Abstracts (alphabetical order)

International Conference


Faculty of Philosophy

Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain

08 June 2022

A pdf. version is available here.


The Dialogue between Theology and Philosophy: al-Ghazālī on the Limits of Reason in The Incoherence of the Philosophers

Catarina Belo (American University in Cairo, Egypt)

In his The Incoherence of the Philosophers, al-Ghazālī (d. 1111) attacks several positions held by the Islamic philosophers, who follow Aristotle as their main inspiration and adopt Neoplatonic theories. He lists sixteen metaphysical theses and four theses within the natural sciences which are objectionable from a scriptural point of view. In particular, the view that the world is eternal and always co-existed with God is problematic for al-Ghazālī. His main target is Avicenna (d. 1037), but he also criticizes Alfarabi (d. 950). He also objects to Avicenna’s conception of God’s knowledge as universal rather than particular, and he finds fault with the philosophers’ views on the afterlife, since they do not include bodily resurrection. One of al-Ghazālī’s main arguments in this work is the inability of the philosophers to provide conclusive or demonstrative proofs of their claims. Moreover, he does not share their confidence in the power of reason to reach this kind of knowledge. Al-Ghazālī does not reject philosophy as a whole, but he clearly does not accept many presuppositions which are formulated by Aristotle in his Physics and Metaphysics and which are adopted by the Islamic philosophers. Although al-Ghazālī accepts many aspects of Aristotelian logic, for him the main source of our knowledge of nature and the world ought to be scripture rather than ancient Greek philosophy. Rather than following the reasons put forward by the Islamic philosophers, he prefers to follow the authority of scripture.


Philosophy without Borders or a “Totality of Critique”

Tamara Caraus (University of Lisbon, Portugal)

Does philosophy have borders? The premise of this presentation is that philosophy is without borders, and that geographical, social, idiomatic differences of philosophy are only provisional aspects and non-essential accidents. The argument will be developed in three steps. The first part of the presentation argues that the borderless philosophy is the very “aim of the thought” (Hegel), in the virtue of its use of the principles of universality and generality. The second part of the presentation acknowledges that there are nevertheless claims to a “bordered” dimension in philosophy, for example the “philosophical nationalism” (Derrida) of German authors, from Herder and Fichte to Heidegger, who claimed that the German philosophical idiom is untranslatable and uniquely adequate to express the universal. The presentation argues that this tendency of stopping “the aim of thought” at the linguistic, geographical or political borders and making philosophy dependent upon empirical particularities or regional idiosyncrasies, reduces philosophical thinking to a worldview—a fixed interpretation of things/reality or a “stopped” movement of thought. Although no philosophy is immune to a falling into a worldview, the last part of the presentation argues that philosophy has at its core a powerful resource to become borderless—critique, both as the reason’s ability to “institute a court of justice” (and “this court is none other than the critique of pure reason itself” (Kant) and as a “ruthless criticism of everything existing” (Marx). Following Karatani’s account of parallax and transcritique, the paper argues that critique presupposes a constant transposition beyond and across different borders, including boundaries of different discursive systems and theoretical constructions. Philosophy acquires its borderless dimension through critique, and since the lack of borders implies a totality, this is not a threatening “grand narrative” with a colonial intent or a whatever-centric totality, but a “totality of critique” providing to everyone instruments for contestation and questioning “everything existing.”


French Feminism, Whiteness, & the American West: Considering 19th-Century Borders

Carolyn J. Eichner (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA)

In the 1860s, liberal French feminist Olympe Audouard traveled across the American West. Contrasting the American and French imperial projects, she found American law superior in reinforcing racial and civilizational borders. Her liberal and gender politics led her to embrace racialized ideologies of American exceptionalism, anti-Indianism, and white supremacy.


Why Did We Think Only Humans had Politics?

