Seeing it Whole: A Revolution of the Mind in the Human Sciences

  • Murphy, Michael (PI)
  • Dabashi, hamid (CoI)
  • Brisbourne, Alistair (CoI)
  • Dennis, James (CoI)
  • Gilliam, Christian (CoI)
  • Lueders, Claudia (CoI)

Project: Other

Project Details


The conference remit
Nearly all social and political thought, modernist or post-modernist operates within or responds
through an ‘individualist’ account of being human: a human as distinct, 'rational, and autonomous.Through this ontology it discusses subjectivity, inter-subjectivity, and institutions which are then used to justify social and political responses locally and globally. Furthermore, much of the science of society that is produced is largely theoretical that is detached from the tensions and opportunities,and life expectations of reality. It is irrelevant to the concerns and lives of ordinary people, lives in which information of the social and political world in which they are embedded is acquired through the television. It is an approach to the study of human societies that is rooted in a considered fiction that reduces the different visions of humanity to bland monotony. Here the ‘West’s’ thought provides permission to be free, as if cultures other than the ‘West’ have not considered questions such as what it is to be human and how I should live with my neighbour. They hem in the debate.It views these world views as NIH-not invented here and therefore of little value.
Over the last decade there has emerged in the ‘Western’ academic community different ways of seeing being human; of how we relate to ourselves, others and the world. These have, in general terms, attempted to move away from treating thought as a historical artefact, to become less focused on the linguistic and semantic analyse of its metaphorical effects and to become engaged in the everyday reality. It calls for an approach to the practice of thought that recognises the individual as embedded, embodied and acting through social relationships. It re-asks the question “Who are we?” This does, in my opinion, offer an innovative and provocative way forward from Western thought’s preoccupation with a distinct and autonomous self; its detached relationship to itself, to other and the world in which it is embedded.However, these calls for a re-evaluation of the human sciences remain tentatively within the auspices of the European and American mind. This conference wishes to break that anchorage. This is not to reject the developments of the human sciences within the European traditions but to contextualise it as one considered fiction among many that humans, or human-to-human have told themselves. A aim of the conference will be to enunciate what has been excluded and to theorise what is possible: To attempt to see it whole. As such the conference would wish to firstly incorporate non-textual practices of telling the story of being human and then to explore how these can be theoretical possibilities in terms of incorporation in the human sciences.In terms of the conference and in my own research the concept of a human science sets aside the division of labour between the lawgiver and the artist. The artist has always been able to capture the space of social relationships and the other within all. However, it is always easier to be against something: the point of the conference is to be for something.
The theme of the conference is to explore theoretical and methodological possibilities that address what has been excluded in terms of ‘sciences of society’ and to bring relevance and a contextualised universalism as opposed to ideality. This would extend into questions of policy formation, structuresof institutions and how institutions conceive of their role.As well as the, shall I describe as the formal part of the conference I intend to have art exhibitions. I will shortly be discussing with international artists about such an exhibition that will be open to the public. In the spirit of the Art of Betweenness I also want to stage a performance(s)/ concert/drama.My vision for the concert/drama/performance is: it will comprise of original commissioned score-musical/play. The theme of this will be the meeting of bodies/cultures and the transformational possibilities through such a meeting. It will also identify how difficult this actually is. This would be reflected in the structure of the performance and music and in the musical traditions that it draws on. It will also identify space for the excluded, as the social and the political world being a world of never-ending imperfection, of being human as imperfect in an imperfect world. The score, narrative structure should reflect this. Therefore, this will require the composer, artists working with social scientists. It should draw on geographical/cultural identities but allow for fluidity(tensions/opportunities) within and between all communities.
Effective start/end date31/10/1315/04/15