[SydPhil] Timothy O'Leary at the UNSW Philosophy Seminar: "The Ends of Critique: Transforming Ethical Sensibility", March 2, 12.30-2pm, on Zoom

Heikki Ikaheimo h.ikaheimo at unsw.edu.au
Wed Feb 17 22:40:08 AEDT 2021

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UNSW Philosophy Seminar

in cooperation with ‘ Critique’

A Network in Social, Political and Legal Thought at UNSW

“The Ends of Critique: Transforming Ethical Sensibility”

Speaker: Timothy O’Leary


In a world in which the critical humanities and social sciences are under attack; and in which, nonetheless, universities pride themselves on teaching “critical thinking”, we can’t help but ask: What is critique? What does it do? And, if it really is powerless, then why are governments so hostile to it?

What I offer here is one way of describing one of the things critique can do: one of the ends of critique is to carry out a transformative engagement with the ethical sensibilities of our time. My talk will draw together three strands that will help to clarify and make some sense of this claim.

First, drawing on a theme that runs through Nietzsche’s thought in the 1880s, I will argue that the work of critique has occasionally been, and still might usefully be, characterised as a form of experimental vivisection. Second, I will suggest that the task of critical vivisection has been undertaken in literary texts as often as in the canonical works of critique; hence I will present a reading of the novel Milkman (2018) by Anna Burns. Third, I will propose that thinkers such as Nietzsche, Guattari, Foucault, and others, give us the philosophical resources to think about subjectivity – and (ethical) sensibility — as something that is open to transformation through a certain kind of critical intervention.


Timothy O’Leary is Professor of Philosophy and Head of the School of Humanities & Languages at UNSW Sydney. He previously spent many years at the University of Hong Kong. His research has been largely in the field of Foucault, ethics, and literature. His work includes the books Foucault and the Art of Ethics (2002), Foucault and Fiction: The Experience Book (2009), and the co-edited collections Foucault and Philosophy (2010), Ethics in Early China (2011), and The Blackwell Companion to Foucault (2013). His current research focuses on literature and the critique of ethical sensibility. https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/eMCICBNqjlCwRDvMFzYhEd?domain=arts.unsw.edu.au

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UNSW Philosophy Program:


‘Critique’— A Network in Social, Political and Legal Thought at UNSW:  https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/j9xCCE8wmrtv0lBgHpjmDk?domain=bit.ly


02 March 2021


12.30 pm – 2 pm


Online via Zoom

Click Here for Zoom Link <https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/d4WlCL7EwMfGwkLmhrqoVF?domain=unsw.zoom.us>



Heikki Ikäheimo, h.ikaheimo at unsw.edu.au<mailto:h.ikaheimo at unsw.edu.au>

School of Humanities and Languages

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