Category Archives: Conferences

Cosmos and History

The ‘Real Objects or Material Subjects’ issue of Cosmos and History edited by Dr. Brian Smith and myself is now online here.

We put some work into this and I hope some of you enjoy it, or are at least productively provoked by it.

Real Objects/Material Subjects Journal Issue (finally.)

So I’ve let this blog wither away into nothingness….but would like to try to insert a spark of being into it again by posting the table of contents for an upcoming issue of Cosmos and History edited by Brian Smith and myself. It features papers that are based on presentations given at the ‘Real Objects or Material Subjects?’ conference which took place at the University of Dundee in March, 2010. As C&H is open access, the issue will be available for everyone. I’ll post again once it’s online. Until then, here is what you can expect:

Real Objects or Material Subjects?

The Future of Continental Metaphysics

Table of Contents

Editors Introduction

Michael O’Neill Burns & Brian Anthony Smith

The Problem with Metzinger

Graham Harman

The Transcendental Core of Correlationism

Paul Ennis

Critical Idealism and Transcendental Materialism: A Speculative Analysis of the Second Paralogism

Michael Olson

Objects in manifold times: Deleuze and the speculative philosophy of objects as processes

James Williams

Becoming L’Homme Imaginaire: The Role of the Imagination in Overcoming Circularity in Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason

Austin Smidt

Beyond Objects, Beyond Subjects: Giorgio Agamben on Animality, Particularity and the End of Onto-theology

Colby Dickinson

Fanon and Political Will

Peter Hallward

The Necessity of Contingency or Contingent Necessity: Meillassoux, Hegel, and the Subject

John Van Houdt

Aufhebung and Negativity

Ryan Krahn

Lacanian Materialism and the Question of the Real

Tom Eyers

Materialism, Subjectivity and the Outcome of French Philosophy

Interview with Adrian Johnston

21st Century Idealism Registration

Registration for 21st Century Idealism is now open on the conference website. It is absolutely 100% free, all you need to do is fill out a simple form. Easy.

Details on affordable accomodation in Dundee should be on the website soon as well.

21st Century Idealism: Provisional Schedule

While this schedule isn’t 100% certain as of yet, it should look something like this:

21st Century Idealism: April 1-2, 2011, University of Dundee

Friday, April 1st

10:15-10:30 Welcome


Sebastian Ostritsch (University of Bonn): The Philosophical Ubiquity of Idealism and the Possibility of a Fundamentally Non-Idealistic “Philosophy”

Søren Rosendal : Hegel’s Realism: The Ex-timate Real

Claire Pagès (Université Paris Ouest/Nanterre): Should we abandon the Hegelian idealism?

 2:00pm-1:00pm Lunch Break


Tom Eyers (CRMEP, Kingston): The Underground Current of the Idea: Idea, Idealism and Ideology in Althusser, Lacan and Badiou

Joseph Carew (Bergische Universität Wuppertal): German Idealism and Ontological Catastrophe: Slavoj Žižek and the Horror of Subjectivity

 2:00-2:30pm Coffee Break


John Van Houdt (Tilburg): The Ali Baba Problem: Idealism for the 21st Cenutry

Kirill Chepurin (Higher School of Economics, Moscow): The Absolute’s Blind Spots: Geist and Contingency through Hegel’s Anthropology

Guillaume Lejeune (Université Libre de Bruxelles): Self-Construction and Society. Malabou and Brandom about Hegel.

 4-4:30pm Coffee Break

 4:30-6:00 Keynote Presentation: Markus Gabriel (University of Bonn):

 21st Century Idealism: Facticity, Accessibility, and Contingency

 Saturday, April 2nd

10:00-11:30am Keynote Presentation: Beth Lord (Dundee): TITLE TBA

 11:30-11:45am Coffee


Alexander William George Andrews (University of Nottingham): Invisible Hands: Hegel, Marx and the Market

Dave Mesing (Duquesne University): Political Prefaces: Kierkegaard’s Politics of the Beginning

 12:45-1:45pm Lunch Break


Daniel Whistler (Liverpool): Schelling, Tautegory and the History of Philosophy

Jeremy Dunham(UWE-Bristol): G.E. Moore’s The Refutation of Idealism and the Late 19th/Early 20th Century Idealist

