The Constitution of Subjectivity

In this research project, we combine a detailed study of texts with the philosophical exploration of key contemporary topics in science, art and politics. We combine conceptual analysis with a critical perspective aimed at engaging in interdisciplinary cooperation, public and political debate, and practical application.

This aim is reflected by a two-tiered publication strategy that does not only aim at the usual academic outlets but also at publications that reach a wider public of professionals, artists, and policymakers. We focus on the constitution of subjectivity through its enacted, embodied, embedded, and extended participation in moral, socio-political, cultural, and technological practices.

The deepening of the contemporary economic and ecological crises, together with the increasing technological complexity of our life-world, necessitates a redefinition of our relationship with nature, each other and ourselves. At stake are the legacy of social liberation and emancipation articulated by Enlightenment humanism and our capacity to take responsibility for the consequences of our actions.

Humanist/Post-Humanist Views on Identity and Agency

Today science, culture and technology have become a closely knit whole. As a consequence, traditional questions of philosophical anthropology and the philosophy of mind and action increasingly converge with the philosophy of technology and with science and technology studies. Instead of affirming the individualist picture of ourselves as autonomous rational agents, we need to get a new grip on the relevance and meaning of concepts such as identity, privacy, ownership, free will, individual responsibility and the moral issues informed by such notions. The most recent findings in the life sciences and the neuro-, behavioral, and cognitive sciences serve as our point of departure.

Critique and Empowerment

The constant disavowal of our capacity to take responsibility, not just for our own words and actions, but also for our modes of relating to our social and physical
environments, problematizes the modern, emancipated form of subjectivity. Moreover, contemporary transformations of citizenship and of traditional social, economic, political, juridical, corporate, cultural and artistic institutions change the conditions under which this subjectivity appears.

In a critical sense we aim to contribute to the discussion by articulating a diagnosis of contemporary subjectivity through concepts such as boredom, indifference, interpassivity and ressentiment. In an affirmative sense, we aim for a theoretical analysis and renegotiation of the relation between institutional domains – with a special emphasis on intermedial practices between art and philosophy– that enables us to overcome the sense of impotence and corresponding lack of care, attention and trust.