Kennan Ferguson (University of WisconsinMilwaukee, USA)

Even though work at the turn of the 21st Century was beginning to encourage the examination of the interactions between humans and non-humans, politics was still constrained by human limitations: only that which “counted” for and by people was considered, properly, politics. Provisional reasons include the following

  • the technological limitations in understanding power and communication between flora, non-human fauna, and fungi, so that for example inter-tree or intra-plant politics was unintelligible
  • the reliance on very recent historical sources (e.g., the previous 2500 years) for theorizing politics, ignoring what was then called “deep history” and homo species other than sapiens
  • the earth-centric assumptions of meaning and political action which at the time only speculative fiction overcame, and even that in a genre-limited form
  • the deliberate or ignorant disregard of non-European sources of knowledge in which non-human and non-living beings operate politically, especially that of Native North and South Americans
  • the correlationist assumptions of the dominant theories of Kant, Weber, and positivism, which obscured the insights of thinkers such as Leibniz, Whitehead, and Haraway
  • the hegemony of what was then called “reason,” assumed to be ideal, determinative, and exclusive to humans

This presentation’s focus will be on limitations and causes, rather than the modes by which they were overcome. In it, I trace a few of the thinkers and insights which hinted at the manifold, previously-latent possibilities concerning thinking politics beyond humanity.


Philosophy as Möbius Strip

Lisa Foran (University College Dublin, Ireland)

In this paper, I argue that philosophy’s ongoing concern with its own disciplinary boundaries is a legacy from the border-thinking characteristic of its Enlightenment-era institutionalization. As an academic discipline philosophy occupies a curious position. As Derrida and others have argued, philosophy often virulently defines itself as concerned solely with abstract, universal, and timeless truth. In much of its history, and in fact in the invention of its own history, philosophy has proclaimed itself as linguistically neutral—the language of philosophy, its idiom, dialect or even its style are not of concern. In viewing philosophy as a discipline or “social science” that deals only in abstract concepts unsullied by a specific linguistic form, this approach “protects a certain institutional authority of philosophy, in the form in which it was frozen at a given moment … and in this way protects] the institution against philosophy” (Derrida 1995 [1988]:218). In other words, philosophy, or at least a certain kind of philosophy, presents itself as a-historical and thus apolitical. In this, it protects itself as a “frozen” institutional branch and thereby protects the institution from philosophy as something that might challenge its authority. When philosophy does embrace its social, political, and historical status by engaging with its linguistic specificity—when it blurs its own disciplinary boundary—it is accused of being “esoteric” or “difficult” or even “nonsensical,” both within academic philosophy and in popular discourse. It is not philosophy. One need only witness the often-vitriolic responses in both communities to thinkers such as Derrida, Butler, Irigaray, and so on. The view appears to be that philosophy should be “readable,” “translatable,” “accessible” and so on; it should speak a language we recognize: “What this institution [the University] cannot bear, is for anyone to tamper with language, meaning both the national language and, paradoxically, an ideal of translatability that neutralizes this national language. Nationalism and universalism” (Derrida 2004 [1986]: 76-7). The paradox of “nationalism and universalism” is characteristic of the European Enlightenment project of “national empires.” What is key to such a project is the notion of borders—not merely territorial ones, but far more insidiously, those between human and non-human. In this vein it worth noting that philosophy at a certain point becomes indicative of humanity itself. That the history of philosophy established and institutionalized during the Enlightenment as originating in Ancient Greece and culminating in Romantic Germany was a history invented in tandem with empire, drawing a clear border between philosophy and religion, human and non-human, history and myth that was entirely unfamiliar in earlier histories of philosophy (Kirloskar-Steinbach & Kalmanson 2021:21-4; Park 2013: 8). I argue thus that philosophy as a discipline, acts as a Möbius strip type border creating a non-orientable topography constituting and constituted by the language of power. Breaking out of this disorienting space requires a different language.


