Research team

Center for European Philosophy

Expertise

Research and evaluation assignments concerning philosophical questions in general, questions concerning contemporary philosophy, philosophy of art and philosophy of culture in particular.

Virtuality and the Blurred Boundaries between Reality and Fiction. 01/10/2020 - 30/09/2023

Abstract

Contemporary virtual media let us interactively explore computergenerated environments. Peculiar to these environments is their ambiguous (non)representational nature: they actually exist as computer-generated representations, which might mandate their user to imagine a fictional world, or might simply be used as actual tools for real-world interactions. Current philosophical debates, however, always start from a categorization of the virtual as either real or irreal. As a result, these debates fail to address what is actually at stake in the experience of virtual media: the way in which these media complicate the relation and distinction between the fictional, nonfictional, and nonrepresentational. The aim of this project is to develop a framework that takes into account the fictional, nonfictional, and nonrepresentational aspects of virtual media, clarifies how they are related, and how their simultaneous presence influences our experience of virtual environments. For this purpose, I will critically re-examine philosophical reflections on the role of creative intentions, and appreciator interpretation and participation in the experience of representations, and specify how these need to be amended when it comes to the experience of virtual environments. In the end, I will describe not only the nature of (our experience of) virtual environments, but also strategies to deal with the (sometimes deceitful) (non)fictional status of virtually presented content.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The Paradox of Interactive Fiction: A New Approach to Imaginative Participation in Light of Interactive Fiction Experiences 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

The aim of this project is to develop a theory of fiction that accounts for the imaginative experience of interactive fictions such as videogames and virtual or augmented reality games. Peculiar to these kinds of fiction is that they are interactive, as their narrative development depends on the actions of the appreciator who is granted agency within the story through identification with a fictional character. Consequently, the experience of interactive fiction is often immersive in the sense that the appreciator feels present in the represented space. Existing fiction theories, such as Kendall Walton's make-believe theory and Peter Lamarque's thought theory, discuss traditional fictions like literature, theatre, and film. As such, these theories do not explain the fact that we can be moved to act towards fictional representations. Based on a critical examination of existing fiction theories, this project will develop a theory that accounts for the interaction with fictional objects.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Literature, Truth, and Meaning. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

One of the most debated topics in the philosophy of literature is the relation between literature and truth. Philosophers have articulated this relationship in many different ways, but it is remarkable that they have often investigated this relation starting from the realist novel of the 19th century. Yet the novel has undergone an important transformation with the rise of the modernist novel. This means that many of the philosophical theories on the novel's truth-value are unable to give an account of the meaning of literary artworks of the 20th or 21st century. Therefore, this project aims to investigate the novel's truth-value starting from the modernist novel. In particular, this project focuses on hermeneutic and deconstructionist theories on (modernist) literature and its relation to truth.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The Paradox of Interactive Fiction: a New Approach to Imaginative Participation in Light of Interactive Fiction Experiences. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

The aim of this project is to examine contemporary theories of fiction and imagination with regard to the imaginative experience of interactive fictions such as videogames and virtual or augmented reality games, and to develop a comprehensive theory of fiction and imagination that is able to account for interactive fiction. Peculiar to interactive fiction is that the appreciator is also a participant in the story, as the narrative development depends on the actions of the appreciator who is granted agency within the story through identification with a fictional character. Consequently, the appreciator of interactive fiction feels present in the represented, fictional space. The existing, dominant fiction theories, such as Kendall Walton's make-believe theory and Peter Lamarque's thought theory, discuss traditional fictions like literature, theatre, and film. As such, these theories cannot explain the fact that we can be moved to act towards fictional representations. To analyse the strengths and problems of both fiction theories in explaining the imaginative experience of interactive fiction, they will be confronted with Paul Ricoeur's hermeneutic approach of fiction. In his fiction theory, Ricoeur makes use of the concept of re-figuration and of a notion of practice to describe the experience of literary fiction. These two notions will be analysed and used to avoid the problems of Walton's make-believe theory and to investigate whether and how Lamarque's thought theory can be expanded to account for interactive fiction. A central aspect in Lamarque's theory of fiction is the opacity thesis, which states that the imaginative experience of a reader of literary fiction is determined by the way the fictional events are presented within the work of fiction. The hypothesis in this project will be that Lamarque's opacity thesis can be expanded and reinterpreted to contribute to the explanation of interactive fiction experiences. A study will thus be conducted on whether and how the new aspects of interactive fiction experiences – agency, immersion, and identification – are dependent on the specific mode of presentation of the interactive, fictional narrative. Furthermore, we will investigate whether and how the concept of imagination that is dominant within contemporary fiction theories should be modified. Generally speaking, these theories assume that fiction-induced imagination can cause (quasi-)emotions, but not actions. To show that fiction-induced imagination can motivate actions towards fictional objects, this project will draw from contemporary studies on imagination within the field of the philosophy of mind and confront these studies with the phenomenological approach of imagination in the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre's approach, in which the constitutive contribution of the imagination to emotions and actions is analysed, might provide an interesting perspective to account for the connection between imagination, emotion, and action in the interactive fiction experience. Throughout these different steps, this project will gradually clarify and articulate the role of imagination in (interactive) fiction experiences. Lastly, the developed position will be evaluated by checking whether it is able to solve persistent problems within the philosophy of fiction (including the so-called paradox of fiction), and whether it is able to explain the phenomenological experience of interactive fiction.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The Paradox of Interactive Fiction: A New Approach to Imaginative Participation in Light of Interactive Fiction Experiences. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