Pete Wolfendale (Warwick): The Greatest Mistake: A Case for the Failure of Hegel’s Idealism

 3:15-3:30pm Coffee Break


André Reichert (Freie Universität Berlin): A Deleuzian Idealism. Postcartesianism, Diagrammatics and Prephilosophy

Johan Nystrom (Kingston University): Dancing and Leaping: Repetition in Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Deleuze

 4:30-6:00 Iain Hamilton-Grant (UWE-Bristol) TITLE TBA


Note that this year registration is FREE and coffee/snacks will be provided for all attending. If you are planning to attend, please email me to register at mykeburns [at] gmail [dot] com. Further details on the schedule, accomodation, registration, and pre and post conference events should be available on the conference website soon.

‘The unity of the philosophical in question: a workshop on continental and analytic philosophy’

(this may be of interest to some. note that there are travel grants available to PG students)

‘The unity of the philosophical in question: a workshop on continental and analytic philosophy’, to be held at the University of Dundee on October 27, 2010

2 – 3
Sherah Bloor (LaTrobe University), “The idea of the divide as a dual perspective upon ‘the whole’”.
Ricky Sebold (LaTrobe University), “Are Continental philosophers idealists?”
3 – 4
Simon Glendinning (LSE), “The unity of the philosophical in question: interference and opacity within philosophical communication today”
4 – 5
Jack Reynolds (LaTrobe University), “Analytic Versus Continental? A methodological aporia?”
5 – 6
James Chase (University of Tasmania), “Steering clear of Rorty”
6 – 6:30
Closing remarks
All papers to take place in Room 2F15 Dalhousie Building
The workshop is free and open to all. Please register interest with James Williams
There are small grants for travel in the UK available to postgraduate students for attendance at the workshop. Contact James as soon as possible with a short account of why you wish to participate and what funding you require.
Contact: James Williams,
This workshop is staged with the support of the Australian Research Council and the School of Humanities, University of Dundee

‘The Future of Continental Philosophy of Religion’ CFP

reposted from creston davis:

Postmodernism, Culture and Religion 4

“The Future of Continental Philosophy of Religion”

Syracuse University

April 7-9, 2011

Plenary Speakers:


Watson Professor of Religion and Philosophy

Syracuse University (


Professor of Theology and Religious Studies

University of Nottingham (UK) (


Professor of Philosophy

University of Paris-X, Nanterre (


Paper submissions are invited on the topic “The Future of Continental Philosophy of Religion,” its past and present, its history and its prospects, in the widest possible terms, addressing the whole range of it simplications—politics, feminism, constructive theology, philosophy, history, literature, interfaith dialogue, and the hermeneutics of sacred texts.

In the past, these conferences, which have provided a forum for the most influential philosophers, theologians, and cultural theorists to interact, have consisted solely of several keynote speakers.  This conference will be different.  It will feature three plenary speakers and offer multiple concurrent sessions devoted to papers submitted on a diversity of issues relating to the primary theme.  This call for papers is deliberately open, befitting the conference’s animating concern with the future.  Papers are invited that address questions like (but not limited to) the following.  What now, or what comes next—specifically, after the death, if not of God, at least of the generation consisting of Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault, Levinas, etc.?

This question concerns not only the future after those significant theorists, but also the future after-life of these eminent minds who have left such a deep impact on Continental philosophy of religion.  What is the future of Kant and German Idealism, of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche in Continental philosophy of religion? What remains for the future of phenomenology?  Of the “theological turn” in the phenomenology of Jean-Luc Marion and others?  Of Gadamer, Ricoeur and philosophical hermeneutics?  Of apophatic or mystical theology?  What is the future of feminism and Continental philosophy of religion?  What are the status and future of the new trinity of Agamben, Badiou and Zizek? What relevance do the political interpretations of Antonio Negri, Michael Hardt, and the more recent Continental philosophers such as François Laruelle and Catherine Malabou have to philosophy of religion and political theology?  What about the future of sovereignty, of money and capitalism, as in the work of Philip Goodchild?  What is the future of the movements of Radical Orthodoxy and of radical death of God theology, whether in their original or contemporary manifestations?  What about the new sciences of information and complexity in thinkers like Mark C. Taylor and Michel Serres?  What about Continental philosophy of religion and our “companion species” in Donna Haraway?  What about “Post-Humanism”?  What is the future of Continental Philosophy of religion and Judaism?  And Islam?  Or world religions generally?  What is the relationship between postmodernism, religion and postcolonialism?  What role can Continental philosophy play in the future of religion in the USA?  In the professional study of religion in the USA?  How does Continental philosophical theology relate to the ethnological and empirical-scientific study of religion?  How does Continental philosophy of religion differ from traditional philosophy of religion?  Or from analytic philosophy of religion?  What is continental philosophy of religion anyway?

