New Materialities, Other Deconstructions

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Event Date: 6  September 2012
Manchester Metropolitan University,
All Saints Building, All Saints,
Manchester, M15 6BH

The Society for European Philosophy (SEP) and the Forum for European Philosophy (FEP) 2012 Conference

in association with The London Graduate School


‘New Materialities, Other Deconstructions’

If it is true that we are entering an epoch of new materialities for which we as yet have no descriptive framework then philosophy must respond to this situation. The question of matter after all is also a philosophical concept. The empirical and all empiricisms are, as Derrida notes as early as ‘Violence and Metaphysics’, philosophical gestures that embed themselves within the history of philosophy. His reading of Levinas in this essay is to suggest the ways in which Levinas demonstrates that all empiricism is metaphysical, and a constant philosophical thematization ‘of the infinite exteriority of the other’. Levinas in contrast understands the empirical not as a positivism but as an experience of difference and of the other. ‘Empiricism’, claims Derrida, ‘always has been determined by philosophy, from Plato to Husserl as nonphilosophy: as the philosophical pretention to nonphilosophy’. That is as philosophy’s way of affecting to speak in a non-philosophical way. However, nothing can more profoundly conjure the need for philosophy than this denial of philosophy by philosophy. Within the metaphysical schema that is nonphilosophy, the irruption of the wholly other solicits philosophy (i.e. the logos) as its own origin, end, and other. There is no escape from philosophy as far as empiricism is concerned; there will only ever be a thinking about the empirical that is philosophical. It is this radicalization of empiricism that deconstruction proposes as a breathless, inspiring journey for philosophy in the later years of the twentieth century. As Derrida states in the opening paragraphs of the essay on Levinas, it is the closure of philosophy by nonphilosophy that gives thought a future, ‘it may even be that these questions are not philosophical, are not philosophy’s questions. Nevertheless, these should be the only questions today capable of founding the community, within the world, of those who are still called philosophers; and called such in remembrance, at very least, of the fact that these questions must be examined unrelentingly…’

So, the question of the materiality of a post-deconstructive age may not be a question that philosophy has the resources to answer but which must nevertheless be thought about and so determined in a philosophical manner. This panel will address this demand.

Introduction by Simon Glendenning.

Catherine Malabou (Professor of Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University)


Martin McQuillan (Professor, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston)


Simon Morgan Wortham (Professor, Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston)




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