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Neuron from a human retina cell, drawing by early neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal

‘Philosophy in the Context of Art’ is a postgraduate course exploring the artistic significance of philosophical ideas. The course is devised for practitioners within the fields of art, design and architecture interested in investigating and reflecting upon philosophical discourses on art and the arts.

Autumn 2016: ‘Symbol and the Symbolic: a New Moment?’

The course aims at tracing the history and transformations of the concept of ‘symbol’ from the 19th century up to the 20th century, more specifically from Hegel’s definition of ‘symbolic art’ in his Lectures on Aesthetics up to Jacques Lacan’s definitions of the symbolic in Ecrits.
Starting with the Greek definition of the symbol as something together unified and broken (symbolon), or as something which stands for something else, we will show that the symbol obeys its own law, and is meant to always designate something other than itself. Therefore, in the course of the 20th century, particularly with Sigmund Freud and Claude Levi-Strauss, the notion of ‘symbolisation’, ‘symbolic representation’ and ‘symbolic order’ substitute for that, purely linguistic and aesthetic, of ‘symbol’.
The course further aims at studying the different attempts at deconstructing the ‘symbol’ as well of all notions of ‘symbolic order’ at the end of the 20th century, particularly in Jacques Derrida (Ethic of the Gift) and Judith Butler (Gender Trouble). It is proposing a new approach to the symbolic that roots it in the biological, and stops opposing it to the empirical. We will interrogate this new meaning of the symbolic in current neurobiological discourse in particular.
The course is given by the rotating International Visiting Chair in Philosophy in the Context of Art, an initiative and cooperation between The Royal Institute of Art and the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), Kingston University. The position is shared between Professor Peter Osborne and Professor Catherine Malabou who will give the course during the upcoming semester.

Finance and Fees

Admission and tuition fees apply for students from countries outside the EU/EEA. The tuition fee at the Royal Institute of Art is 75 000 SEK for the course 2016/2017 and the admission fee is 900 SEK. International students who have been accepted to a study programme in Sweden must show financial means of support during study time to the immigration authorities in order to obtain a study visa. Read more about fees