The aim of this project is to develop a theory of fiction that accounts for the imaginative experience of interactive fictions such as videogames and virtual or augmented reality games. Peculiar to these kinds of fiction is that they are interactive, as their narrative development depends on the actions of the appreciator who is granted agency within the story through identification with a fictional character. Consequently, the experience of interactive fiction is often immersive in the sense that the appreciator feels present in the represented space. Existing fiction theories, such as Kendall Walton's make-believe theory and Peter Lamarque's thought theory, discuss traditional fictions like literature, theatre, and film. As such, these theories do not explain the fact that we can be moved to act towards fictional representations. Based on a critical examination of existing fiction theories, this project will develop a theory that accounts for the interaction with fictional objects.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Literature, Truth, and Meaning. 01/10/2015 - 13/01/2018

Abstract

One of the most debated topics in the philosophy of literature is the relation between literature and truth. Philosophers have articulated this relationship in many different ways, but it is remarkable that they have often investigated this relation starting from the realist novel of the 19th century. Yet the novel has undergone an important transformation with the rise of the modernist novel. This means that many of the philosophical theories on the novel's truth-value are unable to give an account of the meaning of literary artworks of the 20th or 21st century. Therefore, this project aims to investigate the novel's truth-value starting from the modernist novel. In particular, this project focuses on hermeneutic and deconstructionist theories on (modernist) literature and its relation to truth.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Jewish Nation - Zionist State – Divine Law: The Critical Political Theology of Jewish Dialogical Philosophy. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

Critical political theology is a discipline that develops political theory based on religious ideas and vice versa. There is a great deal of work being done on critical political theology from a Christian perspective, but very little from a Jewish one. My project aims at helping to create such a field of Jewish political theology that has relevance for current philosophical debates on religion and politics. The first step in this process is retrieving und uncovering critical political theologies that were already present in Jewish thought, but have remained unrecognized.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Narrative Estrangement and Literary Theory. The Case of Kafka's Impact on Maurice Blanchot's Fictional and Critical Work. 01/01/2014 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

This research project intends to give a comprehensive account of Blanchot's relation to Kafka. Its main goal is to gain in-depth insight into the role and significance of Kafka's work in Blanchot's own fictional writings, literary theory and analyses of contemporary culture.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Singularity and Responsibility. 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

At first glance the question of responsibility seems to be a question of freedom: is one responsible for his/her actions, because she/he has chosen these actions freely? In a recent philosophical debate that has been inspired by the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, responsibility is however understood as the result of a call: as a task that isn¿t the result of any free choice, but that is received in a passive way. This call is received by a singular person and has to be answered by this person only. Levinas¿ concept of responsibility has been put into question by some critics as Jean-Luc Marion and Paul Ricoeur, who doubt Levinas¿ claim that ethical responsibility (the call to do the good) can be singular. Ricoeurs and Marions criticisms point at the fundamental problem of an ethics of responsibility: how is it possible for a call that is addressed at any person, to ask for an answer that only I can give? This question will be the core of the following research project which goal consists in investigating how singularity can be considered as a condition of freedom. The project will carefully investigate the following three questions. 1.) Can the call for the good be singular (i.e. unique) so that it is possible to say that it singularizes me? 2.) Can a passive call for responsibility result in concrete ethical practice? 3.) In what sense does freedom depend on singular ethicalacting in practice?

