HICO - Centrum voor Geschiedenis van de Filosofie en Continentale Filosofie

Vakgroep Wijsbegeerte en Moraalwetenschap
Vakgroep Letterkunde
Vakgroep Talen en Culturen
History of philosophy
Continental philosophy



HICO Agenda


— Upcoming events

Yearly HICO Lecture: Sam Berstler & Thomas Pendlebury

Wednesday 15 May, 3.30pm

Room 6.60, Blandijn

For our yearly flagship lecture, HICO is proud to announce a double bill, consisting of the honourable professors Sam Berstler (MIT) and Thomas Pendlebury (University of Chicago). Their lectures will be followed by a reception, generously offered to you by HICO.

3.30pm: T.A. Pendlebury, The Objects of Kant’s Copernican Hypothesis

Kant claims in the Preface to the first Critique’s second edition that metaphysics is possible under the hypothesis that “the objects must conform to our cognition” [die Gegenstände müssen sich nach unserem Erkenntnis richten]. I advance a reading of this claim as meaning that metaphysics is possible under the hypothesis that its constitutive topic is the form of the objects of human cognition as such, where the operative notion of object is that of the Scholastic obiectum formale, itself a descendent of Aristotle’s notion of antikeimenon. Kant contrasts this hypothesis with conceptions of metaphysics as having a constitutive topic defined without reference to, or defined as constituted independently of, capacities possessed by human beings. His claim is thereby not an idealistic thesis within the science of metaphysics but the advancement of an idealistic conception of metaphysics itself: Kantian metaphysics is the science of the human standpoint.

4.50pm: Sam Berstler, Controlling the Subject: Coerced Speech and the Construction of Social Face

Suppose I have you at gunpoint. I demand that you say certain words: that you confess to bogus charges, renounce your dearly held commitments, apologize for actions you stand behind, and so on. You refuse, at great personal cost to yourself. Stories with this structure pervade our cultural landscape and grip our moral imagination. Some of us even demand such sacrifices from ourselves. But under standard philosophical assumptions about speech and coercion, these sacrifices rest on a confusion. Here I propose that the confusion is not the victim’s but the philosopher’s. I argue that the perpetrator and victim are fighting for control over the victim’s self-presentation. The perpetrator aims to control and the victim aims to protect her face, or social self. Drawing on the work of mid-century sociologist Erving Goffman, I develop notions of self-presentation and face that not only explain our puzzle but provide new insight into the structure of social interaction and our concept of personal integrity.


— Past events (Academic year 2023-2024)

Lecture by Eric Schliesser (University of Amsterdam): On The Possibility of an (liberal) art of Government: Foucault, professional philosophy, and Kuhn Loss

Friday 1 March, 4pm


Registration is not required: HICO welcomes all!

Including coffee break and refreshments, generously provided by HICO

Abstract: The circulation and eventual English translation of Foucault’s Lecture series known as The Birth of Biopolitics generated huge scholarly industries on governmentality, biopolitics, and neoliberalism (to name just a few). Without being too precise about it, a much smaller literature developed applying Foucault’s idea of an ‘art of government’ to contemporary issues. However, that there is a liberal art of government – diagnosed by Foucault in the 18th, 19th, and 20th century – has made a negligible impact on contemporary (normative) liberal political philosophy and 'analytic' history of philosophy. This is a bit odd because as Foucault's lectures indicate, there was once a thriving study of a liberal art of government.

My paper will re-inscribe Foucault’s account of the liberal art of government in a much larger history of the art of government, and then diagnose the grounds of the so-called Kuhn Loss. it consists of four parts.

First, in a once famous paper (1962), “Rationalism and Politics,” Oakeshott suggested that the very idea of an art of government is relatively new, dating back to Machiavelli. (Oakeshott is critical of this development.) As is well known, Foucault is familiar with Machiavelli’s significance to the art of government, and traces its effects in earlier lectures during the 1970s. In particular, Foucault calls attention to the seminal role of Bacon.

Second, in his narrative, Foucault leaves a century-long gap. I will point to the manner in which Locke and Toland conceive the art of government; and thereby provide a kind of missing preface to the Birth of Biopolitics. The gap in the narrative is less mysterious once one realizes that Elie Halevy’s *The growth of philosophic radicalism* is (alongside Tocquevile’s writings) both a source and target of Foucault’s lectures.