Instructions:  Submit electronic copies of completed papers (up to 3000 words).  Abstracts cannot be considered.  Papers will be subject to a double blind review by a selection committee.  Include your name, paper title and contact information on a separate page.  Include the paper title but not your name on a header or footer on each numbered page of the paper itself.  The papers must be previously unpublished in any format.  The Conference reserves the right of first refusal of the submitted paper for inclusion in a projected volume to be based upon the conference.  Paper submissions are due by December 15, 2010 and acceptances will be made by February 15, 2011.  Send your papers to:

Coordinator:  John D. Caputo, Watson Professor of Religion, Syracuse University For further information contact  or visit

Real Objects/Material Subjects: Audio

I know these are long overdue (apologies to all) but posted below is the audio from the keynote presentations from ‘Real Objects or Material Subjects’, a philosophy conference hosted by the postgraduate students at the University of Dundee.

James Williams: Contemplating Pebbles


Graham Harman: I Am Also of the Opinion that Materialism Must be Destroyed


Adrian Johnston: Naturalism or anti-naturalism?  No, thanks–both are worse!’:  Science, Materialism, and Slavoj Zizek


Peter Hallward: Self-Emancipation between Hegel and Marx



thoughts on conference etiquette

I attend a lot of conferences. sometimes giving papers, sometime just hanging out, taking notes, and drinking afterward. i find them to be the one of the necessary antidotes to the isolation and loneliness that comes with doing phd research; especially when you’re based in a very small department in a fairly dis-connected scottish town. that said, i have to come to the belief that there is a sort of un-written code of conduct that makes for the best conference experiences, and after recently attending a conference (which will not be named) in which all of these rules were broken time and time again, i’d like to outline a few of these simple rules.

first, and most importantly: if you’re presenting a paper at a small conference with no parallel sessions, go to other papers besides your own. in my mind, nothing makes a graduate student seem more pretentious than traveling to a far off city to present at a conference, skipping all the other papers, then showing up for your own and expecting people to give a shit. at the conference i attended recently there were 7 papers (with responses) over the course of 1.5 days. out of all of the presenters, a friend and i were the only two to actually go to the other papers. even the (very well known) keynote was there for the entirety of the second day of the conference, yet many of the graduate students simply came and went, showing very little respect to the other presenters.

another thing i recently noticed is something that should never be said while giving a paper at a conference, and in can come across in a few different ways. examples:

‘i would talk more about (topic x) but this is actually from a larger work/article….’


‘if i had more time i would go into (x), but…’

Okay. you’re a graduate student. someone put out a call for papers, likely telling you at the outset that you had 20 minutes to speak. you sent in a short abstract, and had months to figure out what to say during your presentation. please (please) do not show up with some 8,000 word article you’re working on, and then attempt to rush through it in 20 minutes, all the while acting like what you have to say is so deeply important that you can’t express it in 20 minutes.

and along with this, can we all agree to stop providing textual summary, literature reviews, and exegesis in short conference papers? wouldn’t it be much more productive (and fun) if we made arguments? i thought phd theses and journal articles were our opportunities to prove how many books we’ve read and how many footnotes we have? why not take advantage of the chance to be around other young scholars working in a similar area and make an interesting, even provocative, argument and then have a lively discussion afterward? i hate being self-referential, but alas, this is one of the things i really appreciated about all of the students presented by graduate students at the conference in dundee last month. they each stayed to 20 minutes, and provided interesting/provocative arguments that lead to productive discussion. and along with this, they were committed to the event as a whole, interacting with the papers and ideas of others the whole way through.

i’ll stop there, but will return later to offer some more thoughts on conference etiquette and strategy. in particular i will attempt to offer the perfect ratio of alcohol to coffee that allows one to spend 2-3 days barely sleeping yet somehow able to interact with complex ideas during the day and drink like a frat-boy (or sorority girl) at night.

