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Ensouled Body: a three-day seminar with Michael Marder and Oxana Timofeeva


After hosting Michael Marder for an intensive two-day mini-seminar titled Mystical Ecologies in Topolò in August 2022, we have decided – together with our dear friend Lijuan Klassen – to invite him back for our Academy of Margins summer program. This time, he will be joined by the writer and philosopher, Oxana Timofeeva.

The title of this year’s three-day seminar is Ensouled Body.

What is soul? One might think that it is a somewhat outdated word, which does not refer to anything in our material reality – which we conceive as the reality of bodies. However, this word persists even on the level of everyday language, and its use is not at all confined to religions. What can philosophy suggest about this vintage concept?  We are used to imagining it as the invisible realm of psychic interiority, both set apart from and mysteriously, if temporarily, united to the body. This view, however, is consolidated only in the thought of St. Augustine (i.e., in the fourth century CE) and is inapplicable either to prior traditions or to those outside the fold of Abrahamic religions. The goal of this intensive seminar is to reframe the subject of the soul so as to show its essential co-belonging with living bodies, organismic existences, non-human collectives and ecosystemic assemblages. From plants to animals and the entire world, ensoulment comes to mean vivacity, a life that is as much interior as it is exterior, animated by others as much as in autopoietic processes, interrelated with the elements (not least with fire), and exceeding the boundaries of organismic existence. Beyond individuality and personhood, it opens the realm of collective memory of the world and the Earth. Plant soul, animal soul, human soul and world soul – these are old philosophical concepts, with which we will attempt to engage in dialogue from the perspective of our dark times.

Oxana Timofeeva is a philosopher and writer, a member of the artistic collective "Chto Delat" ("What is to be done"), and currently a researcher at the Institute of Global Reconstitution (IGRec, Berlin). She is the author of books Freud’s Beasty Boys (forthcoming, 2024), Solar Politics (2022), How to Love a Homeland (2020), History of Animals (2018), Introduction to the Erotic Philosophy of Georges Bataille (2009), and other writings.

Michael Marder is IKERBASQUE Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU), Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. His books include Plant-Thinking (2013), The Philosopher’s Plant (2014), Dust (2016), Energy Dreams (2017), Heidegger: Phenomenology, Ecology, Politics (2018), Political Categories (2019), Pyropolitics (2015, 2020), Dump Philosophy (2020), Hegel's Energy (2021), Green Mass (2021), Philosophy for Passengers (2022), The Phoenix Complex (2023), Time Is a Plant (2023), and, with Edward S. Casey, Plants in Place (2024).


A selection of summer readings before the seminar: