past dialectics and future destructions: Malabou’s plasticity

Catherine Malabou has rapidly elasticized possible futures for Continental Philosophy by reorienting our understanding of Hegelian thought around the notion of plasticity, “a capacity to receive form and a capacity to produce form.”

In her recent short work Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing: Dialectic, Destruction, Deconstruction, Malabou considers writing as a scene of plasticity and model of political and ethical action. Join InterCcECT for a reading group on these crepuscular illuminations of Derrida, Hegel, Heidegger, Freud, Levi-Strauss, and Levinas.

Thursday 17 October
3-5pm
Department of English conference room
UIC, 2028 University Hall
601 S Morgan St, 60607 (Blue Line: UIC Halsted)

Text available to Chicagoans upon request.

Mark your calendars now for our upcoming miniseminar with Joshua Kates, “Radical Empiricism Revisited,” at which we’ll explore the Kantian inflections of empiricism in Deleuze, Latour, and Luhmann as they oppose Derrida and early Foucault. Friday 22 November, 3-5pm, location TBA; paper to be pre-circulated.

What’s happening in theory this fall?  Send us your event proposals and announcements (interccect at gmail), check out our calendar for recommended events, and connect with us on  Facebook for frequent links and commentary.

Posted in blog posts, Deleuze, Derrida, Hegel, Heidegger, Interccect, Malabou. Comments Off

Balance and imbalance

Which comes first, balance or imbalance? Which is more primordial? Many would have it that balance comes first, that there is a preestablished harmony that is then disturbed, often by human willfulness. In our contemporary world, for instance, many would hold that the market is inherently balanced and is only thrown off by extraneous human interventions — a modern-day notion of the inexplicable intrusion of original sin into God’s perfect creation.

Yet there can be no such thing as a permanent, inherent balance, because balance always presupposes at least two things. If we see something that looks like a balance and is permanent and inherent, then it is only a balance by analogy — really, we are just looking at parts of one thing and noting how they go together. Balancing always means balancing things that are not the same, that are not inherently compatible, that don’t automatically fit together. Balance is always an achievement, and one that must be continually renewed.

This provides us with one way of interpreting Zizek’s claim, based in his reading of Hegel and Lacan, that the gap is primordial, that difference actually generates what seem to be its positive terms. Read the rest of this entry »

Cutrofello’s objective correlatives: of Hegel and Hamlet

InterCcECT is delighted to present a talk by Andrew Cutrofello“Two Contemporary Hegelianisms,” Tuesday 19 March, 4pm, Newberry LibraryRoom B82.

Abstract:
Robert Brandom’s and Slavoj Žižek’s appropriations of Hegel seem radically different. Brandom’s Hegelianism takes the form of a semantic holism that is essentially normative and pragmatic. Žižek’s is a version of dialectical materialism that is avowedly perverse and revolutionary in intention. Curiously, however, there are significant parallels in the two philosophers’ conceptions of Hegelian spirit. These are evidenced in their respective readings of T.S. Eliot’s essay, “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” Nevertheless, Brandom’s and Žižek’s Hegels ultimately diverge with respect to the nature of reason and commitment. In my talk I will try to sketch these differences by bringing into play another of Eliot’s essays from The Sacred Wood, namely, “Hamlet and His Problems.” In this essay, Eliot develops his famous conception of the objective correlative, explaining why it goes missing in Shakespeare’s play. Brandom and Žižek, I suggest, have fundamentally different conceptions of Hegel’s “missing” objective correlative.

a few highlights from our calendar, which contains additional details:
8 March Issues in Phenomenology
13 March Gregory Flaxman at U of C
13 March Bill Martin, “Zen Maoism: An improbable Buddhist-Marxist synthesis”
15 March Paola Marrati on Deleuze

Posted in Chicago, Hegel, Interccect, Zizek. Comments Off

A Synthetic Manifesto: A Review of Religion, Politics, and the Earth: The New Materialism

