"Thinking Worlds": An International Symposium; Moskova

"Thinking Worlds":
An International Symposium on Philosophy, Politics, and Aesthetic Theory

Dates: November 17-18, 2006

Venue: Moscow, Polytechnic Museum

Co-organizer: The Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography, The
Moscow Biennale Art Foundation, Russian Institute for Culturology.

Speakers: Giorgio Agamben, Boris Kagarlitsky, Chantale Mouffe, Molly
Nesbit, Jacques Rancière, Mikhail Ryklin, Saskia Sassen, Bernard Stiegler.

The symposium "Thinking Worlds" starts off from the general idea of a
biennial as a meeting place between different worlds, geographical,
cultural, and professional, and extends this to fundamental questions
bearing on the state of philosophy, aesthetic theory, and politics. The
different "worlds" or spheres of philosophical reflection, that we find
for instance in Kant's division between the theoretical, the practical,
and the aesthetic, have for a long time provided the philosophical
reflection of modernity with its substructure. A fundamental questioning
of the present must ask to what extent these three fields still exist as
separate domains, what kinds of intersections exist between them, and if
one of them can be seen as the foundation of the other or if we have to
accept a plurality of parallel discourses. Thinking "worlds" would then
imply a reflection on the unity and difference of these three domains, and
especially so if seen in the light of contemporary politics. The question
of whether there is one world that could serve as a promise for thought,
or if it is an irrevocable condition that "Thinking Worlds" exists today
only in the plural, is more pressing than ever. Taking its cue from this
historical framework, the symposium is divided into three subsections.

Philosophy and the construction of concept. What is the role of philosophy
in relation to the sciences and the arts? Should philosophy create new
concepts, and if so, how should it relate to its tradition(s)? Does
philosophy have an autonomy of its own, or does it relate only
to the other spheres (science, politics, art) as a form of "reflection,"
i.e., occupying a second order position?

Universality, reason, contingency. What happens to identity, citizenship
etc, in a global world, and what challenges do these changes pose for how
we conceive political theory? What are the possibilities under which the
arts can engage or challenge our present condition?

The limits of aesthetics. How should we conceptualize contemporary art
today and what tools should be used to analyze it? What is the meaning of
a term such as "aesthetic theory" today (a concept that Adorno already
judged to be outmoded at the end of his life), and is there place for the
activity of critical judgment in a world that has been characterized as
a "society of the spectacle"?

The conference is organized by Joseph Backstein, Daniel Birnbaum, and Sven-
Olov Wallenstein, and will be moderated by Sven-Olov Wallenstein.

Preliminary program of the Moscow Conference "Thinking worlds"

8 participants / 3 panels
1) Philosophy and the creation of concepts: Bernard Stiegler, Giorgio
2) Universality, reason, contingency: Jacques Rancière, Saskia Sassen and
Chantal Mouffe
3)The limits of aesthetics: Molly Nesbit, Boris Kagarlitsky and Mikhail

November 17

First day: two panels - 5 participants
10.00 – 10.20 Opening of the conference
10.20 – 11.00 first talk of the first panel (Bernard Stiegler)
11.00 – 11.40 second talk of the first panel (Giorgio Agamben)
11.40 – 12.00 Coffee break
12.00 – 12.30 open discussion of the first panel
12.30 – 13.10 first talk of the second panel (Jacques Ranciere)
13.10 – 14.40 Lunch
14.40 – 15.20 second talk of the second panel (Saskia Sassen)
15.20 – 16.00 third talk of the second panel (Chantal Mouffe)
16.00 – 16.30 Coffee break
16.30 – 17.00 open discussion of the second panel

November 18

Second day: third panel – 3 participants + final discussion
11.30 – 12.20 first talk of the third panel (Molly Nesbit)
12.20 – 13.00 second talk of the third panel (Boris Kagarlitsky)
13.00 – 13.20 Coffee break
13.20 – 14.00 third talk of the third panel (Mikhail Rykhin)
14.00 – 14.30 open discussion of the third panel
14.30 – 15.00 Lunch
15.00 – 17.00 final discussion