Seminars

#05 Reading Judith Butler

Part I  Reading Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter, Introduction & Chapter One

hosted by LAI Tsz Yuen

LAI Tsz Yuen is a Ph.D. Candidate at Department of Humanities and Creative Writing, Hong Kong Baptist University, his research topic is on French mathematical structuralism (Bourbaki, Lautman, Deleuze, Badiou) and the realist/materialist turn of contemporary philosophy.

在《蒂邁歐篇》(Timaeus)柏拉圖將「女性」及其身體的物質性(the feminine)與「容器」(receptacle)的概念相連結,來建構關於宇宙生成的形而上學原則;而自西方哲學傳統建立之日起,「她(們)」便成為形而上學體系——這個徹頭徹尾的陽性宇宙(masculine universe)無法解決的麻煩。哲學家總是試圖將女性「物質/事情」(matter)排除在體系之外,但這些不可被明確表述和不為理智所理解的過剩之物(excessive matter)卻註定會隨機地前來侵襲、擾亂體系的運作。The feminine is the excess of the masculine universe.

從柏拉圖開始,物質早已是「有性的物質」(the sexed materiality)。因此,當我們討論「性」/「身體」的時候,便不能止於討論「性之物質」而必須反省「物質之性」。There may not be a materiality of sex that is not already burdened by the sex of materiality. 由此可見,不僅「性別」(gender)是建構出來的,「性」(sex)同樣逃不出權力關係與話語建構。我們要如何在話語界限上談論「性」,或者談論「性」的話語界限,如何思考總是越出思想與話語邊界的身體/物質?這就是朱迪斯·巴特勒在《Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’ (1993)》提出的理論難題。

簡介會 (面向浸會大學同學),2016.5.18. Wed, 10:30-12:00, 香港浸會大學何善衡校園方樹泉圖書館 Learning Commons,討論內容:(1)身體與話語;(2)何謂建構,閱讀範圍: Preface

第一次研讀,2016.5.21. Sat, 10:30-12:30,香港浸會大學何善衡校園邵逸夫大樓(RRS)628室,討論內容:巴特勒的問題意識,閱讀範圍: Introduction

第二次研讀,2016.5.25. Wed, 11:00-4:00, 香港浸會大學何善衡校園方樹泉圖書館 Learning Commons,討論內容:西方形而上學批判,閱讀範圍:Chapter One

第三次研讀,2016.5.26. Thu, 11:00-4:00, 香港浸會大學何善衡校園方樹泉圖書館 Learning Commons,討論內容:西方形而上學批判,閱讀範圍:Chapter One (完成)

 

Part II  A Specular View of Matter: Reading Luce Irigaray with Judith Butler

hosted by Charmaine Carvalho

Charmaine Carvalho is a PhD candidate at the Department of Humanities and Creative Writing at Hong Kong Baptist University. Her research interests are gender studies, feminism, popular culture and the construction of selfhood. She is working towards a dissertation on the fashioning of the “single Indian woman” in Indian chick lit novels.

In Chapter One of Bodies That Matter, Judith Butler launches her exploration into the materiality of bodies by going back to the notion of matter in Classical Greece mediated through the work of Michel Foucault and Luce Irigaray. Foucault’s Discipline and Punish offers Butler a way to “understand the schema of bodies as a historically contingent nexus of power/discourse”. However, Foucault misses, according to Butler, what is excluded from materialization, a question taken up by the feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray.

The long middle section of Chapter One is dedicated to Butler’s rehearsal of Irigaray’s reading of Plato in her audacious book Speculum of the Other Woman. In this talk, I will introduce Irigaray and some of the core ideas in Speculum and the Other Woman, in in which she questions the dominant paradigms in epistemology, metaphysics and psychology. Irigaray’s radical argument offers both a diagnosis of the impasse that she says has prevented women from being subjects and a strategy for subverting what she calls the phallogocentric economy.

Butler takes her cue from Irigaray, but offers an alternative reading of Plato’s Timaeus as instituting a taboo that constitutes what she calls the “heterosexual matrix.” I will also touch on Butler’s response to Irigaray and her critique of grounding politics in matter.

