Rebecca Comay, Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature, The University of Toronto discusses Hegel and Beckett followed by a response from Paul Kottman of The New School for Social Research.
Dr.Joel Whitebook, Philosopher and Psychoanalyst will discuss his book Freud: An Intellectual Biography
As Hegel observed, the “Objective Spirit” never stands still — an observation that is especially true today. As a result, members of every generation have to return to the classics and reappropriate them for themselves. This is what Joel Whitebook has done in his recently published intellectual biography of Freud (Cambridge University Press) that we will be discussing in this workshop.
Cutting through the tired clichés of the “Freud Wars,” the author presents us with a radically new portrait of the founder of psychoanalysis. Because Whitebook is a philosopher as well as a psychoanalyst, he has been able to integrate many of the profound transformations that have taken place in psychoanalytic theory and practice, infant research, gender studies, philosophy, and critical theory since Ernest Jones and Peter Gay published their canonical studies in the last century. Whitebook thereby succeeds in creating an account of Freud’s achievement that speaks to our cultural situation.
Furthermore, in addition to presenting the unfolding of Freud’s thinking in the context of the developments in his personal life and in the society at large, Whitebook has also succeeded in bringing this iconic man to life in compelling fashion. Where Freud often tried to protect himself by hiding behind the forbidding mask of an authoritarian patriarch and unbending rationalist, we come to see him as the vulnerable, complex, and all-too-human person that he was.
There is a broad consensus that Aristotle introduced the concept of matter in order to develop a consistent account of substantial change. However, it is disputed which role matter fulfills in substantial change. According to the traditional interpretation, matter persists while taking on or losing a substantial form. According to a rival interpretation, matter does not persist in substantial change; instead, it is an entity from which a new substance can emerge and which ceases to exist in this process. In my view, both interpretations are problematic in the light of Aristotle’s broader ontological project and are at odds with the way Aristotle describes the substantial generation of living beings. On the basis of Aristotle’s biological theory, I will suggest that Aristotelian matter is a continuant in substantial generation, but does not satisfy the common criteria for persistence that apply to individual substances.
Anna Schriefl is Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin (assistant professor) at the University of Bonn, and currently a visiting scholar at the New School. She has published a book about Plato’s criticism of money and wealth, and most recently an introduction into Stoicism (both in German).
“Being dragged into the orbit of Webster’s mind is like entering the Magic Mountain: you go in as a visitor, and stay as a patient”
– Tom Mcarthy, author of Remainder and Satin Island
“Jamieson Webster’s new work reflects upon that aspect of hysteria—or conversion disorder—that has eluded the attention of most commentators: the indifference of the subject at the very moment that the symptom is most clearly enacted. This point of departure allows Webster to think about what the body contains but also what traverses the body at a level that is prior to speech, that is perhaps the condition of speech itself. This incisive and unsettling meditation gives us a form of psychoanalytic writing that tracks the transference as bodily transformation and impasse. It is written in and for our times, when the courage and difficulty of the slow labor of psychoanalysis provides a perspective that eludes the certitudes of dogma and the exhilarations of false promises. Webster’s book asks us to stay within the domain of difficult exchange where what registers and shifts at the level of the body lets us know more about what we can expect of life and what our own living carries of the lives of others. Beautifully written, theoretically brave, and disturbing in all the best ways”.
– Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature and Critical Theory, University of California, Berkeley
From the book:
Conversion disorder—a psychiatric term that names the enigmatic transformation of psychic energy into bodily manifestations—offers a way to rethink the present. With so many people suffering from unexplained bodily symptoms; with so many seeking recourse to pharmacological treatments or bodily modification; with young men and women seemingly willing to direct violence toward anybody, including themselves—a radical disordering in culture insists on the level of the body.
