Analytic-Bridge-Continental + (ABC+) Process Philosophy Workshop

29th October 2016

University of Liverpool,
Department of Philosophy,
School of the Arts


Call for Papers

The ABC+ organising committee welcomes papers which will contribute to a developing dialogue about the metaphysics of process and how it can attract the concerns of researchers from across the range of contemporary philosophical currents.

Invited Speakers:
Christopher Norris, Distinguished Research Professor, Cardiff University
Joanna Seibt, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Aarhus University

Conference Context:
Contemporary Western academic philosophy is broadly demarcated and dominated by two distinct methodological approaches: analytic and continental. Although these two traditions began as antagonistic – but not segregated – responses to the work of Kant, they have developed through the twentieth century into two enclosed and exclusive discourses where each sees itself closer to other disciplines, such as science or literature, than to each other’s methodological approach. Philosophers brought up in one tradition seldom engage with any philosophies from the other tradition and each tradition’s sectarian understanding of the other is typically based on received-wisdom, clichés and hearsay. Putting aside ideas of one tradition recolonising the territory of the other, there have recently been attempts to explicate the significant strands of convergence in both methodological and substantive topics of inquiry throughout the twentieth century. The ABC+ event seeks to provide a forum in which academics of all disciplines can come together to discuss such a convergence in philosophical approaches.

With this in mind, ABC+ is envisaged as a distinct approach to contemporary philosophy which seeks to addresses the intersection of the two central traditions in Western academic philosophy as a matter of priority. ‘ABC+’ stands for ‘Analytic-Bridge-Continental +’, a name which is multifaceted in its intention. Firstly, the name demonstrates a respectful and equal recognition of both the analytic and continental traditions with a view towards bridging them, and where the order of reference is dictated purely by alphabetical correspondence. Secondly, we have the character of ‘+.’ Our adoption of this is in the spirit of LGBTQ+ which indicates an enthusiastic inclusion and acceptance of the plurality of categories which may not be currently recognised by our theoretical set-up. In this vein, ABC+ also seeks to include all areas of philosophy which may be excluded by the analytic-continental dichotomy (for instance, feminist, Eastern, Marxist, phenomenological, existentialist, environmentalist and pragmatist). Moreover, ABC+ seeks to challenge the underrepresentation of currently-marginalised demographics in the Western academic context in terms of race, gender, (dis-)ability, class, age and sexuality, and to ask how their underrepresentation may come to bear on the analytic-continental divide and vice versa. Finally, the ‘+’ character also indicates the form of the meeting. We take the need to address the obscure distinction between analytic and continental approaches as a first principle, but recognise that it cannot be achieved through a meta-theoretical discussion alone. In this sense, any progression requires the concept of ABC plus a particular area of philosophical inquiry. In this spirit, this workshop seeks to be as broad and as dynamic as possible in its debate on the intersection of analytic and continental philosophy and as such will adopt process philosophy as its main theme: ABC+ Process Philosophy.

Process philosophy is a broad and multifaceted collection of philosophies, which span both the analytic and continental traditions as well as many other areas of philosophy which do not fall under this restrictive demarcation. It has Ancient Eastern and Greek roots, and its explanatory power has been of sustained interest in the West since Leibniz and Hegel. At its most basic level process philosophy seeks to identify metaphysical reality with change. In contrast to the static, substance-based metaphysics which permeates Western philosophical traditions, process philosophy seeks to identify a dynamic ontology of becoming. Although process philosophy is often associated with Whitehead – a paternal figure in early analytic philosophy – a process-based approach can be identified in US pragmatists (from Peirce to Rescher) and in archetypal continental figures such as Bergson, Heidegger and Deleuze. It is also evident in more recent continental or left-field philosophies, which have sought to combine the two (or more) currents or to side-step the analytic-continental divide, such as Badiou’s eventual philosophy and Bhaskar’s dynamic critical realism.

Under the adoption of the core theme of process philosophy, the aims and objectives of this ABC+ workshop are threefold:

Principally, ABC+ Process Philosophy aims to provide an opportunity for process philosophers from different traditions to see how other traditions try to resolve the questions which are asked by their own work. In so doing, we seek to accelerate the development of process philosophy by bringing together researchers with similar interests who might otherwise not engage owing to the social and institutional conditions of the analytic-continental distinction.

The secondary aim of the conference will be to engender a collegial network of philosophers (and academics from other disciplines) interested in understanding and evaluating the analytic-continental distinction. Whilst the main theme of this conference will be process philosophy, we will also open up paper proposals to all currents of philosophy at the intersection of the analytic and continental traditions. We welcome opinions from all sides of this debate, including: those who do not recognise such a distinction, now, in the past or in the future; those who believe the distinction is useful and must be kept intact; those who are ambivalent and have arguments which suggest it is not a matter of primary philosophical importance. We also welcome contributions from academics working in any area (of philosophy or otherwise) which does not directly intersect with process philosophy but would be of significant interest to attendees of a conference who are keen to work in coherence with the ABC+ approach. With this in mind we will also make provision for roundtable discussions which aim to understand what the distinction between analytic and continental philosophy is, the function it has served historically and whether and how it will be necessary in the philosophy of the future.

Conference Organisers:

Oliver George Downing
Co-Chair of Organising Committee

Richard Shield
Co-Chair of Organising Committee

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