The Whitehead Research Project features Isabelle Stengers @ CGU
by Adam Robbert
A conference is being held at Claremont Graduate University in Southern California Dec. 2nd-4th entitled “Metaphysics and Things: New forms of Speculative Thought”.
The Whitehead Research Project’s website provides the following description of the conference:
Contemporary thought is in the process of throwing off the shackles of the 20th century’s stubborn intertwining of thought, language, and reality in order, once again, to raise the possibility of an effective version of speculative thought. In doing so, it is moving beyond simplifying and totalizing claims of anti-speculation and anti-metaphysics toward the potentials of “constructivism” and “realism” as genuine philosophical avenues for thought. One common element of these diverse approaches is the importance of enunciating the status and role of ‘things’ within the world, within thought, and within the relation of thought to the world. In keeping with its mission to analyze the relevance of Whitehead’s thought in dialogue with contemporary philosophies, the Whitehead Research Project is sponsoring a conference to explore some of the congruences and tensions between these various attempts to return to speculative thought and to reorient the concept of the thing (or object).
This conference will provide the opportunity to identify and work through shared elements and problems, which have been developed by those working in the philosophies of A. N. Whitehead and Gilles Deleuze, Actor-Network-Theory, and Speculative Realism. The extensive work of Isabelle Stengers in its relation to Whitehead and Deleuze could be seen as indicative of the milieu which contemporary thought inhabits and the problems it is addressing. The importance of this major re-conceptualization of the demand for a renewed interrogation of the inter-relation of metaphysics and things is also evident in the work of Bruno Latourwho has often discussed the importance of the work of both Whitehead and Stengers for his re-description of objects in terms of associations and networks. Speculative Realism has, recently, developed approaches to such questions which have a tensile but productive relationship with the concepts and approaches raised by Whitehead, Stengers, and Latour. This conference will include participants who are influential in all of these fields and its overall aim is to provide an open forum to further these important debates and to produce new modes of thought.
A few members of our local intellectual ecosystem here at CIIS in San Francisco will be making the 7 hour trip down to attend Isabelle Stenger’s lecture at tomorrow’s session. Cultural theorist Donna Haraway will be responding. The precise topic of Stenger’s lecture is still a mystery to us, but expect a thorough review and discussion to be posted when we return! If possible, we will also try to capture some video of the speakers.