First Publications

Three texts are published on the Publications page by way of prolonging the introductory meeting.

The first is a written introduction to the contemporary situation and to the future of metaphysics and ontology – lacking an eloquent title – “Metaphysics Today and Tomorrow”. It is an extension of the lecture from the first meeting, but it only partially ties into the lecture, and develops certain questions in much more detail. The text constitutes a synthesis of several important works and articles that have been published in French, in English, and in Italian on the subject over the past decade.

The second publication is the French translation (not for sale) of a text by the American metaphysician Dean Zimmerman, entitled “La métaphysique après le vingtième siècle” (“Metaphysics after the Twentieth Century”), which is principally devoted to the future prospects of metaphysics on the brink of the twenty-first century, while posing the question of the “analytic-continental schism”  anew. Dean Zimmerman had the kindness to accept Raphaël Millière’s translating and publishing the text in French, and had reread the results of this work.

Lastly, the site contains a excerpt from the proceedings of the colloquium at Cérisy-la-Salle in 1958, published in the Cahiers de Royaumont in 1962. The text is referred to in “Metaphysics Today and Tomorrow”, and Raphaël Millière had decided that it would be interesting to make an extract of the proceedings available. This colloquium constituted one of the main encounters between “analytic” and “continental” philosophers – these terms having been invented here by Jean Wahl – and made possible discussions between, on the one side, Ryle, Strawson, Quine and Austin, and, on the other side, Alquié, Merleau-Ponty, Wahl and Van Breda. The extract that I have translated corresponds to the “dialogue of the deaf” between Strawson, Van Breda and Wahl that is evoked in “Metaphysics Today and Tomorrow”. It is both amusing for those interested in analytic philosophy, and symptomatic of the incomprehension which still often reigns in the attempts at “dialogue” between the two traditions.

The workshop will continue its activities as planned with two meetings devoted to necessity and to possibility, which will begin this Friday in the seminar room of the pavillon Pasteur, with an intervention by Michele Salimbeni on David Lewis’ modal realism.

[Originally published 12 October 2011. Translated by Mark Ohm.]

[Translator’s note: A translation of the excerpted discussion from Cérisy-la-Salle will soon be added.]

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Schedule of Meetings

With final logistical details being set, in particular the reservation of rooms, the calendar of the seminar is now fixed. The workshop will take place on Fridays from 5:00-7:00 PM, in order to accommodate all of the speakers, and to allow the largest number to attend. The first meeting will be held 7 October 2011 in the salle Celan, at the École normale supérieure (45 rue d’Ulm). Generally, the majority of the meetings will take place in the salle Celan, with the exception of some dates which will be mentioned in the first meeting, for which we will have a replacement room.

All of this information is available on the Practical Information page. As for the dates with room changes, they will be indicated in the calendar planned for this purpose (please let me know if there is an eventual malfunctioning of the calendar so that I can fix it).

[Originally posted 20 September 2011. Translated by Mark Ohm.]

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Addition of Bibliography

A Bibliography page is now available on the site. It will be completed progressively, but you can already find several general works there, which constitute important introductions to contemporary metaphysics and ontology, in addition to a series of works and articles by and around David Lewis. Of course, this bibliography is not a necessary prerequisite for participation in the seminar, but a straightforward reading guide. The articles approached during the meetings of the workshop will be clarified when the time comes.

[Originally published 23 July 2011. Translated by Mark Ohm.]

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Meetings on David Lewis

David Lewis (1941-2001) is without any doubt one of the greatest metaphysicians of the last 50 years. It is only natural, then, that the ATMOC dedicates several meetings to his theory of “modal realism”, especially as we celebrate his 70th birthday this year.

Michele Salimbeni, doctoral student at the EHESS (Institut Jean Nicod), and specialist of David Lewis’ work, has confirmed his intervention in the ATMOC, to present the American philosopher’s system, and to speak on the current stakes of modal realism. Four meetings will no doubt be devoted to these questions under the aegis of Michele Salimbeni:

*First Meeting: “Modal Realism: Modality, Counterfactuals, Possible Worlds”.
*Second Meeting: “Modal Realism: Why should one believe in the plurality of worlds?”.
*Third Meeting: “Modal Realism Today: On the Plurality of Worlds 20 years later”.
*Fourth Meeting: “Outline for a Modal Theory of Perception”. Michele Salimbeni will consecrate this meeting to his own work, which relates the Lewisian theory of possible worlds – to which he introduces substantial modifications – to the concept of image – work that he pursues currently in his thesis under the direction of Frédéric Nef, Possibilité, images et mondes possibles.

Below is the summary that Michele Salimbeni passed on to us:

These interventions are concerned with modal realism: the metaphysical thesis on the plurality of worlds of the American philosopher David Lewis. According to this thesis, possible worlds are not only abstract entities, employed to give an explanation of the two central modal concepts of possibility and necessity, but are also concrete and real entities, like our very universe. For Lewis, “[t]here are so many other possible worlds, in fact, that absolutely every way that a world could possibly be is a way that some world is“. [Lewis 1986: 2] Each of these worlds is a “big physical object”, a big concrete object. But why believe in a plurality of worlds? What are the philosophical benefits of an adherence to this elegant, but controversial theory? In his classic On the Plurality of Worlds, Lewis responds that we must think this plurality “[b]ecause the hypothesis is serviceable, and that is a reason to think that it is true”. [Lewis 1986: 3] We will attempt to comprehend the terms of this utility.

[Originally published 20 July 2011. Translated by Mark Ohm.]

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Creation of the Atelier

The Atelier de métaphysique et d’ontologie contemporaine (ATMOC) will begin its activities in the form of a student seminar at the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in October 2011. A weekly meeting of two hours will be set at the beginning of autumn, according to the availability of rooms and participants (see Practical Information). For a detailed introduction to the ambitions of the ATMOC, one can consult the Introduction to the Workshop. Updates on the ATMOC, whether they are relative to the content of the workshop or to its organization, will be published here.

Practical Information

Who can participate in the workshop?
Everyone can participate in the workshop and attend its weekly meeting, without obligations of regularity or certification. The ATMOC aspires to being both an introductory seminar and a research seminar, in the largest sense. It is not necessary to have a thorough knowledge of contemporary metaphysics and ontology to participate, but, of course, it is preferable to prepare for the meetings, by reading the texts approached.

Does the workshop count towards the diploma at the ENS or at the EHESS?
No, like all student seminars at the ENS, the workshop does not issue any ECTS points, nor any certification.

[Originally published 12 May 2011. Translated by Mark Ohm.]