Call for Applications ECT Seminar 2011-12
Applications are now being accepted for the 2011-2012 ECT Seminar, "What is a World?" The seminar will meet on Thursdays, 3:00-6:00 Winter and Spring Quarters. Applications are due Dec. 2, 2011 by email to: ECT Program, c/o Michelle Anderson, Student Affairs Officer, Department of Comparative Literature, UCLA
Please include the following information: name, email, Ph.D. or MFA program or department, year in program and expected date of degree, and thesis or graduate advisor. Please describe your background and interests in critical theory, in no more than two single spaced pages.
The ECT seminar is the core course required of students who wish to receive the Graduate Certificate in Experimental Critical Theory; more information on requirements for the certificate is available here.
What is a World?
What remains of the idea of “world” today? Is the increasingly rapid circulation of information, money, and objects around nearly the entire earth confirming capitalism as the whole cloth from which, for better or worse, our reality is woven, and globalism as the only viable paradigm for understanding its warp and woof, its rips and patches? And is the only alternative to globalization the new “localisms,” “regionalisms,” and “communitarianisms” that resist these expanding technological and economic networks by emphasizing the integrity of geographically limited and culturally particular areas and systems? What is a world? Is a world an interior, with a border that marks its difference from an exterior? Is a world constituted by the various perspectives of the individuals who inhabit it or is there something transcendental in a world, invariant and resistant to and even constitutive of multiple perspectives? Are worlds distinct and exclusive, or interpenetrating and inclusive? Is our knowledge limited to and by our historical and geographical situation in a world, or do we have access to truths that link multiple worlds? How does a world emerge? Suddenly like the Big Bang or the biblical creation story, or through gradual development, like geological accretion? And how does a world change? Through internal development or external pressures? Through evolutionary modification or revolutionary rupture? These are some of the questions that will guide our investigations of the concept of world and the functions of history, event, and truth in worlds in the ECT Seminar this year. Winter quarter will be led by Professor McCumber and will focus on the work of Martin Heidegger and his relationship to Aristotle, Nietzsche, and Husserl; Spring quarter will be led by Professor Reinhard and will examine the ideas of Alain Badiou and his relationship to Plato, Hegel, and Heidegger.
Winter 2012 (German 265): History, Truth and World: Heidegger displaced the locus of truth from sentences, propositions and theories to the set of contextualized significances he calls “world.” This move was indispensable for subsequent philosophy, which may accept or reject it but cannot ignore it without falling back into an uncritical use of modernistic categories (pre-eminently, those of “subject” and “object”). Heidegger himself saw this displacement as prepared for in a wide variety of his predecessors, from Aristotle to Husserl; this gives his move an historical justification in that Heidegger sees himself as saying clearly (!) what they were only trying to articulate. We will look at his discussions of those predecessors, along with their actual texts, with a view to understanding and evaluating this justification.
Spring 2012 (Comparative Literature 290): Worlds, Events, Truth: In the twentieth century, Heidegger presented a critique of globalism avant la lettre in the form of a history of the concept of “world,” beginning with an authentic Greek idea of kosmos and leading to its corruption in, for example, modern notions of Weltanschauung or “world-view.” For Heidegger, the impoverishment of the concept of world in modernity is bound up with the rapid development of technology, which has uprooted us from the world, rendering everything equally intelligible and equally meaningless. Without succumbing to Heidegger’s reactionary fear of technology, Alain Badiou has also criticized the concept of globalism, especially in the form of what he calls the “democratic materialism” (the proposition that there are only “bodies and languages”) that forms the common ideology of the western world. The position that Badiou calls the “materialist dialectic” agrees that a world is made up of nothing more than bodies and languages – there is no spirit beyond the material bodies and symbolic languages that constitute our worlds. However, Badiou argues that there is indeed an “exception” to this rule, which is precisely a truth, the constitutive yet indiscernible void or excess in a world. Truths are immanent to a particular world, according to Badiou, yet they are universal, infinite, and “trans-worldly.” For Badiou, a world is an ontologically closed set in which the possibility of appearing is regulated by transcendental conditions, or a logic, particular to that world. How then can we change the world? How does a new world arise, if it is to be more than a modification of a pre-existing world? This seminar will focus on Badiou’s Logics of Worlds, as well as other texts by Badiou on the concepts of world, event, truth, and subject. We will consider Badiou’s idea of world primarily in relation to that of Heidegger, and possibly also in relation to other philosophers such as Plato, Hegel, and Sloterdijk. Professor Badiou will join us for two weeks, presenting new material in seminars and public lectures.