Before diagnosing the Kuhn Loss, I inscribe Oakeshott’s and Foucault’s narratives in a much longer framework. Foucault himself had noted the significance of Plato’s Statesman to his project. But on the narrative I propose, Plato’s Republic is the originating source—yes, footnotes again. The Republic is structured around the need for an art of government within the epistemic and cognitive division of labor. By using Plutarch’s reading of Damon, we can discern how Plato lets Socrates defer to Damon (a political advisor to Pericles) on the contents of this art, and thereby helps correct the image of Socrates as an isolated gadfly.

I conclude by diagnosing the source of a Kuhn loss by showing how from being central in Mill’s philosophy, the art of government was made disciplinarily homeless in the modern university.


Lezing door Emiliano Acosta (HICO): Over idioten, non-binair denken en emancipatie in de geschiedenis van de wijsbegeerte

Maandag 26 February, 4pm


Inschrijven is niet nodig: HICO heet iedereen welkom!

Inclusief koffiepauze met versnaperingen, U vrijgevig aangeboden door HICO

Abstract: Voor velen maakt de imperatief “ken jezelf” het wezen uit van het filosoferen. Maar is hetgeen men gebruikelijk onder "ken jezelf" begrijpt, ook de betekenis die filosofen aan deze woorden gaven? Filosofie is zeker en vast een soort antwoord op deze imperatief. Maar het idee dat deze zelfkennis kennis van de singulariteit van mijn bestaan is, is allesbehalve iets dat we bij de meeste filosofen zouden vinden. Het is eerder wat het gezond verstand – lees: de idioten die we allemaal volgens Heraclitus zijn – denkt dat de filosofie is. De zelfkennis waar bepaalde filosofen over praten is iets anders. Deze vertrekt vanuit de veronderstelling dat men pas begint te filosoferen als men voorbij elke vorm van dualiteit durft te denken, en het absolute, zelfs ahistorische, karakter van elke grens tussen normaal en abnormaal durft uit te dagen. In die zin is filosofie weliswaar reactief, maar in deze reactie zit de mogelijkheid tot emancipatie van het dogmatisme dat ons het paradijs of de comfortzone van het niet-denken aanbiedt.

Deze ideeën – het idiotisme, het non-binair denken en de emancipatie – maken de kern uit van het laatste boek van Emiliano Acosta: Filosofische Decamerone. In deze lezing voor HICO bespreekt en illustreert hij ze aan de hand van een aantal werken van filosofen die in zijn boek aan bod komen.

Lecture by Prof. Angela Condello (University of Messina): Sciences of the spirit vs. Sciences of nature: Law through the algorithmic revolution

UPDATE: Due to illness, professor Condello's talk was given online

Monday 12 February, 10am


Registration: gertrudis.vandevijver@ugent.be

Abstract: In this lecture I discuss the current opening of law and legal professions to artificial intelligence in terms of a “total social fact” generated by a graphical and linguistic revolution. I will address how this affects law mainly at an epistemological level, since it concerns its scientificity by involving the form of the data and the information circulated and used for legal operations.

Engaging with the dichotomy between “sciences of the spirit” versus “sciences of nature” through the work of Dilthey in particular, aiming to argue against such a challenge in our civilization and legal culture. Accepting a certain method means accepting a certain idea of law, because law does not just have a method, but is its own method.


The Entwinement of Logic and Life (12-14 September 2023)

Our honorable members Levi Haeck, Kobe Keymeulen, and Xuansong Liu have organized a conference on the entwinement of ‘logic’ and ‘life’ in German idealism and its intellectual legacy.




HICO aims to foster research in continental philosophy, broadly conceived, and in the history of philosophy at Ghent University. It coordinates, promotes and supervises research on the history of philosophy from antiquity to the present day. It also hosts research in contemporary continental philosophy that centres on politics, religion, art, aesthetics, culture, psychology, science, ... and that engages in a critical and interdisciplinary dialogue with the history of Western and non-Western philosophy. HICO welcomes PhD students and researchers in any area of continental philosophy and history of philosophy.



Externe leden

Tiziano Toracca

Angela Condello

Adjunct Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Torino; Adjunct Professor, Department of Law, University of Roma

Voormalige leden