, on the importance of maintaining the (Aristotelian) distinction between the affairs of the city (polis) and those of the household (oikos).
In this paper, I will discuss what I see as Giorgio Agamben's contributions to an attempt to re-think the relationship between "oikos" and "polis" (or economy, society and politics) not -- as might be expected -- in regards to his discussion of "biopolitics" in Homo Sacer but instead in relation to the theological genealogy of the concept of "oikonomia" which is the explicit topic of his later work The Kingdom and the Glory. The importance of Agamben's late work is, I will argue, the way in which it allows us to think about what today has arguably become a fundamental imbrication of the "economic" and the "political" which will not, unfortunately, allow for any definitive conceptual (let alone practical) separation of these two spheres.
Given, however, that (as Agamben well knows) any opposition to neo-liberalism and capitalism, i.e. any devotion to what Badiou calls the 'communist hypothesis' requires an insistence on the "political" control of the economy, one might ask what might be the virtue of insisting (as I shall) that these two spheres in some sense collapse or enter into a zone of indistinction? Isn't the rigorous separation between the two domains in some sense necessary for any movement that would seek the overthrow of governance by the anarchy of the market with something like governance by the people in the sense of generic humanity?
In response to such questions, my argument will be that Agamben's intervention -- which, obviously, is completely opposed to the idea of happy submission to the quasi-divine oikonomia -- is actually directed to undoing certain ethical categories which, I will argue, take on a perverse hegemony under conditions of late capitalism and, in particular, via what I will call a particular temporality of consumer societies. In accounting for this conception of ethics and its relationship to capitalist time, I will be guided by Agamben's thought-provoking) question: "Why does power need glory?"
Bryan Cooke is the Secretary of the Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy.
He is working on a thesis on Agamben, Badiou, Meillassoux" and what he calls the search, within contemporary European Philosophy for a "Rationalism of the Idea".
Jennifer Mensch, "Rewriting Prometheus: Cultural Zeitgeist from Weimar Classicism to British Gothic Fiction" (13th August)
Wednesday 13 August, 3.30pm - 5.00pm
Bankstown Campus, Room 3.G.27
Here is a question: Why is it the case that between 1773 (Goethe's early verse-play, "Prometheus") and 1820 (Percy Shelley's lyrical drama, Prometheus Unbound) the myth of Prometheus would be taken up time and again by poets, writers, philosophers, and musicians (Beethoven, for example, composed "The Creatures of Prometheus" in 1801)? In this paper I will examine this question beginning with a review of the myth itself before turning to the manner in which Prometheus would be subsequently described as a creative yet rebellious agent—Goethe, Schlegel, Byron, Percy Shelley—or indeed as a creative force gone awry—Hoffman, Mary Shelly. With this background briefly in view, I will suggest that Prometheus served as a unique signifier during this period in three specific ways. First, Prometheus' famous defiance of Zeus made him a powerful signifier during the decades following the American and French Revolutions insofar as he symbolized resistance to both church and state as traditional strongholds of power and authority. Second, Prometheus was variously identified with Zeus, Hephaestus, and Athena for his role in making men after his own image. In the wake of technological advances in automation, and physiological investigations into animal electricity, science was seen to be threatening the public with uncanny productions of all kinds. It was these scientific and technological productions which inspired the need for cautionary tales regarding the "modern Prometheus" at work in both Hoffman's Sandman and Shelley's Frankenstein. Third, it is clear that Prometheus' creative agency took on an organic cast within the works we now associate with Weimar Classicism; how and why Prometheus came to be a special signifier for the organic realm will be the central focus of my paper.
Jennifer Mensch specializes in the intersection of philosophy, science, and literature during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Her recent book, Kant's Organicism. Epigenesis and the Development of Critical Philosophy (University of Chicago Press, 2013) traces the decisive role played by life science theories of biological generation for Kant's account of mental cognition. She is currently Senior Lecturer at the Pennsylvania State University where she teaches philosophy and the history of science and medicine.
