The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought, Goldsmiths University of London

Research Centre run jointly between the Departments of Sociology and English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths University, London

Thomas Khurana (Essex): The Art of Second Nature (21 June 2017)

Leave a comment


A CPCT lecture on the theme of Concepts of Life / The Life of the Concept

Wednesday, 21 June 2017


RHB 137a

With a response from Josh Robinson (Cardiff).

The lecture delineates a modern conception of second nature that takes shape around 1800. Instead of just repeating, once again, the ancient topos that habit is a second nature, this modern conception makes use of a different paradigm for the understanding of cultural self-production, namely the work of art. According to this conception, the development of a second nature is not a question of mere habituation, but rather an essentially creative and expressive process whereby we take up nature and reorganize it in such a way that it points beyond itself and becomes expressive beyond subjective mastery. The formation of culture and the production of a second nature is thus revealed as an aesthetic practice, a complex dialectical exercise, and a social practice of objectification. This conception of second nature which the lecture will trace back to Kant, Schiller, and Hegel not only allows us to grasp the relationship between spirit and nature more adequately than some of the neo-Aristotelian conceptions that dominate the current philosophical debate. It also opens up an instructive critical perspective on our contemporary aesthetic self-understanding.


Thomas Khurana is Lecturer of Philosophy at the University of Essex. Previously, he has taught Philosophy at the University of Potsdam, Goethe-University Frankfurt/M., and the University of Leipzig. He was a Heuss Lecturer at the New School for Social Research, a Humboldt fellow in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and is the recipient of a three-year Heisenberg fellowship by the German Research Foundation. His most recent book is Das Leben der Freiheit: Form und Wirklichkeit der Autonomie (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2017).

Josh Robinson is Lecturer in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy at Cardiff University. He works primarily on twentieth-century and contemporary poetry, and on the theoretical implications of the study of literature, and is the author of a forthcoming book on Adorno’s aesthetic theory.

Free and open to the public.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s