Transformations – differences, resemblances and borders between philosophy, the sciences and art


PhD seminar with Ole Fogh Kirkeby


PhD seminar at The School of Architecture in Copenhagen

Wednesday-Friday May 23-25 2007

Organized by The Danish Doctoral Schools of Architecture & Design and The Doctoral School of Knowledge and Management (Copenhagen Business School)

As a beginning let us draw a tiny sketch of the complex landscape of thoughts and ideas in which we seem to be situated at the moment.

Niklas Luhmann reckons philosophy, science and art to be three distinct sub-systems, each of them containing and being governed by different codes. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari maintain that it is the task of philosophy to create concepts, the task of science to make functions and the role of art to foster sensations. Philosophers have been immensely inspired and affected by the world of arts (e.g. Theodor W. Adorno, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jacques Derrida), and artists and architects have had a vivid eye on philosophy and epistemology. In the 20th century inspiration has been gathered from various sources like critical theory, structuralism, pragmatism, phenomenology, deconstruction, system theory and post-structuralism.

With arrogance and hubris Heidegger claims that science as such is not able to think, on the other hand analytical and positivist thinkers proclaim that philosophy has to wave goodbye to ontological speculations and to get out of the metaphysical fog. They want to solidify the sciences using logics and theories of argumentation. Different ’positions’ like critical theory, hermeneutics and phenomenology question the scientific ideals of positivism and analytical philosophy and the scientistic approaches to the phenomena of the world, to history, society and the unique human life and the unpredictable event.

Jürgen Habermas points out that sciences and philosophy have to work together in a mutual cooperation. Any attempt to honour and stick to a
prima philosophia must consider that we have come live in a post-metaphysical world in which any proposition might be proved to be fallible if we examine it in communicative openness. Due to the late Ludwig Wittgenstein and his many descendants (just to mention two of them, Jean-François Lyotard and Richard Rorty) philosophy, science and art can be understood like three different language-games, but a meta-language-game with the capacity to grasp everything does not exist. Besides tremendous shock waves entered the enlightened public sphere in the midst of the last century when Karl Popper and Thomas S. Kuhn wrote their books on the social nature of scientific truths

Today a peculiar mixture of perspectivism and relativism seems to dominate the beginning of the 21st century. In the 1880s Friedrich Nietzsche stressed that ”Das Leben” and ”Will to power” both had to be strengthened. In an utmost radical tongue he said that no facts exist, only interpretations. 100 years later this has become a banal ”truth”. Today it is a dominant common sense expression to state that everythng is a social construction. Nothing is said to be ”real”, true nor valid in itself nor to oblige us to acknowledge or act in any specific way. The assertions of thought lose their substance and become ”denaturalized” in the dynamic and complex society, doomed to acceleration, renewal and flexible forgetting. Neither the sex, the nature, the history, the nation nor the subject does have the power to say what it is or once was. But exposed to the omnipresent and enforced demand for
evidence based knowledge and
best practice we have also come to live in a post-post-positivist era in which old and powerful epistemological ghosts return and recycle. The ”Zeitgeist” therefore is not at all unequivocal.

In our contemporaty setting the different sciences have become specialized and self-satisfied. It might look like they do no longer need inspiration from sidelong qualified glances. What can a source caressing historian or a devoted art sociologist expect to gain from philosophy and art? Besides the legitimation games in which philosophy, science and art are engaged are about to change dramatically. The individual, the organization and the sub-system are supposed to be able to perform and to be active in marketing.
Value for money is the chief attraction of the day. Globalization demands effective competitive behaviour. Many of us have to invent new devices, to expand knowledge beyond the known limits and to promote an ever expanding experience economy.

The competitive nation state intervenes in the fields of thoughts, functions and affects. Philosophy, science and art are forced to be married to phenomena like event management and branding and to develop strategic awareness. We have come to live in a cognitive capitalism in which knowledge and creativity get transformed to commodities and strategic forces of production. But a weak and nearly vanishing memory still exists, that both philosophy and science has to do with a search for truth and a passion for thinking – and even now and then with ethics, too – and that art has an eternal account with beauty and occasionally venture on the sublime. Other voices interfere with assertions stating that it is possible to think
with art, that science can contain aesthetical dimensions and not to forget that philosophy is a powerful language-game, that might risk to become dangerous and totalitarian. Alternatively and in a heroic perspective
philosophia can be interpreted as
philoponia. Peter Sloterdijk proclaims with admiration that philosophy likes to carry heavy burdens without pain, nor pity.

The PhD seminar
Transformations invites the participants to discuss some of the above-mentioned differences, resemblances and borders between philosophy, science and art. Various thinkers from the Humanities and the Social Sciences will donate us lectures and conceptual distinctions. They will reflect upon topics and disciplines like art history, theory of architecture, aesthetics, epistemology and sociology. Fundamental and ”classical” ontological, metaphysical and epistemological questions will be turned upside down, and light will be shed on possible attempts of the 21st century to interpret and renew the three grandiose critiques wrtten by Immanuel Kant.