Philosophy in the Threshold

Emma Ingala (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain)

Borders are often a separating, dividing, exclusionary, and even annihilating line, feeding a necropolitics that generates “dead spaces of non-connection which deny the very idea of a shared humanity, of a planet … that we share together, and to which we are linked by the ephemerality of our common condition” (Mbembe 2019, 99). However, borders may as well be the site of natality, of a capacity to bring about something new: a creative, productive, and fertile potential that is developed precisely by its being a space “in-between,” by linking rather than isolating. Thresholds are thus ambivalent: they constitute and sustain places, bodies, subjects, and objects, but at the same time, and precisely because of this power, they can destroy them as well. This notion of threshold or “in-between,” nevertheless, has been generally passed over by the predominant discourses of Western philosophy, both from an ontological and a narratological perspective. Western ontology has tended to privilege the category of substance over that of relation and has understood relations as always dependent on, and therefore presupposing, pre-existing substances. Correspondingly, Western philosophical narratives have traditionally been articulated around the importance of beginnings and endings, neglecting the middle as a merely transitioning part. Philosophy’s obsession with first principles and the perfect beginning, together with its focus on outcomes, outputs, and conclusions, have left the middles unattended. Against these ontological and narratological perspectives, Gilles Deleuze called for a revalorisation of the “between” in philosophy: philosophy never starts from the beginning but rather finds itself always already in the middle of something; philosophy is not so much about beginnings and endings but about the margins, the interstices, the in-betweens, the thresholds. Putting together Deleuze’s understanding of the “between” and Gloria Anzaldúa’s conception of the border as a zone of contact, a bridge to other realities, a passageway, a conduit, a place for permanent transition, or a connector that links different realities and perspectives, the aim of this paper is twofold: First, to provide an understanding of the practice of philosophy as constitutive and intimately linked to a topology of the threshold, and, second, to explore how this topology operates in particular in the border between bodies and images through an analysis of Adriana Cavarero’s reflections on the images of inclination and rectitude and the metaphor of the body politic.


The Symbolic Language of Process Ontology

Eve Judah (Ecole Normale Supérieure, France)

This paper will explore how the contrasting metaphors of solids and liquids, landscapes and seascapes, circulate in contemporary philosophy. My core contention is that aquatic and particularly oceanic metaphors are of essential importance to the development and expression of postructuralist ontologies of becoming, that is to say ontologies which privilege the evolving process of meaning over and against any fixed conceptions of truth. Moreover, the irruption of liquid spaces in post-structruralist thought is intimately tied to the self-expression of feminist and anti-colonial movements via process ontology. In contrast, certain approaches to substance ontology depend intimately on the symbolisation of territory, uncompromising borders and the logic of patrilineality. These symbolic modalities contribute to and constitute a metaphysical landscape infatuated with presence, hard substances and fixed ontic binaries. This paper, divided into two parts, will delve into a comparative reading of the landscapes and seascapes which characterize the common language of Jacques Derrida and Edouard Glissant. We will begin by exploring Derrida’s concept of ‘ontopology’ and his appeal to the metaphor of paternal land to describe his personal relationship with received metaphysical culture. In particular, we will show how Derrida attempts to undermine the symbolic dominance of metaphysical ‘territory’ with recourse to a philosophical language of broken borders and internally compromised limits. Playing on the double sense of the word patrimoine, he imagines himself and his listeners as rogues (“en contrebandiers”) running along the borders of a paternal estate (Aporias, p. 17). In symbolic contrast, the existential thrust of Glissant’s philosophy is essentially emergent (in the strong, ontological sense of the word) from the metaphorical potential of the Caribbean Sea. On the one hand, the sea of being connotes rhythm, repetition and creative renewal because it is neither a hard substance nor a structurally organised, closed system. On the other hand, the sea of being represents the ontological abyss of the Middle Passage, which for Glissant is a zone of non-being. As Glissant writes, of the conjunction of being and non-being, “The profundity was not only the abyss of a neurosis but above all the space of multiple re-routings.” (Caribbean Discourse, p. 330) As such, it is with one foot in Paris and the other in Martinique that this paper will examine how territorial and oceanic metaphors make up the common language of process ontology.


