Big-World Masterclass Avans
“But can one extract a part from a whole without leaving scars?”
– Gilles Châtelet, Figuring Space: Philosophy, Mathematics and Physics
As one of the most ancient thought paradigms, mereology is the study of part-to-part and part-to-whole relations. What was once perhaps a purely philosophical issue has today, become an urgent, pragmatic and ethical question for co-existential survival at the planetary scale. How are we to think and act at this ‘totalising’ scale without submitting differences to the reductive forces of homogenization? How are we to figure our personal situatedness, within and related to, an impersonal whole? How does this necessity of thinking totality, while upholding particularity, affect the way we understand spatial-relations, responsibility and agency today?
In this seminar, we will look at how the planetary condition demands (and catalyzes) new frames of reference through which to understand what it means to be human, and how that transformed self-understanding can nourish processes of (alternate) world-making. We will depart from the work of Sylvia Wynter, and her project to create a theory of the human ‘made to the measure of the planetary.’ As hybrid bio/mythoi, story-telling creatures (as she names us), Wynter suggests that humans “have storytellingly invent[ed] themselves as being purely biological” insofar as humans are conceived as only interested in securing material necessities/wealth for its own existence, and not species co-existence as a whole. What is inferred from in her theory is the need for narrative intervention on this fictitious or artificial level of human-self-conception, through which new social orders emerge as adaptions to a new human self-image. This human self-image can be understood an abstract diagram through which to think ourselves in a deprivatized and exteriorized sense. The second half of the seminar will look at how this ‘human-concept-diagram’ interfaces with our concrete, localized and different conditions of selfhood (experience), namely our particular situatedness – hypothesizing as to how these two realms may be brought into stereoscopic relation. Lastly, we will discuss how aesthetic practices may engage with this ‘fictional’ or ‘artificial’ opportunity of being human, towards the construction of experimental vehicles to render this ‘planetary humanness’, amenable to sensibility.
Key Concepts: Sociogeny, Cosmology, Situatedness, Intelligibility, Narration, Counterfactuals, Possible Worlds