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Research Seminar ‘Critical (Free) Thought and Multitude’

  • January 8, 2020

Edition Spring 2020: ‘Ontology and Politics of the Multitude – Rationality and Imagination’

This seminar links up philosophical research topics from two major areas that share the concept of philosophy as critique: from (early) modern critical philosophy (i.a. Niccolò Machiavelli, Baruch Spinoza, Spinoza’s circle, freethinking, clandestine philosophy, radical Enlightenment) and contemporary radical-critical theory (i.a. Theodor W. Adorno; Giorgio Agamben; Hannah Arendt; Rudolf Boehm; Cornelius Castoriadis; Max Horkheimer; Antonio Negri; Paolo Virno). The focus is on the genealogy of current political concepts, the status of language and translation, the relation between art/creativity and society. In these starting three sessions, the concept of ‘multitude’ and the role of imagination in rationality/knowledge will be discussed through the reading of texts of Negri, Virno and Castoriadis. We start with an essay of Negri, ‘Concerning the concept of multitude,’ in Spinoza: Then and Now (Polity Press, 2019, 47-58).

The research seminar is organized as a reading group. Participants will have to read texts (max. 20p.) and prepare in advance of every session. The texts will be provided well in advance, for the first session as soon as the registration is closed.

The seminar is organized by Prof. dr. S. Lavaert (ETHU).

Registration: participation is free of charge, but registration is required. Please send an e-mail to, by February 6th, 2020 at the latest.

Location: all sessions take place at the VUB, campus Etterbeek. The room will be communicated after the registration is closed.

Doctoral students: the research seminar is a part of the Doctoral School Human Sciences (DSh). Doctoral students need to attend every meeting and receive 1 credit per session.

Program: the first session takes place on February 20th, 2020, 16–18h (coffee will be provided), the next sessions on March 12th and April 23rd (to be confirmed at the first meeting). Prof. dr. S. Lavaert will deliver an introduction on Antonio Negri and the concept of the ‘multitude’ at the first session.