The Boundaries of the Human and the Issue of Community and Difference in Moral and Political Thought

Rosine Kelz (Bremen University, Germany)

This contribution explores the topic borders in a broader sense, by investigating debates about the boundaries of the human. In modern Western thought, what it means to be human is usually defined in terms of its difference from the non-human. Moreover, the boundary of the human has been understood as the boundary of the possibility of political and moral community. However, this boundary has never been very robust. For example, the idea that (some) animals should be regarded at least as moral patients has a long tradition in modern Western thought. Recently, the question of how to consider non-human entities in moral and political thought has become more prominent as we are grappling with global environmental crises. This contribution will try to explore in broad strokes the different roles notions of boundaries, distinctions and communalities play for thinking morally and politically about “natural” non-human entities, from animals to more abstract ideas like nature, environment or climate—and how in such debates the idea of the human is renegotiated.  Two alternative routes will be delineated. First, thinking with non-humans often entails highlighting communalities. This can range from arguments about the morally relevant abilities or properties humans share with other animals to arguments which highlight the dependency of human bodies on their environments, as well as the biological intermingling of the human and the non-human. Second, political and moral thought could also retain an understanding of irreducible differences between humans and non-human entities, but argue that moral and political thought should not rely so heavily on ideas of community, shared properties or communalities, but instead retain the importance of otherness.


Absence as Threshold: Visibility in Politics and Aesthetics

Ricardo Mendoza-Canales (University of Lisbon, Portugal)

The primordiality of presence over absence goes through the history of Western metaphysics. Its ontological foundation lies on what Heidegger defined as “the traditional conception of Truth”: the adequacy of essence and intellect. This conception has provided the metaphysical ground to assert that the conformity between essence and existence relies on the positive fact that what is given in presence is true because is self-evident. Under this view, Absence was conceived either as Nothing, mere emptiness, or as the reverse of Presence: a negative, a lack or the suppression of something “not-present”. In my paper, by drawing from the contributions of both phenomenological philosophy (Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty) and critical theory (Rancière, Foucault and Adorno), I will address the question regarding Absence as a limit-problem for Reason by analyzing one of its instantiations: Absence as Invisibility. In common language, invisibility means the inability to be seen. However, this inability in fact extents to both, the seer and what is seen. What is considered invisible is due to an epistemic incapacity or limitation: either to grasp it and determine it through the senses, or to conceptualize it through names and categories. It is at this very point where Politics meets Aesthetics because what is invisible is understood as absent inasmuch it cannot present itself and, therefore, is ruled out from the realm of representation. If one can claim that an absent somehow manifests, then it is licit to argue that Absence should have its own modalities of appearing: (i) in relation to representation, as presentification; (ii) with respect to authenticity, as original; and (iii) vis-à-vis visibility, as chiasm: a halfway between materiality and imagination. Thus, my conclusion will be twofold: on the one hand, that Absence is actual; on the other, that what is absent endures and haunts reality.


The Metaphysics beneath a Limit: Criticism from Contemporary Liminal Thinking

Gonzalo Núñez Erices (Universidad Católica del Maule, Chile)