Time: 3:00-5:00 pm, June 2, 2016

Venue: Room 628, Sir Run Run Shaw Building, Ho Sin Hang Campus, Hong Kong Baptist University

 

#04 Felix Guattari’s Machinic Animism: Relational Subjectivity

hosted by Bogna M Konior

Bogna M. Konior holds a RMa in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam and is currently a PhD student at Hong Kong Baptist University. She heads the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, Asia. academia.edu

Part I. This seminar is open to anyone and no pre-requisite knowledge of philosophy is required. Talk 45 mins, discussion 20 + mins.

Felix Guattari dabbled in a variety of political activities throughout his life – from military Leftism to anti-psychiatry and philosophical inquiry. His final book, Chaosmosis (1992), ties together some of his most daring ideas. A general introduction to Guattari’s work, this first part of the workshop will outline some of the key points he makes in Chaosmosis, focusing on two concepts that he proposes to be instrumental in the production of revolutionary subjectivity – machinism and animism. The unholy union of animism and machinism is Guattari’s answer to structuralism, which he defines as reductive outlining of manageable and finite subjects. Bordering on madness, desire, and artistic creation, machinic animism is an opening of subjectivity to the nonhuman, to the outside.

Painfully aware of contemporary crises – ecological, political, ethical – Chaosmosis sets forth a holistic proposition: only through re-considering the ways in which subjectivity is produced can we break the deadlock we have found ourselves in. Liberated from specific historical and geopolitical frames, machinic animism is an inclusive formation of subjectivity tied to technology, science, materiality, and mass media.  Along with Guattari, we will ask, what is the difference between capitalist and animist subjectivity? How can we detach social practice from anthropocentrism? What is the role of scholarly and artistic creation in triggering a “revolution of mentalities”? How do we open ourselves up to the nonhuman world against neoliberalist rapacity and ecological degradation?

Recommended reading:
1. Melitopoulos, A. & Lazzarato, M. (2012). Assemblages: Félix Guattari and Machinic Animism. e-flux no. 36, 07/2012.
2. Guattari, F. (1992/1995). Chaosmosis: An Ethcio-aesthetic Paradigm. Trans. Bains, P. and Pefanis, J. Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, pp. 98-103.

Time: 18:30-20:00, January 18, 2016; Venue:  Room 935, CVA Building, Hong Kong Baptist University

Part II. This seminar is open to anyone interested in in-depth exploration of machinic animism, however, it will require a degree of familiarity with continental philosophy, especially the work of Deleuze & Guattari. This workshop is based on close reading so please prepare in advance. Talk 15 mins, discussion 45 + mins.

A detailed exploration of Guattari’s “machinic heterogenesis” will lead our discussion in the second part. We will consider Guattari’s proposition that “lifting the ontological Iron Curtain that the philosophical tradition erected between mind and matter” is an animistic pre-requisite to the production of transversalist subjectivities. What is collective existential mutation and will it have the last word? Why are machines intimately tied to death and delirium? Tracing a typology of machines, from material apparatuses to abstract organizational assemblages working on virtual levels, we will examine whether it is possible to prevent a machine’s solidification into structure. Finally, we will also discuss whether Guattari’s ethico–aesthetic paradigms of subjectivity production, such as a-signifying semiotics, are a necessary answer to psychoanalysis as well as scientific and cognitive discourses.

Required reading:
Guattari, F. (1992/1995). Chaosmosis: An Ethcio-aesthetic Paradigm. Trans. Bains, P. and Pefanis, J. Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, pp. 33-47 and 98-111.

Optional:
Hetrick, J. (2014). Video Assemblages: ‘Machinic Animism’ and ‘Asignifying Semiotics’ in the Work of Melitopoulos and Lazzarato. FOOTPRINT, 8(1), pp. 53-68.

Time: 10:30-12:00, January 23, 2016; Venue: Room 628, Sir Run Run Shaw Building, Ho Sin Hang Campus, Hong Kong Baptist University

 

#03 Between Idealism and Materialism: On Sense and Object

by Terran Tsang

Terran Tsang is a Ph.D. Candidate at Department of Philosophy, Peking University

Materialism in the most abstract sense defenses the priority of Object in the constitution of knowledge and subjectivity. From this philosophical stand, we see, in general, an ambiguity between Materialism and Realism. This ambiguity also gives rise to an illusory opposition between Idealism and materialism.