Badiou, Forcing, and Politics

First of all, I know, a philosophy post? On this blog? In between the insanity of the past 6 months or so I’ve been doing little more on here than posting conference info and sharing the occasional link, but hopefully I can change that a bit.

I’m currently working on a paper I’ll be presenting at DePaul’s graduate conference next week. The title is ‘From Life to Liberation: Thinking Capital in Alain Badiou’, and while in a sense it builds on some previous work (including a paper I gave at Queen Mary last summer, and an article forthcoming in Political Theology), I am trying to do a few new things as well. A few of these ‘new things’ I hope to at least bring up are, in no particular order: Badiou’s relationship to Marx (primarily through a reading of Theory of the Subject), the lack of an axiomatic for capital is his work, and the place of the political in his ontology.

The issue I’m working on/writing on today is the problematic place of the political in his thought. I find this to be problematic not because of his inadequate theorization of the political and its relationship to the philosophical, but rather because there seems to be a fundamental politicization in Badiou’s ontology that he fails to acknowledge. While he offers four conditions of philosophy, and often notes the risk of suturing philosophy to any condition in particular, I find it fairly obvious that for Badiou philosophy, in practice, is clearly sutured to either the mathematical or the political. On a shallow level, one can see this by simply reading his books and noting how over and over all of his primary examples are political. On a deeper level, one can interrogate the mathematical terms used, and ask whether he’s more faithful to the axioms themselves, or instead to the political exemplifications they engender. One of the examples that I may explore in this paper is the case of forcing.

While my knowledge of set-theory is still pretty piss poor, here is what I find to be important. For Badiou, forcing serves as a sort of infinite subjective process, something that is tied to both temporality and the creation of a new present. This is not what forcing is in set-theory. It’s an instant mathematical process, completely formal, and not tied to any notion of temporality or process. So, in simple terms, it seems like Badiou stays faithful to set-theory up until a certain point, but then his true political fidelity seems to take over. Now, I could be reading too much into one example, but it seems clear that for Badiou the political has priority over the mathematical. But that said, I would love if someone with a more refined knowledge of set-theory could tell me that I’m wrong or push me in the right direction here.

And while I won’t go into it, if this is true then I think it brings up another important problem in Badiou’s thought (one that I’ve brought up before), and that is the issue of humanity and/or anthropology. If politics is primarily a human endeavor, and at the end of the day politics and philosophy are sutured, then I think this warrants a fuller discussion of the human in Badiou. (Supposedly this is coming in his next ‘big book’, The Immanence of Truths). If this line of thought is followed, then I think its inevitable that a return to a (certain reading of) Marx take place in the work of Badiou. The important distinction, however, would be between the Marx of Althusser and the Marx of Sartre. This is something that came up quite a bit at the conference last weekend (especially in conversation with Johnston and Hallward), and I think they key to furthering a critical evaluation of the usefulness of Badiou’s philosophy must take the role of Sartre in shaping his thought much more seriously.

Sorry if this comes of as incoherent rambling, but I’ve always utilized philosophy blogging for random ideas rather than well worked out treatises. Any thoughts on this appreciated…

post-conference developments

I won’t give my own thoughts (as they would be quite biased…) on the ‘Real Objects or Material Subjects’ conference which took place here in Dundee last week, but I will say thank you to all of you who blogged about it in a positive (or critical) light in the past week. It was amazing to meet so many of you whom I’ve only known digitally for such a long time now.

Following the success of the conference, Brian Smith and myself are going to be editing an edition of the journal ‘Cosmos and History’ including material from conference speakers. We are in the early planning stages, but we are going to try to get it finished as soon as possible. Hopefully this will allow all interested parties to carry on the debates sparked last weekend in more depth. Also, I will soon post the audio from the conference lectures online.

Also, I’ve begun planning next year’s Dundee philosophy conference, which will likely take place in late march/early april 2011. I won’t name any of the potential keynotes until they confirm, but the working theme/title is: ‘Repeating the 1840’s: 21st Century Responses to 19th Century Problems’.  We’ll have an announcement and CFP out in the next 3-4 months, but I really hope even more of you will be able to make it out to Scotland next spring from a weekend of intense, but ridiculously fun, philosophical debate and conversation.