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Political Implications of the Poetics of Philosophy

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Organizer: Osman Nemli

Co-Organizer: Mukasa Mubirumusoke

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Following world shattering social and political events in the 20th century, philosophy’s ability to be an adequate or efficacious discipline to change, let alone interpret, the world was brought into question like no time before. Many 20th Century Continental philosophers expressed in some form or another the shortcomings of philosophy activity, if not the bankruptcy of its political thought and imaginary tout court. The hegemony of a certain form of rationalization, the dialectic of enlightenment, the danger of techno-scientific thought, the tyranny of Marxist reason, or the quantitative streamlining of a utilitarian logic had foreclosed genuine democratic practices and philosophical engagement with the world.

The move away from political theory caused some philosophers to seek refuge with the group who Plato had once exiled from the polis: poetry. The alliance of philosophy with poetry, however, has been neither uniform nor without political implications, as Nietzsche’s writings and subsequent commentaries on those texts reveal. Regarding the non-uniformity, one can observe the difference between various aesthetic readings of poetry (e.g., Adorno, Lyotard, Rancière), as well as anti-aesthetic or inaesthetic approaches which center on the work of art (Heidegger, Lacoue-Labarthe, Badiou). When it comes to the political implications of such moves, we can observe silence (Heidegger); character-transforming education (Marcuse, Spivak); consideration of embodiment and affect (Adorno, Kristeva); seeing the politics through the aesthetic (Benjamin, Rancière); recourse to non-representative politics and aesthetics (Lyotard); as well as the constitution of a community founded by great works of art (Nietzsche, Heidegger).

This seminar seeks to understand the expectations of philosophy’s turn to poetry, the philosophical ambitions of reading poetry, how the poetics of philosophy reveal certain political concerns, and the relation between the poetics of philosophical writing and their political implications. What does the move away from politics do for philosophy? What does turning toward poetry change in the writing and poetics of philosophy? What are the political consequences of such a turn toward poetry? To what extent do the intricate knots that bind or undo the relations between philosophy and poetry obscure or bring to light other geopolitical catastrophes?

We invite submissions from a variety of philosophical approaches in Continental Philosophy, including dialectical materialism, deconstruction, hermeneutics, (post-)structural analyses, gender studies, queer studies, critical race theory, genealogical analyses, etc. Submissions should specify via author, school, poet, or poetry what philosophical-poetic entanglements entail going forward, and what, if any, political implications follow from those bindings.

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