The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought Events in May

12th May 2019

The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought, Goldsmiths, University of London invites you to:

May 16 – Gabriele Pedullà – ‘Giving the Foreigners Citizenship’, or, Machiavelli for Brexiteers

May 25 – The Dash— A Workshop on Hegel with Rebecca Comay and Frank Ruda 

May 29 – Annual Philosophy Lecture: Christoph Menke on the critique of law and the law of critique

May 31 – Samo Tomsic and Keti Chukhrov – Marxism and Psychoanalysis: Alliance or Conflict? From Soviet Psychology to the Present 

Further details below:

1. Gabriele Pedullà – ‘Giving the Foreigners Citizenship’, or, Machiavelli for Brexiteers (May 16)


Professor Stuart Hall Building

Room LG01

A long and authoritative philosophical tradition, starting with Aristotle, asserted that cities have to be especially careful with foreigners, granting them citizenship only in exceptional cases, because the afflux of newcomers risks resulting in a threat to political concord and harmony. Against this opinion, in his Discourses on Livy Machiavelli offered a completely different reasoning: modern states should follow the model of Rome instead, where subjected populations and immigrants from abroad were constantly incorporated into the civic body, making the republic stronger, even if this process inevitably fuelled social conflicts. A lesson that is still valid today?

Gabriele Pedullà is associate professor of Italian Literature at the University of Roma Tre and has been visiting professor at Stanford, UCLA, the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Lyon), and Harvard. He is the author of In Broad Daylight: Movies and Spectators after the Cinema, Machiavelli in Tumult, and the novel Lame [Blades].


2. The Dash— A Workshop with Rebecca Comay and Frank Ruda (May 25)

25 May 2019
Room RHB 144
Richard Hoggart Building

In The Dash—The Other Side of Absolute Knowing (MIT Press, 2018), Rebecca Comay and Frank Ruda present a reading of Hegel’s most reviled concept, absolute knowing. Their book sets out from a counterintuitive premise: the “mystical shell” of Hegel’s system proves to be its most “rational kernel.” Hegel’s radicalism is located precisely at the point where his thought seems to regress most. Most current readings try to update Hegel’s thought by pruning back his grandiose claims to “absolute knowing.” Comay and Ruda invert this deflationary gesture by inflating what seems to be most trivial: the truth of the absolute is grasped only in the minutiae of its most mundane appearances. What if everything turns out to hinge on the most inconspicuous and trivial detail—a punctuation mark?

Rebecca Comay is a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto

Frank Ruda is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Dundee

NB: Places are limited to so please register ahead of time with a.toscano@gold.ac.uk


3. 2nd Annual Goldsmiths Philosophy Lecture: Christoph Menke (Frankfurt) – “The Critique of Law and the Law of Critique” (May 29)

5:30 – 7:30 pm

LG01 Lecture Theatre

Professor Stuart Hall Building

The question of the critique of law is at the same time a question of the law – and the right – of critique. For law is itself not only a socially institutionalized practice of critique, but probably the first such practice; law is an apparatus of normative distinction, and critique is the judge. This raises the question of whether or not a critique of law is at all possible. For either the critique of law simply repeats or doubles the critique that is enacted by and in law; it does to or with law what law itself does. But then it is not a critique of law but rather its affirmation: law once again. Or critique effectively rejects law and overcomes its practice of normative distinction. But then it is not a critique of law but something other than critique (and hence also no longer directed at or against law, but rather attempts to replace it).

This talk will try to first expose and then overcome this dilemma by sketching an alternative strategy for a critique of law. Here, critique no longer means an operation of normative distinction – distinguishing between the bad and the good, the right and the false side of law – but rather the exposition of its paradox. This paradox of law consists in the unity of justice and domination (or violence). The talk will try to show that this paradox can neither be resolved nor accepted. “Critique” then becomes the name for theoretical and political strategies of unfolding the paradox of law.

Christoph Menke is Professor of Practical Philosophy with a specialisation in Political Philosophy and the Philosophy of Right at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, where he is also a principal investigator within the Cluster of Excellence, “Normative Orders.” He taught at the University of Potsdam from 1999 to 2009 and at the New School for Social Research from 1997 to 1999. Among his numerous publications are: The Sovereignty of Art: Aesthetic Negativity in Adorno and Derrida (1988, [English] 1999); Tragödie im Sittlichen: Gerechtigkeit und Freiheit nach Hegel [Tragedy in Morality: Justice and Freedom after Hegel] (1996); Reflections of Equality (2000, [English] 2006); Tragic Play: Irony and Theater from Sophocles to Beckett (2005 and 2010, [English] 2009); Force: A Fundamental Concept of Aesthetic Anthropology (2008, [English] 2012); and, most recently, Law and Violence: Christoph Menke in Dialogue (2018).


4. Samo Tomsic and Keti Chukhrov –  

Marxism and Psychoanalysis: Alliance or Conflict? 

From Soviet Psychology to the Present (May 31)


Professor Stuart Hall Building Room PSH 305

The critique of psychoanalysis in Soviet Marxist philosophy and psychology was predicated on the secondary role of the unconscious and hence of ‘psychics’, in the construction of the social subject. Key studies such as Voloshinov’s Freudianism (1976) and Marxism and the Philosophy of Language(1929) and Leontiev’s Activity and Consciousness (1977), insisted that what functions as lack and alienation in psychoanalysis are in fact socio-economic categories and hence prone to dissolution under communism, having no stable ontology of their own. Consequently, the unconscious is simply that part of consciousness, which has not yet acquired awareness; indeed consciousness is nothing but an assemblage of socio-cognitive activity and labour, and therefore precisely an extension of social production. This classical mode of Marxist argumentation was subject to severe critique in the 1970s such as Lyotard’s Libidinal Economy (1974), Guattari’s Machinic Unconscious (1979) and Castoriadis’s The Imaginary Institution of Society (1975). In these texts desire and the unconscious were claimed as the irretrievable force of capitalism’s libidinal and phantasmatic nature. Meanwhile Lacan’s critique of philosophy’s reliance on consciousness in the 1960s was even stricter, calling the transparently rational subject a fatal error of philosophy. What, therefore, is left of the Soviet Marxist critique of psychoanalysis? This symposium will explore this question, specifically through a discussion of subjectivity and the social function of language, from these two drastically opposed standpoints.

Samo Tomsic obtained his PhD in philosophy at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and is currently research associate at the cluster of excellence Matters of Activity as well as guest lecturer at the Institute for Cultural History and Theory, both at the Humboldt University Berlin. His research areas comprise continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, structuralism and epistemology. He is the author of The Capitalist Unconscious: Marx and Lacan (Verso, 2015) and, most recently, The Labour of Enjoyment. Toward a Critique of Libidinal Economy (August, 2019).

Keti Chukhrov is ScD in philosophy, an associate professor at the Department of Сultural Studies at the Higher School of Economics (Moscow).  Currently she is a Marie Sklodowska Curie fellow in UK. She has authored numerous texts on art theory and philosophy. Her full-length books include: To Be—To Perform. ‘Theatre’ in Philosophic Critique of Art (European University, 2011), and Pound & £ (Logos, 1999) and a volume of dramatic writing: Merely Humans (2010). Her forthcoming book deals with the communist epistemologies in the Soviet Marxist philosophy of 1960s and 1970s.