Aesthetics, Politics and Knowledge
Principal Investigator: Maria Eugénia Morais Vilela
The “Aesthetics, Politics and Knowledge Group” deals with three core areas: Aesthetics, Politics and Theory of Knowledge. It comprises three integrated researchers with nuclear CVs (Maria Eugénia Morais Vilela, Paulo Jorge Delgado Pereira Tunhas and Maria Manuela Oliveira Barros). The Group also counts with the collaboration of researchers from the University of Porto and from other national and international academic institutions, as well as researchers who develop their PhD and Master projects within the framework of its central thematic areas
Philosophical Profile and Objectives
The “Aesthetics, Politics and Knowledge Group” intends to develop its research work within the intersection between classical philosophy and contemporary movements in aesthetics and artistic thought. The main philosophical questions will be focused on “image” and “imagination”. Considering philosophical and artistic objects, we will pursue the relations between knowledge and desire, spectral forms, aesthetic experience and political imaginary (utopias, revolutions, vanguards). The group will proceed in its specific researches by organizing seminars, conferences, translations and publications (papers, books) dedicated to its main philosophical questions. It will also provide support for the participation of its members in international meetings dedicated to its main research topics. Our approach is simultaneously historical and conceptual, suggesting the relevance of past philosophical discussions to contemporary debates.
The intimacy between thought and imagination has been discussed since Aristotle: the soul never thinks without a mental image; the thinking faculty thinks the forms in mental images. Kant and, following Kant, Fichte and the post-Kantianism in general, including the phenomenological tradition with Husserl and Sartre, renewed powerfully Aristotle’s intuition. This tradition is one of the central objects of the APK’s study and lies at the core of its relationship with other philosophical groups.
Contemporary discussions on the nature of imagination form also the kernel of the group interests. Imagining is not something separate from thinking (Gilbert Ryle). It represents thinking at its most radical dimension. Innovation, invention, creation are imagination’s children. Creative imagination intervenes differently in the global areas of knowledge, aesthetics and politics, and the group pays close attention to these differences. One of our main research interests concerns the criteria that underlies the specificity of the activity of imagination in each one of these areas. What distinguishes moral and political imagination from scientific or aesthetic imagination? This is one of the central questions which we explore in detail.
Considering the inner complexity of the relations involving imagination, images and the imaginary in contemporary times, the group aims, through an approach simultaneously historical and conceptual, to deepen a critical debate that crosses the notion of image and the faculty of imagination within aesthetic experience and arts. This is another fundamental question which we will study in detail. Thus, by an aesthetic and political intensification of a debate on image and imagination, it is intended to contribute to thinking about the concepts and the sensible forms of performativity, archive, trace, mobility or resistance and to reflecting on the ways in which these notions philosophically discuss contemporaneity. In this context, performative arts, cinema, visual arts and music are important domains of research as they raise fundamental ontological questions concerning the construction of images and imagery. A comprehensive philosophical genealogy will be required in order to expand the investigation; we will also follow closely the works of W.Benjamin, M.Blanchot, H.Arendt, M.Foucault, G.Deleuze, J.Derrida, JL.Nancy, J.Rancière, G.Agamben, G.Didi-Hubermann. The analysis of the interferences between politics and the aesthetics sphere, considering their common denominator with imagination and image, becomes an important standpoint to think the question of the “distribution of the sensible” (Rancière) within contemporaneity.
The group will work in association with international and national academic institutions, as well with artistic and cultural institutions, in order to create a network of research and to produce a significant corpus of thought through a conceptual framework that implies aesthetic, artistic, political and scientific manifestations as singular modes of imagination.
Reference: RG-502-2083 Aesthetics, Politics and Knowledge
Principal researcher: Maria Eugénia Morais Vilela
Philosophical Profile and Objectives
The “Aesthetics, Politics and Knowledge Group” deals with three core areas: Aesthetics, Politics and Theory of Knowledge, and comprises two subgroups: “Aesthetics, Politics and Arts”, coordinated by Eugénia Vilela and “Modes of Thought and Philosophical Systems”, coordinated by Paulo Tunhas. It comprises three integrated researchers with nuclear CVs (Maria Eugénia Morais Vilela, Paulo Jorge Delgado Pereira Tunhas and Maria Manuela Oliveira Barros). The Group also counts with the collaboration of researchers from other groups and researchers who develop their PhD and Master projects within the framework of its central thematic areas.
In the period 2013-2017, the main interests of the research group focused on the relations involving aesthetics, politics and arts, and the structure of philosophical systems in their dialogue with scepticism. Our approach was simultaneously historical and conceptual, suggesting the relevance of past philosophical discussions to contemporary debates. The Group organized conferences and seminar cycles devoted to a) the connection between aesthetics and politics, b) the relation of philosophy to scepticism c) and the study of Kantian philosophy. Papers and collective as well as individual books were published on these subjects in several languages (Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French and English).
The “Aesthetics, Politics and Arts” sub-group focused on the intersection between philosophical work and three central areas: Aesthetics, Contemporary Political Philosophy and Arts. Its aim consisted in developing a body of thought that considers the political contemporary space in a reciprocal relation with the philosophical notions of action, gesture, production and the emerging points of sensibility within the real.
This research dealt with notions usually regarded as aesthetic, political and artistic categories, proposing to renew the philosophical thinking that summons them. This research was dedicated to the production of a philosophical discourse that may flow between the polemical interior of its heritage, as well as of its exterior. Consequently, the problematization of the notion of the contemporary in its paradoxical ontological vocation was sought. The intersections that occur at an ontic level were regarded as a consistency block formed in contemporaneity.
The research was dedicated to the revaluation of a philosophical modernity that is conscious of the crisis of its metaphysical vocation. Such a question was considered by invoking authors who produce a transfiguration of the classical notions of historical time and of history. Following this approach, we think critically the relations involving experience, history, memory, forgetfulness, archive, subsequently proposing to deconstruct the classical notions of testimony, tradition and transmission. This led to the examination and the reconfiguration of the relations underlying the notions of discourse, narration, body, phantom, silence, resistance, language and potency.
The “Modes of Thought and Philosophical Systems” subgroup focused on three different but interconnected topics. The first topic concerns the centrality of the question "What is thinking?" to philosophical enquiry, dealing with themes such as intentionality, consciousness, language, logic, the relation of thought to the external world, neurophysiology, artificial intelligence, transcendental arguments, categorial frameworks, imagination, representation, desire and intuitive knowledge. The second topic refers to the ways thinking develops itself into different modes related to different objects of thought. There are three very general types of objects which are the subject of philosophical investigation: nature, beauty and ethics/politics. Modes of thought are built upon the very specificity of these objects. Our main research interest concerns the ontological criteria that underlie different forms of akribeia in the relation of thought to its objects. These different forms of akribeia are connected to three different epistemological concepts: proof (in the case of the objects of natural sciences), self-evidence (regarding aesthetic experiences) and argumentation (on ethical and political matters). The third topic deals with the relations the modes of thought entertain among themselves, particularly in the context of philosophical systems. Philosophical systems are experiments on the absolute fulfilment of the whole space of thought through the articulation of modes of thought, stimulated, in its turn, by different objects of thought. Many philosophical systems, from the Stoics to Kant and the post-Kantian heritage (e.g., Cassirer and Husserl), provide precious material to this kind of study.