Fed up with the prohibitions that have been placed on thought since the Critique of Pure Reason and enforced by the inheritors of the Kantian paradigm for far too long, contemporary philosophy is no longer content to hesitate at the threshold of human experience. A renewed interest in speculative philosophy is quickly coming to characterise the theoretical and philosophical paradigms of the opening decades of our century. New inflections of pre-critical realism and materialism are redefining the fraught relationship between philosophy and the sciences and once again granting thought licence to go beyond the limits of its empirical relation to the world. Ours is an era of grand systems, novel ontologies and non-dogmatic metaphysics. However, if we subscribe to the radical democratisation or disavowal of human experience proposed by such philosophies, how do we rethink the relationship, even the possibility, of art and aesthetics?
Via the collective close-reading of key speculative realist texts we hope to confront the marginalisation of aesthetics in the wake of the speculative turn and reconsider the consequences of such thought for human systems of representation in order to discover new possibilities for artistic, and specifically literary, practice. This reading group will consolidate and invigorate engagement with speculative realism in Australia, creating a local hub for Antipodean work on new materialisms and new realisms.
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