The Struggle over the Real, or Existence against Being (Einführungsvorlesung/Seminar)

Prof. Dr. Boyan Manchev
The Struggle over the Real, or Existence against Being

Intensive seminar and lecture series in English (Lecture OR Seminar), 2 SWS, 2 ECTS
Thursday evenings, 18-20:30 h, Friday mornings, 10-14:30 h, 4 blocks: 8./9.11.2018, 24./25.1., 31.1./1.2., 7./8.2.2019, Hardenbergstr. 33, room 110

The struggle over the Real is far from being over. What is Real? What is Reality? The uncertainty and the instability of our fluctuating perceptions of Reality present it at the end, alternatively or simultaneously, as a ghostly substance, as plastic matter of experience, or as a stumbling block to the forces of desire and imagination. Is there Real at all? Or is there anything but Real? Is the Real the Other of experience, the resisting negativity of the outside, of the world „out there“? Or is the impenetrable abyss of the obscure powers that govern us from „inside“? Neither – nor. Rather, what we call Reality is the arena of the dramatic struggle of human existence; struggle for ontological and existential, as well as political and aesthetic hegemony over the nebula of the “empirical facts”. Perhaps the struggle over the Real expresses the very intensity of individual and common being.

And if it is so, this is not an accident at all. The notion of Reality (Wirklichkeit), or the Real, descends from fundamental concepts of Greek thought and philosophy, and as such articulates some of its central problems. According to my hypothesis, it translates the philosophical correlation of Being and Existence, the central concepts of the two millenary traditions of metaphysics, systematised by Arabic Aristotelianism and Christian Scholasticism. I suggest that the theological split of Being and Existence structurally determined the Modern concept of the Real, thus fostering its misfortunate reduction to a perilous ideological trope or a commonsensical empty signifier. In particular, it prefigured the antagonism of metaphysics’ offspring “continental philosophy” and its rival “analytic philosophy”: a conflict of faculties, that still affects the possibility for a radical unified philosophical position, overcoming the split of Being and Existence and thus making possible the transformative action in the texture of the Real.
Hence, the critical archeology of the Real is a necessary premise for the remobilisation of both, philosophy and art – not only as activities correlated with reality but as real forces capable of imagining and producing new forms of existence, transforming the structure of the Real. We need to overcome the opposition of real and unreal, or facts and fantasy. Today, more then ever, reality necessitates a philosophical phantastic.

The lecture-seminar series will be organised in four blocks, each of which will stage a dramatic philosophical problem through the confrontation of alternative positions, introduced by selection of excerpts of philosophical texts and examples of artistic practice. 

Requirements for the ungraded Studium Generale credit: regular and active attendance

Ausrichtung der Veranstaltung: orientierend, vorwärtsgewandt
Kompetenz/Aktivität der Teilnehmenden: reflektieren/denken, aneignen

Boyan Manchev is a philosopher, Professor at the New Bulgarian University and Guest Professor at the Hollins University and Sofia University. He is also former Director of Program and Vice-President of the International College of Philosophy in Paris and former Guest Professor at the HZT - UdK (2011-2017). His current research, which proposes the perspective of a radical materialism and dynamic ontology, is in the fields of ontology, philosophy of art and political philosophy. Manchev has lectured widely at European, American and Asian universities and cultural institutions. He has organised and/or collaborated in numerous projects, congresses and public forums dealing with philosophy, art and politics at the CIPh, EHESS, CNRS, Palais de Tokyo, CND (Paris), Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Volksbühne, FU, NBK (Berlin), IWM, MUMOK, Tanzquartier (Vienna), ZKM (Karlsruhe), Apexart, PS1 (New York), BAK (Utrecht), among others.
Manchev is the author of nine books and around two hundred book chapters, catalogues and other publications in various languages. Among his recent publications are “Clouds. Philosophy of the Free Body“ (Sofia, 2017), “Meteor. Selected texts for Theatre“ (together with Ani Vaseva, Sofia, 2018), “Logic of the Political“ (Sofia, 2012), “Miracolo“ (Milano, 2011), “L’altération du monde: Pour une esthétique radicale“ (Paris, 2009), “La Métamorphose et l'Instant – Désorganisation de la vie“ (Paris, 2009); “Rue Descartes 64: La métamorphose“, ed. by B. Manchev (Paris, 2009); “Rue Descartes 67: Quel sujet du politique?“, ed. by G. Basterra, R. Ivekovic and B. Manchev (Paris, 2010). His book “The Body-Metamorphosis” (Sofia, 2007) deals extensively with contemporary art, performance and dance.