Philosophy: Pushing the Limits Series: An Interview with Catherine Malabou

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

By JK Fowler

Professor Catherine Malabou graduated from the Ecole Normale Superieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines (Fontenay-Saint-Cloud). Her agregation and doctorate were obtained, under the supervision of Jacques Derridaand Jean-Luc Marion, from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. Her dissertation became the book, L'Avenir de Hegel: Plasticité, Temporalité, Dialectique (1996). 

Central to Malabou's philosophy is the concept of "plasticity," which she derives in part from the work of Hegel, as well as from medical science, for example, from work on stem cells and from the concept of neuroplasticity. In 1999, Malabou published Voyager avec Jacques Derrida – La Contre-allée, co-authored with Derrida. Her book, Les nouveaux blessés (2007), concerns the intersection between neuroscience, psychoanalysis, and philosophy, thought through the phenomenon of trauma. In the last few years, Malabou has tackled an increasing range of themes and topics in her writing. Coinciding with her exploration of neuroscience has been a greater and greater commitment to political philosophy. This is first evident in her book What Should We Do With Our Brain? and continues in Les nouveaux blessés, as well as in her book on feminism (Changer de différence, le féminin et la question philosophique, Galilée, 2009), and in her forthcoming book about the homeless and social emergency (La grande exclusion, Bayard). Malabou is currently co-authoring a book with Adrian Johnston on affects in Descartes, Spinoza and neuroscience, and is preparing a new book on the political meaning of life in the light of the most recent biological discoveries (mainly epigenetics). The latter work will discuss Giorgio Agamben’s concept of "bare life" and Michel Foucault’s notion of biopower, underscoring the lack of scientific biological definitions of these terms, and the political meaning of such a lack.

 

Further Resources:

Catherine Malabou’s Books

Universite Paris Ouest

University of Buffalo Faculty Website

 

Interview Date: March 30th, 2010

Written and Produced By: JK Fowler (www.roaminghills.com)

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J. K.