Part memoir, part clinical case, part theoretical investigation, this book searches for the body. Is it a psychopathological entity; a crossroads for the cultural, political, and biological in the form of care; or the foundation of psychoanalytic work on the question of sexuality? Jamieson Webster traces conversion’s shifting meanings—in religious, economic, and even chemical processes—revisiting the work of thinkers as diverse as Benjamin, Foucault, Agamben, and Lacan. She provides an intimate account of her own conversion from patient to psychoanalyst, as well as her continuing struggle to apprehend the complexities of the patient’s body. When listening to dreams, symptoms, worries, or sexual impasses, the body becomes a defining trope that belies a vulnerable and urgent wish for transformation. Conversion Disorder names what is singular about the entanglement of the fractured body and the social world in order to imagine what kind of cure is possible.
According to a pervasive and widespread literature, we came, whether we want it or not, to surround our existences with all sorts of narratives: retrospective interpretations of what came before us and how we were born, anticipative stories about what is to come and what we should expect, and, most of all, restless attempts to describe what our present is made of so that we know how to make sense of it. First-person narratives occupy a central position amongst these varieties of narratives, as they give each of us a chance to provide meaning to our lives and achieve some kind of self-understanding.
Taking a resolutely opposite stance, Sartre (in)famously declared through the voice of the main character of his novel La Nausée that stories cannot but betray the lives they claim to describe, and necessarily fail to be faithful to the very experiencing of life that constitutes its specific grain and texture. In which sense is this failure a failure? In which sense must we consider it a failure, if narratives are the privileged device we use to make sense of existences in general, and ours in particular? Wouldn’t it be both tragic and ironical, from that perspective, that we live our lives in a way that remains impervious to our attempts to bring some meaning over our existence, and that first-person narratives should be regarded as fundamentally inadequate to account for life as we live it?
This paper will address these questions in light of the definition of ‘tragic irony’ that Richard Moran draws from his interpretation of Sartre, understanding tragedy as a clash between forms of significance displayed by incompatible perspectives. We will examine in particular the problem raised by first-person narratives, which conflate the seemingly incompatible perspectives of the narrator and of the character of the story. I will argue that Moran’s view fails to show in which sense the failure of first-person narratives are also, according to Sartre, the condition of their success, and that the irony of life might rely first and foremost on its ability to succeed even when and where it fails. After all, isn’t it the most ironical of it all that Sartre, notwithstanding his harsh critique of the fundamental inadequacy of life narratives, ended his literary career with the publication of his most acclaimed autobiography?
Pierre-Jean Renaudie is Assistant Professor of philosophy (phenomenology and contemporary German philosophy) at the University of Lyon. He is the author of a book on Husserl’s theory of knowledge (Husserl et les categories. Langage, pensée et perception, Paris, Vrin, 2015), co-edited a book on phenomenology of matter (Phénoménologies de la matière, with C.V. Spaak, Paris, CNRS Editions, 2020) and published many articles, in French and in English, on the phenomenological tradition and its connection with contemporary issues in philosophy of mind. He is a member of the Institut de recherches philosophiques de Lyon (IRPHIL) and an associate member of the Husserl Archives in Paris.
The Politics department at the New School for Social Research will host its 1st Graduate Conference in Political Theory on March 6-7th, 2020.
We are launching this event to provide graduate students in the history of political thought, political theory and political philosophy an opportunity to present and receive feedback on their work. A total of six (6) papers will be accepted and each of them will receive substantial comments from a New School graduate student, to be followed by a general discussion. We welcome submissions from all traditions, but we are particularly interested in providing a venue for those students working on critical approaches. We would also like to encourage applications from under-represented groups in the field.
We are delighted to announce that Professor Robyn Marasco (Hunter College, City University of New York) will deliver the inaugural keynote address.
Submissions for the conference are due by December 10th, 2019. Papers should not exceed 8,000 words (excluding footnotes and bibliography) and should be sent in PDF format with the help of the electronic form provided below. Papers should be formatted for blind review with no identifying information. Abstracts will not be accepted. A Google account is needed in order to sign-in to the submission form; if you don’t have one, please email us. Papers will be reviewed over the winter break and notifications will be sent out early January 2020.
