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Workshop-Reihe "Contemporary Materialism, Realism, and Metaphysics"

12.04.2012 | 11:00 - 14:00

2. Workshop: Graham Harman "I am also of the Opinion that Materialism must be destroyed"

Workshop-Reihe des Teilprojekts C9 des Sonderforschungsbereichs 626 „Ästhetische Erfahrung im Zeichen der Entgrenzung der Künste“


Concept of the Workshop-Series:

The series of workshops examines the nature of thought as well as the relationship between nature and thought. Based on developments in “analytic” and “continental” philosophy that are addressing anew Kant’s transcendental philosophy and the history of post-Kantian thought in general, this research seminar engages with the question of how the relationship between mind and world is conceptualized in contemporary thought: in metaphysics and in relation to recent developments in cognitive- and neurosciences. In interrogating key issues of contemporary philosophical research, such as the relationshipbetween concepts and objects or between (philosophical, scientific, or aesthetic) representation and reality, we seek to re-define the relation between science and metaphysics, epistemology and ontology, and to approach the epistemic and ontological constitution of thought and of objectivity.

The examination of the nature of thought implies not only the question of the epistemological and scientific descriptions of cognition, but, furthermore, that of the metaphysical conditions of the possibility of thinking as such. This workshop series, which will result in a publication, addresses the materialistic and naturalistic status of thought and analyzes reductionist and deterministic explanations of mind and world. Nevertheless, it aims to make possible speculative metaphysical models based on realist and materialist conceptions of thinking and nature that take into account, for instance, aesthetic experiences (sensible perception and sensual encounters) that cannot be exhaustively explicated within a thoroughly scientific framework. Accordingly, in challenging the question of realism and materialism the workshops intends to extend the theoretical implications that these various research programs delineate to fields that exceed the proper domain of philosophy.

This series of workshops brings together researchers from various different philosophical fields (contemporary metaphysics, history of philosophy, philosophy of science, analytic philosophy, epistemology) in order to interrogate the (natural or material) constitution of thought in order to ask: Can thought be naturalized, can mind be reduced to neurological processes in the brain? And, consequently: what is the relationship between science and philosophy? Even if the contemporary natural sciences provide the epistemic authority for philosophy: what are philosophy’s conceptual capacities and speculative recourses that makes it possible to establish modes of thought that exceed empirical constraints?


About this Workshop:

The speculative realist movement centered on the critique of what Quentin Meillassoux calls "correlationism"-- the idea that we cannot think of world without human or world without human, but only of their primal interrelation. But as soon as we pass beyond that point of agreement, the various authors of speculative realism have little in common. This lecture argues against the various materialist versions of speculative realism, and in favor of a realism of individual objects that learns much from the tradition running from Aristotle through Leibniz. Entities are not primarily matter, as the materialists hold, but form.


- registration prior to the workshop required via email -






Armen Avanessian and Tobias Huber



Further workshops and lectures:


Martin Hägglund (Harvard University)

March 12, 11:00-14:00

1. Workshop: "The Trace of Time and Death of Life: Bergson, Heidegger, Derrida"

Quentin Meillassoux (École Normale Supérieure)

April 19, 19:00-20:30

Lecture: “Iteration and Repetition. Ontology of the Meaningless Sign“ (Haus der Kulturen der Welt)

April 20: 11:00-14:00

3. Workshop (SFB 626)

Ray Brassier (American University Beirut)

May 4, 11:00-14:00

4. Workshop: “Representation and Picturing” (SFB 626)

May 4, 19:00-20:30

Lecture: “That Which is Not” (Haus der Kulturen der Welt)

Iain Hamilton Grant (University of the West of England)

May 10

5. Workshop, 11am-14pm (SFB 626)

May 11, 19:00-20:30

Lecture: „Origins of Dynamics“(Haus der Kulturen der Welt)