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A painting of men in a lounge.

Our history

The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought (CPCT) was established in May 2015 and is a research centre run jointly between English and Comparative Literature and Sociology. Its Co-Directors are Alberto Toscano (Sociology) and Julia Ng (ECL). CPCT has an academic membership and advisory board drawn from various departments across the college, and an international roster of external affiliates (see People).

As the flagship for a distinctively Goldsmiths’ orientation towards philosophy, CPCT aims to intervene in and contribute to the changing landscape of philosophical research in the United Kingdom. Over the past decade, Goldsmiths has been a very active presence in London’s philosophical scene, receiving such distinguished guests as Judith Butler, Jean-Luc Nancy and Jacques Rancière, and hosting conferences and seminars that have played an important role in shaping debates on contemporary materialism and critical theory many of them under the auspices of the graduate student-led InC (Research Group in Continental Philosophy), which has played a critical role in fostering a philosophical community at Goldsmiths.

Many of our master’s and doctoral students have produced dissertations of great philosophical sophistication, with many of the PhDs being awarded in philosophy by the University of London. CPCT exists to provide an institutional identity and common platform to further the important work that faculty and students have played and continue to play in advancing philosophical inquiry and defining its future horizons.

About the Centre

CPCT is constituted as a centre open to the rigorous philosophical work being done in disciplines outside of academic philosophy. It regards philosophy as a plural and critical activity that engages with the arts and practice-based approaches, and which also strives to analyse and articulate historical and political events. In this regard, CPCT is also envisaged as a response to the paradoxical conjuncture in which critical philosophy finds itself today: widely read across the arts and sciences, called upon to engage in public and political debate, yet taught in relative isolation from other disciplinary domains.

By creating a space for philosophy’s dialogue with other disciplines and publics, CPCT aims to develop a distinct research profile for the future of philosophy at Goldsmiths, which inherits the best of the UK legacy of ‘Continental philosophy’ while affirming a more openly trans-disciplinary vocation for philosophical inquiry. In keeping with Goldsmiths’ long-standing tradition of public and political engagement, CPCT promotes a publicly-oriented conception of what it means to do philosophy.

Our mission

Two broad strands of inquiry inform the Centre’s mission: social and political theory and critique, and literary and art theory and practices. Represented by the research interests of its members are areas of distinctive strength which fall outside of the narrow designation of the ‘Continental’ tradition, and which traditionally languish at the margins of the philosophical terrain: feminist philosophy and gender theory, philosophy of race, African philosophy, Jewish philosophy, and the philosophy of the structures and phenomena of modern science including that of the digital age.

Many of the affiliates work in nineteenth- to twenty-first-century philosophy in the French, German and Italian traditions, with convergences in political philosophy, philosophy of the social sciences, metaphysical and epistemological foundations of practical philosophy (viz. contemporary materialism), and Marxism. Likewise, research interests intersect in one or another area of aesthetics broadly conceived, particularly around the philosophy of the visual arts, philosophy and literature, and both phenomenological and non-phenomenological approaches to aesthetic experience.

Finally, within the history of philosophy, the tradition of German philosophy from Kant to the present has long been and remains an important reference point for numerous faculty who research and teach in art theory, intellectual history, cultural theory, political theory and critical Marxist theory; similarly, the genealogy of modern and contemporary French philosophy deeply informs the work being done in the theory of the visual arts, law and justice, and technology.