In my talk, I will sketch the basic ideas of New Realism, a global philosophical movement that declares the end of postmodernism as a credible theoretical stance. In particular, New Realism, as I understand it, comes with a defense of the genuine objectivity of the humanities. In order to arrive at a global form of realism and a new topology of human knowledge, we first need to overcome the hermeneutic deadlock. It consists in arguments which seem to support the notion that value judgments, both of an ethical and aesthetic nature are somehow less objective than knowledge claims in the natural sciences. Contrary to this prominent line of thought, I will urge that there is objective knowledge in the humanities precisely because our best justified value judgments no less latch onto reality itself than physics, neuroscience or biology. In this context, I will present the outlines of the ontology of fields of sense which I have defended in a recent series of books.
Markus Gabriel is Chair in Epistemology, Modern and Contemporary Philosophy and Director of the International Center for Philosophy at Bonn University, Germany. A specialist in modern philosophy after Kant, Gabriel is the author of eleven books and nine co-edited volume. His work is being translated into nine languages, including Chinese, Japanese, and Turkish.
In the context of recent debates surrounding new realism and speculative realism, Gabriel proposes a new realist ontology of fields of sense, to reconstitute the concept of the real on a new footing in the wake of the postmodern challenge and the science wars of the 1990s. Gabriel defends a radical form of ontological pluralism that divorces ontology from metaphysics, understood as the most fundamental theory of absolutely everything—“the world.” The world does not exist, but everything else does. Gabriel’s new realist approach celebrates the contribution of the humanities to knowledge.
His major works are the best-selling Why the World Does Not Exist (2013); Fields of Sense: A New Realist Ontology (2015); Transcendental Ontology: Essays in German Idealism (2011), and a volume co-authored with Slavoj Zizek, Mythology, Madness, and Laughter: Subjectivity in German Idealism (2009). Gabriel has been a visiting professor at a dozen universities in Europe and the Americas, including the Sorbonne and UC Berkeley.