Philosophical Criticism and Contemporary Art: A One Day Conference at the Institute of Philosophy, 28 March 2020
This one day conference, co-organised by Diarmuid Costello with Jason Gaiger (University of Oxford), is a collaboration between the Department of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, the Ruskin School of Art at the University of Oxford, the Institute of Philosophy, University of London, and the London Aesthetics Forum.
The conference will bring together leading philosophers of art and art theorists to focus in depth on major works of twenty-first century contemporary art. The aim is not to motivate general philosophical claims about the nature of contemporary art but rather to examine a single work or a short run of works by a particular artist and to consider this in light of the broader issues of philosophical interest that it might be thought to raise. The day aims to demonstrate that close attention to an individual work of art can be both critically and philosophically illuminating, and that this provides one model for substantive work in aesthetics, work that is not only philosophically serious but critically and historically sensitive.
The conference takes place at Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU, and is supported by a grant from the British Society of Aesthetics. Attendance is free but registration is required: https://sas.sym-online.com/registrationforms/ipbooking146412205723139316003573836291/done/
Title: 'Identity and Community: Metaphysics, Politics, Aesthetics'. Keynote Presentation by Professor Alison Stone (Lancaster). Panel Discussion with Professor Miguel de Beistegui (Warwick) based on his forthcoming book 'The Government of Desire: A Geneology of the Liberal Subject', alongside Daniele Lorenzini (Université Saint-Louis Bruxelles/Columbia University) and Federico Testa (Warwick/Monash).
The history of the concept of identity is marked by a fundamental tension: between the individual as subject, and the example of the group; between identity as an inherent or essential nature or specified as a ratified connection. The relation between identity and community, the relational qualities of each, and the content which they encompass has been subject to repeated reformulation throughout history. On the one hand, it has been argued that the subject itself has been constituted in a new way by concrete changes in the way in which we live: by modernism, capitalism, or new technologies. On the other, new examinations of history have drawn into question narratives regarding different nations, classes, genders and cultures.
The identity of individuals, and the aspects of their lives which are to be considered constitutive of that identity, is an issue which is central to a host of complex political and ethical issues. What does it mean to have an identity: to belong to a nation or a continent, to a race, gender or religion? And what is the connection of this belonging and our individual existence and consciousness? During an ongoing refugee crisis, rising nationalism and within an increasingly globalised world, how have the metaphysical and political boundaries of identity shifted?
Art and aesthetics share this tension. The place of the work of art and the individual artist within a genre or movement remains an open question - whether the author is dead, the work a manifestation of the group; whether the ideas behind the artwork are more important than the socio-economic foundation from which it arises. Corollary to this, discussions of art and the political have opened questions concerning the relation of aesthetics to community, and the possible connection of new identities and new forms of, or values within, aesthetics. Does art play a mediating role in the formation of the new community, allow for the expression of a communal voice, or reveal the individual identity then imitated by the mass?
February 2018 marks the publication of two important philosophical texts by Professor Keith Ansell-Pearson, both published by Bloomsbury Academic.
‘Bergson: Thinking Beyond the Human Condition’ is described by the publishers as an elegant overview, bringing Bergson to a new generation of readers. ‘Ansell-Pearson contends that there is a Bergsonian revolution, an upheaval in philosophy comparable in significance to those that we are more familiar with, from Kant to Nietzsche and Heidegger, which make up our intellectual modernity’.
‘Nietzsche’s Search for Philosophy: On the Middle Writings’: PDF eBook. The publishers observe that ‘this study explores key aspects of Nietzsche’s philosophical activity in his middle writings, including his conceptions of philosophy, his commitment to various enlightenments, his critique of fanaticism, his search for the heroic-idyllic, his philosophy of modesty and his conception of ethics, and his search for joy and happiness. The book will appeal to readers across philosophy and the humanities, especially to those with an interest in Nietzsche and anyone who has a concern with the fate of philosophy in the modern world’.