Philosophy, Practice, and Crisis - Michigan State University Graduate Philosophy Conference

March 23, 2024
Department of Philosophy and the Marxist Philosophy Circle, Michigan State University

East Lansing
United States

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Philosophy, Practice, and Crisis

The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.

— Karl Marx

When [proletarian] consciousness is put into practice it can only breathe life into the things which the dialectics of history have forced to a crisis.

— György Lukács

Every practice produces a theory, and that if it is true that a revolution can fail even though it be based on perfectly conceived theories, nobody has yet made a successful revolution without a revolutionary theory. 

— Amilcar Cabral

For critical activists and theorists, modern society has been characterized by a series of deepening and diversifying crises. From the soil fertility crisis of the 1800s to the public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, sharpening contradictions among increasingly independent elements of society have threatened both their own foundations and many lives along with them. Philosophers continue to grapple with a variety of pressing crises today: humanitarian, ecological, economic, existential, epistemological, legitimation, health, etc.. Yet, philosophical tools often seem powerless to confront the developing contradictions of our lives. In 1845 Karl Marx identified this crisis of philosophy and practice as theorists attempted to interpret the world without actively transforming it. This challenge for philosophers in the living world stands today.

This conference will rejuvenate the philosophy-theory-practice debates in social and political philosophy, contextualized by crisis and breakdown. We conceive of crisis in a broad sense and pose questions like: What are the categories of practice and crisis? What are the emerging crises that demand philosophical attention today? What are the tasks of philosophy in a world in crisis? What does it mean to think and to act in moments of rupture? What are the relationships between philosophy, activist work, and other academic disciplines (natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities)? What historical examples can helpfully instruct philosophical and theoretical practice today? What kind of practice is philosophy? How is philosophy already making transformative impacts today? How can philosophy be mobilized in practice? How can practice inform philosophy? 

The Michigan State University Graduate Philosophy Conference, in association with the Marxist Philosophy Circle, is now accepting 300 - 500 word abstracts for the conference to be held on Saturday, March 23rd, 2024, with the theme Philosophy, Practice, and Crisis. Submissions are open to graduate students, undergraduate students, and autodidacts within and beyond the discipline of philosophy. All abstracts addressing any aspect of the conference themes of philosophy, practice, and crisis will be considered regardless of disciplinary affiliation, though abstracts demonstrating some significant philosophical motivation will be prioritized. Successful submissions will clearly indicate the philosophical or practical significance of their contribution. Some possible foci include: 

  • Continental Philosophy 

  • Analytic Philosophy 

  • Interdisciplinary Theory 

  • Crisis Studies

  • Activist History 

  • History of Philosophy

  • Contemporary Activism 

  • Public Philosophy 

  • Practical Philosophy 

  • Experimental Philosophy

  • Engaged Philosophy

  • Pragmatism 

  • Applied Ethics 

  • Socially Engaged Philosophy of Science 

  • History of Philosophy of Science 

  • Philosophy of Technology

  • Critical Theory 

  • Marxism 

  • Anticolonial/ Decolonial Theory 

  • Actually Existing Socialisms 

  • Indigenous Philosophy 

  • Feminist Philosophy 

  • African American Philosophy 

  • Philosophy of Race 

  • Environmental Racism

  • Environmental Sociology 

  • Political Theory 

Our intention is to hold an in-person conference, but we will be augmenting that with a limited number of virtual Zoom sessions. Abstracts selected for presentation will be allotted 20 minute presentation times, followed by formal comments and Q & A. With the aim of facilitating an accessible and engaging conference, participants will be expected to make their presentations about their papers; not a reading of their papers. For instance, participants will be expected to provide a handout or to utilize a PowerPoint presentation. We encourage creative and unorthodox presentation modalities. Let’s make this interesting! We will also be using a formal commenter system; each presenter will be expected to provide very brief comments on 1 other paper. This is intended as a low-stress professionalization mechanism ensuring that all selected papers will receive formal feedback at the conference. 

Abstracts should be approximately 300-500 words. The deadline for submission is 11:59 pm ET on Friday, January 5th, 2024, and only abstracts will be reviewed. We expect to announce the abstracts selected for presentation by the beginning of February. Completed papers will be expected in early March.

Submit abstracts in the Google formhere:

Organizers: Reese Haller, Matt Kelley, Rebecca Pincus

Questions? Conference organizers can be reached by email [email protected]

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