IDENTITY, ALTERITY, MONSTROSITY: FIGURES OF THE MULTITUDE
Identity, Alterity, Monstrosity: Figures of the Multitude (I)
The process of construction of identity, both individual and collective, and the genesis of political subjectivity, are largely grounded on concurrent ideological mechanisms that define otherness: subjectivity, alterity and identity are the complex outcomes of one intellectual and cultural process, historically produced by the encounter with the Other, whether real or imagined.
Notwithstanding the effort in conceptualising this encounter in the global and multicultural context of contemporary societies, its historical genealogy is often underestimated: a genealogy that is rooted in the theoretical definition of the concepts of normality, abnormality, and monstrosity. Developed in the early modern age, these concepts have produced and keep producing their cultural, social, and political effects.
The main objective of this seminar is to reconstruct the genealogy of the modern problem of identity, subjectivity, and otherness through an historical analysis of the idea of monstrosity within scientific, philosophical, and literary discourses of early modernity.
During the first semester of this seminar we will focus on the radical alterity represented since the 17th century by the theoretical figure of the multitude. Hobbes, for example, develops the idea of the Leviathan’s sovereign body through the homogeneous unity of the people. By definition, the people is opposed to the conflictual multiplicity of the multitude in the state of nature. In contrast, Spinoza grounds the idea of a free State on the multitude’s conatus – its drive to actualize its own nature – and its right of resistance against the sovereign. This right is irreducible and monstrous, thus introducing the natural dimension into the State rather than excluding it from society.
While Hobbes confined the multitude to the edges of the political map, with Spinoza it takes centre-stage, becoming the beating and conflictual heart of political life. Starting with the indirect dialogue between these two authors, we will focus this year on radical and monstrous alterity – the sense of otherness and how that is defined – in early modern and contemporary thought.
Organised by Filippo Del Lucchese (Brunel University, London and Collège International de Philosophie) and Caroline Williams (Queen Mary, University of London). For more information, contact:
Filippo Dellucchese <Filippo.Dellucchese@brunel. ac.uk>
Caroline Williams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Location: QMUL, ARTS TWO (room TPC) 5:00pm
Dates: 26th February, 26th March, 14th May, 11th June
Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo
‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIbX5aKUjO8
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