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.