My Best Fiend lectures: Fuller & Oswell recordings

In the supposed season of goodwill, we at CSISP are pleased to be able to release two recordings from the recent series of lectures exploring issues of intellectual emnity. These feature talks from David Oswell from Goldsmiths and Steve Fuller from the University of Warwick.

In these lectures, organised by Michael Guggenheim, CSISP and the Department of Sociology, four scholars were invited to reflect on their academic enemies, with the goal of investigating the productivity of intellectual enmities. Each speaker was invited to choose an enemy of their choice (from people, to movements, to disciplines), and analyse his, her or its productivity for their own thinking, their research and their career. In doing so, they were contributing to a new sociology of sociology. More details about the series and the other speakers involved can be found here (we’ve also archived the poster). We hope to make available recordings or summaries of the other talks in due course.

Overview of the lectures

David Oswell: ‘Dances with Wolves: Latour, Machiavelli and Us’ (December 6th)

This paper discusses the question of enemies in the context of the two registers of enmity (the affective and the strategic) and it does so in relation to an imaginary argument between Bruno Latour and Louis Althusser on reading Machiavelli’s The Prince. My paper is not an exegesis of this text, but a provisional attempt to think through the question of the scale (and infrastructure) of theoretical enmity as well as its addressivity.

Steve Fuller: ‘Bruno Latour and Some Notes on Some Also Rans’ (December 13th).

Who is my best fiend? S/he is someone who has got the right facts mostly right but draws exactly the wrong normative conclusion – or at least gestures in the wrong way. In my own career, Kuhn and Latour fit that description. These are two ‘Zeitgeisty’ figures – i.e. future historians will understand their disproportionate significance in terms of their eras, the Cold War order and the neo-liberal post-Cold War order, respectively. But if you want to think ahead of the curve – perhaps because you believe that there is some larger ‘truth’ that humanity is trying to grasp – then you will want to ask how can these very smart people can be both so persuasive and so wrong. (I recommend this as a strategy for younger scholars who plan to be alive beyond the year 2050.) Of course, I have been beset by other fiends in my career, but they are much less interesting because they are simply slaves to fashion/induction, taking their marching orders from high scientific authorities. (And here I mean to include just about anyone who has reacted violently to my support for intelligent design.) I’ll say something about them, if only because of their entertainment value.

Recordings (to be downloaded; these are not designed to stream)

1. David Oswell: lecture
2. David Oswell: discussion
3. Steve Fuller: lecture

If these recordings spark any thoughts on emnity, friendship, or any related topic, let us know.