The Art of Questioning

The Art of Questioning is a PhD seminar on methodologies and contemporary thinking organized and run by Dr Daniel Rubinstein (Reader in Philosophy).

Seminars run on Wednesdays on alternate weeks to Test Lab. The Art of Questioning will begin at 4:30 PM, at CSM, Kings Cross, Room F304.

Any queries, please contact Dr Daniel Rubinstein


In this series of seminars we will attend to the question of method. What does it mean to have a method? How can the methodology of your project be developed and brought to light? We will approach this question by looking at a number of  radical, critical and provocative writers who have different and often contradictory approaches to method. From the highly methodological to knowingly avoiding the entrapments of a system. In each case we will be asking how the limits of one’s own language contort and determine the tasks of thinking. This condition of questioning the basic assumptions of one’s discipline or technique can be called ‘art’. This also forms the research questions of one’s thesis.

The series of seminars is divided in two parts.

The first part (seminars 1–7) Dialectic of Enlightenment provides a detailed engagement with one of the primary analytic methods inherent in all modern and contemporary critical analysis of ‘how’ one begins to grasp the ‘basis’ of what we know (and what we can/ought/might become). This primary analytic method is named ‘dialectics’ – be it materialist, historical, speculative or real – and it forms one of the most powerful (and addictive, maddeningly gripping) tools of interpretation, representation, creativity, identity, political/aesthetic/ethical directives around truth, certainty, objectivity and subjectivity in the modern world.

Key figures for this part of the seminar will be: Kant (Dialectic of Enlightenment), Hegel (Phenomenology of Spirit), Adorno (Negative Dialectics), Nietzsche (Ecce Homo), Foucault (Enlightenment as exit), Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling), Freud (Dreams and the unconscious), Derrida (Of Grammatology), Benjamin (The Task of the Translator) and Marx (The Theses on Feuerbach, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy, the 18th Brumaire of L. Bonaparte)

The second part (seminars 8–15) Posthuman Entanglements will focus on the shift away from dialectical reasoning (representation, semiotics) to networks, computation, nonrepresentational art, rhizomatic method, the PostHuman and digital aesthetics. In so doing it will investigate radical moves, initiated by Nietzsche, and expanded upon by Heidegger (via the logic of the ‘techno’), Einstein (via special relativity and curved time), Deleuze (via logic of the senses), Deleuze and Guattari (via rhizomatic method, the logic of becoming), Lyotard (libidinal economy, event), Agamben (via ‘the apparatus’), Foucault (via Parhesia and care of the self), Golding (via fractal philosophy), Haraway (cyborg) and Colebrook (PostHuman). Reference will be made to mobile media art(s), contemporary painting, identity, memory, voice, senses, augmented reality, synthetic life, bio-arts, electronic / media arts and language/image games.


For all of you new to doing ‘proper’ philosophy or theory: no previous knowledge of philosophy is required. This is a seminar that will help you learn how to think (as distinct from ‘what’ to think). Eventually it will make some kind of sense in relation to the project you are working on (whatever it is).

Part 1: Dialectic of Enlightenment

  1. Wednesday 11 October – Introduction

No reading. Introduction to PhD seminars. How to surf. Basic principles of thinking.


  1. Wednesday 25 October – Sapere Aude (Dare to Know)

Kant: What is Enlightenment in What is Enlightenment

Foucault ‘What is Enlightenment?’ in Foucault, M., 1991, The Foucault reader, Rabinow, P. ed. Penguin London, 32-50.


  1. Wednesday 8 November – Dialectic via Hegel: sublation, the ‘this’, where is ‘here’, what is the (or ‘a’) Negative.

GWF Hegel. The Phenomenology of Spirit: Please concentrate on the following fragments. From the “Preface,” pp. 1–45: sections: 2, 3, 16–25; 26–7; 30–42; 46–54; 61;

Note: read ONLY Miller’s translation: Hegel, G.W.F., 1998, Phenomenology of Spirit, Findlay, J. ed. Translated by Miller. Oxford University Press,.


  1. Wednesday 22 November – Dialectic via Marx:

Marx, Theses on Feuerbach (esp no. 3 and 11);

Marx, The Communist Manifesto; The 18th Brumaire

Robert Paul Wolff ‘Moneybags must be so lucky’ Wolff, R.P., 1988, Moneybags must be so lucky: on the literary structure of Capital, Univ of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.


