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Conference Everyday and Modernity

(October, 5-6, 2012)

 In an era which focuses on the Event, both in theory and in practice, it seems that the very condition and background of any event has been neglected. This condition and background is everyday life itself, understood not as a static and motionless ground for ‘real’ activity, but rather as the foundation of every perception and action. It is a foundation that functions both as anoun and a verb: a foundation that constantly founds itself, a mobile complex which accompanies every action, permits its progress while changing itself throughout this very process. This change is effected through repetition, as implied in the word ‘everyday’: the everyday is that which repeats itself, thus allowing to integrate into life everything which initially transcends the repetition and eventually assimilated to and by it.

Modernity saw tremendous changes in the structure and function of everyday life, which seem to necessitate a reevaluation of the concept, not only on its sociological and anthropological level, but also on its philosophical level. From the beginning of the 20th Century, philosophy has ceaselessly attempted to develop new concepts of temporality in order to answer the changes in modern times. Yet despite all its advances, it remains obscure whether these concepts are descriptive or rather normative. Does Bergson’s notion of the Durée or Heidegger’s Ecstatic Temporality, for instance, describe modern everyday or rather a secret temporality which modernity seems to forget? And on such grounds, does philosophy not run the risk of turning its back to the everyday in favor of more ‘authentic’ temporalities?

The conference will aim to thematize the everyday and connect it to questions raised in and by modernity, drawing on four main approaches: Phenomenology, Psychoanalysis, Aesthetics and Critical theory. Each of these approaches has contributed significantly to the understanding of everyday life and has discussed numerous aspects of it, even though none of them fully managed to conceptualize the everyday as a global structure while connecting it to the different practices it involves. It seems that the everyday has rather silently accompanied more ‘major’ or ‘significant’ questions. It is precisely the silent, universal and multiple presence of the everyday which makes it an ideal candidate for the creation of a dialogue between the different disciplines. The conference aims to launch this long-awaited dialogue by inviting major international figures to present their insights regarding the everyday and discuss, among others, the following questions:

  • What are the mechanisms involved in the everyday? How universal are they? What changes have they gone through?
  • Should we refer to the everyday or rather to various everydays?
  • How is a critique of the everyday supposed to look like? What is the contemporary legacy of former critiques such as those of Lefebvre and de Certeau?
  • Does phenomenology investigate the everyday or, rather, does it only bracket it? Can phenomenology describe concrete everyday situations or only transcendental mechanisms?
  • What is the contemporary psychopathology of everyday life? Is psychoanalysis already a theory of the everyday?
  • Does the Everyday necessitate a special Aesthetics? Is artistic experience a part of the everyday or does it transcend it?
  • How does technological reproducibility correspond to the repetitive aspect of the Everyday?


  • Konferenz, Conference, Everyday, Modernity, Philosophie, Termin, Philosophy, Alltag, Moderne, Bertram, Ruda, Dorfman, SFB626, Ästhetik, Theorie