Event: One-day Colloquium on Contemporary Scientific Thought

The following one-day colloquium will be held in Saas-Fee, Switzerland on June 18th, 2017 with the participation of Professors Alisa Andrašek, Philip Beesley, Benjamin H. Bratton, Gabriel Catren, Sha Xin Wei, and Elie During. We will also be joined by several guests from CERN including Monica Bello (TBC) and Dr. Andreas Salzburger. This colloquium is free and open to the public. 

Thinking in Emergent Horizons: The Challenges Presented by New Scientific Paradigms and Computation

What thinking is called for--and what is called “thinking”--in a time when the established philosophical connotations of the term are confronted by new forms of intelligence in computational processing, machine learning, and large data?  How are existing theoretical paradigms challenged by an emergent (“quantum”) reality? 

To put this more broadly: what transformations in practicing thought might be required to engage the new technologies and sciences of our moment?  How might art and craft respond?

Finally: What are the conditions (temporal, communicational) and the implications of thinking together in this scarcely definable present? What horizons are shared now between the forms of thought that have been practiced at the EGS over the past twenty years and emerging practices defined by computation.  What horizons must be breached?

 For two decades, the European Graduate School has hosted some of the most sophisticated philosophers and theorists in the continental tradition.  Bringing them together with artists and practitioners in fields such as architecture or film, it has sought to force the limits of contemporary thinking in relation to the questions of our time.  It has instituted a curriculum that promotes radically cross-disciplinary passages (involving philosophy, social theory, literature, and the arts) that cannot be contained by any established school of thinking.  At the same time, it has sought to preserve an intellectual cohesion that allows its community to work in common, even in the face of discontinuities raised by its multifold engagement with social reality.   With the introduction of new forms of thinking (in philosophy of science and design) that embrace the realities opened by computational processing, it brings a new and necessary challenge to the established horizons of inquiry.

We recognize that this challenge must be faced if we are to live up to our ambition to remain at what is often casually referred to as the “cutting edge” of contemporary thought.  If, with Paul Celan, we seek reality in a time when the traditional tent of the sky is torn open, then we must join with our fellow researchers in contemporary science.

We are inviting to this colloquium several professors who have taught with us in the past, so our step on this occasion does not represent a dramatic departure, even as we add new guests from scientific institutes.  But we have yet to reflect as a group on the meaning of their work with us or confront it in a sustained way outside the classroom, and it remains for us to explore the new directions we need to take.  We hope that our colloquium can proceed at the highest levels of contemporary debate in the relevant fields, as is our custom, and that we can bring to the fore the question of undertaking such a conversation in the context of contemporary philosophy and philosophically informed theory from the continental tradition.


Alisa Andrašek, Professor of Design Innovation Technologies, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) Design Hub, and Founder of biothing, a "repository of computation design," and CONTINUUM, an interdisciplinary research collective. 

Philip Beesley, Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo, Founder of Philip Beesley Architect, Inc.

Benjamin H. Bratton, Professor of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego; Director of the Center for Design and Geopolitics.

Gabriel Catren, Researcher in Philosophy and the Philosophy of Mathematical Physics in the institute SPHERE, CNRS, Paris.

Elie During, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Université de Paris Ouest-Nanterre,  Senior Lecturer at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts, Paris, and Project Manager for the CIEPFC, an international centre for the study of contemporary French philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure, Paris.

Sha Xin Wei, Professor and Director of the School of Arts, Media and Engineering at the Arizona State University, as well as the Founder and Director of the Synthesis Center, Arizona State University.

Colloquium Schedule: 

9:30 am      Opening remarks

9:45am --10:40am     Elie During
10:40am --11:35am   Benjamin Bratton
11:35am --12:00pm   Pause
12:00pm --1:00pm     Philip Beesley

2:30pm -- 3:30pm      Gabriel Catren
3:30pm -- 4:30pm      Alisa Andrasek
4:30pm -- 5:00pm      Pause
5:00pm -- 6:00pm      Xin Wei Sha

8:30pm -- 10:00pm    Wrap up, with Monica Bello and Andreas Salzburger

For more information about this colloquium, please write to the Dean of the PACT division, Christopher Fynsk, christopher.fynsk@egs.edu.

Individuals also have the opportunity to attend seminars directed by the participating faculty, June 15-17, and/or June 19-21. The entire schedule can be viewed here, the cost per seminar is 1800 USD. Seats are limited for this possibility. Write to admissions@egs.edu to enroll into this free one-day colloquium (June 18th, 2017). 

View the entire schedule for the June Session in Saas-Fee, Switzerland