Austin Smidt

Research Student - Toward a Transcendental Historical Materialist Conception of the Imagination



Austin is a PhD student in Philosophy. He also taught for 3 years in Philosophy at the University of Dundee on 'Plato and the Good Life' and 'Descartes, Thought and Reality'.

Beyond his academic interests, he is heavily involved in theatre and tv/film as an actor and writer. He is currently represented by KSA-Scotland and has been commissioned to write a play, short film, and a feature film for Delirium Productions.

Research Topic

Toward a Transcendental Historical Materialist Conception of the Imagination.


Professor James Williams & Dr Brian Hoyle



Austin's research topic for his PhD thesis is 'Toward a Transcendental Historical Materialist Conception of the Imagination'.


In this project I propose that the transcendental imagination is a contingent necessity that is both produced through and productive in the creation of the historical processes set forth in Sartre's tome, Critique of Dialectical Reason. Beginning with Kant's work on the transcendental imagination, I establish the usefulness of transcendental philosophy. Although Kant did give a type of primacy to the imagination, the foundational centrality of the transcendental unity of apperception and his insistence that transcendental imagination is 'independent of all experience' ultimately require further explanation of the conditions of their emergence in light of phenomenological and post-phenomenological criticisms. Kant's work will thus be problematized by select readings from Hume, Deleuze and ultimately Sartre, before constructing a substantive theory of the transcendental imagination that is historically, situationally, and socially contingent.



Journal Articles

“L’homme Imaginaire: Sartre, Praxis, and a Mythology of the Beyond,” Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 7:1 (2011), 76-86

Academic Book Reviews

Review of New Theological Turns in French Phenomenology, ed. by Bruce Ellis Benson and Norman Wirzba (Fordham University Press, 2010), in Heythrop Journal (forthcoming).

Review of Hobbes’s Behemoth: Religion and Democracy, ed. by Tomaz Mastnak (Imprint Academic, 2009), in Heythrop Journal (forthcoming).

Review of The Politics of Discipleship: Becoming Postmaterial Citizens, Graham Ward, (Baker Academic, 2009), in Heythrop Journal (forthcoming).

Review of After the Postsecular and the Postmodern: New Essays in Continental Philosophy of Religion, ed. by Anthony Paul Smith and Daniel Whistler (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010), in Speculations 1 (Fall 2010).

Conference Papers

“Excessive Scarcity: Deleuze, Sartre and the Conditions for thinking the Beyond”, Thinking the Absolute, Liverpool Hope University, June/July 2012.

Becoming L’homme Imaginaire: The Role of the Imagination in Overcoming Circularity in Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason”, 18th Biennial Conference of the North American Sartre Society, Teluq Montreal, April 2011.

The Group, The Third, and Political Praxis: Doing Political Theology with Jean-Paul Sartre”, Religion and Modernity in a Secular City, Katholische Akademie, September 2010.

The Beyond In Our Midst: Sartre’s Robust Materialism as a Root of Revolution”, Real Objects or Material Subjects?, University of Dundee, March 2010.

Invited Speaker

Imagining a New Social Theory”, Philosophy Society of Dundee, University of Dundee, March 2012.

Communized Praxis and Productive Mythology”, Philosophy Society of Dundee, University of Dundee, November 2010.

Latour, Harman, and Metaphysics”, Speculative Realism Workshop, Nottingham-Trent University, February 2010.