ICI Projects
VERSUS @ van Eyck

Seminar 12
How can a subjet last

Friday, 21th Mai, 11am-2pm
Vhich are the temporal condition for a subject to appear? Is it identified with an evanescent moment of interruption or does it have a specific duration, built agains the present?IN order to answer this, Alain Badiou formulates a set of conditions under which we can think how a subject can last. We will approach these conditions by drawing upon specific artistic and political cases that Badiou analyses: the invention of serial music in the 20th century, and the political invention of the Paris Commune in 1871.

Seminar 11
The objective constitution of the collective subject

Friday, 16th April, 11am-2pm
Via Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason we will analyze how on the one hand the objectivity of a situation is inseparable from the individual activities embedded in it, and how on the other hand a subjective change is possible only as collective moment that radically cuts with the individual freedoms, showing at the same time how these are the engine itself of the material necessities in which the subject is alienated.

Seminar 10
The proletariat as subject-object of history

Friday, 19th March, 11am-2pm
Via a close reading of György Lukács' History and Class Consciousness, we will analyze the idea of the standpoint of the proletariat as the point which enables both the knowability of the object of capitalism as a whole, and a direct qualitative upturning of this object: a dialectical synthesis of history where the knowledge of the object passes directly into the revolutionary transformation of human relations. 

Seminar 9
Reason as an objective process

Friday, January 22nd, 11am-2pm
The third instance in our venture through the object-subject dialectic will pass through the works of Gaston Bachelard and Michel Foucault, and namely, through their attempts to ‘objectify’ the concept of reason. With these two pivotal figures of the French tradition of ‘historical epistemology’, what we in fact witness is a displacement of both the givenness of the category of the object and of the strict metaphysical centre of the subject.

Seminar 8
Freud and Nietzsche: Subject to Force

Friday 11 December, 11am-2pm
In this seminar Aaron Schuster will present an inquiry around the concept of ‘force’ in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and in the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud. His presentation will specifically focus on how for the two authors the subject arises as a reaction to a material, objective set of forces.

Seminar 7
Marx's gegenständliche Tätigkeit

Friday, 13 November 2009, 11am - 1pm
We will start the 2009-2010 season with a reading of Marx’s 1845 "Theses on Feuerbach".
We will expore how Marx's postulation of the materialist primacy of the object rather than indicating a strict break with idealism, reincorporates some key elements of the idealist tradition, namely activity.

2008-2009 Seminar Summary

Excess and Subtraction (Seminars 1-6)

Seminar 6
Thought before and after the world
Friday, 15 May 2009, 11am - 2pm
In our sixth seminar, in order to combine the ontological perspectives of excess and subtraction, we will discuss two figures from the school of “speculative realism”, Quentin Meillassoux and Ray Brassier, and their attempt to refute the idea of finitude.

Seminar 5
Materialism of excess

Friday, 27 March 2009, 10am - 1pm
In our fifth meeting we will examine how the notion of excess unfolds in Alain Badiou, both from the perspective of the excess of a singularity over the situation to which it belongs, and from the point of view of the excess of a situation over its elements. Our aim is to explore together the complicated relation between these two aspects.

Seminar 4
Subtractive Object of Knowlege: Marx's Critique of Political Economy
Friday, 20 February 2009, 11am - 2pm
In the fourth seminar we examined Althusser's "symptomatic reading" of Marx's critique of political economy in order to reveal how subtraction is a key moment in the process of knowledge.

Seminar 3
Zero, Subject, Excess

Friday, 16 January 2009, 11am - 2pm
In our third inquiry into the concepts of excess and subtraction, we have invited Lorenzo Chiesa from the University of Kent to help us examine the complicated knotting between philosophy, mathematics and psychoanalys.

Seminar 2
From negation to excess: destruction, refusal, subtraction

Friday, 12 December 2008, 11am - 2pm
In the second seminar we will examine the themes of excess and subtraction at the specific points of encounter between philosophy and politics, points which enable us to see how concrete political events and sequences force philosophy to reshape its understanding of the moment of negativity.

Seminar 1
Art in excess and subtraction

November 2008, ICI Berlin
In this first seminar session we will focus on two texts that gravitate around cinema. Back to back we will use Alain Badiou's attempt to define cinema as the "plus-one" of the system of arts, and Gilles Deleuze's interest in subtraction and excess in Italian neo-realism.




2008-2009 SEMINAR (seminars 1-6)
Plus/Minus, or on Subtraction and Excess at the Edges and the Centres of Philosophy

Versus Laboratory, a research project initiated by Bruno Besana and Ozren Pupovac, is a theoretical laboratory set to explore, and experiment upon the problem of the polemical genesis of thought in contemporary philosophy. Our inquiry is twofold. On the one hand, we want to understand how philosophy shapes its interiority – the production of concepts – through the capture but also the conflictual interference of political, aesthetical, and more widely extraphilosophical acts and discourses. On the other hand, we want to understand how this seizure of the extraphilosophical within philosophy is also a point of an irreducible disagreement, in which philosophy is divided and transformed. Dissensus, for us, is not simply a reactive, but a productive procedure that generates thought.

In 2008/2009 Versus Laboratory is part of the ICI-project "Tension/Spannung" and will hold a monthly seminar under the auspices of the ICI Berlin, approaching this perspective through the couple "plus/minus", or the concepts of subtraction and excess. These are philosophical concepts of particular importance to us, because at one and the same time they represent the modes of the encounter between philosophy and its exteriority, objects seized by philosophy in other practices, and specific ontological consequences that question the idea of what an essence is.

In the first part of the seminar – November through January – we will explore how the concepts of excess and subtraction emerge 'at the shores' of philosophy according to different practices that philosophy encounters. In November, we will thus deal with the specific points of dissensus between philosophy and art, noted by Deleuze and Badiou in their readings of the Italian neo-realist cinema. In December, we will explore how the events and novelties in revolutionary politics transform the very essence of the philosophical ideas of negation and negativity. In January, the encounter between mathematics, psychoanalysis and philosophy in the work of Jacques Lacan will help us open a field of philosophical questions regarding the relationship between the zero and the void.

In the second part – February through June – we will examine how excess, subtraction, and their mutual relations, are transcribed into two of the centres of philosophy, ontology and gnoseology. We will first analyze how subtraction and excess shatter the traditional grounds of philosophical epistemology, linking three terms: philosophy, science and ideology, then, how the ideas of multiplicity and excess when thought back to back dissolve the problem of the unity of the essence, and, finally, how this perspective can be reversed via an antiphenomenological approach to the concept of being.

The seminar will take place monthly within the ICI-Berlin seminar room: Christinenstrasse 18-19, 10119 Berlin. If you are interested in participating, or have any other queries, please send an email to versuslaboratory [at] ici-berlin.org