Event Date: 12 January 2011
Flett Lecture Theatre
Natural History Museum
Gabriel Catren – The Thing and the Shrink
Abstract: This presentation is situated at the intersection of “object-oriented philosophy”, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and topology. At its core is an analysis of the ontological scope of some fundamental notions of contemporary mathematics, notably the topological notions of boundary and hole, and the role they play in the constitution of objectivity. Philosophically, the aim is to unpack Heidegger’s statement that “the Things’s thingness does not lie at all in the material of which it consists, but in the void that holds.” The structural stability of a “thing” depends on the fact that it encloses a void. In another register, the “outside” – far from only defining the environment where the thing is located –dwells within the thing, defining what we could call an exteriorized intimacy, i.e. an “extimity” (Lacan).
Gabriel Catren holds a PhD in Physics (University of Buenos Aires) and PhD in Philosophy (University of Paris). He is Researcher of the Centre de Recherche en Epistémologie Appliquée (Ecole Polytechnique/CNRS, Paris) and Director of the of the research program Savoir et Système at the Collège International de Philosophie. His ground-breaking research as a physicist examines general relativity and Yang-Mills and interrogates the philosophical foundations of gauge theories and quantum mechanics. He has written many influential papers for scientific audiences and for philosophers.