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Call for papers n. LIX/2 - Negative dialectics and dialectical image

Deadline for submission: 20th July 2020

Research papers should not exceed 45.000 characters, including spaces and notes and should be accompanied by an abstract in English of no more than 1500 characters and five keywords.

Answer to proposals: 15th October 2020

Expected release: December 2020

Guest Editors: Alice Barale – Università degli Studi di Firenze

                         Francesco Valagussa – Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele

The decline of the Hegelian concept testifies first of all a divorce between time and the forms of its comprehension. The crisis shows itself through a separation between life and history, experience and science, reality and rationality. The “bankrupt of metaphysics” also inevitably affects the

classical heritage of dialectical thinking. This emergency, however, turns into a chance to find new possibilities and attitudes.

Dialectics has to change its traditional strategies. The development of the concept has to give way to a «dialectics at a standstill». What has to be searched is not a “total writing”, which would cancel the distance between being and thinking, but an «image» which, as Benjamin states, is «suddenly emergent» and «wherein what has been comes together with the now to form a constellation». This doesn’t happen in the form of a synthesis, but rather as a return of the forgotten and neglected; not as a progression, but rather as an interruption, an awakening or politics of awakening.

The failure of the Hegelian concept discloses a new space for the dialectics. Since there is no identity between being and thinking, universals always risk turning into violence, and therefore have to be criticized. In Negative Dialectics reality cannot be constructed or reconstructed, because «it would be all too thoroughly construable». The presence of the irrational within society is not just a remnant, but it is rather the product of rationalisation itself.

Singularity becomes at the same time less and more than its universal determination. This shows itself through a split between the administrative apparatus and the real needs of society, between culture and praxis, and through a coming together of subjectivity and disease. In this context, dialectics aims at breaking the circle of an objectivity that has become hostile.

Nevertheless, it could be precisely in the collective imagination, in the apparently less noble and more common phenomena, that one could find (as Benjamin shows) what allows true life to emerge and be saved. Philosophy, therefore, becomes closely intertwined with a concrete analysis of its materials: with the texts, images and testimonies that it considers. Theory as a whole can happen only through a constant immersion in its real contents.

We welcome contributions that address this issue from different perspectives:

- Benjamin and the idea of “dialectical image”, also in its relation with the notion of "dialectic at a standstill", as it is formulated in the Passagen-Werk. The question can be used to investigate different "stratifications" of the Erfahrung: from the link between architecture and the unconscious, to the relationship between commodity and allegory.

- An analysis of the path that brought from the ideal of a "system of science" to the "critical theory of society". An important aspect of this transformation is the new relationship that is established between philosophical investigation and totality.

- The issue of art and the tensions that run through it: between appearance and criticism of appearance itself, between commodity and overcoming of the use value, between spiritual meaning and material presence. How can the problem be reconsidered in the contemporary world?

- The importance of memory, as a re-emergence of the hidden and forgotten. The theme can be investigated from different perspectives: in the light of the role of childhood, of the connection between experience and nature, or between representation (in its literary, figurative, philosophical form) and what escapes representation itself.


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