[October 29th - 31th / via zoom webinar]
Subjectivity reconsidered beyond the Cultural Divide
Responsibility facing the 2020 Crisis
Ever since the beginning of 2020, humanity slowly began to sense (until its rude awakening last March) that an unprecedented ecological scourge has struck our world. Unprecedented, for it is only since the 20th century that humanity has been globally interconnected, and because there is nowhere on Earth (its sole dwelling) that has not been somehow affected. It is a pandemic scourge of untold scientific-medical, psychological, social, economic, and political consequences (both national and international). Besides the aforementioned challenges, humanity has found itself facing a fundamental ethical question: whether the Earth’s devastation gradually brought about since Modernity by the hybris of our technical-industrial civilization is not due to its own responsibility.
In this extreme context, human beings, as a part of nature but endowed with the singularity of their reflexive capacity (self-consciousness), face their own finitude: the limits of their cognitive capacities, of their possibilities to act and solve, and of their capacities to anticipate what will come to pass. Problems acknowledged since Modernity as those of “subjectivity” emerge under a new light. Subjectum comes from hypokeimenon, the substratum of determinations or accidents (sumbebekota). Since Modernity, the substratum of all knowing, doing or anticipating is the human being. It places itself above nature and at its center. Its relation to the surrounding world is that of power (scientia propter potentiam). It is incumbent upon us to change this relation to one of responsibility. Additionally, the subjectum has been understood ambiguously, both in a binomial opposition (dualism) and in correlation with that of “objectivity”. This ambiguity impacts every philosophical proposal from Descartes to the 19th century, and the triumph of naturalistic positivism. During the 20th century the concept of “subjectivity” not only delimits the increasing rift between the analytic and continental traditions but also, ever since phenomenology’s breakthrough in 1900 with Husserl, it also affects its development in different directions.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, scant dialogue has characterized the relation between the analytic and continental traditions. The former, attentive to the developments of the empirical-deductive and formal sciences, has privileged “objective” criteria. The latter, attentive to the cultural and historical sciences, has highlighted lifeworld-related criteria. Both traditions have faced the “enigma of subjectivity” from different perspectives. The first one, by reassessing the mind-body problem on a physicalistic basis and, inspired by the cybernetic model, awakening Chalmers’ “hard problem of consciousness.” The second one, by interpreting subjectivity as an embodied, temporal, intersubjective, and historical consciousness, paying more attention to reason’s diversity and finitude than to its biological roots.
Both traditions have begun to reconsider the “enigma of subjectivity” beyond their former mutual prejudices. Currently, there are debates concerning, on the one side, the dual approach to the subject both from the singular and plural “first” and “third person” perspectives; and, on the other side, the growing recognition of the originary, founding, and pervasive character of the emotional dimension at the basis of its valuing, cognitive and responsible activities. Both topics are enframed within the mind-body relation.
Facing the 2020 crisis, and called upon to assume its responsibility, the Peruvian Circle of Phenomenology and Hermeneutics summons members from different philosophical traditions to discuss these topics in a dialogue beyond the “cultural divide“ that affects them since the Modern Ages.
This year’s keynote speakers are professors Agustín Serrano de Haro (Spain) and Dan Zahavi (Denmark).
Professor Serrano de Haro is research fellow at the Centre of Human and Social Sciences of Madrid and of Spain’s High Council of Scientific Research. Ex-president of the Spanish Society of Phenomenology, his main published works are Cuerpo vivido (Ediciones Encuentro 2010), Paseo filosófico en Madrid. Introducción a Husserl (Trotta 2016), Hannah Arendt (RBA 2016), “En los límites de la fenomenología: el análisis del dolor físico” (Biblos 2010), “Is Pain an Intentional Experience?” (Phenomenology 2010), “Apariciones y eclipses del cuerpo propio” (Comares 2013), among others. He is one of the main Spanish translators of Husserl’s work into Spanish.
Dan Zahavi is professor at the University of Copenhagen (Center for Subjectivity Research) and of the University of Oxford. He is currently conducting the project “Who are we? Self-Identity, Social Cognition, and Collective Intentionality” funded by the European Research Council and the Carlsberg Foundation. He is co-editor of the Journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, alongside S. Gallagher. His long list of published works –translated into several languages– include Husserl’s Phenomenology (Stanford 2003), Subjectivity and Selfhood (MIT Press 2005), The Phenomenological Mind (coauthored with S. Gallagher) (Routledge 2008/2012), Self and Other (OUP 2014), Husserl’s Legacy (OUP 2017), and Phenomenology: The Basics (Routledge 2019).
You can access the programme here.