BSP Annual Conference 2020 – Keynote speakers

The British Society for Phenomenology Annual Conference 2020: Engaged Phenomenology, with the University of Exeter and co-sponsored by Egenis and the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health.

Dan Zahavi: ‘Pure and Applied Phenomenology’
Professor of Philosophy, University of Copenhagen; Professor of Philosophy, University of Oxford; Director of Center for Subjectivity Research (CFS).

At its core, phenomenology is a philosophical endeavour. Given its distinctly philosophical nature, one might reasonably wonder whether it can offer anything of value to positive science. Can it at all inform empirical work? There can, however, be no doubt about the answer to these questions. For more than a century, phenomenology has provided crucial inputs to a variety of disciplines in the social sciences and the humanities, including psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Within the last few decades, phenomenology has also been an important source of inspiration, not only for theoretical debates within qualitative research but also for ongoing research within the cognitive sciences. But what is the best way to practice, use and apply phenomenology in a non‐philosophical context? How deeply rooted in phenomenological philosophy must the empirical research be in order to qualify as phenomenological? How many of the core commitments of phenomenology must it accept? In my talk, I will discuss and assess some different answers to these questions.

Biography: Dan Zahavi is Professor of Philosophy at University of Copenhagen and University of Oxford, and director of the Center for Subjectivity Research in Copenhagen. In addition to a number of scholarly works on the phenomenology of Husserl, Zahavi has mainly written on the nature of selfhood, self-consciousness, intersubjectivity, and social cognition. His most important publications include Self-awareness and Alterity (1999), Husserl’s Phenomenology (2003), Subjectivity and Selfhood (2005), The Phenomenological Mind (together with Shaun Gallagher) (2008/2012), Self and Other (2014), Husserl’s Legacy (2017), and Phenomenology: The Basics (2019). Zahavi also serves as the co-editor in chief of the journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. Website.


Sophie Loidolt: ‘Order, Experience, and Critique: The Phenomenological Method in Political and Legal Theory’
Professor of philosophy and chair of practical philosophy, Technische Universität Darmstadt / Technical University of Darmstadt.

The talk investigates phenomenology’s possibilities to describe, reflect and critically analyse political and legal orders. It presents a “toolbox” of methodological reflections, tools and topics, by relating to the classics of the tradition and to the emerging movement of “critical phenomenology,” as well as by touching upon current issues such as experiences of rightlessness, experiences in the digital lifeworld, and experiences of the public sphere. It is argued that phenomenology provides us with a dynamic methodological framework that emphasizes correlational, co-constitutional, and interrelational structures and thus pays attention to modes of givenness, the making and unmaking of “world,” and, thereby, the inter/subjective, affective, and bodily constitution of meaning. In the case of political and legal orders, questions of power, exclusion, and normativity are central issues. By looking at “best practice” models such as Hannah Arendt’s analyses, I will elaborate on an analytical tool and flexible framework I call “spaces of meaning,” which phenomenologists can use and modify as they go along. In the current debates on political and legal issues, I see the main task of phenomenology in reclaiming experience as world-building and world-opening, also in a normative sense, and in demonstrating how structures and orders are lived while they condition and form spaces of meaning. If we want to understand, criticize, act, or change something, this subjective and intersubjective perspective will remain indispensable.

Biography: Sophie Loidolt is professor of philosophy at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany. She is a member of the “Young Academy” of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and “Recurrent Visiting Professor” at CFS Copenhagen. During her time and education at University of Vienna (PhD, habilitation, assistant professor), she was a visiting researcher at the Husserl-Archives of KU Leuven and at The New School for Social Research in New York. Her work centers on issues in the fields of phenomenology, political and legal philosophy, and ethics, as well as transcendental philosophy and philosophy of mind. Her books include Anspruch und Rechtfertigung. Eine Theorie des rechtlichen Denkens im Anschluss an die Phänomenologie Edmund Husserls (Springer 2009), Einführung in die Rechtsphänomenologie (Mohr Siebeck 2010), and Phenomenology of Plurality. Hannah Arendt on Political Intersubjectivity (Routledge 2017). Website.


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