Catherine Malabou – Whither Materialism? Althusser/Darwin

Event Date: 2 May 2013

Lecture Theatre E002, Granary Building,

Central Saint Martins,

London N1C 4AA

The Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) and the London Graduate School in collaboration with Art and Philosophy at Central Saint Martins present:

Professor Catherine Malabou (Kingston) – Whither Materialism? Althusser/Darwin

I propose here to interpret the important shift in materialism announced by Althusser in his late writings. He affirms the necessity of moving from a teleological dialectical materialism (Hegel and Marx) to a “materialism of the encounter” (Epicurus, Spinoza). According to the latter, chance, “void,” absence of intention, and purpose are essential ontological conditions of possibility for a self-differentiating real. Darwin’s concept of natural selection will be analysed here as a possible example of such a movement. The question will then be: how can we transfer what works at the level of nature to the political? What is the difference between natural and social selection? Where is the “encounter” when norms, criteria, values and inequalities seem to be the only reality? Is it possible to build a new materialism which would inscribe the logic of nature in that of the community? In other terms, is social selection compatible with materialism?




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