Monday, February 15, 2010

"Phenomenology and French Epistemology," St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, April 9-11, 2010.

Annual Conference, British Society for Phenomenology. The conference will examine the relation between phenomenology and the work of Gaston Bachelard, Jean Cavaillès, George Canguilhem and Michel Foucault. These thinkers were part of a significant current of philosophy that ran alongside phenomenology in France from the time that Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations appeared there. The differences were often sharply drawn. Cavaillès concluded a careful reading of Husserl’s Formal and Transcendental Logic with a call to abandon the philosophy of the subject in favour of a philosophy of the concept. Others followed his lead, and the two currents appeared to diverge. Yet there remained certain proximities. Phenomenology and the French epistemological tradition share an interest in formalisation, and themes such as history, language, exteriority, and the conditions underlying the possibility of thought are passed between them at various points. At the heart of it all stands Bachelard, whose early writing on time and the philosophy of science was forcefully anti-phenomenological, yet who continued to read phenomenology closely and who could in his later writing describe his project in phenomenological terms. The speakers at this conference will address the relation between phenomenology and French epistemology through a series of reflections that draw texts or thinkers of the one current towards the other. The aim of the meeting is to understand better the points at which the two currents came closest and what continued to separate them. There will be presentations on Bachelard’s understanding of consciousness in terms of discontinuity, on a significant unpublished work by Canguilhem on the subject, on Foucault’s reading of Blanchot, on the possibility of a phenomenological reading Cavaillès, on the extent to which Foucault can be read as joining Cavaillès in an immanent critique of the phenomenological approach to truth, and finally broader and more strategic view of the relation between the two currents. There will also be a panel discussion of Johanna Oksala’s book, Foucault on Freedom. Speakers :

  • Jean-Michel Salanskis (Univeristy of Paris, Nanterre), "Phenomenology and Epistemology: War and Marriage"
  • Zbigniew Kotowicz (University of Paris), "On Gaston Bachelard: Atomism, Consciousness and Scientific Thought"
  • Kevin Thompson (DePaul University, Chicago), "Dialectic, Archaeology, Genealogy: Cavaillès and Foucault on Discontinuity and the Question of Truth "
  • Michael Roubach (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), "Time, Modality, and the Possibility of a Phenomenological Interpretation of Cavaillès"
  • Michele Cammelli (Centre Georges Canguilhem, University of Paris VII), "The Subject and Error in the Thought of Georges Canguilhem"
  • Adonis Frangeskou (Staffordshire University), "The Thought of the Outside: Towards an Archaeological Aesthetic"

Registration: Registration forms are available on the web-site of the British Society for Phenomenology ( Please note, we have had problems with the web-site over the last few days and it will not be accessible or a few days. The problems should be resolved 20th February. In the meantime, you can contact David Webb ( and he will send you a registration form directly.

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