HUMAN TRANSITIONS. Philosophy of Metamorphosis II (Einführungsvorlesung ODER Seminar)

Prof. Dr. Boyan Manchev
HUMAN TRANSITIONS. Philosophy of Metamorphosis II

Lecture & seminar series in English,
Einführungsvorlesung ODER Seminar, 2 SWS, 2 ECTS
Lectures: 25.1., 1.2., 8.2.2017, 18-20:30 pm, Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum Tanz Berlin (HZT),  Studio 11
Seminar sessions: 25.1., 26.1., 1.2., 8.2.2017, 13-17 h, HZT Studio 9 
Einen kleinen Lageplan findet Ihr auf der Webseite des HZT - und hier!

The idea of transition presupposes three abstract concepts, profoundly rooted in human experience, namely the concepts of time, body and movement, or change. The analysis of the broad semantic scope as much as of the cultural-anthropological dimensions of the idea of transition will be one of the main tasks of the lecture series. Respectively, the three lectures will bring forward one of the three supposed semantic components of the idea of transition: 1. Time; 2. Body and 3. Change.

More specifically, the lecture and seminar series will engage critically with one of the most important contemporary cultural debates. Today the critical discourse on the historical (if not biological and therefore ontological) limits of human being, is becoming powerful engine in the philosophical and aesthetic discussions. We hear today more and more often proposals in the line of “trans-humanism”, “post-humanism” or “new humanism”. However, the task of this project will be meta-critical. It will aim at examining the historical, political and artistic conditions of articulation of the critical discourses in question, as well as their philosophical relevance. We will consider them in the first place as symptom of the urgent necessity to formulate radically new critical – philosophical, artistic, political – questions.

Thus, the task of this lecture series will be to approach critically not so much the concept of human being as the very prefix "trans-", which has its substantive homologue in the notion of "transition". We will claim that the notion of transition is fundamental for the very (self-) definition of human being. Such thesis will shed critical light on the current debate, and could provide possible insights into contemporary artistic practice.

The lecture/seminar series will engage with the broad topic of the last year, “Metamorphosis”, while it will have autonomous character. Naturally, no attendance of the previous lecture/seminar series is required or necessary for the understanding of the next semester block.

First lecture (25th January 2017)
Boyan Manchev: The Time of Philosophy

The first lecture will aim to approach first abstract ideas of time, therefore transition and change, in direct relation to early philosophical and aesthetic traditions, fundamental to understand the creation of abstract concepts of time and transformation, as well as dynamic bodies and objects. It will introduce conceptual horizon crucial for the understanding of the emergence of the idea of "art".  

Second lecture (1st February 2017)
Elisabeth von Samsonow and Boyan Manchev: Bodies, Gods and Transplants

This lecture will present a synthesis of the recent proposals of the philosopher and artist  Elisabeth von Samsonow and the philosopher Boyan Manchev on the body metamorphoses, taking as starting point Samsonows recent work “Transplants”.

The uncertainty of the borders between being alive and not alive, the hybridization of existing and new forms of bodies, the animation of inanimate matter and the creation of automata - techniques for overcoming the human condition, will be discussed. More information on Elisabeth von Samsonow:

Third lecture (8th February 2017)
Timothy Morton and Boyan Manchev: The New Frankenstein and his Monster

Dr. Frankenstein and his Nameless Monsters have been a paradigmatic figurative couple for the current critical debate on trans- and post-humanism. They will be the starting point of our meta-critical discussion as well. What are Frankenstein deeds in a world, which becomes a monster - a nameless hybrid - itself?

Morton’s early work on Mary Shelley, as well as Manchevs theatrical collaborations with Ani Vaseva ("Frankenstein or the New Pandora") and Dirk Cieslak & Vierte Welt ("Pandora’s Daughters") will provide the starting point for this discussion. This lecture will establish direct connection with the last two semester topics, "Metamorphosis" and "The Romantic".

Activity requirements for the ungraded Studium Generale credits: The students are expected to attend regularly; short essay at the end of the semester, dealing with matters or cases relevant for the course's topic.

Timothy Morton is the Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University. He is the author of "Nothing: Three Inquiries in Buddhism and Critical Theory" (Chicago, forthcoming), "Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World" (Minnesota, 2013), "Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality" (Open Humanities, 2013), "The Ecological Thought" (Harvard UP, 2010), "Ecology without Nature" (Harvard, 2007), seven other books and one hundred and twenty essays on philosophy, ecology, literature, food and music. More information on

Boyan Manchev is philosopher, Professor at the New Bulgarian University and Guest Professor at the HZT/UdK (from 2011), Hollins University, Tokyo University and Sofia University. He is also former Director of Program and Vice-President of the International College of Philosophy in Paris. His actual research, which advances the perspective of a radical mobilism and materialism, is focused on the fields of ontology, philosophy of art and political philosophy. The ontological concept of metamorphosis, the practical concept of disorganisation and the aesthetic concept of alteration are central for his transformationist approach. In the last years Manchev collaborates often to theatre, contemporary dance and visual arts projects. Manchev is the author of seven books and more than hundred book chapters, catalogues and other publications in various languages. In the last years appeared “Logic of the Political“ (Sofia: Critique&Humanism, 2012), “Miracolo“ (Milano: Lanfranchi, 2011), “L’altération du monde: Pour une esthétique radicale“ (Paris: Lignes, 2009); “La Métamorphose et l’Instant – Désorganisation de la vie“ (Paris: La Phocide, 2009); “Rue Descartes 64: La métamorphose“, ed. by B. Manchev (Paris: PUF, 2009); “Rue Descartes 67: Quel sujet du politique?“, ed. by G. Basterra, R. Ivekovic and B. Manchev (Paris: PUF, 2010). His book “The Body- Metamorphosis“ (Sofia: Altera, 2007) deals extensively with contemporary art, performance and dance.