International Conference organized by ZETESIS Research Group


Pisa, 8-10 June 2016

Advisory Committee: Alfredo Ferrarin (Università di Pisa), Gianluca Garelli (Università di Firenze), Luca Illetterati (Università di Padova)

Invited Speakers:

Andreas Arndt (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Massimiliano Biscuso (IISF – Scuola di Roma)
Remo Bodei (University of California Los Angeles)
Emmanuel Cattin (PHIER, Université Blaise Pascal)
Alfredo Ferrarin (Università di Pisa),
Gianluca Garelli (Università di Firenze),
Luca Illetterati (Università of Padova)


Dialectic seems to have disappeared from the contemporary philosophical debate. Indeed, the various aspects of its past fortune – the theory of becoming, the central role of negativity in thought and reality, the critique of abstract negation and of rigid dualisms in every field of knowledge and praxis, a dynamic and developmental view of reason – have all been replaced or transfigured by alternative epistemologies, from time to time: philosophy of difference, hermeneutical movement, positivism, pragmatism, theories of complexity, phenomenology, biopolitics.

At the same time, an instrumental view of reason seems to have emerged and to have imposed itself: reason is generally conceived as a tool on behalf of independent ends and judgments. Other faculties and needs – be they individual or social – impose their own legislation upon it. According to such an instrumental paradigm, reason is the mere spectator of an activity taking place in other dimensions: sensation, passion, revelation, tradition, political authority, as well as life, history or language. By being useful only to the purpose of a confirmation of the formal coherence of propositions and interpretations, reason lacks all autonomous vocation or grip on the world.

In light of such a scenario, the conference brings forward the hypothesis that the possibility of a different conception of reason is historically and theoretically bound to the possibility of dialectics. From a dialectical point of view, reason has indeed its own interests, needs and manifestation powers, revealing itself through its cognitive and self-structuring attitude. According to this view, reason is not just a calculating tool led by external forces but moves itself by its internal ways of being and realization: dialectical reason is active by itself, and its goals are expressions of its own living interests.

The conference aims at rethinking and bringing back to the agenda the bond between reason and dialectic, between a thought able to measure up to contradiction and reason as an autonomous and free reality.

The topics of the papers might include, but need not be restricted to:

  • The Relationship between Eros and Intellect in Plato
  • The Scientific Status of Dialectic in Aristotle
  • Kant’s Teleological Conception of Reason and its Dialectical Tendency
  • Hegel’s Speculative Dialectic
  • The Realization of Reason in Historical-Materialistic Philosophy
  • The Dialectic of Drive and Rational Ego in Nietzsche and in Freudian Metapsychology
  • Thinking, Desire and Just Life in Adorno
  • 19th and 20th centuries’ criticisms to dialectic from the perspective of the theory of reason

The organizers strongly encourage the proposals of comparison between different authors of the dialectical tradition, as well as the attempts – aware of past criticisms and contemporary resistance – at a global redefinition and defense of the bond between dialectic and reason; thematic contributions on single concepts and authors will nevertheless be taken into consideration.

The official Advisory Committee of the Conference will be communicated in a later rejoinder of the call, as will be the dates. Submissions should be suitable for blind refereeing and consist of:

An extended abstract of 600-800 words to be sent in pdf format to by March 1, 2016.
A separate cover sheet including name, title of paper, affiliation, email address and contact details.
Notification of acceptance will be sent by the end of March. Contributions should be suitable for 30 minutes talk and can be submitted in English, Italian, German, French; however, all the non-English speaking contributors will have to supply a long abstract of their paper in English (no less than 1300 words).

For further information please write to