Generating Worlds: Traversing Natural and Scientific Languages

Since 2017, the Center for Discursive Inquiry has focused on issues of how to think and generate possible new worlds, and how to conceive and begin implementing the processes of their actual construction. We are resolutely committed to futures that can realize new, more sustainable, just, and inclusionary forms; and encounters with what we deem a malleable past, with the goal of continual revision and reconfiguration. 

Recognizing that today the formal languages of science and mathematics hold sway over vast swaths of knowledge production, the latest iteration of our project focuses on language, exploring the variety of ways communities and disciplines utilize natural, artistic, and formal languages in theoretical and practical constructions in popular culture, politics, science and philosophy.

We look at how natural and aesthetic/artistic languages continuously rework the past in sociological terms, as well as at how they participate in the scientific imaginary and the production of facticity and belief. Simultaneously we explore how scientific languages themselves need these others if science is to ‘grip’ the space of the political. Integral to this is to respond to the mobilization for and consequences of oppositions to languages that rationalize, order, manage and control society, highlighted in post-structural critiques of the last century that advanced critiques of capital. By focusing on texts, artworks, and other media that pose questions about the dynamics of how human beings ought to live, as well as how they attempt to explicate the conditions of our own understanding of ourselves and the world, we examine how these different language-types construct, and interact with each other. This includes how less formalized discourses can succinctly gain traction on reality. In doing so, this research tests the claim that it is only by combining different categories of language that we can instantiate a dynamic model capable of producing an enhanced engagement with the real.  

In this iteration, questions of representation and referentiality, positivism and negativity will be foregrounded and leveraged here as a means to address the challenges posed by the contemporary moment that continue to brace us between radical disorientation and ideation of the future. Underpinning this problem of the political, the question of what to think and what to do, is a renewed problem of metaphysics, the junctures and disjunctures of thought and image, of knowing and doing, of concept and representation, as well as the problem of the identities of the disciplines of the arts and sciences themselves.


Amanda Beech
James Wiltgen
Christine Wertheim