Charlotte Epstein, "Habeas What Kind Of Corpus? Locating Privacy and the Body in the Making of the Modern Subject" (6th August)
Wednesday 6 August, 3.30 pm - 5.00 pm
Bankstown Campus, Room 3.G.27
In this paper I consider how our experiences of bodily privacy are changing in the contemporary surveillance society. To this end I use biometric technologies as a lens for tracking the changing relationships between the body and privacy that underwrite our modern democratic polities. Adopting a broader genealogical perspective, however, I begin by retracing the role of the body in the constitution of the modern liberal political subject. I consider successively two quite different understandings of the subject, the Foucauldian political subject as theorized by Michel Foucault, followed by the subject of psychoanalysis analysed by Jacques Lacan. My genealogy of the modern political subject begins with the habeas corpus, and observes a classically Foucauldian periodization, the historical succession of a regime of sovereignty¹ with a regime of governmentality¹ within which our surveillance societies are currently taking shape. In the final part of the article, instead of the unidirectional Foucauldian gaze, I switch to a two-way scopic relationship, by way of Lacan¹s analysis of the mirror stage. I locate both the place of the body and the function of misrecognition in the constitution of the psychic subject. The psychoanalytic perspective, in which the powerful gaze is revealed as that of the Other, serves to appraise the effects upon the subject of excessive exposure. I conclude to the importance of the subject¹s being able to hide, even when she has nothing to hide. By considering these two facets of subjectivity, political and psychic, I hope to make sense of our enduring, and deeply political, passionate attachment to privacy, notwithstanding the increasing normalization of surveillance technologies and practices.
My interests are in the areas of International Relations theory, particularly in post-structuralist approaches and discourse theory, critical security studies and global environmental politics. In my book, The Power of Words in International Relations: Birth of An Anti-Whaling Discourse, I approach the topic of whaling both as an object of analysis in its own right and as a lens for examining the role of discursive power in international relations.
Talia Morag, "A Naturalized Conception of that Unconscious" (11th June)
Sessional Lecturer of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis (Sydney)
The Freudian unconscious has been a topic of much criticism. Some skeptics (Adolf Grumbaum, Frederick Crews) rule out the unconscious on the ground that it is inevitably mysterious and in any case fails to explain scientifically psychological pathologies. Admittedly, Freud presents the unconscious in either metaphorically scientific terms (drives, forces) or mysterious conceptions such as hidden proto-people within us, or a storage room for mental states. Some philosophers defend the unconscious by showing that the explanations that use it comprise an extension to common-sense psychology (Nagel, Hopkins, Gardner, Lear). But the literature lacks any positive account of what in the psychology of a person can make a mental state unconscious and how that process relates to the formation of symptoms. In this paper, I draw from the literature on self-deception and on certain Freudian insights about associative imagination and propose a new de-mystified but non-scientific account of the unconscious.
Dr. Talia Morag, MA (Paris 8), PhD (Sydney), Sessional Lecturer of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis (Sydney).
Knox Peden, "Stiegler's Technique" (28th May)
Presenter: Dr Knox Peden ARC Research Fellow at University of Queensland
Title: Stiegler's Technique
Bernard Stiegler's thinking about technics (la technique) occupies a peculiar position on the terrain of contemporary French thought. Vitalist and deconstructionist in apparently equal measure, Stiegler's thought seems riven by a fundamental discrepancy. On the one hand, his philosophical history of technics bestows upon prosthetics a determinant, albeit infinitely temporal, role in the constitution of humanity. On the other, his increasingly strident interventions in cultural politics belie a conviction that technologies can be refashioned toward ends that are not entirely their own. Antihumanist in its philosophical principles, his project seems brazenly humanist in its culturalist ends. It's possible that his current work finds sustenance in the instabilities of his originary ontology; it's also possible that it marks a departure from the insights his Technics and Time project has procured. Whatever the case is, Stiegler's astonishingly prolific output – seventeen books in five years, as a recent blurb puts it – has become primarily rhetorical in its contents. Rhetorical, which is to say, primarily a matter of technique.
Dr Knox Peden is an ARC Research Fellow in the Centre for the History of European Discourses at the University of Queensland. He is the author of Spinoza Contra Phenomenology: French Rationalism from Cavaillès to Deleuze (Stanford, 2014) and the co-editor with Peter Hallward of a two-volume work devoted to the Cahiers pour l'Analyse (Verso, 2012). In 2015 Bloomsbury will publish French Philosophy Today: A Historical Introduction. His grappling with Stiegler's technique forms a part of this effort.
