Advanced Studies in the Philosophy of Social Sciences A

lfilo2600  2020-2021  Louvain-la-Neuve

Advanced Studies in the Philosophy of Social Sciences A
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information below is subject to change, in particular that concerning the teaching mode (presential, distance or in a comodal or hybrid format).
5 credits
30.0 h

  This biannual learning unit is not being organized in 2020-2021 !

Reading knowledge of English sufficient to allow study of contemporary texts in the area of the philosophy of the human and social sciences.
Main themes
Each year the course will concentrate on a particular theme, and will make sure to present and contrast different philosophical approaches to the theme. The course will also attempt to combine the study of the selected theme with a reflection on the aims and methods of the philosophy of the human and social sciences.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 Upon completion of the course, the student should be able to pursue, in a well-informed and original manner, a question chosen from the area of the philosophy of the human and social sciences.
After completing the course, the student should be able to :
- Use research tools appropriate for the philosophy of human sciences ;
- Conceptualise the question that has been selected;
- Situate the answers to this question within the framework of the history of key concepts in the human and social sciences, and in contemporary philosophical debates between different approaches and theories ;
- Include, in the philosophical discussion of the selected question, contributions from other disciplines that bear upon the response to the question ;
- Develop arguments regarding the response to the question in an original way. Submit the method chosen for the study of the selected question to a critical reflection.
From the ontology of political singularities to therapeutics of the social
Theories of social transformation inherited from the 19th century and from dialectic materialism, just like those from the 20th century that were torn between functionalism and movement interactionism, which were then reevaluated by different holistic perspectives privileging economic and political institutions (the market and States), have today shown their incapacity to produce a satisfying conception of transitional forms begat by the new environmental and geopolitical circumstances (post-hegemony, post-colonialism). As such, some contemporary philosophical currents have tried their hand at thinking through the social and the political through a new ontological mobilization, one capable of articulating a return to the subject and a conception of the world-totality, incorporation the biodiversity of living things. On an epistemological level, the idea is also to reform the link between philosophy, political action and social knowledge.
The class will begin by exploring the theses of one of this turn’s key figures, Alain Badiou, by focusing on the way that the French author tries to understand the irreducible singularity of transformation procedures that emerge within the social sphere. Indeed, according to Badiou, it’s by systematically understanding being as a multiplicity without totalitizing unity that we can open a door to understanding true singularities, which make off in different directions thanks to resources inherent to societies themselves.
In a second moment, the class will focus on the role played by the critical use of psychoanalytical conceptual frameworks from recent years to accompany the turn toward a return to the subject, in order to think through social transformations. Indeed, the conceptual framework of psychoanalysis is used to grasp the conditions under which we can ontologically affirm that a discursively- and reflexively-structured subjective totality manages to emerge and differentiate itself as a singularity. In this case, we can speak of the role and limits of the process of subjectification.
Working from these two theoretical resources, our question in the third moment will focus on identifying the constitutive elements of a new ontological and epistemological framework for a theory of social transformation, one capable of constructing symptomological knowledge of collective unconsciousnesses, when they identify with transitional forms that are supposed to incorporate the constitutive antagonisms of political organization and to produce paradoxical unities like those boasted by new populist discourses. The issue at stake in this class will be thus be the production of knowledge capable of grasping the different paths that collective cathartic processes take, be they liberating or reactionary, by spotting saturation points.

Teaching methods

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

Evaluation methods

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

Students will be asked to write a 10 page on the basis of an author or a subject studied in the course. After emailing the paper, the student will receive a question on the paper to be prepared for the oral exam.
The student will have approximately 15 min. to present this answer during the oral exam.
The paper may be written in French, English, or Italian, with the professor's agreement.
Students are invited to discuss with the professor the subject on which they would like to write their paper.

Bibliographie générale :
AGAMBEN, Giorgio. La communauté qui vient: théorie de la singularité quelconque. Paris, Seuil, 2014.
BADIOU, Alain. L’Ethique. Essai sur la conscience du mal. Caen, Nous, 2019.
----- L'Être et l’événement. Paris, Seuil, 1988.
----- Logiques des mondes. L’Être et l’événement 2. Paris, Seuil, 2006.
----- Manifeste pour la philosophie. Paris, Seuil, 1989.
FINKELDE, Dominik. Excessive Subjectivity. Kant, Hegel, Lacan, and the Foundations of Ethics. New York, Columbia University Press, 2015.
LENOBLE, Jacques, “L’enjeu du dernier enseignement de Lacan: Vers une approche réflexive de l’Un réel” in Teoria e Critica della Regolazione Sociale - "La legge di Lacan", dir. A. Andronico - Universita degli Studi di Catania" - Vol. 1, no. 2/2016, p. 11-40 (2017)
MAESSCHALCK, Marc, La cause du sujet. Bruxelles, Peter Lang, 2014
----- « Imaginaire instituant versus logique des sciences sociales », in Castoriadis et les sciences sociales, G. Gendreau et T. Tranchant (dirs), Cahier SOCIÉTÉ, n° 1, Québec, 2019, pp. 17-33.
----- Reflexive Governance for Research and Innovative Knowledge. Londres, Wiley-ISTE, 2017.
MCGRATH, Sean J., “Populism and the Late Schelling on Mythology, Ideology, and Revelation”, in Analecta Hermeneutica, Volume 9 (2017).
SAFATLE, Vladimir. Fear, Helplessness, and Political Bodies as Circuits of Affect: Freud on Social Emancipation. The Undecidable Unconscious: A Journal of Deconstruction and Psychoanalysis. University of Nebraska Press, Volume 4, 2017, pp. 67-91.
SIBERTIN-BLANC, Guillaume. Deleuze et l’anti-Œdipe: la production du désir. Paris, PUF, 2010.
----- Politique et État chez Deleuze et Guattari: essai sur le matérialisme historico-machinique. Paris, PUF, 2013.
--- Décolonisation du sujet et résistance du symptôme. Clinique et politique dans Les Damnés de la terre. « Cahiers philosophiques », 2014/3 n° 138, pages 47 à 66.
ZUPANČIČ, Alenka, Ethics of The Real. Kant, Lacan. Londres, Verso, 2000.
ŽIŽEK, Slavoj, The Ticklish Subject. Londres, Verso, 2009.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Certificat universitaire en philosophie (approfondissement)

Master [120] in Ethics

Master [60] in Philosophy

Master [120] in Philosophy