Each of the three course days offer four lectures – two of them are to be held by the organizors, two by our guest lecturers. There wil be several opportunities to discuss possible epistemological questions in the PhD theses of the participants. Every lecturer is given one hour to present his ”stuff”, then comes 45 minutes open debate.

Immediately we dare to set up a searching diagram. It has four corners and one focal point in the centre. Please let this figure serve as a visual and conceptual landscape for mapping some of the
transformations, the three day seminar will try to track down and to expose.

All lecturers and participants are requested to take their point of departure in the figure, to debate and examine it, and maybe even to shoot it down








Ought we to have written ”Einbildungskraft”, reflexive judgement and/or critical thinking in the centre? Should we have added arrows, force relations, influental connections…and other transformers? Had it been better to let ”Form” take the place, where ”Structure” reigns? Significantly philosophy is not visible nor labeled in the diagram. Does it indicate that the course organizors take for granted that philosophy has the power to move all over and under cover, still having the leading roles to play as the queen of all sciences and the king of all thinking?

These four scruples – among many others, we presume…– we do look forward to ventilate in the mutual exchanges to come.

Summing up: The PhD seminar
approaches fundamental discussions concerning some of the differences, resemblances and borders between languages and ways of thought, displayed respectively within philosophy, science and art. It is the course ambition to question any theory fashion and to go beyond the short-term love and hate affairs that occasionally might turn up between the three fields.

The course addresses PhD students from diverse subjects and institutions, e.g. the architecture and art schools, the humanities, the social sciences and the business schools.

The course is supervised and conducted by

Ole Fogh Kirkeby, The Centre for Art and Ledership, Copenhagen Business School ( )

Henrik Oxvig, The School of Architecture, Copenhagen ( )

Steen Nepper Larsen, Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School ( )

The seminar will include presentations by

Henrik B. Andersen, The School of Sculpture, The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Cph.

Hans Fink, Philosophy, Aarhus University

Gorm Harste, Political Science, Aarhus University

Anders Michelsen, Art History, Copenhagen Univesrity

Sverre Raffnsøe, Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School

Jacob Wamberg, Art History, Aarhus University


Wednesday May 23. 9-10.45 AM Ole Fogh Kirkeby: ”Imagination and creativity”

11-12.45 AM Henrik Oxvig: ”To turn round Plato and avoid relativism. On the necessity of precision in the transformationen of the architectural tradition”

Lunch break

1.30-3.15 PM Jacob Wamberg: ”Structures are from Mars, events from Venus: A proposal for a mutual therapy ”

3.30-5.15 PM Sverre Raffnsøe: ”Aesthetical autonomy og conviction”

Thursday May 24. 9-10.45 AM Steen Nepper Larsen: ”Interpretations of cognitive capitalism. Creativity as desire and compulsion”

11-12.45 AM Gorm Harste: ”To take part in the observation – on the art sociologies of Luhmann, Bourdieu and Kant”

Lunch break

1.30-3.15 PM Hans Fink: ”In reality”

3.30-5.15 PM Ole Fogh Kirkeby: ”The archicture of word and concept”

Friday May 25 9-10.45 AM Henrik Oxvig: ”To speak and to see. Discussion of creative encounters between various faculties”

11.-12.45 AM Steen Nepper Larsen: ”Philosophy and lyrics – 40 theses on resemblances and differences”

Lunch break

1.30-3.15 PM Henrik B. Andersen: ”The acknowledgement of the potentials of art”

3.30-5.15 PM Anders Michelsen: ”The imaginary of the artificial: technology as imagination; some implications with regard to the peripheral fate of the concept of the imagination in Western thought”

Course address: Auditorium 5 & ”Det røde Hus”,

Kunstakademiets Arkitektskole, Philip de Langes Alle 10, DK-1435 Kbh. K

ECTS: 2,5 ects

Organizers – the two doctoral shools

Att. Lise Steiness ( ), The Danish Doctoral Schools of Architecture & Design/ DKAD - Danske Forskerskoler i Arkitektur og Design

Kunstakademiets Arkitektskole, Philip de Langes Allé 10, DK-1435 København K

Forskerskole i Viden og Ledelse, Institut for Ledelse, Politik og Filosofi, Copenhagen Business School, Porcelænshaven 18 A, DK-2000 Frederiksberg

Partner og co-organizer

Centre for Art and Leadership, Copenhagen Business School, Porcelænshaven 18 A, DK-2000 Frederiksberg, att: Rikke Ørtved ( )

Date of assignment by mail no later than May 11 to Lise Steiness or Rikke Ørtved

For further information contact one of the organizers: Henrik Oxvig ( )

Sidst opdateret: Communications // 16/04/2009