Inhaltspezifische Aktionen

GCSC Keynote Lecture: The Road Not Taken: Ethics, Reciprocity, and Non-Negative Non-Agency


19.06.2018 von 18:00 bis 20:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC200)


Philosophikum I, GCSC-Gebäude (Alter Steinbacher Weg 38)

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The GCSC Keynote Lecture Series is open to anyone interested in attending. To provide relevant topics for the diverse set of research interests pursued within the GCSC, the lectures in this series are positioned for an interdisciplinary spectrum of listeners and centred on current concepts, questions and theories within the study of culture. The lectures are oriented according to the research areas of the GCSC and deliver theoretical and methodological impulses.








Prof. Dr. Thomas Claviez: The Road Not Taken: Ethics, Reciprocity, and Non-Negative Non-Agency


The term “agency” has played – and still plays – a rather strange role in our moral philosophies in general, and in ecocriticism specifically, as it represents one term of one binary that has proven almost indeconstructable: that of activity and passivity. It is hardly possible to turn around – let alone overcome – the highly normatively charged connotations of these two terms, which would be a first step to deconstruct this binary. I will, in a first step, try to draw out the implications – both linguistically and ethically – of the fact that we are not able to formulate a non-negative concept of the contrary to "acting" or "agency", and relate this fact to two key terms in the moral philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas: that of passivity and that of irreciprocity. In a second one, I will try to gauge the implications this has for traditional moral philosophy, arguing that our incapability to disentangle agency from moral subjecthood has severe repercussions for our thinking of ethics. In a last part, I will reconnect these thoughts to one of the most influential theories in posthumanism: Bruno Latour's "Actors Network Theory."


// Prof. Dr. Thomas Claviez (University of Bern, Switzerland)

Professor of Literary Theory and Director of the Department of English