A public lecture hosted by the London Graduate School, Kingston University with Art & Philosophy @ Central Saint Martins:
WHAT IS NEW IN NEW REALISM?
Maurizio Ferraris (University of Turin)
6-8PM on Monday, October 21st at Central Saint Martins University of the Arts London, Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London NC1 4AA.
According to a diagnosis that, for a while, enjoyed great popularity, we live in a postmodern era. Frequently, this diagnosis is supported by the allegedly sociological thesis that reality is socially constructed. It usually takes off from an epistemological diagnosis: since our access to the world is mediated by complex and historically contingent parameters such as our affiliation to a certain social group, ideological delusions, fallible convictions, interests etc., we are not entitled to presuppose that we register facts and objects as they really are. Instead, all facts or objects seem relative to a system of some kind. If we follow this argument, notions like ‘fact’, ‘truth’, and ‘objectivity’ are reduced to a “frictionless spinning in the void,” as John McDowell once put it. Recently, many argued against this understanding of “postmodernism” and especially against the dismissal of facts, truth, and objectivity on the basis of an alleged insight into the social construction of reality. These voices can be summarized under the title “New Realism”. In Maurizio Ferraris’ particular understanding of this broad current of thought, which shares significant similarities with Speculative Realism and Object Oriented Ontology, this realism after postmodernity is based on a sharp distinction between ontology and epistemology (which were confused, instead, by most postmodern thinkers) and on the stress on what he calls the ‘unamendability’ of reality. While the external world offers us affordances as to what can be positively done with it, it cannot be amended (that is, modified or, so to speak, ‘corrected’ at will). As for the ontology of social reality, Ferraris sets himself against John Searle and proposes to complete the latter’s theory with what he calls ‘Documentality’: social reality is not constructed by collective intentionality; rather, it is made up of inscribed acts – hence the crucial importance of writing and documents, papers, and all types of texts.
Maurizio Ferraris is full Professor of Philosophy at the University of Turin, where he is also the director of theLabOnt (Laboratory for Ontology), and fellow of Käte Hamburger Kolleg “Recht als Kultur” (Bonn). He is a columnist for ‘La Repubblica’, the director of ‘Rivista di Estetica’ and the co-director of ‘Critique’ and the ‘Revue francophone d’esthétique’. He is a fellow of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America and of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, the Directeur d’études of the Collège International de Philosophie and a visiting professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, as well as other European and American universities. He wrote more than forty books that were translated into several languages, among which History of Hermeneutics (Humanities Press, 1996), Documentality or Why it is Necessary to Leave Traces (Fordham UP 2012) and Goodbye Kant! (SUNY UP 2013). His latest books to be published in English are Where Are You? An Ontology of the Cell Phone (Fordham UP 2014) and Manifesto of New Realism (SUNY UP 2014). This last book is particularly significant, as New Realism, sharing significant similarities with speculative realism and object oriented ontology, has been the subject of several debates and national and international conferences and has called for a series of publications that involve the concept of reality as a paradigm even in non-philosophical areas.
This is a free, public event and all are welcome.