The purpose of this seminar is to clarify several fundamental concepts shared by Materialism and Realism, demonstrate the conceptual distinction between these two, and provide an explication of the conceptual development from Transcendental Idealism to Absolute Idealism and Materialism.

Time: 2:00-5:00pm, August 13, 2015; Venue: Room 628, Sir Run Run Shaw Building, Ho Sin Hang Campus, Hong Kong Baptist University

 

#02 Reading Lacan’s Seminar Book VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis

hosted by Nelson Zhang

Nelson Zhang is a Ph.D. student at Department of Philosophy, Tsinghua University (Beijing), his research topic is ‘Maoism and French contemporary philosophy’. He is the Chinese translator of Slavoj Žižek’s Violence: Six Sideways Reflections.

*seminar in Cantonese

Slavoj Žižek: “…Jouissance as the impossible Real which eludes the big Other reasserts itself with a vengeance as the terrifying abyss of the Thing – the adoration of the Structure and its Law reverts to the fascination with the heroic suicidal transgressive gesture which excludes the subject from the symbolic community. As to its socio-political background, one should bear in mind that, when Lacan was writing his famous interpretation of Antigone, he was bringing the transcriptions of his lectures to his daughter Laurence Bataille, who was imprisoned because of her engagement in the Algerian struggle for independence. Is this not Lacan’s reaction to the first cracks which appeared in the solid edifice of post-World War II French society?”

What is jouissance? This term has been proposed by Lacan since Seminar I and its theoretical status was increasingly stressed throughout the development of Lacanian psychoanalysis. In the graph of desire, it is the equivalent of the function reverberated by the formula of fantasy ($◊a) and the symbolic phallus. In Seminar VII, apropos of the ethics upon the conformity of desire, jouissance is conceived of as a form analogical to the real kernel of Freudian Das Ding. It is a very notion obviously conflictual to Lacan’s Big Other that he proposed in Seminar II. Here, an impulse from the tragedy of Antigone undermines the stable symbolic structure maintained by the Big Other. How should we read this conflict in Lacan’s theory and the development of Lacanian psychoanalysis in such period (1959 – 1960)?

It is well know that problematics of western thought about ethics and moral practice, from Aristotle to Kant, is anchored on how to govern one’s desire with regard to derivation of proper acts. The two very concepts proposed by Aristotle, viz., Arete and Eudiamonia, and Kant’s good will and categorical imperative are both inevitable to trajectories of one’s drive and his objects of desire. Freud is not the one who endeavors to promulgate any law to the true practice, but the one who tried to posit the problematics on the dialectic of desire between the law conferred by the master-signifier and the drive that always transgresses it. Therefore, the ethics of psychoanalysis is the notion about the Real possibility of the proper acts.

In the former summer courses (2014) on Lacan’s Seminars, the diachronic development of Freud’s investigation on human psychic structure was elaborated by means of studies of Lacan’s work (Seminar III). The courses included, on the one hand, the reading of Freud’s early works Entwurf einer Psychologie (1895) and Studies on Hysterics (1895) that are helpful to envisage the shifting of Freud’s insights through a passage from physiological perspective to psychological contemplation, and on the other hand, the re-reading of his psychoanalytic works (after 1896) that interrogated the techniques of treatments upon the ideology of the Anglo-Saxon ego psychology. In this summer, we are going to read Lacan’s Seminar VII: the Ethics of Psychoanalysis to continue the work we have done in last summer.

Reference
Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis: 1959-1960. Eds. Jacques-Alain Miller. Trans. Dennis Porter. New York: Norton, 1992.