What kind of being is a limit? This is a metaphysical question about the existence of an entity and the properties it possesses. The language usage of the term “limit” is such that a limit is always a “limit of…” where the ellipses are the necessary request for something else. Every time we talk about a limit, we must talk about a different kind of entity that boundary belongs to. Thus, limit-terms are always said about other things such as “the border of a land”, “the edge of a knife”, “the margin of behaviour”, and so on. This grammatical form shows a metaphysical form: a limit is an ontological dependent entity: its existence depends on the existence of another entity. Part of my work addresses this ontological feature of a limit from the contribution of Franz Brentano on spatiotemporal continuity and his influence on Roderick Chisholm’s philosophical work. The main idea is that limits and things bear a mutual ontological dependence: whereas limits cannot take space and time by themselves, spatiotemporal entities have neither extension nor duration without a limit. My thesis is that such metaphysics of a limit plays a significant role in the modern worldview of the organization and construction of those things that compose reality. Given the mutual ontological dependence between limits and things, everything that has a limit it then exists. The modern razon is a taxonomical design of the ontological inventory of the world: limits are used to separate, classify, and distinguish in order to eliminate the imprecision, indefiniteness, and ambiguity between all sort of things. A limit is taken as an ontological quantifier of what exists and how it must exist. The modern way of categorizing and conceptualizing things such as races, cultures, nationalities, identities, genders, sexualities, or ideologies is much a way of delimitating the world by avoiding fuzziness. However, every separation drawn by a limit always has the possibility of ambivalent belongingness. My proposal makes a critical contrast between the metaphysics of a limit and the notion of liminality taken as an ambiguous transition zone between things: something that does not belong to any place definitively. Liminality thus challenges the modern understanding of limits as clear ontological separators by introducing unclarity, polyvalence, and ambiguity. I will then develop this notion from the Wittgensteinian idea of “blurred limit” as a critical view of the metaphysics beneath a limit.


Fear, the Intolerable, and Abjection: Shock-experiences and Self-transformation

Gavin Rae (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain)

This paper engages with the question of self-transformation through the reception of particularly undesirable limit-experiences; specifically, those that violently and suddenly jolt the individual from its sedimented, settled sense of normalcy. Whereas normative theory, across different disciplines, has tended to affirm positive conceptions of change i.e. do X to achieve Y, this paper looks to the ways in which a form of negative experiences—those that produce violent jolts to our sense of self and/or reality—offer the possibility of shocking us into action. To do so, I focus on three ways in which the experience of negativity has been held to stimulate transformation: First, Hegel’s account of fear in the resolution of the master-slave dialectic in the Phenomenology of Spirit. Second, Sartre’s account of the intolerable in Being and Nothingness, and, finally, Kristeva’s account of abjection. My argument is three-fold: First, although these examples have socio-political implications, they are primarily orientated at the level of the individual and by extension the construction of the self. Second, the negative experience that produces shock is one that comes from the other, thereby highlighting the important role that negative experiences alterity play in existence. Hell may be the other, but the experience of this hell contributes to who and what we are and what we do. Third, while each thinker highlights the role that the negative shock plays in stimulating transformation, they differ in terms of whether such experiences are contingent (Hegel and Sartre) or necessary (Kristeva) for construction of the self. With this, I point to the often-ignored role that the experience of transgression—the experience of the non-normal, including experiences considered off-limits or undesirable—plays in stimulating the construction of the self, point to the important role that shocking experiences in particular play therein, and in so doing, argue that what we experience as a negative often actually opens us to new possibilities.


Post-humanist War Machines: Deleuze and Négritude

Sara Raimondi and Hannah Richter (New College of the Humanities / University of Hertfordshire, England)

