Third Annual International Summer School in German Philosophy: “The Ontological Turn in Contemporary Philosophy” (July 2-13, 2012) at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.
Speakers include Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, Martin Hägglund, Graham Harman and Slavoj Zizek.
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” suggest 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.