For any questions, please contact NSSRconferencepoliticaltheory@gmail.com
The 9th annual Radical Democracy conference, sponsored by the Department of Politics at The New School for Social Research, will convene theorists and practitioners around the theme of Radical Ecologies. In the year that “climate strike” was named word of the year by Collins Dictionary, we seek to explore what opportunities for democratic resistance can be found in a multiplicity of ecologies. The conference will provide a platform for dialogue on the urgent question of our future in a post-climate change world.
Against the backdrop of increasingly visible and devastating climate disasters, resurgent environmental movements are embracing divergent visions and methods of struggle to realize change. As such, it is timely to ask, What makes an ecology radical? A multitude of intersecting traditions have sought to answer this question. An eco-feminist might approach this through the lens of social reproduction. An eco-socialist might frame radical ecology in terms of a mode of production beyond capitalism that can sustain and replenish nature. Indigenous perspectives can draw on centuries of resistance to extractive colonial capitalism. The conference will consider how a radical ecological praxis can be pursued within this plurality of histories, cosmologies and schools of thought, and, crucially, examine what we can learn from the work of activists on the frontline. We therefore call on both scholars and activists to engage in a fruitful dialogue on the still unsettled relationship between politics and the environment.
We seek abstracts and panel proposals that grapple with this issue across a broad range of perspectives and disciplines, including, but by no means limited to:
- environmental social movements past, present and future;
- indigenous, subaltern, decolonial and posthuman perspectives and strategies of resistance;
- the urgency of converging ecological crises, and strategic possibilities and limitations of confronting it within existing political systems;
- the theoretical and ontological underpinnings of environmentalism in the global North, and critiques thereof;
- networks of alliance across geographical space, disciplinary boundaries, and patterns and institutions of oppression;
- materialist analyses of winners and losers in the clean energy transition and ecological sustainability movement;
- questions of future(s) and intergenerational ethics;
- meditations on the relations between aesthetics, activism, and the nonhuman.
The conference will take place over two days, the structure of which will include graduate-student panels, an indigenous activist-scholar roundtable, and a keynote address.
For individual paper proposals, please submit a one-page abstract (max. 300 words) that includes institutional affiliation, academic level and contact information. Complete panel proposals with up to four papers are strongly encouraged.
Please submit your paper or panel abstracts by February 1st, 2020, to email@example.com. Selected participants will be notified March 1st, 2020. Full conference papers are due by April 5, 2020.
NEW SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH PHILOSOPHY GRADUATE CONFERENCE
Keynote Speakers: Cary Wolfe (Rice) and Lori Gruen (Wesleyan)
This conference seeks to explore the relationship between animals and their environs, as well as the philosophical traditions that speak to these complex notions. We invite participants to question if and how philosophy’s treatment of animals and their environs can help us make sense of our current ecological situation. How have considerations of habitat, dominion, and domesticity determined the (ethical, ontological, rhetorical) status of animals? Conversely, how have presuppositions about “the animal” informed what environs are proper to “man”? What would it mean for an animal to be “at home” in the current world? Can philosophical approaches to animals be more than an instrumentalizing procedure? How will climate change alter not only the vitality of a species but the very grounds from which it lays claim to a home?
We welcome paper submissions of no more than 2500 words, that are prepared for a blind review, and suitable for a 15-20 minute long presentation.
Email your submission (in PDF format) to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Animalhouse Submission” in the subject line. In your email, please include the following details: (a) author’s name; (b) paper title; (c) institutional affiliation; (d) contact information; and (e) abstract of no more than 250 words. Please do not include your name on the paper you are submitting. The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2019. Accepted speakers will be notified by February 1, 2020.
Questions can be directed to Aaron Neber at email@example.com.
For updated program information and full CFP, see: https://animalhouse2020.weebly.com/