This paper makes a case for reading Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy in conjunction with the work of the Négritude philosophers Aimé Césaire and Léopold Senghor. What emerges at this conjunction, we argue, is a directly political post-humanism where an ontology of affect, relational agency and vitalist becoming is always enfolded with the strategic—and profoundly human—end of creating political life after colonialism and capitalism. Spanning poetry, philosophy and political writings, the Négritude movement confronts overtly racist 1930s societies with the provocative declaration of a superior Black consciousness. Superior because not stifled by the Western-modern binaries of mind/body, culture/nature and subject/object, the creativity of Black thought and culture can, Césaire and Senghor argue, be mobilized against Western colonial power. The paper is organized around two central claims. The first claim is that the detour via Deleuze makes it possible to rescue Négritude philosophy from the charge of “counter-essentialism” that dominates its reception, and draw out its potential as a radical, both postfoundational and postcolonial, critique. Like Deleuze, Césaire and Senghor were readers of Bergson, Nietzsche and Marx. Their call for uncovering the vitality and creativity of African cultures must be situated at this juncture, and understood as equal rejection of both essentialism and dialectical thinking. Making use of these shared philosophical influences, we draw out that Césaire and Senghor’s Black creativity is not intended as a positive (counter-)ontological proposition. Rather, it is a literary war machine in the sense of Deleuze and Guattari. Its aim is to rupture and challenge modern liberalism in its ontological underpinnings and imperialist political-economic outgrowths to create an opening for a postcolonial becoming whose parameters and ends can only be defined in its unfolding. The second claim of the paper is that reading Deleuze with Négritude theory allows for conceptualizing a novel, politically targeted post-humanism. The post-humanism that emerges from contemporary new materialist and vitalist philosophies, and here in part from readings of Deleuze, has been subject to charges of apoliticism and anti-rationalism. Aligning ourselves with these critiques, we suggest that Césaire and Senghor’s philosophies offer a way forward for a posthumanism that seeks to retain the potential for strong critique. Négritude post-humanism offers a relational ontology that leaves room for nonhuman creativity, but that can and should at the same time be mobilized by human political inventiveness and action with a view to targeting and overcoming concrete injustices. 


The Spatiality of Legal Orders: Re-reading Arendt as a Critical Phenomenologist

Liesbeth Schoonheim (Humboldt University, Germany)

Within post-foundational thought, there is a widespread consensus that the legal and spatial order are co-constituted, and that their institution of divisions produce “remainders” (Honig 1993) that cannot be neatly categorized within that order. The spatiality of legal orders is particularly well-articulated in Hannah Arendt’s account of nomos, and this paper asks how she deals with these remainders, a question that elucidates the possibility of challenging a legal-spatial order from the position of those whom it marginalizes. More specifically, this paper provides a critical phenomenological account of her notion of nomos to argue for replacing the social-constructivist concern with identity-formation (and deconstruction as its paradigm of political struggle) with an account of habitual movement (and it breakdown as allowing for social-political critique). This paper proceeds in three steps. First, I discuss Hans Lindahl’s account of the co-constitution of legal order and spatial demarcation, arguing that he disregards the historically contingent power relationships, as well as the embodied sedimentation and reactivation of the legal-spatial order. Secondly, I show how the Arendtian notion of plurality can be understood to accommodate the determinative role of power relationships, and suggest that even though she does not develop an account of the habitual body, it is compatible with her notion of plurality. Thirdly, I provide a speculative account of nomos and its constitution through habitual bodily movement, as well as the potential to critically interrogate it in moments this habit breaks down.


Thinking “Orientally”: Nietzsche and Indian Philosophy

Emma Syea (King’s College London, England)

“I must learn to think more orientally about philosophy and knowledge” (Nietzsche, unpublished notebook 1884). Given the historical, geographical, cultural, and linguistic borders between nineteenth-century Germany and Ancient India, an obvious question arises—how seriously should we take Nietzsche’s remarks about Indian philosophy? While Nietzsche professed to have sympathies with the Indian philosophical systems, his engagement with the original texts was minimal, often second-hand, and relied on dubious translations. How then should we approach his remarks? I suggest that we do not need to dismiss Nietzsche’s comments entirely. Although they will not tell us very much about Indian philosophy per se, they will deepen our understanding of Nietzsche’s own philosophical project. I show that, instead of offering any faithful representations of Indian philosophy, Nietzsche mines the texts for concepts, values, and attitudes that will provide him with alternatives to what he saw as a life-denying Christian morality. Ancient India—or Nietzsche’s take on it—therefore affords him a new perspective to inhabit and the critical distance needed to better assess contemporary normative frameworks, in particular regarding the self. In Human, all too Human, Nietzsche declares that the defining feature of truly original thinkers is their ability to see the old and familiar as though it were new, to look past the obvious, and to re-examine the overlooked. Finding ways of estranging oneself philosophically-speaking is therefore crucial. I suggest that Nietzsche’s engagement with Indian philosophy is therefore best understood as a demonstration of his “perspectivism”—the view that there is “only a perspectival seeing, only a perspectival “knowing” … the more eyes, various eyes we are able to use for the same thing, the more complete will be our “concept” of the thing” (Genealogy of Morals III: 12).


