Lectures / Projective Theory of Technology / Thinking as an Algebraic Mechanist

SUMMER COURSE: A SEMINAR ON »Information Societies and the Questions of Subjectivity and Identity«

Bildschirmfoto 2014-07-11 um 16.04.05


This is the schedule for a seminar that is about to start for the MAS Postgraduate Course Architecture and Information at ETH Zurich. We meet once a week on Monday afternoons, in order to encode and decipher together some of the »intellectual magnitudes« that are formalized in the key vectors which constitute the kaleidoscopic theory-landscape of postmodern, poststructuralist, and media theoretic discourses.

The meetings will be organized according to particular reading assignments. We will have 2 hours lecture and 2 hours discussion in each session.

Participants are expected to prepare themselves by reading the assigned texts in a »data-literate manner«. What does that mean? I also don’t know. On a methodological level, the Seminar is an exercise in finding out more about this.

Some preliminary guidelines: don’t (primarily) try to grasp the depth of the arguments discussed. Exercise in how to encounter a text in a formal manner first. This requires fast reading. Look at each text as an »intellectual body« that allows you to sense certain things, and to do certain things – characterize in your own words what these bodies allow you to engage with, and how. Read the titles as what they literally are: Formal registers that collect and express particular capacities. Contemplate the table of contents. Again and again. Imagine what the chapters and paragraphs might be about. Scroll and read through the chapters and paragraphs while keeping their titles (as well as the position of the titles within the tables of contents) in mind. Try to develop a sense for how value-attributing weights are distributed in the core concepts of the texts. Use computational tools to get organized in your circular and contemplative readings: make maps of the frequencies of used words, of the activities (verbs) attributed to the themes (nouns), of the qualifications attributed to the activities and the nouns. Pay attention to how passivity (receptivity) and activity (agency) are organized. Prepare to share these readings in the discussions (organize keywords, attribute labels to them, present to the group your characterization of the »intellectual bodies« that you began to get familiar with in your reading.


Session 0 // Mo July 7th  2014

Within the quantum paradigm 


Constituting Objectivity
M. Bitbol et al. (eds.), Springer 2009
(Introduction, ca 20 pages)

What is the Measure of Nothingness? Infinity, Virtuality, Justice
Karen Barad, Hatje Cantz 2012
(ca 15 pages)


Session 1 // Mo July 14th 2014

Orality, literacy, and the discordant practices in »media-based communication«


The Gutenberg Galaxy. The Making of Typographic Man
Marshall McLuhan (1965)
(250 pages)

The Literacy Episteme: From Innis to Derrida
Jens Brockmeier and David R. Olson, in: The Cambridge Handbook of Literacy (ed. by David R. Olson and Nancy Torrance, Cambridge UP 2009.
(20 pages)


Session 2 // Mo July 21st 2014

The dawn of anthropocentrism and the settlement of age and nonage (Unmündigkeit) into legal terms


What is Enlightenment? (1784)
Immanuel Kant
(ca 10 p.)

Transcendental Doctrine of Elements (1781)
Immanuel Kant
(ca 50 p.)

The Architectonic of Pure Reason (1781)
Immanuel Kant
(ca 10 p.)

System of Cosmological Ideas (1781)
Immanuel Kant
(ca 10 p.)


Session 3 // Mo August 4th 2014

The transcendental subject and anthropology, or some lemmata of linking a »dead corpus« (legal terms) with a »quick organon« (natural faculties of reasoning)


How to make our ideas clear
Charles Sanders Peirce (1878)
(ca. 20 p.)

Excerpts from „Difference and Repetition“ (1968)
Gilles Deleuze
(excerpts, ca 20 p. to be announced)


Session 4 // Mo August 18th 2014

Post Modernity


Mathematics and the Roots of Postmodern Thought
Vladimir Tasic, Oxford UP 2001
(150 p.)

The Postmodern Condition. A Report on Knowledge (1979)
Jean-Francois Lyotard
(110 S.)


Session 5 // Mo August 25th 2014

The materiality of discourse and the mercantilization of knowledge


We have never been modern
Bruno Latour
(150 S.)


Session 6 // Mo  September 1st 2014

»Bodies-to-think-in« as »communicational subjectivities«


EigenArchitecture. Cultivating the generic. A mathematically inspired pathway for architects.
Ludger Hovestadt (in Ludger Hovestadt and Vera Bühlmann (eds.), EigenArchitecture, ambra 2013)

Articulating a thing entirely in its own terms, or what can we understand by the notion of »engendering«?
Vera Bühlmann (in Ludger Hovestadt and Vera Bühlmann (eds.), EigenArchitecture, ambra 2013).


Session 7 // Mo  September  8th 2014

Universal Rights: Cosmo-Literacy, and the legal conditions for a home of subjects that are coming-of-age (mündige Subjekte)


The Natural Contract  (1990)
Michel Serres
(150 S.)



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