The Question of Listening
Stathis Gourgouris

May 17, 2024, 2:00pm - 4:00pm

This event is online


  • Université de Fribourg


Université de Fribourg
Chinese University of Hong Kong

Topic areas


Link for participation: 

A bizarre paradox runs through the history of philosophy. Since the time of Aristotle, philosophy has been defined as the knowledge of the universal, and what is singular is excluded from the domain of what is knowable. At the same time, however, the history of philosophy has continually been confronted – starting with Aristotle, and even earlier with Plato – with the problem of defining what it means to be singular.

The notion of ‘singularity’ is intertwined with – and distinguished from – other fundamental terms in the philosophical lexicon: the one, the individual, the person, the absolute, but also the contingent, the unrepeatable, the unexpected. It seems to define at the same time what is lowest and irrelevant (a detail, a contingency) and what is supreme and of utmost importance (the absolute, God).

In modern thought, the possibility of clearly distinguishing between the singular and the universal is radically called into question. Philosophical interest in history and art leads one to challenge the idea that philosophy cannot deal with the singular. The birth of Aesthetics and Philosophy of history, as well as the philosophical meditation on the contingent and evenemential aspects of human life, constitute a new stage in the relationship of philosophical thought to the category of the singular.

The aim of this seminar series will be to discuss the notion of the ‘singular’ starting from the history of philosophical thought, but also in relation to the use of this term in the contemporary debate. The research hypothesis is that philosophy still has to come to terms with the notion of the singular, and that thinking deeply about this notion can help us to shed light on some theoretical problems still open today.

The seminar series is co-organised by the University of Freiburg (Chair of Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art) and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The project consists of a series of two-hour online meetings: each meeting will be opened by a 30-minute talk by an internationally recognised scholar. This will be followed by 90 minutes for discussion.

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)




Who is attending?

No one has said they will attend yet.

Will you attend this event?

Let us know so we can notify you of any change of plan.