Program & Book of Abstracts

Program (updated: 25 June) Book of Abstracts (updated: 25 June)

Key-note Lectures

Rudolf Bernet The Poet as Philosopher +
The reader of a literary work of art no less deserves to be called a poet than the writer. Their communication illustrates in an exemplary manner the intersubjective constitution of subjectivity. Literary works of fiction also challenge how philosophers think about meaning and truth, reality and possibility, personal identity and change. Unlike conceptual philosophical language, poetic language operates with strongly incarnate meanings, evocation of significant details, and affective suggestions. However, literature and philosophy are both expressions of a creative imagination that undermines the opposition between the real and the unreal. They both reveal new meanings by undoing our ordinary way to speak and to think, and by decentering ourselves from ourselves. Merleau-Ponty and Sartre will help us to better understand how language can be rejuvenated by literature, and how human life can be changed by poetic language and projective imagination.
Nicolas de Warren The Gaze Disarmed: Warhol's Aesthetics +
In this lecture, I shall examine the aesthetic form and significance of Andy Warhol's work through a contrasting comparison with a phenomenologically informed examination of Paul Cézanne. My guiding intuition is that for both Warhol and Cézanne, paintings are perfected mirrors of stillness in which the world comes to look at us. Rather than consider a painting as a view onto the world, for both Warhol and Cézanne, paintings capture us in their gaze in order to disarm us of our desire to see and hence impose an image onto the world. However, whereas in Cézanne, this dialectical transformation of seeing into the revelation in being-seen operates through a transformation of the lived-body and the self-manifestation of Nature, for Warhol, it operates through a transformation into a machine and the self-manifestation of an entirely Second Nature, the city. I shall illustrate this claim through a contrast between Cézanne's serial portraits of Monte Sainte-Victoire and Warhol's film Empire. I continue this exploration through a further contrast between two forms of optical unconscious and a discussion of two expressions of the "inhumanity" of the artist in Cézanne and Warhol. I conclude with some remarks on the religious sense of presence in Warhol's portraits, which I interpret as icons of stillness meant to disarm the gaze of desire. Much as with David Bowie's song "Heroes," the Saints of post-modernity are not subjects who have achieved the exceptional or the singular, but a pure image, and nothing more, nor less: it is a spectral image with neither symbolic nor imaginary density, and hence a stillness of presence best described as the immortality of the superficial. As Warhol once exclaimed: "I am a deeply superficial person."
Saulius Geniusas Between Pathos and Logos: Miki Kiyoshi and the Logic of Imagination +
The presentation addresses Miki Kiyoshi’s contribution to the philosophy of productive imagination and contends that the originality of Miki’s contribution is to be evaluated against the background of Heidegger’s and Cassirer’s works. The presentation will show that in line with Heidegger, Miki conceives of imagination not as an empirical, but as an ontological and transcendental power; yet in contrast to Heidegger, Miki conceives of the logic of imagination as the cornerstone of a theory of action. So also, following Cassirer, Miki conceives of imagination not just as the creation of images, but as the production of symbolic forms; yet in contrast to Cassirer, Miki conceptualizes the logic of imagination as the logic that grasps the essence of experience, and not only the initial stages of psychic and social development. In the final analysis, Miki’s qualification of the logic of imagination as the mediation between pathos and logos constitutes his unique contribution to the philosophy of productive imagination.
Maija Kūle Phenomenology of Suffering and Pain: Paradoxes and Dialectics of Life and Death +
Phenomenology of suffering is full with paradoxes which reflect relationships between body, soul and spirit, tension between the human and the divine, sensations and intellect, passivity and activity. Life is creative process with dialectics of birth and death. Michel de Montaigne wrote: “As we are born we die, and the end commences with the beginning. [..] You are in death, whilst you are in life, because you still are after death, when you are no more alive.”
Phenomenologist Max Scheler in his „Vom Sinn des Leides” explains that suffering is a source of meaningful life, because suffering and joy are nerve of life. It is a passional realm of the soul. Namely there sufferings get their meanings. Suffering in the narrow sense means pain, displeasure and unhappiness. Pain can be characterized as phenomenon of internal experience of sentient beings, mainly based on psycho-physical experience. Suffering from the phenomenological point of view is reflected painful feeling with meaning constituted in intentional act. Suffering reflects crucial intersection of the sensible and the intelligible. It is special kind of experience, because at the culmination of pain nothing can be expressed into words - it manifest cry or silence.
But, from the opposite view, suffering obliges us to think, to reflect about the meaning of life. The paradox is: what cannot be thought, obliges us to think. Jesus Christ suffering at the Cross gives symbolic meaning for the Christian lives and redemption. Suffering means both the opposite of activity and the opposite to pleasure, but at the inner experience of human beings it promote mental activity, happiness that suffering can turn into salvation.
The history of world culture characterizes different attitudes towards sufferings – from acclamation of sufferings to categorical denial. Phenomenology based on christian tradition recognizes that in suffering person discovers his or her own humanity, dignity and mission. Contemporary modern life-world transforms types of suffering. Grows the amount of people inflicted sufferings and partially diminishes the amount of sufferings caused by nature. Nowadays man can no longer feel the elevating role of sufferings because they are valueless. Death does no longer seem to be an innate necessity of living beings, but rather an erroneous organic creation that could be avoided. Creation of mass suffering from the one side (two World wars, holocaust, Stalinist’s crime) and human help, altruism, solidarity from the other – paradox of contemporary age. Life is no longer sacred, and man’s life can quite often find no satisfaction. Body, soul, spirit have lost unity. In the contemporary secular life form death does no longer mean the meaningful summary of life, but an inability to plan something in the future. Many contemporary people depreciate phenomenology of life and suffering, and changed ethical stories to the mythology of technologized body-life. Restoring of harmony between human body, soul and spirit is fundamental basis for developing of contemporary culture, restricting of senseless suffering and developing of phenomenological explanation of life paradoxes.
Cecilia Sjöholm Speech in the Belly: The Ear of Critical Thought +
The basic conviction that critical thought is connected to discourse appears unquestionable. What, however, only very rarely becomes subject of inquiry is the way in which it is connected to listening. The role of listening in language and thought, in philosophy and what we call critical theory, is still an open field for research. In a moment of history when democratic demands are overrun in countries with democratic constitutions, when new kinds of censorships of both language and thought are instigated, the necessity of developing an “ear of critical thought” appears necessary. How is thought, and critical reflection, related to the capacity of listening, and in what way is that capacity integrated in thought as such?
Critical theory may approach the sense of hearing— or perhaps rather the capacity of listening — in order to extend both the scope of its inquiries and perhaps also the awareness of its own limitations, as seen both from a historical perspective and from within the demands of its own role in contemporary cultural analysis. To Hannah Arendt, for instance, all human activities, including thought, are accompanied by a kind of mood, a word related to Martin Heidegger’s concept of Stimmung, and intertwined with the idea of tonality. Here, we may discover something central in Arendt’s notion of thought, which may serve the philosophical inquiry into a notion of listening.
Two aspects may be stressed. For the first, the art of listening is related to the capacity to think, and not only to affect or emotion, although these can certainly supply an aid for thought. Secondly, the act of listening negotiates the capacity of putting oneself in the place of the other. These two aspects can be considered integral to the “ear of critical thought”; they point to a notion of listening that has less to do with the sensory experience of listening than with the inherent capacity of the subject to use the tonalities of thought in philosophical, critical, ethical or political reflection.