What Does It Mean to Say “No”? Negativity Now (Saint Petersburg)


18 April 2011

What Does It Mean to Say “No”? Negativity Now (conference)

Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, St.Petersburg State University (former Smolny College)
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment, 11, room 248

Is it easy to say no – to reject something, deny something, or accept the loss? Philosophy of the last two centuries draws attention to the paradox of negation which cannot help but reaffirm what it pretends rejecting. Nevertheless, at least since Hegel, “negativity,” a real force that enables a logical negation, is considered to be essential to the modern epoch. All major concepts of modernity — subjectivity, democracy, freedom, revolution — include a positive evaluation of the negative. We insist on the irreducible difference, on indeterminate openness, on the decisive break with the past and on the marvelous ability to constantly overcome itself. But this very same negativity has another, depressing face: the epoch of negativity risks, as Nietzsche said, “willing nothing” and therefore wills “the nothing” in absence of a better option.

Today, in retrospect, the twentieth century appears to us as a search for a “true,” absolute negativity, which would not have anything positive in it and would represent a pure nothing or a pure disjuncture. In spite of these attempts, the cause of negativity has so far been lost on the political and institutional level to the force of positivism and consensus. Hence the current resurgence of interest in this notion. Perhaps, after summarizing twentieth-century reflection on the negative, we will be able to think how to institutionalize it.

Program of the Conference

  • 14:00-15:00 Artemy Magun “Why negativity matters? A brief history of the question”
  • 15:00-16:00 Mladen Dolar “Hegel and Freud”
  • 16:00-16:30 Coffee break
  • 16:30-17:30  Benjamin Noys “Economies of negativity”
  • 17:30-17:45 Coffee break
  • 17:45-18:45 Keti Chukhrov “Adorno and the negativity in modernism”
  • 18:45-19:00 Coffee-break
  • 19:00-20:00  Oxana Timofeeva “Negative animality”
  • 20:00-21:30 Drinks and snacks

Talks will be held in English.

For more information:

E-mail: director [DOT] collegium [AT] smolny [DOT] org

Tel: (+7-812) 320-0727


Filed under critical thought

3 responses to “What Does It Mean to Say “No”? Negativity Now (Saint Petersburg)

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