Existential Philosophy for Times of Change and Crisis: Difference, disability, diversity (4th edition 2023)

July 6, 2023 - July 7, 2023

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Pedagogical University of Krakow

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This fourth edition of the Existential Philosophy for Times of Change and Crisis series will examine what difference, disability and diversity mean in light of existential philosophy. While existential philosophy places the focus on the individual and on the precedence of existence over essence, as well as on choice and freedom, it may also have been overly optimistic about the possibility for the individual to be an authentic self in a world where social norms and institutions promote direct and indirect discrimination.

Existential philosophy suggests that we are what we are in the eyes or gaze of others (Sartre) or through our acts of disclosure in the world (Beauvoir), or perhaps through the shared language games through which meaning is created (Wittgenstein). But what does this entail for individuals with minority bodies, experiences or realities, and whose experiences may be stigmatised, misunderstood or invalidated by the general community? Do cognitive, intellectual, physical and sensory disabilities or differences represent challenges to authentic self-disclosure in a world that pathologises difference and in which the language for self-understanding and communication with others, as well as an understanding and appreciation of these differences, may be lacking? What about sex/gender minorities, or individuals with other minority experiences of identity?

Do the concepts of existential philosophy have something to contribute to discussions about disability rights and pride, gender/sex identity and difference, discrimination and intersectionality? Are some founding existential concepts, such as freedom and authenticity, potentially misguided regarding certain persons’ experiences? Can existential philosophy provide new perspectives to promote the recognition, respect and appreciation of difference and diversity?


Thursday 6 July 2023



9:00: Opening words

9:10-10:00      Katarzyna Gurczynska-Sady: Perfect human beings; Why eugenics myths cannot come true?

10:00-10:50    Larissa Kolias: Western Ableism and the Logic of Purity

11:00-11:50    Jörg Disse: Levinas’s Other or the absolute respect of diversity

12:00-12:50    Mélissa Fox-Muraton: Autistic (Un)Masking and the Challenges of Authentic Self-Disclosure

12:50-13:40    Lisa Haase: Language Games as a Resource. A Wittgensteinian perspective on neurodivergent communication


14:30-15:20    MatthewCoate: Repetition as Resolution vs. Repetition as Ritual: an existential analysis of OCD

15:20-16:10    SashaSimon: ‘Who’ Are You? The Role of Objectification in Arendt’s Thought and Possibilities for Political Change of Oppressive Systems

16:20-17:10    Oliver Norman: Diversity and Marginality: Drag as an Existential Aesthetic. Towards a Phenomenology of Drag Performance

17:10-18:00    MaddieYoungman: What Lesbian Relationship Dynamics can teach us about love and individual freedom

Friday 7 July 2023


10:00-10:50    Hanna Nasielska and Maceij Kaluża: Inability or disability? An analysis of the subject's inadequate response in Cioran and Camu

10:50-11:40    Michał Wróblewski: “The PhilosophyofFreedom”aftertheageofNietzsche

11:50-12:40    DanielMilewski: The concept of authenticity

12:40-13:30    Jakub Marek: Drifting on Social Media. On the Phenomenon of Scrolling from an Existential Perspective


14:30-15:20    Tessa Murthy: Toward an existential hermeneutics of addict experience: the role of Grenzsituationen in “watershed experiences”

15:20-16:10    StefanBolea: Cioran and 20thcentury antihumanistic literature

16:20-17:10    AlyciaLaGuardia-LoBianco: Selfhood, Authenticity and mental illness

17:20-18:10    EmilyMartone: The Eccentric Subject: A Kierkegaardian Deconstruction of Identities

18:10-19:00    MariahPartida: Heidegger and Garland-Thomson: Uncanniness, Misfitting, and Disability 

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July 1, 2023, 5:00pm UTC

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