Clayton Crockett and Jeffrey W. Robbins are no strangers to readers of this blog. Both are well established figures within the fields of theology, philosophy and the liminal space between them that sometimes goes by the name secular theology and sometimes Continental philosophy of religion. Both are graduates of the Department of Religion at Syracuse University and Crockett now teaches as an associate professor of Religion at the University of Central Arkansas while Robbins is a professor of Religion and Philosophy at Lebanon Valley College. While their friendship has long been know, expressed in the academic realm through their co-editorship of the Insurrections series with ColumbiaUP, Religion, Politics, and the Earth: The New Materialism is their first co-written book. The book, published in the new Radical Theologies series published by Palgrave Macmillan, is quite consciously written as a kind of manifesto for the practice and future of radical theology. Now, what this means is dependent of course on the figures who develop it, but by radical theology it is clear that people thinking with religious material outside of a confessional duty as well as those who are more explicitly confessional but still attempting to radicalize their confessional thought beyond any capture by that tradition’s authorities. That is, radical theology cuts a wide-swath and it may be the only form of theology that is truly “big tent” in terms of its actions and not just as a propaganda move. However much such a movement might benefit from a manifesto, the disparate directions and materials with which various radical theologians engage with makes creating such a manifesto difficult and risks sedimenting their works and cutting off these radical theologians from the true, creative source of their power. At times it feels that Crockett and Robbins risk such sedimentation. However, what ultimately saves them from this temptation is their very synthetic approach. This is a book constructed not in the name of Crockett and Robbins, but through a multiplicity of names that are brought together in varying ways and with various levels of success under the standard “The New Materialism”. Read the rest of this entry »

Taubes and Zizek

From Jacob Taubes, “Psychoanalysis and Philosophy,” in From Cult to Culture, pp. 323-24:

The analysis of man according to the guideline of history, carried out for example by Hegel and Marx, is replaced around the middle of the nineteenth century by an analysis of man according to the guidleline of psychology…. Freud is positioned within this turn, and his psychoanalysis gives it a particular acuity. And still, the problem of history poses itself anew in Freud…. Psychoanalysis differs from all other variations of psychology as the most radically historical. Its fundamental design is historical. It works with histories of illness and with the biography of the individual as a constitutive part of its therapy…. A reflection on the process of psychoanalytic theraby necessarily encounters the problem of the historical method in general and, as I claim, particularly the problems of the historical-dialectical method. It is the explicit thesis of these reflections that Freud’s psychological writings in general and his metapsychological writings in particular answer questions posed by Hegel’s dialectical method and philosophy of history. That is, sub specie Freud the fundamental problems of Hegel appear in a new light; sub specie Hegel, the fundamental problems of Freud appear in a new light.

On being over halfway through Less Than Nothing

I’ve been reading Less Than Nothing on and off for at least six months at this point. When people ask me about it, I always say, “Whenever I’m reading it, I think it’s probably the best thing he’s ever written, but once I put it down, I have no motivation to pick it back up again.” The reason for this stems precisely from the book’s greatest merit — it really is a comprehensive synthesis of Zizek’s thought. The problem is that I’ve already done my own synthesis, so few of the big conclusions are “news” to me.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Gentle Nudge

Far be it from me to tell you who to vote to win this year’s 3 Quarks Daily Philosophy Prize, but I can not only tell you which post I voted for — #17. “Meditations Hegeliènnes: Kritik des unreinen Gedankes” — but also link to it.  It was written by a fine young man & friend of mine, Ryan Mullins (I  hope he doesn’t mind me divulging … I don’t see it on his site), who I believe at least a few of you have met. Such an honor would do him well as he plunges deep into the graduate school waters of Germany & France. Smart man, he, high-tailing from the US.

I’ve turned off the comments here because if you want to engage the piece you should do so at his site.

Posted in Hegel, philosophy. Comments Off

Zizek Urinalysis: a question regarding Hegelian urination and insemination

I am working through Zizek’s portions of God in Pain.  On pp. 114-115, he quotes Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, 210: Read the rest of this entry »

How to be a Hegelian

It seems today that everyone is a Hegelian, with the kind of strong opinions about Hegel and his legacy that can only come from an intimate acquaintance with his imposing oeuvre. Where do they find the time? Mikhail Emelianov explains.

On a dismissive tone recently adopted

Among young students of continental philosophy, a certain orthodoxy seems to be taking hold. Heidegger and Derrida are out, and with them the various approaches to philosophical discourse that proceed via commentary. Suspicion of system-building is out, and accordingly Hegel is reemerging as a major point of reference — and one must have very firm convictions about the proper reading of Hegel, dismissing vast swathes of the existing traditional commentary. More generally, caution and qualification seem to be out. We must boldly speculate into new realms, it seems, having developed our own axiomatic ontology by the age of 23.

Alas, I have come too late to partake in such trends. I still think we have a great deal to learn from Heidegger and Derrida. I view commentary on past philosophers as a necessary education in philosophy, a productive grappling with vast minds. I’m more sympathetic toward Hegel than some, but I am willing to admit — as Zizek does in The Indivisible Remainder — that the traditional reading of Hegel does have a basis in the text and moreover I’m reluctant to take too firm a stance on the true meaning of an author who can be construed as embracing virtually every possible position. Most of all, though, I am unwilling to speculate out into the air, without the guardrail of working through the thoughts of those who have gone before me. The world will have to look elsewhere for a bold new form of jargon purporting to capture the essence of the things themselves.

I am, in short, an old man now.

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