On Friday, November 14 @ 2:30pm I’m giving a talk called “Plasticity, American-Style” in the visiting speakers series at Duquesne University. Everyone is welcome. It’ll happen in the Silverman Phenomenology Center. Here’s the abstract:
Contemporary philosophy has come to associate, if not identify, the concept of plasticity with the work of Catherine Malabou. For Malabou, the chief source of this concept is Hegel. In The Future of Hegel, originally a dissertation written under the direction of Jacques Derrida, the Hegelian roots of plasticity are well-documented. It is a mistake, however, to suppose that plasticity is exclusively, or even primarily, an Hegelian concept—Malabou finds it active in neuroscience, of course, but also in Spinoza, Freud, Nietzsche, and many others. What we do not find in Malabou’s writings, however, is a recognition of the intensive thinking of plasticity in the American philosophical tradition, particularly the philosophical psychology of William James and John Dewey. This paper brings Malabou’s work into dialogue with American philosophy not only to show that plasticity has a broader and more nuanced philosophical history, but also to complicate and enrich Malabou’s own concept.