Daniel McLoughlin, "Sovereignty, Economic Theology, and the Early Modern State" (14th May)
Presenter: Daniel McLoughlin
Vice-Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow (University of New South Wales)
In his 'Monotheism as a Political Problem,' the theologian Erik Peterson develops a devastating critique of Carl Schmitt's Political Theology. The modern notion of sovereignty cannot, he argues, be a secularisation of the theological notion of a singular and omnipotent lawgiver because the Christian God is threefold: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Giorgio Agamben's The Kingdom and the Glory rescues Schmitt from Peterson's critique by showing that the fundamental task of Trinitarian theology has always been to reconcile the singularity and multiplicity of God – or, to put this in more political terms, his sovereignty over the world with his government of the world. According to Agamben, then, the political paradigm that Christian theology transmits to modernity is that of a 'bipolar machine' comprised of a transcendent sovereignty and a governmental praxis that puts this sovereign will into effect. Agamben's own analysis of the secularisation of this paradigm focuses upon its influence on the emergence of liberal democratic ideas such as Rousseau's general will and Adam Smith's invisible hand. This paper develops an analysis of a piece of political history, which is largely missing from Agamben's work, by using his account of the bipolar machine as a lens through which to read Schmitt's concern with the theological inheritance of the early modern sovereign state. The paper begins by outlining Agamben's reading of Trinitarian theology, before examining the relationship between this theological legacy and the modern theory of sovereignty, and illustrating the intimate relationship between sovereignty and government in the account of monarchical absolutism developed by Schmitt and Foucault.
Laura Odello, "Walten, or the ultra-sovereign force" (7th May)
Presenter: Laura Odello
Collège international de philosophie
Title: Walten, or the ultra-sovereign force
Time: 3-4:30 PM
The enigmatic figure of the Walten insists throughout Derrida's last seminar and seems to reconfigure the concept of sovereignty. The super- or hyper-sovereignty of the Walten, which Derrida explores in Heidegger, seems to name something that cannot be reduced anymore to an onto-theologico-political sovereignty in deconstruction. We will try to interrogate the excessive "force" of this Walten that Derrida describes as sovereign beyond sovereignty.
Laura Odello is in charge of a research program at the Collège international de philosophie in Paris. She is a translator (Derrida, Virilio, Augé...). Her current research centers, on the one hand, on the notions of sovereignty and violence in Derrida's thought, and, on the other hand, on the relationship between deconstruction and images. Her recent publications include: Blockbuster. Philosophie et cinéma, Laura Odello (ed.), Les Prairies Ordinaires, Paris, 2013; Pour une autre pornographie, Laura Odello (ed.), "Rue Descartes", 79, 2013; (In)actualités de Derrida, Laura Odello (ed.), "Rue Descartes", 83, Paris 2014 (forthcoming).
Dinesh Wadiwel, "Like one who is bringing his own hide to market: Marx, Derrida and Animal Commodification" (30th April)
Presenter: Dinesh Wadiwel
School of Social and Political Sciences (University of Sydney)
In an evocative line in Capital, Marx states that the worker under capitalism has "brought his own hide to market and now has nothing else to expect but – a tanning." This is not the first reference to "tanning" in Capital ; indeed in some respects the process of submitting one's own skin for exchange appears for Marx as a persistent metaphor for the commodification of human labour.
But what about animal labour? Can we use the tools that Marx offers to provide an account for the specific exploitation of animals within capitalism and other economic systems? Examining the first chapter of Marx's Capital vol. 1 – "The Commodity" – and Marx's exploration on money in Grundrisse, this paper will explore the imposition of a value equivalence upon the life (and death) of the animal within industrialised animal production. Noting that livestock were some of the first examples of "money" used in exchange, I will argue that commodification of animals does not focus on merely recognizing value in the form of exchange value, but realizes value in a side by side process of fostering species differentiation between human and non human.
Turning to Jacques Derrida's 1971 essay "White Mythology," I will explore Derrida's examination of the metaphor and its connection (or lost connection) to original value. I will argue, in line with Derrida's later concern with the term "animal" itself, that the imposition of value is always a violent form of metaphoricisation that threatens to flatten our multiple difference. As Derrida discusses, the commodity that poses as money is worn down through the process of exchange. In this sense the commodity value of animals as property might be understood as an intertwining process of material and epistemic violence – a literal and metaphoric "skinning" of the animal.
This paper aims to reanimate consideration of a political economy of animals within contemporary industrialised (and post-industrialised) capitalism, with a view to mapping forms of political subjectivity, collectivity and resistance.
Dinesh Wadiwel(opens in a new window) is lecturer and Director of the Master of Human Rights, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney. His book, The War Against Animals, is forthcoming with Rodopi Press, and he is currently working on a co-edited collection with Matthew Chrulew entitled Foucault and Animals.
