Experimentation and Dissidence

Experimentation and Dissidence is a research project in Philosophy financed by the national Portuguese research agency FCT, registered in the agency as PTDC/MHC-FIL/1416/2014, to be held between 2016 and 2019 under the aegis of the Centre of Philosophy of the University of Lisbon, integrating members and consultants from various national and international universities. The main researcher of the project is Professor José Miranda Justo, of the University of Lisbon (josemmjusto@gmail.com).

In this project, experimentation and dissidence are meant to be the two unifying and transversal meta-concepts. The inspiration is drawn from Kierkegaard, who explicitly uses the idea of an experimental thought not only in his critical approach to Hegel and the Danish Hegelians, but also in the role that the infinitude of thinking plays, for example, in his use of pseudonyms. At the same time, Kierkegaard practices dissidence, at the aesthetic, ethical and religious levels, in face of the church and the university, with strong philosophical and political implications.

Among the experimental and dissident practices, in the periphery of dominant currents, we highlight Johann G. Hamann’s, Søren Kierkegaard’s, Friedrich Nietzsche’s and Guy Debord’s. In view of the echoes they produced until the present, we take these thinkers to be the ones who best demonstrate the pertinence and novelty of our research, as well as those who best embody the spirit of the project.

Three main vectors underscore the originality and novelty of the project, both at a national and an international level:

  1. In the past two centuries, experimentation and dissidence have been directly responsible for various moments of rupture and novelty in philosophy; furthermore, experimentation and dissidence lie in the core of the connections between philosophy and concrete practice, thus breaking successive situations of confinement faced by philosophy;
  2. The originality of the project is also present in its critique of philosophical language; experimentation in each of these authors bears the indelible mark of styles of thinking which hold in themselves a noteworthy critique of the language of philosophical tradition, thus exhibiting the component of philosophy of language which is fundamental to the development of the newness of thought which is in play during this time span in non-mainstream thinkers;
  3. The complex of heterogeneity and unity involved in the project must also be stressed, in particular, owing to the lines of confluence and fracture typical in this period. To achieve the goals, the Main Researcher has assembled a team of 16 researchers (14 belonging to the Philosophy Centre of the University of Lisbon) and 8 national and international consultants. The project is actively committed to training; around 50% of the team members are postgraduate students. Team members have produced, or are producing, relevant work on the key issues of the project, at national or international levels.

The project starts by the critique of the Enlightenment (2nd half of the 18th century) as well as the critique of the more institutionalized versions of Idealism (19th century); it then focuses on the critique of strict intellectualism and nihilism (c. 1860-1950) and finally moves to the critique of the society of spectacle and co-related political/aesthetic currents (60s-90s of the 20th century).

In the 1st year, research focuses on the analysis of experimentation and dissidence in thinkers who cover the critique of Enlightenment, German Idealism, Intellectualism and Nihilism (Workshops 1 and 2).

In the 2nd year, the focus is on the repercussion of the same thinkers in specific areas, e.g. political and social thought, philosophy of religion, psychoanalysis; and different arts: cinema, literature, plastic arts (Workshops 3 and 4).

Finally, in the 3rd year, the project concludes with an International Conference (with CFP) with five great sets of issues under the theme Experimentation and Dissidence: philosophy of religion, philosophy of language, political philosophy, aesthetics and philosophy of art, metaphysics.

Between events, public debate continues online with a forum and the publication of texts, and with sessions of a Permanent Seminar.