  1. Wednesday 6 December – Dialectic Via Adorno ‘The Indissoluble Something’,

Adorno, T.W., 1983, Negative Dialectics, Translated by Ashton. Continuum International Publishing Group, New York. Read: ‘Preface’ and ‘introduction’ pp. xix-xxi and 3-57

Rose, G., 1978, The melancholy science,  Macmillan,


  1. Wednesday 17 January – Kierkegaard ‘Fear and Trembling’

Kierkegaard, Søren, 1985, Fear and trembling, Penguin Books ; New York, N.Y., U.S.A.,  Middlesex, England. ‘Attunement’, ‘problemata 1: is there a teleological suspension of the ethical?’ and ‘is there and absolute duty to God?’ pp. 44-48, 83-95, 96-108


  1. Wednesday 31 January – Freud ‘A child is being beaten’

Watch: The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy 1973)

Read: Freud ‘A child is being beaten; a contribution to the study of sexual perversions’ (available online)


Part 2: Posthuman entanglements

  1. Wednesday 14 February – What is this thing called ‘thing’

The Thing, in: Heidegger, M., 2012, Bremen and Freiburg lectures : insight into that which is and basic principles of thinking, Translated by A.J. Mitchell. Indiana University Press, Bloomington.


  1. Wednesday 28 Feb – Why technology is nothing technological

‘The Question Concerning Technology ‘ in Heidegger, M., 1977, The question concerning technology, and other essays, Translated by Lovitt. Harper and Row, New York .


  1. Wednesday 14 March – Introduction to a non-fascist life

Foucault, M., Preface: Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life, in Deleuze, G. & Guattari, F. 1996, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, The Athlone Press, London.

Deleuze, G., 1992, Postscript on the societies of control, October, 59, pp. 3-7


  1. Wednesday 18 April – Difference and the art of making a difference

Deleuze and Guattari ‘Introduction’  and ‘On the Refrain’ in Deleuze, G. & Guattari, F., 2003, A Thousand Plateaus, Translated by B. Massumi. Continuum, London

Golding, J. 2010, Fractal Philosophy, Trembling a Plane of Immanence and the small matter of Learning How to Listen: Attunement as the Task of Art, in S Zepke & S O’Sullivan (eds), Deleuze and contemporary art, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh,.


  1. Wednesday 2 May – What is Entanglement? (via Einstein and Schrödinger’s cat)

Barad, Karen Michelle. 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway : Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham: Duke University Press. 39-94.


  1. Wednesday 16 May – Intensity, Pattern, incompleteness, Event and other libidinal economies

Lyotard, ‘Glossary’, ‘The Great Ephemeral Skin’ and ‘The Tensor Band’ in Lyotard, J.F., 2004, Libidinal economy, Translated by Hamilton Grant. Continuum , London.

Deleuze, ‘Third series of the proposition’, ‘twelfth series of the Paradox’ ‘Thirty secon series on the different kinds of series’ in Deleuze, G., 1990, The logic of sense, Boundas ed. Translated by Lester & Stivale. Continuum , London.

Watch: Chaos Fractals and Dynamics (BBC series parts 1&2)


  1. Wednesday 3o May – There is nothing outside the text

Derrida,  ‘The end of the book and the beginning of Writing’ and ‘Linguistics and Grammatology’ Derrida, J., 1998, Of grammatology, Translated by G. Chakravorty Spivak. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Derrida ‘Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences’ in Derrida, J. 2001, Writing and difference, Routledge, London, New York, pp. 351-70


  1. Wednesday 13 June – The posthuman

Colebrook, ‘Introduction’, ‘Extinct Theory’ & ‘The Sustainability of Concepts’ Colebrook, C., 2014, Death of the PostHuman, Open Humanities Press, University of Michigan Library, Ann Arbor.

Haraway ‘Cyborg Manifesto’ in Haraway, D.J., 1991, Simians, cyborgs and women: the reinvention of nature, Free Association, London.



The Doctoral Platform at CSM offers PhD candidates the space in which to meet, share research, as well as co-ordinate, curate and participate in a variety of events.

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