Reconfigurations of Ontologyfundamental research project
Project Executive on ZRCAlenka Zupančič Žerdin, PhD
CollaboratorsAleš Bunta, PhD, Peter Klepec, PhD, Rado Riha, PhD, Jelica Šumič Riha, PhD, Tadej Troha, PhD, Boštjan Nedoh, PhD
Durationsince July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017
Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana
Financial SourceSlovenian Research Agency
PartnersJurij Simoniti, PhD, Gregor Kroupa, PhD
The starting-point of our research consists in perceiving the multiplicity of different new ontologies as something that tends to divert our attention from a possible problem that persists at the very core of the notion of ontology, defined as the thought of being qua being. Instead of proposing (another) new ontology, the basic objective of the project is thus a reconfiguration of the notion of ontology itself. An essential part of this reconfiguration is an analysis of the problematic relation between thought and being. Instead of conceiving thought as an agency placed opposite being, we propose to understand it as a point of objectified (and necessarily dislocated) contradiction of being, that is, as the very form of existence of being’s fundamental paradox. This also determines the basic wager of our project: one does not arrive at being qua being by trying to separate it from thought, but quite the contrary, by radicalising the understanding of philosophy as the “thought of thought”, in all its registers – both within philosophy and in other fields of thinking, “dislocated” as they are from philosophy.
In our research we will proceed by way of 1) studying some of the key ontological breaks in the history of philosophy; 2) engaging in a critical dialogue with the representatives of the “new ontologies”; 3) examining the ontological relevance of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis; and 4) developing a special procedure of interaction between philosophy and the fields outside philosophy (particularly in the case of art). We name the entire procedure of reconfiguring ontology disontology. The research will be broadened by investigating the possible immediate consequences of this perspective for several crucial philosophical concepts, such as the concepts of cause, act, subject, necessity, contingency, universality, difference, identity, temporality, etc. We believe that through such research it will be possible to make an important contribution to ontological questioning, while avoiding the double trap of philosophy either renouncing ontological reflection or transferring it to other fields.
The project is divided into five work packages, all of which have their own three-year timetable:
Work package 1: (Dis)ontology and the history of philosophy
In the first year, we will begin with an analysis of both fundamental historical sources of the proposed reconfiguration: Plato’s Parmenides and Sophist and the key ontological emphases in Kant and Hegel. In the second year, we will additionally extend our research by studying Descartes’ cogito, Nietzsche’s genealogical approach, and the ontological aspects of Kierkegaard’s existentialist turn. In the third year, we will synthesise the results of our analyses of the mentioned authors and open the project to possible other relevant authors suggested by our research in this and other work packages.
Work package 2: New ontologies
In the first year of this work package, we will begin our research of Badiou’s ontology and the most important representatives of speculative realism. In the second year, we will analyse the key concepts of Deleuze’s ontology and study the most important representatives of the “new materialisms”, especially in view of their reinterpretation of Deleuze, while also focusing on the dimensions of contemporary neuroscience relevant to philosophy. In the third year, we will critically compare the findings of this work package with the proposed disontological reconfiguration, pointing out the basic differences and possible common points.
Work package 3: Psychoanalysis and ontology
In the first year, we will study the (dis)ontological aspects of Freud’s discovery of psychoanalysis, examining Freud’s discovery in its historical perspective, while also delineating the basic contours of Lacan’s reformulation of Freud’s discovery and his approach to ontological problems. In the second year, we will focus on Freud’s metapsychology and examine in what way and to what extent Freud himself explicated (dis)ontological conceptions. In addition, we will continue with our research of some of the fundamental concepts through which Lacan enters into a dialogue with (philosophical) ontology. In the third year, we will look at the synthesis of our findings from the general perspective of the relation between psychoanalysis and ontology.
Work package 4: Disontological procedure
We will begin our work within this work package in the second year of the research project when the findings from the other work packages (especially WP1) will enable us to specify the philosophical foundations of the disontological procedure. In addition, we will reanalyse the hitherto research of the members of the research group, which contains the germs of the production of “synthetic concepts”, which constitutes the basic practical guideline of the disontological procedure. This will provide the basis for our study of some of the fundamental representatives of modernist literature in the second and third year, during which time we will also analyse the way that the visual arts that were contemporaneous with the basic (dis)ontological breaks in the history of philosophy enter the ontological problematics.
Work package 5: Management and dissemination
The results of the research work will be published in the form of original scientific articles and a number of scientific monographs, they will be presented at scientific meetings and gatherings in Slovenia and abroad, and will be communicated to the broader public through the media. In addition, the members of the research group will pass them on in their pedagogical work at the Graduate School of SRC SASA and their lectures at universities abroad. At the end of the project, we will organise a scientific conference with international participation.