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Regular version of the site

International views on the problems of nothing in the history of philosophy

Elena Dragalina-Chernaya, Professor of the Department of Ontology, Logic, and Epistemology, HSE Faculty of Philosophy and Head of the Laboratory for Philosophical Studies, HSE Centre for Advanced Studies presents international conference “Ontology of Negativitiness” that will take place at the HSE on October, 22-23, 2013.

The conference will focus on the problems of nothing, non-existence, negativeness in the history of logics and philosophy, semantics and pragmatics of negation in the natural language, apophatic methods of reasoning, as well as the category of the negative in social studies.

What are the goals of the conference? Where did the idea come from?

The conference goal is to compare the ontological pre-suppositions behind the different interpretations of the concepts of 'negation' and 'negativity' in the history of philosophy and logic. To achieve this, we need to set research objectives in three interrelated areas: 1) the logical-semantic and the linguistic-pragmatic aspects of assertion and negation; 2) the categories of non-existence and negativity in classical and modern philosophy; and 3) subjectivity as negativity.

The Ontology of Negativitiness Conference takes forward the research agenda outlined by four previous international conferences organised by the HSE Centre for Advanced Studies, namely 'The Ontology of Possible Worlds' (2009), 'Subjectivity and Identity' (2010) (both led by Elena Dragalina-Chernaya); 'The Problem of the Self: Philosophical Traditions and the Present' (2011) and 'Subject and Culture: The Foundations of Interdisciplinary Research on the Problem' (2012) (both led by Vladimir Porus).

These past conferences revealed an ontological association between the categories of subjectivity, identity, and negativity. The main motive for the upcoming conference is to facilitate methodological integration of Russian and Western (mainly continental) studies in humanities, in particular those analyzing individual self-determination which involves not only assertion as a way to build a positive personal identity, but also negation.

Could you say a few words about the participants? 

The expected conference attendance demonstrates close cooperation, on the one hand, between Russian and international researchers, and on the other hand, between specialists in logic and in the history of philosophy.

The Laboratory for Philosophical Studies has a five-year history of academic cooperation with the University of Caen Lower Normandy (Université de Caen Basse-Normandie), France. Professor Gilles Olivo, a leading French expert on the philosophy of Leibniz and Descartes, will represent the university at the upcoming conference. Another French participant of the conference will be Dr. Fabien Schang,  known for his papers on algebraic theory of oppositions and illocutionary logic. The conference will feature reports by the recently recruited HSE professors, Andrew Haas and Stefan Heßbrüggen, specialists in the European Philosophy of the New Age. The HSE Faculty of Philosophy will also be represented by Professors Vladimir Vasyukov, Alexander Dobrokhotov, myself, Svetlana Kruychkova, Tatiana Lifintseva, Lolita Makeeva, Vladimir Porus and several others. A separate session will feature presentations by graduate students of the faculty. Prominent philosophers from other Russian cities will attend the conference, including Aleksei Kislov, Head of the Department of Ontology and Epistemology of the Ural Federal University, and Mikhail Bogatov, poet, novelist and researcher of Heidegger from the University of Saratov. I am the Chair of the Programme Committee, and Associate Professor Anastasia Yastrebtseva is the Chair of the Organizing Committee.

The conference provides evidence of the HSE's extensive cooperation with major universities and researchers worldwide. Are there any specific plans to expand international cooperation further? 

In 2014, the Laboratory for Philosophical Studies plans to continue its studies of subjectivity, identity, and negativity from the perspective of different types of rationality. The interdisciplinary relevance of the concept of rationality makes it important to determine clear boundaries for its use and to research the historical, philosophical, and methodological foundations of the different conceptions of rationality (optimization, limited rationality, communicative rationality, interactive rationality, etc.). Professors of the University of Caen, a long-standing partner of the HSE Faculty of Philosophy and the Laboratory of Philosophical Studies, will participate in this research, the findings of which will be announced at an international conference in 2014.

Other outcomes of our collaboration with the University of Caen Faculty of Philosophy will be the publication of a paper by me entitled L'interprétation performative du Cogito cartésien in Cahiers de philosophie de l'Université de Caen, 2013, No. 50, and a presentation by the Assistant Professor of the HSE Faculty of Philosophy, Alexander Mikhailovsky, ‘Pourquoi nous intéressons-nous aux raisons? L'origine transcendantale de l'acte de fonder selon Heidegger’ at the conference L'essence du fondement to be held at the University of Caen in January 2014.

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE news service

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