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"Assimilation and Circulation. A Universalistic Model of Knowledge in the 19th Century"

CAS 02/09/2013

The Centre for Advanced Study Sofia is pleased to invite you to the lecture

“Assimilation and Circulation. A Universalistic Model of Knowledge in the 19th Century”

Delivered by Prof. Dr. Andreas Kilcher
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland

The event will take place at the CAS conference hall
on 8 October 2013 (Tuesday) at 18:00h on 7B, Stefan Karadja Str. Sofia

This lecture deals with the rise of dynamic concepts of knowledge in 19th century. This rise is rooted in an epistemic change around 1800. Rational or empirical predefined objects yield a collective objectification; they get a product with historical index in society, language and culture. Metaphysical constituents such as truth, world, reason, subject, origin, which had managed 18th century epistemes, gradually corrode. This multilayered dynamisation of knowledge, its order and exchange, is illustrated by the emergence of concepts such as assimilation and circulation. Whereas Enlightenment devalued mimesis in contrast to originality and autonomy and considered man as the key actor of writing and knowledge, in 19th century the processual principles of assimilation and circulation emerged as new and versatile parameters of knowledge. In this paper, I will discuss this with two examples of the 19th century, however apart they may seem at first sight: Novalis’s enyclopedic concept of science and Gabriel Tardes liberal concept of a society of imitation. Novalis – on the one hand – conceived circulation within the Romantic notion of universal relation according to which the most disparate things may be brought together in a complex relationship. With Tarde, in turn, the figures of similarity and circulation gain their role within the liberalistic idea of a universal “law of imitation” that manages natural phenomena as well as society.

Andreas Kilcher is Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies at ETH Zurich. Born in Basel in 1963, he studied German Literature, History and Philosophy in Basel and Munich. He was a PhD-student and Fellow at the Franz Rosenzweig Research Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and assistant at the Department of German of the University of Basel, where he got his Doctor of Philosophy in 1996. 1996-2002 he had an assistantship at the Department of German Philology of the University of Munster and got there Assistant Professor in 2002. 2004-2008 he worked as full Professor of Modern German Literature at the University of Tubingen. In 2008 he accepted his actual professorship in Zürich.

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