Third Annual International Summer School
in German Philosophy
"The Ontological Turn in Contemporary Philosophy"
Location: Bonn University
(July 2 - 13, 2012)
Professor Dr. Markus Gabriel
Chair in Epistemology, Modern and Contemporary Philosophy (Bonn University)
Keynote Addresses/Visiting Professors:
Prof. Ray Brassier (American University, Beirut)
Prof. Iain Hamilton Grant (Bristol)
Prof. Martin Hägglund (Harvard/London Graduate School)
Prof. Graham Harman (American University, Cairo)
Prof. Slavoj Zizek (Ljubljana, NYU, Birkbeck, European Graduate School)
What is the world? What do we mean when we speak of the world in philosophy and claim things such as true thought being about the world? Is the world "out there," as Bernard Williams and Adrian Moore's "absolute conception of reality" suggests, or is it a horizon or regulative ideal guiding our epistemic practices?
In metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology it is common to speak of the world without bothering to explicate what this term means. Even though it features in debates concerning our access to the external world and even in book titles like Mind and World, it usually does not seem to express more than the vague realist assumption or platitude that not all objects or facts are made up, hallucinated, or in some way or another constructed by thinking subjects. Much of the 20th century's linguistic turn, both in the analytical and in the hermeneutical/phenomenological traditions, assumes that the world is what we have access to with truth-apt thought, yet also is that which might be distorted by our attempts to grasp it as it is in itself. Over the last decade, many voices (such as Hilary Putnam, Stanley Cavell, Alain Badiou, Quentin Meillassoux and Paul Boghossian, to name a few) have urged that the overall territory of the debate regarding the position of thinking in a world of facts is fundamentally confused by missing the very facticity of the world. This has triggered a thoroughgoing return to realism, prominently figuring in the thought of the avant-garde movement of "speculative realism" or "speculative materialism," as it has been labeled. Interestingly, the debates often associated with Badiou's ontology and the critique of all transcendental philosophy in Meillassoux's After Finitude have, in a recent turn, led to a reassessment of German idealism, for example in the work of Markus Gabriel, Iain Hamilton Grant, and Slavoj Zizek. On a closer look, it turns out the Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel's criticisms of Kant can be read as attempts to overcome transcendental epistemology and themselves motivate an ontological turn.
This year, we will discuss an array of perspectives on the ontological turn developed by the organizer and visiting professors in recent work. In particular, we will address the concepts of speculative philosophy, the relation between transcendental philosophy and ontology in general, the issue of contemporary forms of realism and materialism, and the prospects for a suitably realist or materialist reading of figures such as Schelling, Hegel, and Derrida. The philosophers assembled will present and discuss their recent work in the form of a lecture followed by a seminar. Everyone admitted to the Summer School will receive a reader with texts to be prepared before arrival.
Please send your application in English (CV and a short letter of intent) to: email@example.com. The deadline for applications is April 1, 2012. Participants must have a degree in philosophy. All texts and discussions will be in English. The course will be open to a maximum of 40 participants.
For foreign graduate students, there are some stipends available, which cover part of their travel expenses and accommodation. To apply for a stipend, please send a short, separate letter that outlines your travel expenses.
Please note that there are no registration or course fees for the summer school.
We will help all participants find accommodation in Bonn (youth hostel, hotel rooms). More information regarding housing will be made available soon. Please contact Matt Congdon, the student organizer of the school at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Aside from two official Summer School dinners, participants will be responsible for meals. All usual services (internet and library access etc.) will be secured.
Applicants looking for further background on the debates to be discussed during the summer school may wish to consult the following texts; please note that the assigned readings for the summer school will differ:
- Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek and Graham Harman (ed.), The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism; open access PDF at: http://re-press.org/books/the-speculative-turn-continental-materialism-and-realism/
- Markus Gabriel, Transcendental Ontology: Essays in German Idealism (London: Continuum, 2011).
- Markus Gabriel and Slavoj Zizek, Mythology, Madness, and Laughter: Subjectivity in German Idealism (London: Continuum, 2009).
- Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency (London: Continuum, 2008).