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LCCP Symposium Insistence of the Earth: Philosophical Responses to Ecology and Technology

Friday 12 May 2023
LCCP work in progress and research seminar 2022 - 2023
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

A symposium organised by the Leiden Centre for Continental Philosophy and co-organised by the Wageningen University.

The 2010s and 20s have witnessed unprecedented ecological crises that have emphasized how the natural world, the earth, is an ineluctable condition for recognizable forms of existence, and thus, that it is also a fundamental question posed for contemporary thought. If a dominant inheritance of Kant’s critical project has framed philosophy as a science tasked with the delimitation of the conditions of possible experience (of what is), the earthly crises insist that philosophy take up another, more speculative, task: that of attempting to understand what exists, (what is, not as mere noumena excluded from the domain of objects of knowledge, but as an entangled nature-culture) “in itself”, and thus, in a still unsettled way, to maintain a sense of the earth. 

There is, today, an insistence of the earth that shakes philosophy, and this trembling has been received in many ways, with two forms in particular that stand out. On the one hand, many “new materialist” approaches have rejected the Kantian focus on the conditionality of experience as a false problem, inviting a freer, unabashedly speculative metaphysical movement, an “onto-epistemological” framework, that attempts to think with, and as, the earth in its multiplicity. On the other hand, ecologically inflected phenomenologies and forms of deconstruction have not refused the Kantian problematic of phenomenal access as such, but have radicalized it. This strategy has taken diverse forms, but perhaps has consistently situated the earthly as itself a quasi-transcendental condition for existence and experience. While these two broadly construed, internally differentiated lines of response remain in many ways incommensurable, they share an additional trait, insofar as both lines bring the traditional opposition of nature and technics into question. The very category of nature as an inert, pure backdrop to a contaminating humanity and technology has become untenable, inviting instead formulations of the earth as an always already supplemented, internally differentiated dynamic within which the singularity of life finds itself each time in-formed. An anthropocentric metaphysics is not viable in the face of the dynamism of the earth, or the nature-culture entanglement.

With this symposium, co-organized by the Leiden University and Wageningen University, we hope to continue the reception of these interwoven questions of the earth, ecology and technology, as what increasingly insists for thought. For more information please contact İrem Güven (i.g.guven@phil.leidenuniv.nl) and Donovan Stewart (d.a.stewart@phil.leidenuniv.nl).


Matthias Fritsch (Professor Concordia University, Montreal)
Vincent Blok (Professor Wageningen University)
Susanna Lindberg (Professor Leiden University)

Julia Rijssenbeek (PhD candidate Wageningen University)
Irem Güven (PhD candidate Leiden University)
Ole Thijs (PhD candidate Wageningen University)
Donovan Alexander Stewart (PhD candidate Leiden University)



10.00-10.50 Presentation
Susanna Lindberg – “Lost in Techno-Nature”

11.00-13.05 Panel
Julia Rijssenbeek – “Towards a post-mechanistic view on life”  
İrem Güven – “A relational ontology for the climate era: Ecological assemblages”
Ole Thijs – “Our place on Earth. Locality as an existential condition in the age of planetary technology”
Donovan Alexander Stewart – “Ground and Technique"

13.10 Lunch

14.30-15.30 Keynote Presentation
Matthias Fritsch – “Earth’s Movement onto the Stage of Intergenerational Time”

16.00-17.00 Presentation
Vincent Blok - “Materiality versus Metabolism in the hybrid world: towards a dualist concept of materialism as limit of post-humanism in the technical era”

18.00 Dinner for speakers

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