Workshop: The value of disruptive moments for our lives

University of Antwerp - 3 and 4 May 2018

About the workshop

Conflicts within practical deliberation are omnipresent. The various practical identities we ascribe to might conflict, and thus cease to guide us. Or, we might come to feel alienated from an identity we used to feel comfortable with. Lastly, our lives might take an unexpected turn, rendering our understanding of ourselves (partially) obsolete. Our natural response is to strive to overcome these disruptions in an effort to reach a harmonious, unified self. In this way, we come to assume that disruptive experiences play a merely negative role: they point us to inconsistencies in our practical identities, which need to be resolved through practical deliberation. But is this really the case, or can disruptive moments be of positive value to our lives as well?

Only recently, we have begun to see full-blown theories that incorporate inner disruption as valuable to self-constitution. Thus, Christoph Menke (in Kraft) argues that being a subject presupposes not only normative capacities, but also a prior, vital self that is the site of an aesthetic and disruptive play of forces. Jonathan Lear (in A Case for Irony) argues that a capacity for irony (i.e. a capacity to experience uncanniness) is essential to the healthy functioning of practical deliberation. Ami Harbin (in Disorientation and Moral Life) shows more generally the value and significance of disorientations for action and our moral lives.

With this workshop we wish to chart the various ways in which the striving for a harmonious, unified self is challenged, suspended and possibly partly constituted by disruptive experiences, e.g. in psycho-analytic practice, through receiving a medical or psychiatric diagnosis, or in aesthetic perceptions. Furthermore, we hope to enquire after the possibly productive role that such episodes play in allowing us to rethink ourselves in ways not adequately conceptualized by current models of practical deliberation.

About the speakers
Christoph Menke (Goethe University Frankfurt) and Ami Harbin (Oakland University) will be keynote speakers at the workshop.


Day 1
09.45-10.10     Registration
10.10-10.15     Some words of introduction

10.15-11.15     Henk van Gils “Disruption and disorientation in action: a classification”

11.30-12.30     Lubomira Radoilska “Appropriating Disruption” 


13.45-14.45     Kristien Hens “Beyond the diagnosis: the meaning of a psychiatric label for adults recently diagnosed with autism” 

15.00-16.00     Dieter Declercq “Moral imperfection and ironic characters in satire”

16.30-18.00     Keynote: Ami Harbin “Disorientation and Fear”

19.00 - …     Workshop dinner

Day 2
09.00-10.00     Clint Verdonschot “Against the sovereignty of practical identity: practical reasoning, disruption and aesthetic contemplation”

10.15-11.15    Katrien Schaubroeck “Being disoriented: some epistemological difficulties”

11.45-12.45    Alfred Archer & Pilar Lopez-Cantero “Disruption, Self-Constitution and Falling Out of Love”


14.00-15.00     Constantin Mehmel “Orientation in loss of orientation: the complex phenomenology of disorientation”

15.30-17.00     Keynote: Christoph Menke t.b.a.

17.00-18.00     Closing drinks

Call for Abstracts

We invite junior and senior researchers to send in proposals for contribution in the form of an abstract of max. 500 words - prepared for blind review. We plan to discuss full papers up to 4000 words.
Send in your 500-word abstract until the 14 of February 2018 to

Important dates

  • Deadline abstract (500 words): 14 of February 2018
  • Notification: 1st of March 2018
  • Deadline full paper (4000 words):  4 of April 2018
  • Important: please prepare the abstract for blind review; put your contact info directly in the e-mail
  • E-mail:

The organizers

  • Katrien Schaubroeck (University of Antwerp)
  • Clint Verdonschot (University of Essex)
  • Henk van Gils (University of Greifswald & University of Antwerp)

With financial support from the Autism Ethics Network (funded by the Research Foundation Flanders). We encourage contributions addressing the topic of the workshop from a perspective like autism as well as other minority perspectives like disability, ethnicity and gender.