Invitation for the third seminar of the series: “Imagination, Possibility, and Culture”, conducted by Professor Randall Auxier

31 maj, 2016; Aktualności Ogłoszenia Wykłady gościnne

Department of Philosophy of Culture (IF UW) invites for a series of seminars:
Imagination, Possibility, and Culture
The seminars will be conducted by

Prof. Randall Auxier
(Southern Illinois University Carbondale)

This series of three seminar meetings seeks to examine the fundamental relations among the image, perception, and act. The image will be considered ontologically (Bergson), and as a feeling of the world (Langer), and as the lived symbol in a world of culture. The central thesis is that the idea of “act” unites these three systems of thought tolerably well, both ontologically, by way of the interpretation of possibility, and phenomenologically, by way of an analysis of perception. We will trace a path from Langer’s conception of the apparition/semblance and ritual action to Bergson’s theory of perception in art. And we will trace a path from Langer’s conception of form and symbol to Cassirer’s philosophy of culture and myth. In every case, the status of the image and the act as related to possibility will be the key concept.

Seminar 1: From Presentational Symbol to Dynamic Form: Dance, Ritual and Image
Tuesday 17th of May 4pm-7pm (Institute of Philosophy, room 4, ground floor)

Langer’s symbol theory in a condensed form will be explained, especially with reference to dance (and secondarily to music). The “presentational symbol” as a pre-discursive symbol of the world will be connected to the life of the body and the world as felt. We will discuss the relationship between the “dynamic image” and possibility. We will also discuss Langer’s ideas about form, sign, and symbol to provide a basis for our discussion of Cassirer.
Reading:  Susanne Langer, Problems of Art chs. 1, 3 and 4

Seminar 2: Image and Act: Bergson’s Ontology of Aesthetics
Tuesday 24th of May 5pm-8pm (Stary BUW, room 205)

Bergson’s account of art is epitomized here, and it is a theory of the movement of images, from relatively static memory to a protended or anticipated act, an act that is ahead of the experience of itself. As we grasp the processes of syntaesthetic delay and anticipatory compensation, we begin to get a sense of real duration, as it navigates the image system. Here we will compare Bergson’s images with Langer’s idea of phenomena that “exist only for perception.” We will explore whether reflective intuition (images produces by instincts un-enacted and detached from the lifeworld) is or is not akin to Langer’s ideas about feeling.
Reading: Henri Bergson, Laughter, ch. 1 and also ch. 3, pp. 150-175:

Seminar 3: Politics as a Symbolic Form of Culture: Cassirer’s Theory of Myth
Thursday 2nd of June 5pm-8pm (Institute of Philosophy, room 108, I floor)

Cassirer adapted his concept of the symbol after reading Langer’s Philosophy in a New Key. He explicitly began to speak of the symbol as something detachable from the existential contexts within which it arose, but bearing its history with it. This kind of symbol is a “culture-maker,” constituting full horizons of meaning, each imperious and totalizing, and yet each encompassing a whole world of possible meaning and action. Whether Cassirer’s “symbol” can be understood as an image is a serious and interesting question. What the relation of liberating self-knowledge is to possibility is another difficult and important question.
Reading: Ernst Cassirer, An Essay on Man, ch. 1-4, and 6: Cassirer
Contact: dr Przemysław Bursztyka (

Randall Auxier is a Professor of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University. Among his research interests are philosophy of culture (including popular culture), aesthetics, process philosophy and theology, post-Kantian continental philosophy, pragmatism. His publication include: Time, Will and Purpose: Living Ideas from the Philosophy of Josiah Royce(Chicago, Open Court, 2013), The Quantum of Explanation: Whitehead’s Radical Empiricism (with Gary L. Herstin) (forthcoming in Routledge) and numerous articles on Vico, Bergson, Cassirer, Langer, Whitehead.