The School of Indispensable Knowledge

Nathan Brown – Rationalist empiricism: politics, epistemology, ontology

January 30 - February 1 2017 @ MaMa

The School of the Indispensable Knowledge continues its course!


With the beginning of the 2017, following Dubravka Ugrešić, Peter Szendy, Slobodan Šijan and Eyal Sivan, among others, we will host Nathan Brown, Catherine Malabou and Érik Bullot. In his three-day seminar, Nathan will lead us into the very heart of the contemporary philosophical debates surrounding the work of Quentin Meillassoux and his breakthrough debut book After Finitude, which was recently published in Croatian.

January 30 (Monday) at 17:00h: Rationalist Empiricism, Dialectical Materialism: From Althusser to Meillassoux
January 31 (Tuesday) at 17:00h: The Criterion of Immanence and the Transformation of Structural Causality: From Althusser to Théorie Communiste
Februrary 1 (Wednesday) at 17:00h: Speculative Idealism, Speculative Materialism: Hegel, Heidegger, Meillassoux


This series of three lectures will theorize “rationalist empiricism” as a methodological trajectory in modern and contemporary thought, presenting its implications for communist politics, speculative epistemology, and the philosophy of time. The first lecture will uncover the participation of Quentin Meillassoux’s work in the reorientation of dialectical materialism carried out by Louis Althusser. The second lecture will treat the inheritance of Althusserian theory by Théorie Communiste, arguing that the latter fulfill the Spinozist “criterion of immanence” that eluded Althusser through a rationalist empiricist understanding of the relation between communist theory and practice. The final lecture then returns to the ontological implications of Meillassoux’s speculative materialism, situating these with respect to Hegel’s speculative idealism and reconstructing the theory of time articulated in Meillassoux’s unpublished doctoral dissertation on this basis.


The goal of these lectures is to grasp the methodological consequences of contemporary speculative philosophy in a manner that does not reduces these to a theoretical trend or an anti-Kantian polemic, but rather unfolds an alternative history of political, epistemological, and ontological thought—rationalist empiricism—that Meillassoux’s work carries forward.


Nathan Brown is the director of the Centre for Expanded Poetics at Concordia University. He is the author of the monography The Limits of Fabrication: Materials Science, Materialist Poetics.


Important notice: We kindly ask you to announce your participation at mi2@mi2.hr (deadline: January 25).