November 14, 2006

Thinking Worlds: An International Symposium on Philosophy, Politics, and Aesthetic Th

Art & Education

An International Symposium on Philosophy, Politics, and Aesthetic Theory

Dates: November, 17th -18th, 2006

Place: Moscow, Polytechnic Museum, Lecture-hall, Grand Auditorium, 3/4, Novaya square, Moscow.

Organizers: The Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography, Russian Institute for Cultural Studies, The Moscow Biennale Art Foundation, Interros Publishing Program.

Speakers: Giorgio Agamben, Boris Kagarlitsky, Chantale Mouffe, Molly Nesbit, Valery Podoroga, Jacques Ranciere, Mikhail Ryklin, Saskia Sassen, Bernard Stiegler.

The symposium “Thinking Worlds” starts off from the general idea of a biennial as a meeting place between different worlds, geographical, cultural, and professional, and extends this to fundamental questions bearing on the state of philosophy, aesthetic theory, and politics. The different “worlds” or spheres of philosophical reflection, that we find for instance in Kant’s division between the theoretical, the practical, and the aesthetic, have for a long time provided the philosophical reflection of modernity with its substructure. A fundamental questioning of the present must ask to what extent these three fields still exist as separate domains, what kinds of intersections exist between them, and if one of them can be seen as the foundation of the other or if we have to accept a plurality of parallel discourses. Thinking “worlds” would then imply a reflection on the unity and difference of these three domains, and especially so if seen in the light of contemporary politics. The question of whether there is one world that could serve as a promise for thought, or if it is an irrevocable condition that “Thinking Worlds” exists today only in the plural, is more pressing than ever.

Taking its cue from this historical framework, the symposium is divided into three subsections.

Philosophy and the construction of concept. What is the role of philosophy in relation to the sciences and the arts? Should philosophy create new concepts, and if so, how should it relate to its tradition(s)? Does philosophy have an autonomy of its own, or does it relate only to the other spheres (science, politics, art) as a form of “reflection,” i.e., occupying a second order position?

Universality, reason, contingency. What happens to identity, citizenship etc, in a global world, and what challenges do these changes pose for how we conceive political theory? What are the possibilities under which the arts can engage or challenge our present condition?

The limits of aesthetics. How should we conceptualize contemporary art today and what tools should be used to analyze it? What is the meaning of a term such as “aesthetic theory” today (a concept that Adorno already judged to be outmoded at the end of his life), and is there place for the activity of critical judgment in a world that has been characterized as a “society of the spectacle”?

The conference is initiated by Joseph Backstein, Daniel Birnbaum, Irina Ostarkova (Interros Publishing Program) and Sven-Olov Wallenstein. Moderator – Sven-Olov Wallenstein.


Anna Morochnik

7 495 692 53 72

[email protected]

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