“Immediacy, Causality, Plasticity: Catherine Malabou and the Future Undoing of Philosophy”. A special issue of Culture, Theory and Critique (2019) co-edited by Richard Iveson and Greg Hainge.

deadline for submissions: 
October 31, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Culture, Theory and Critique.
contact email: 

Catherine Malabou opens Before Tomorrow (2014) with a striking yet seemingly simple question: ‘Why has the question of time lost its status as the leading question of philosophy?’ At one time, once upon a time, time led the way to the meaning of being, so why has no one ‘taken up the problem by trying to develop afresh a decisive concept of temporality?’ And, more, why does no one even ask this question anymore? Taking the concepts of immediacy, causality, and plasticity as its guiding focus, the proposed issue of Culture, Theory & Critique invites contributors to take up the question of time anew through immanent critique of Malabou’s oeuvre or through its application to specific phenomena. Contributions are expected to forge unexpected encounters between different disciplinary settings and intellectual traditions, be they speculative, physical, neurological, corporeal, dialectical, mechanical, historical, materialist, determinist or textual. As such, the proposed issue explicitly accords with the central aim of Culture, Theory and Critique to ‘critique and reconstruct theories by interfacing them with one another and by relocating them in new sites and conjunctures.’


Guiding questions might include:

Can we only ever approach being except through time? Now that the traps and trappings of anthropocentrism no longer hold, how might this impact upon questions of mediation and immediacy? Is immediacy synonymous with the ‘state of nature’? With ‘the encounter’? Indeed, is immediacy even possible, or does it merely serve as a guise beneath which idealisms, humanisms and vitalisms can flourish?

What happens if, following Heidegger, we suppose that causality is in fact ‘veiled in darkness with respect to what it is?’ For Malabou, the question of time crosses the strange causality of the accident, an event of metamorphic power that emerges ‘not as absence of form but as the form of its absence,’ one which creates both a past that never took place and an entirely new subject to assume that past. How might such strange causality challenge the very notion of metamorphosis itself? How might such an understanding of causality impact upon philosophy and ethics, both traditional and contemporary? How might it effect how our current negotiations with the futural and the virtual? Will ‘time’ itself ultimately be the undoing of the future?

Plasticity is the motive or scheme that enables the interpretation of phenomena itself, that is, of being. For Malabou, ‘everything starts’ with metamorphosis that ‘trumps all determination’ and so makes of form always a question of time. Does plasticity thus risk dissolving into nothing by becoming everything? Can value distinctions be made in a universe that already and everywhere operates according to an instinctive, nonlinear plasticity?


The editors are in contact with Catherine Malabou and it is envisaged that the volume will contain a contribution by Malabou either in the form of an original article or a response to the issues raised in the selected papers.


Potential contributors are invited to submit an abstract (max 500 words) to Greg Hainge (g.hainge@uq.edu.au) by May 4. A decision on papers for the final volume will be made shortly thereafter with articles (c. 7000 words) due by the end of October 2018. Please note that selection for the volume does not guarantee publication and all papers will be subject to the journal’s normal rigorous double blind peer review process. Authors whose papers are not chosen for the special issue are welcome to submit their articles to the journal for consideration for publication in an open issue.


For more information on Culture, Theory and Critique, see the journal’s webpage: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rctc20/current.

The journal’s aims and scope can be found here: https://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?show=aimsScope&journalCode=rctc20.

Instructions for authors here: https://www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?journalCode=rctc20&page=instructions