Workshop with lectures and screenings

Extreme Orbits Before and After Sentience: A Noosphere in Nothingness as Real Science Fiction

with: Iain Hamilton Grant and Steven Shaviro

Thu, Jun 26, 2014
12 noon–6 pm
Free admision

in English

It has been remarked that modern physics, with its extremely strange conceptions of nature, space and time, has long started to sound like Science Fiction. And certainly, it is one task of SF to make the cosmological oddities of science palpable, to connect them to the world of the senses.

In recent years, the science fiction novel has increasingly been used as a medium with which to investigate questions about consciousness, cognition, and sentience, but also to construct increasingly complex theoretical phenomena, such as how to observe the end of the universe from within it. Frequently, these questionings prove most effective not when they posit the outlandish, but when they subtract the familiar: what remains when the conscious subject or other essential ingredients of the-world-as-we-know-it are deducted from the cosmological equation? Is there still sentience? And, pushing the orbit to its outermost, once everything dissipates, is there still a nature after nature? In this workshop, philosopher Iain Hamilton Grant and cultural theorist Steven Shaviro will explore these investigative uses of SF, focussing on the novels “Blindsight” by Peter Watts and “Ring” by Stephen Baxter, as well as on some well-known and not-so-well-known SF movies.

12:00-12:15 h: Introduction with Armen Avanessian and Björn Quiring

12:15-13:45 h: Steven Shaviro: Presentation and Discussion

13:45-14:30 h: Lunch break

14:30-16:00 h: Iain Hamilton Grant: Presentation „The Remains of the World? Nature after Nature“ and Discussion

16:00-16:30 h: Coffee break

16:30-18:00 h: Movie Clips and Discussion

Iain Hamilton Grant is professor of philosophy at the University of the West of England in Bristol. The main focus of his work is directed at the philosophy of nature, contemporary French philosophy and Ancient thought (particularly Platonism and neo-Platonism). He is also the translator of a number of works of works in both French and German, e. g. Jean Baudrillard's Symbolic Exchange and Death and Jean-François Lyotard's The Libidinal Economy and author of Philosophies of Nature After Schelling.

Steven Shaviro is the DeRoy Professor of English at Wayne State University. He is the author of The Cinematic Body (1993), Doom Patrols: A Theoretical Fiction About Postmodernism (1997), Connected, Or, What It Means To Live in the Network Society (2003), Without Criteria: Kant, Whitehead, Deleuze, and Aesthetics (2009), and Post-Cinematic Affect (2010). His work in progress involves studies of speculative realism, of post-continuity styles in contemporary cinema, of music videos, and of recent science fiction and horror fiction. He blogs at The Pinocchio Theory ( ).

In cooperation with: Freie Universität Berlin, Sonderforschungsbereich 626