Limiting Dialectics: On Border, Limits, and Boundaries in the Present

Guilel Treiber (KU Leuven, Belgium)

For Kant, there is a conceptual distinction between limits (Schranken) and boundaries (Grenzen). While the concept of a boundary presupposes a space that the former encloses and where something can exist, like a frontier of a state, a limit is a mathematical threshold. The limit is a line. It has no space of its own. One always thinks it is ‘easy’ to cross it since it is simply a line. In contrast, a boundary has a space of its own. A boundary is something positive. There is a space between the known and the unknown where things can exist. While mathematical knowledge is always limited, human experience exists, in certain radical conditions, not beyond limits but in the blurry space of boundaries. Indeed, a limit-experience takes place in the boundary between what is tolerable, what we can live through, and what is intolerable, what we can never fully experience.  Limit experience, a concept of crucial importance for Bataille, Blanchot, or Foucault, is rarely taken seriously in political thinking. Instead, such experiences are relegated to fringe literature or cinema, sexual ecstasy, drug-induced delusions, or extreme pain. Bataille’s fascination with “the death of a thousand cuts” (Lingchi) or Gilles de Rais’s figure are examples of why such a concept has been swept aside for more subdued terms. Yet, I argue that something crucial about crossing boundaries, or in other words, transgression, is captured with this term and in such experiences that demand a more thorough philosophical formulation. For example, to experience an identity as forced, to experience this identity as inescapable destiny, is an intolerable experience produced by politics broadly understood. At this stage, every action taken against one’s imposed self-identity becomes a transgression, not against outside taboos or laws, but against one’s own subjectivation. In these quite abstract senses, “transgression of limits,” “existing within boundaries,” and “transforming oneself” become a series of concepts able to challenge other philosophical conceptual schemas, specifically Hegelian dialectics. By never reaching any kind of resolution, by always postponing Aufhebung, Bataille, Blanchot, or Foucault have given us a whole underexplored terminology to explore our times of instability, dissolution, war, and border crossing.


The Queer Philosophy of Judith Butler

Adriana Zaharijević (University of Belgrade, Serbia)

If there is any need to offer a more precise description of the philosophy Judith Butler produces, we may provisionally call it queer. The use of mischievous vocabulary, concepts such as “sex,” “jettisoned life,” or “parody,” together with an emphatic, almost deliberate disrespect for strict boundaries between disciplines, their proper objects and language, fits well with the idea of queering. Butler weaves the ecstatic and improper movement of thought, to the point of sometimes questioning the standards of coherence, clarity and unity of text. Her writing is a performance in language, frequently spilling over into activist practices, which unintended ecstatic afterlife then gets woven back into the fold of following texts. To insist on Butler’s doing philosophy is also to go against her own somewhat ambivalent relationship towards it, which she has voiced on numerous occasions, but perhaps most prominently in a text with the suggestive title, “Can the “Other” of Philosophy Speak?” (UG, 232–250)—where the “Other of philosophy” seems to stand in for the subaltern. Similarly, Gender Trouble begins with an avowal of the philosophical register—“philosophy is the predominant disciplinary mechanism that currently mobilizes this author-subject”—only to be put into question a moment later with the claim that this “inquiry seeks to affirm … positions on the critical boundaries of disciplinary life” (GT, xxxiv). This affirmation, which continues to take place at the nexus of thought and life, goes consistently against “boundarying” (Sabsay 2016, 46). Resistance to boundarying is itself a mode of queering of language and definitions. In this presentation I want to demonstrate that the way Butler writes her philosophy is going against setting the thinking straight, and that we may understand her general endeavours as a philosophical resistance to the process of boundarying.