Speaker series – The Royal Institute of Philosophy University of Dundee

We are pleased to announce The Royal Institute of Philosophy University of Dundee Speaker series.

The online events are the following:

06.10., 4-6pm: Geoffrey Bennington (Emory): “Kicking and Screaming

20.10., 6-8pm: Alberto Toscano (Goldsmith / Simon Fraser University): “Fascism and the Politics of Abstraction”

03.11., 2-4pm: Claire Colebrook (Pennsylvania): tba

17.11., 5-7pm: Todd McGowan (Vermont): “Enjoying Right and Left”

08.12., 4-6pm: Monique David-Ménard (Paris) : tba

Here you can have a look at the abstracts of the first and second events:

Geoffrey Bennington: Kicking and Screaming:

Concentrating on the figure of Ajax in Homer, Sophocles, Ovid, Shakespeare and Cixous, the lecture interrogates some examples of crying, crying out, vociferation, groaning, wailing, and other forms of sub-linguistic interjection.  I argue that in the confrontation of Ajax and Odysseus we can read something like the birth of politics as what I have called “the politics of politics,” and that these literary texts offer an access to that “birth” that is most often inaccessible to philosophical or political analysis.

Geoffrey Bennington is Asa Griggs Candler Professor of French and Professor of Comparative Literature at Emory University in Georgia, USA, and Professor of Philosophy at the European Graduate School Switzerland / Malta as well as a member of the Collège International de philosophie (Paris).

Alberto Toscano: Fascism and the Problem of Abstraction

In their 1934 book La conscience mystifiée, the first part of a never-completed multi-volume work on the science of ideology, Norbert Guterman and Henri Lefebvre placed their analysis of a rising fascism in the much-larger arc of a theory of “real abstraction” spanning early commodity production all the way to contemporary finance capital. At the heart of their argument is an analysis of two interlocking but heterogeneous modalities or levels of abstraction, the non-contemporaneous or anachronistic “survivals” that constitute ideology as an accretion or inventory of past abstraction and the specifically capitalist logics of abstractions that attach to value, money and finance. My talk will take its cue from Guterman and Lefebvre’s view of fascism as a precarious but devastating “fix” of the stresses and strains of and between these registers of abstraction to explore further ways in which the theory of fascism can be articulated with an account of real abstraction, touching specifically on the place of the latter in both Sohn-Rethel’s and the Frankfurt School’s thinking about fascism, as well as on phobia of abstraction that pervades fascist discourse.

Alberto Toscano is Reader in Critical Theory in the Department of Sociology and Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Visiting Associate Professor at the School of Communications at Simon Fraser University, where he is also a visiting scholar at the Digital Democracies Institute. 

Todd McGowan: Enjoying Right and Left

Political struggles take place to determine what form of enjoyment will predominate. Although it initially seems distant from politics, when we recognize what’s at stake in enjoyment, such a claim becomes much less bizarre. We enjoy what is not useful, what is not good for our health or well-being. Enjoyment is pleasure taken to the point that it is ruinous for us. But at the same time, this experience of enjoyment provides a reason to keep going in life, a motivation to get out of bed in the morning and engage with the world. When we enjoy, we touch on what exceeds everyday life and find the secret sauce that makes this everyday life bearable. Enjoyment is always excessive—not just pleasing but also, crucially, disturbing. It manifests itself in the ecstatic religious experience, the devotion to a favorite sports team, the dedication to an unhealthy food, or the passion for a lover who portends certain heartbreak. The excesses of enjoyment don’t confine themselves to personal life but define the political field as well. We see this enjoyment in massive political rallies, vehement protests, and outbursts of revolutionary (or reactionary) fervor. This talk will explore how enjoyment divides the political field between Right and Left, conservative and emancipatory.

Todd McGowan is Professor of English at the University of Vermont.

All events will be held through Zoom. To register, email f.ruda@dundee.ac.uk.