Dr. Antonia Birnbaum
Why philosophy? What use does philosophy even have? Such are
the questions posed by Adorno and Deleuze in the last century. These questions are all the more relevant for a Philosophy
Department in a University of Applied Arts, where philosophy is an outsider.
Questions concerning the outside of
philosophy reveal their creative import only if one exposes their immanence. The “outside” of philosophy is an irreducible
condition for philosophy itself, it insists upon the elementary dimension of philosophy’s procedures. For philosophy is always
triggered by a stumbling block, by something troubling, whether - it is called speculation, astonishment or criticism.
Inventive philosophical work never proceeds exclusively out of the historical relation of philosophy to itself. Its
chance lies in its relation to what has been called “non-philosophy”. This connection has often been scrutinized. Theory was
posited by Deleuze and Foucault as a tool-box, in which non-philosophers search for tools. One finds a rejoinder to this instrumental
logic in Hegel, for whom concepts are not means to further an end; under a concept there is nothing to be thought but the
concept itself. However, the French philosophers also argue that concepts are not means, but thresholds for other forms of
thought, for different practices. Whilst Hegel insists that conceptual language is a moment of all language forms that enter
into the arts, theory of state, religion and empirical sciences.
The philosophy department addresses these thresholds
as the presence of an unknown conceptuality in all our representations. The disquieting exercise of philosophical thought
depends on its relations to political, epistemological, artistic, and ethical problems. This meshing has intensified and undergone
many changes in the twentieth century. Such “disturbances” are exactly what launches philosophy, what brings it about. The
question is: how do interferences, discontinuities, and all the different materializations of thought put us in relation to
the universality of reason? When do political struggle, aesthetic relations to the world, desubjectivations, affirmations
of desire, or changes of form thwart the naturalized “discourse” of interest and egoism? In this sense, philosophy participates
in the practices, interests and questions of all disciplines, contributing to their problematization.
This is the
landscape explored by the Department of Philosophy at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, in close contact with theorists,
artists, and students of all disciplines.