The Ontological Turn in Contemporary Philosophy – October 3 to 5, PUCRS, Brazil

The so-called ‘linguistic turn’ is widely regarded as the defining trait of 20th century philosophy in the continental as well as the analytic tradition. Prepared since the 18th century by the critical impulse which elevated the question of the human access to the world to the position of primary philosophical problem, it has, however, led to a number of impasses that are both internal and external: to what extent can we accept the pretence of doing philosophy in a way that would be entirely free from implicit ontological presuppositions and commitments? To what extent is not critique today a matter of exposing and criticising these presuppositions, as well as proposing others? To what extent can we accept the paradoxically autarchic role that this turn, in its extreme versions, ascribes to language in regard to being? How to navigate between the two equally untenable reductionisms of a ‘common sense’, logicism or scientism devoid of self-reflexivity, on the one hand, and the sacrifice of all objectivity at the altar of the signifier’s free play, on the other?

There is a growing trend in contemporary philosophy to consider that the reduction of each and every philosophical question to the theme of the relation between human and world, however defined – what Quentin Meillassoux has famously called ‘correlationism’ –, not only leaves us spinning in a void, but also renders us incapable of giving answers to the challenges that call for thought in the present: the environmental crisis, the blurring of the boundaries between nature and technique, the different political and cultural dimensions of what is understood as ‘life’, the questions raised by contemporary biology, cognitive science, mathematics and physics.
Saturated of a play of mirrors that ultimately seem to reflect nothing, are we ready for an ontological turn in philosophy? Should such a movement in philosophy prosper, it would certainly not be through a return to pre-critical metaphysics, but through deepening and transforming modernity’s reflexive task.

Keynotes: Benjamin Noys (Chichester); Eduardo Luft (PUCRS); Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (Museu Nacional/ UFRJ); John Protevi (Louisiana State);. Markus Gabriel (Bonn); Norman Madarasz (PUCRS); Nythamar Oliveira Jr (PUCRS); Rodrigo Guimarães Nunes (PUCRS); Steven Shaviro (Wayne State)

Further information and online streaming at http://materialismos.wordpress.com

Organised by the Research Group Materialisms – Correlationism, ontology and science in contemporary philosophy (http://dgp.cnpq.br/buscaoperacional/detalhegrupo.jsp?grupo=0006701GPX6ISZ) and the Post-Graduate Programme in Philosophy of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) (http://www3.pucrs.br/portal/page/portal/ffchppg/ppgfilo/), with support from PAEP/CAPES.