Alison Ross, "The figures of 'hope' and 'redemption' in Bejamin's 'Goethe's Elective Affinities' essay" (2nd April)
Presenter: Associate Professor Alison Ross
ARC Future Fellow, Monash University
In 'Goethe's Elective Affinities' (1924/5) Benjamin tackles the question of how Goethe's novel presents the feeling of hope for redemption. The essay sets out a contrast between the anxiety and paralysis that Benjamin identifies as features of the mythic life and the transcendent breach of the revelation. The mythic life is guided by ambiguous sensible forms, which are presumed to contain meaningful communication. In contrast to myth, Benjamin describes the feeling of hope for redemption as akin to a caesura or break with the self-sufficient sensible form. The essay thus pivots on a polemic against aesthetic form, which Benjamin treats in the pejorative vocabulary of semblance and bourgeois choice. Nonetheless, Benjamin's treatment of the feeling of hope for redemption has striking similarities with the aesthetic feeling of the sublime, as this is described in Kantian aesthetics. As such, the mark of the exit from the captivating semblance is arguably another aesthetic figure, rather than a transcendent breach. The point is admittedly a complicated one, especially if we take into account the fact that the sublime, in its Kantian articulation, is a feeling that does not require sensible presentation. Such a feeling, I will argue, nevertheless carries by virtue of its context and implications, the qualities of the aesthetic that Benjamin's essay otherwise denounces as grounded in myth.
Alison Rossis an ARC Future Fellow in the Philosophy Department at Monash University. She works on the history of modern philosophy, contemporary French and German thought, and aesthetics. Her publications include
The Aesthetic Paths of Philosophy: Presentation in Kant, Heidegger, Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy;(2007).
Most recently, she has published the co-edited studyJacques Rancière and the Contemporary Scene (with Jean-Philippe Deranty, 2012).
Her new book Walter Benjamin's Concept of the Imageis due out later this year.
Chris Fleming, "The Apocalypse well not be Televised" (19th March)
Presenter: Dr Chris Fleming
Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts (UWS)
In this paper, I will engage theoretically with two signal disasters of the twentieth century, often signified by place names - Auschwitz and Hiroshima. These are widely considered to point to profoundly revelatory historical events, events that point unambiguously to the violent horrors of that century. Equally, however, these events have also been considered "unrepresentable" in some ways - that in their extremity and horror they even may somehow "escape" representation, with our attempts to figure them by recourse to concepts either pointless or tasteless. This paper considers both their capacity to signify and the challenges laid down by theorists like Jean-Francois Lyotard who contend that they not so much "signify" than possess a capacity to disrupt signification itself.
Chris Fleming is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at the University of Western Sydney. He is the author of René Girard: Violence and Mimesis (Cambridge: Polity, 2004), the editor of two volumes of essays on the work of Girard, and is currently the editor of a book series on mimetic theory and violence for Bloomsbury. He has published in Body and Society, Modern Drama, Parallax, and Philosophy and Social Criticism, among other journals. His forthcoming book Modern Conspiracy: The Importance of Being Paranoid – co–written with Emma A. Jane – will be released by Bloomsbury later this year.
Janice Richardson, "Feminist Theory, Spinoza and our Changing Experience of Privacy" (5th March)
Presenter: Janice Richardson
Associate Professor in Law at Monash University
Our experiences of privacy are changing as a result of two contingent factors: feminist challenges to the liberal public/private divide and changes in information flow as a result of computer mediated communication. This paper theorises some of the feminist implications of these changes. In particular, it draws upon the first two of Spinoza's three kinds of knowledge as a starting point to conceptualising what we mean by harm in privacy cases, such as "revenge porn".
Janice Richardson is an Associate Professor in Law at Monash University. She researches at the intersection of continental philosophy, feminist philosophy and law. She is author of the following books: Selves, Persons, Individuals and The Classic Social Contractarians and co-editor of Feminist Perspectives on Tort Law and Feminist Perspectives on Law and Theory. Her articles appear in: Angelaki, Law and Critique, Feminist Legal Studies, Economy and Society, Ratio Juris, Minds and Machines, British Journal of Politics and International Relations and The Australian Feminist Law Journal.
Douglas Moggach, "Enlightenment and Post-Kantian Perfectionisms" (19 February)
Presenter: Douglas Moggach
Professor in Political Studies and Philosophy (University of Ottawa)
This paper will examine the perfectionist ethical programmes of Leibniz and Wolff, Kantian critiques of these programmes, and the emergence of new forms of perfectionism after Kant whose object is not to promote happiness but the conditions of rightful interaction. Some contemporary applications will be suggested.
Douglas Moggach (opens in a new window) is Distinguished University Professor in Political Studies and Philosophy at the University of Ottawa, and Honorary Professor at the University of Sydney. The winner of a Killam Research Fellowship, he has published widely in German philosophy, including The Philosophy and Politics of Bruno Bauer (CUP 2003); (ed.) The New Hegelians (CUP 2006); and (ed.) Politics, Religion and Art: Hegelian Debates (NWUP 2011).