Zagreb, Croatia | Death - The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning | Zagrebi! Festival 2014

Image: Malin Stahl | Death Waiting (Dusk)  | 2013 | performance | 55min | photo: Elisabet Rydell-Janson |

7. Zagrebi! Festival 2014
Death - The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning

Friday, 31 October 2014 / 5pm
KIC, Preradoviceva 5, Zagreb, Croatia


From Thanatology, through Necropolitics, towards the Political Philosophy of Death.

In order to safeguard his happiness, contemporary Western man has contrived to stop thinking at all about death and, more particularly, about his own death, to deny it in a way by maintaining a stony silence with regard to it.

Bernard N. Schumacher, Death and Mortality in Contemporary Philosophy (2010)

The topic of death has traditionally kept a privileged status in philosophy. However, its position has been altered in the contemporary ("biopolitical") context and disturbed by the domination of life-centered discourses: capitalism supposedly prefers "life", not "death". Given such a domination, philosophy has distanced itself from one of its most significant tasks: contemplating the essence of human condition. In other words, by abandoning the question of death (which is at the very roots of the philosophical discipline itself) or through its deliberate erosion, it risks losing the fundamental bond with what makes its nature specifically philosophical. If we assume that the withdrawal of "death" from Western philosophy is a result of the prevailing "universal rationality" of the so-called developed world, we can also account for the following: a contemporary philosopher has willy-nilly found him/herself alienated from the essence of his/her discipline. What does this mean in the onthological sense? It means that philosophy has self-excluded itself by giving up the central reason of its own existence. Thus, philosophy committed a kind of suicide. As a result, if philosophy has indeed committed "suicide" it has not distanced but rather brought itself, once again, closer to "death".

Attempting to shed light on some geopolitical implications of this paradox, the lecture in Zagreb aims to repoliticize "death" from a decolonial (necropolitical and thanatological) perspective. Unlike the conceptual question (WHAT is death?), which refers to the meaning and continuos problem with the definition of the term, something else is hereby asumed. The discursive space in the West – to have this question posed at all – has undergone the process of strategic reduction. Among other reasons, this process is steadily motivated by the tacit instrumentalization of human mortality on behalf of the sovereign power for the sake of expanding its worldwide domination. In response to such a "politics of death", the problem of the place is put forward (WHERE is death?). Hence, what takes centerstage in this lecture is the philosophical place of "death": where is it in the context of global necrocapitalism and what kind of philosophy, instead of Western thanatology, illuminates the dark (depoliticized) side of the road towards this place?

#europe #en


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