Speculative Realism / Speculative Materialism

A One-Day Workshop

12–7pm, Friday 24 April 2009

Lecture Theatre H124
St Matthias Campus
University of the West of England
Bristol BS16 2JP

Participants: Ray Brassier (American University of Beirut), Iain Hamilton Grant (University of the West of England), Graham Harman (American University in Cairo), Alberto Toscano (Goldsmiths, University of London) with a paper by Quentin Meillassoux (Ecole Normale Supérieure)

The first ‘Speculative Realism’ workshop at Goldsmiths College, London, in 2007 sparked considerable interest and debate in contemporary European philosophy circles. This second workshop shall pursue some of the fundamental issues that emerged out of the first, principal among them the relation of speculative philosophy to materialist metaphysics. Materialism emerges at two key yet divergent junctures: firstly at the physicalist level, raising the problems of reduction and epistemic change, and in consequence, confronting the viability of any kind of speculative philosophy. The second juncture concerns the practically oriented materialism that constrains its ontologies accordingly.

Yet to the reductionist programme apparently mandated by materialism, it is possible to oppose an ontologically inflationary account; this same position can equally give rise to a consistent account of causality that, if not an immaterialism, does not rest on a material base. Similarly, while materialists adhere to reductionist research programmes, such programmes are themselves highly speculative, leading therefore to the question whether materialism’s epistemic and ontological problems may more consistently be addressed by overtly speculative means. Finally, does a problematical use of materialism as a politically operative concept entail a rejection or an augmentation of speculative philosophy?

None of the contributors to this second International Workshop on speculative philosophy and materialism share a position on these problems; yet the necessity that they be confronted is incontrovertible. This workshop therefore provides a focus for the exercise of speculative philosophy, rather than for metaphilosophical commentary on it.

The workshop will be held under the auspices of the Philosophy Research Unity at the University of the West of England, Bristol, and chaired by John Sellars (Philosophy, UWE). It is co-sponsored by Continuum.


12-12.15 Welcome
12.15-1.30 Ray Brassier
1.30-2.45 Iain Hamilton Grant
2.45-3.15 Break
3.15-4.30 Graham Harman
4.30-6.00 Alberto Toscano
6.00-7.00 Closing Statements
Wine and Booksales


Website here.

Directions here.