“在《講座七:精神分析的倫理(1959-1960)》中,當快感首次被完全肯定為不可能/真實的外來內核,即不可化約為象徵界之物,它以原質的恐怖深淵出現。這個原質只可以在一種(僭越的、從象徵社群中排除自身的)自殺式英雄行動中被接近——原質是被如伊底帕斯(Oedipus)或安提戈尼(Antigone)的悲劇英雄所構成的東西,它致命的刺眼強光永遠銘刻在那些進入它的事件視界的人身上。”
—— 齊澤克

什麼是快感(jouissance)? 這個詞從《講座一》開始一直被提及,可以說它被重視的程度隨著拉康精神分析學說的發展而不斷提升。在《講座五》的欲望圖解(graph of desire)中, 拉康把它等同於 $◊a 這個幻覺公式以及象徵陽具(symbolic phallus)所產生的功效。然而, 到了《講座七》, 拉康從精神分析的倫理出發, 把快感定位在以一種和佛洛德所說的原質(Das Ding)的內核十分類似的方式出現的東西。當拉康回朔到佛洛德的這個理論時, 那種安提戈尼式的悲劇沖動和拉康之前對大他者(《講座二》開始提出的概念)的結構性隱定作用的詮釋產生了明顯沖突。我們應該如何理解這個時期(1959-1960, 當中包括法國和阿爾及利亞之間的殖民戰爭)的拉康?

本研討課程將細讀拉康《講座七》這個重要文本,來理解精神分析如何回應倫理問題。

參考書
Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis: 1959-1960. Eds. Jacques-Alain Miller. Trans. Dennis Porter. New York: Norton, 1992.

Time: 2015, August 11 (Tue), 9:30-12:30am; August 14 (Fri), 2:00-5:00pm; August 18 (Tue), 9:30-12:30am; August 21 (Fri), 2:00-5:00pm; August 25 (Tue), 9:30-12:30am; August 28 (Fri), 2:00-5:00pm; Venue: Room 628, Sir Run Run Shaw Building, Ho Sin Hang Campus, Hong Kong Baptist University

 

#01 Deleuze and Materialist Genesis

hosted by LAI Tsz Yuen

LAI Tsz Yuen is a Ph.D. Candidate at Department of Humanities and Creative Writing, Hong Kong Baptist University, his research topic is on French mathematical structuralism (Bourbaki, Lautman, Deleuze, Badiou) and the realist/materialist turn of contemporary philosophy.

Philosophy of ‘genesis’ tries to provide a general theory of the ‘coming into being’ of things. It explains how things generate and transform. A materialist theory of genesis shall offer a non-idealist and non-anthropocentric explication of the becoming of things, of materialization/actualization/individuation, and of the mechanism of change. It shall enable us to get away from the ‘idealist universe’ and to confront with the existence of a material world that is independent of human’s ideals. On this ground, materialist thinkings and methodologies of analysis can be developed.

Referring to Gilles Deleuze, especially his two magnum opuses in the late 1960s, Difference and Repetition (1968) and The Logic of Sense (1969), this seminar examines the idea of ‘Deleuzian genesis’ given rise by his concept of event, sees how this idea engenders a theoretical condition for contemporary materialist philosophy and its heated debate.

In contemporary debate on materialist philosophy, Slavoj Žižek’s criticism on the post-Deleuzian philosophy, what he calls ‘vulgar democratic materialism’, is eye-catching. However, Deleuze’s contribution to contemporary materialist philosophy requires further illumination, and what Žižek (as well as Badiou) is in debt to Deleuze, especially to his philosophy of event, has seldom been considered.

This seminar keeps an eye on above contemporary debate and self-consciously returns to the critical moment of Deleuze’s philosophy in the late 1960s, so as to re-examine one path of the development of contemporary materialist philosophy. For this purpose, the seminar also includes the readings of Gilbert Simondon’s theory of ‘individuation’ that has deeply influenced Deleuze’s philosophy, and Manuel DeLanda’s interpretation of ‘Deleuze’s world’ in his Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy (2002) that revives Deleuze’s philosophy with scientific discourse.

Time: 2015 July 10-August 7; Venue: Room 628, Sir Run Run Shaw Building, Ho Sin Hang Campus, Hong Kong Baptist University

 

#00 Why Do We Need A New Materialism?—Symposium of New Materialism

hosted by LAI Tsz Yuen

Time: 2015 May 22; Venue: Room 628, Sir Run Run Shaw Building, Ho Sin Hang Campus, HKBU

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