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Beyond Baudelaire's indignation : an enquiry into the interplay between the art markets and the decline of the representation theory in art criticism. The case of Brussels, 1848-1914. 01/07/2012 - 30/06/2016

Abstract

The purpose of this interdisciplinary project is to gain an in-depth understanding of 'art value' through a diachronic analysis of the Brussels art market (1848-1914) in relation to simultaneous transformations in the art-theoretical discourse and aesthetic thinking. Preparatory historical research has shown that the Brussels art market was profoundly restructured during the second half of the 19th century (Arnout). Interestingly enough, this reorganization of the Brussels art market did not only coincide with a striking increase in the number of specialized art magazines, but also with the decline of the representation theory and the rise of the expression theory in the visual arts at the end of the 19th century. Through a systematic analysis of various forms of discourse on art value (ranging from market value eloquently phrased in auction catalogues to art criticism in magazines and philosophical aesthetics), these phenomena will for the first time be approached in one research project. Whereas historical research on art markets benefits both from an in-depth art-historical knowledge of the works sold and from an insight into the aesthetic canon of a certain period (Lyna), the need for a historical dimension becomes more and more explicit in art-philosophical research concerning the criticism of representation. In this interdisciplinary project, the paradigm shift from representation theory to expression theory offers a unique opportunity to fathom the interplay of aesthetic thinking and the (historical transformations of the) art markets.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Between tekhné and technics. Hannah Arendt, Günther Anders, Herbert Marcuse, and Hans Jonas. 01/10/2011 - 30/09/2013

Abstract

Recently, a large number of studies have been devoted to the influence of Martin Heidegger's thought on his Jewish students, given his brief allegiance to national-socialism. Most of these studies however seem to neglect the importance of a phenomenon that he himself has pointed out as being an important ground on which he based his decision to support this political movement, i.e. the emergence of modern technics. This research will therefore try to establish that the philosophical writings of some of the most prominent of these students -Hannah Arendt, Günther Anders, Herbert Marcuse, and Hans Jonas- should be understood as a critical interpretation and re-appropriation of Heidegger's early writings on the division between technique and technology.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Why Kafka? On the concepts 'singularity' and 'universality' in the philosophical reception of his work. 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

This interdisciplinary research project takes its cue from the paradoxical reception of Kafka's work in philosophy and literary criticism. While the latter, though bent on the particularities of Kafka's writing, mostly emphasizes the universal meaning of his work, the former, traditionally concerned with universals, refers to Kafka's work as a means of illustrating an experience of singularity. Taking this paradox as a starting point, the project aims at revealing the discrepancies between the literary object and its accompanying discourses. More specifically, it plans to give renewed attention to the ways in which the literary dimension of Kafka's work relates the singular and the universal, a characteristic that has been neglected both in philosophical references to Kafka attempting to recover the singular in conceptual terms, and in literary criticism's tendency to regard his work as an expression of a universal condition humaine. The research project will pursue this goal through an analysis of key 20th-century philosophical works that have interrogated Kafka's work. This study will evaluate the philosophical reception of Kafka's work against the backdrop of analyses of the nature of literary language, the peculiarities of the narrative organization of literary discourse and the theme of modernity in his work.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Singularity and Responsibility. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2012

Abstract

At first glance the question of responsibility seems to be a question of freedom: is one responsible for his/her actions, because she/he has chosen these actions freely? In a recent philosophical debate that has been inspired by the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, responsibility is however understood as the result of a call: as a task that isn¿t the result of any free choice, but that is received in a passive way. This call is received by a singular person and has to be answered by this person only. Levinas¿ concept of responsibility has been put into question by some critics as Jean-Luc Marion and Paul Ricoeur, who doubt Levinas¿ claim that ethical responsibility (the call to do the good) can be singular. Ricoeurs and Marions criticisms point at the fundamental problem of an ethics of responsibility: how is it possible for a call that is addressed at any person, to ask for an answer that only I can give? This question will be the core of the following research project which goal consists in investigating how singularity can be considered as a condition of freedom. The project will carefully investigate the following three questions. 1.) Can the call for the good be singular (i.e. unique) so that it is possible to say that it singularizes me? 2.) Can a passive call for responsibility result in concrete ethical practice? 3.) In what sense does freedom depend on singular ethicalacting in practice?

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Singularity and repetition: the notion of the neuter and the condition of subjectivity in the work of Maurice Blanchot 01/02/2009 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

The aim of the project is to publish a translation in Dutch of the main critical texts of Maurice Blanchot concerning the issue of the neutre. This issue is worked out by the author in discussion with the contemporary philosophical discourse (in sofar as it is inspired by the philosophy of Heidegger) and in relation to the modernist transformation of the narrative structure of the story.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)