Brian Smith

(01382) 385211
Lecturer in Philosophy

Research Interests

Research Interests

The main focus of Dr Brian Smith's research is on philosophies of the event, more specifically, those philosophers’ who develop the notion of multiple events.

This move to a philosophy of multiple events signals a return of what Heidegger would call metaphysics, but here the concept of systematic thought is no longer concerned with providing the ground for a totalizing system, but providing a ground (or grounds) for the production of novelty and the new. They are open in the sense that they are open to something happening, an event, which exceeds their systematic limits. It is here that something new and unpredictable can occur.

His recent research has concentrated on a specific division that seems to open up between philosophies of the event. This division is based on the tension between an event and the philosophical subject. On the one side there are the more overtly political and moral approaches to a philosophy of the multiple event, two key protagonists being Badiou and Sartre. On the other side, in the work of Deleuze some process philosophies, such as Alfred North Whitehead’s, it is novelty and the production of the new that takes precedence.

Does an open system require, and is it for, some sort of free subjectivity? Or is such a system only the relentless production of novelty? Is the focus of this revival of metaphysics in philosophy predominately political/moral or ontological?

Dr Smith also retains an interest in the works of Hegel, especially the Science of Logic as expressing the limits totalizing systematic philosophy, and Heidegger, in particular the transitional middle period of his work, between Being and Time and his later language based philosophy.

Dr Smith is interested in restrictive modes of creative production, especially the experimental writing group the OuLiPo, founded by Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais in the 1960s. Authors associated with the group include: George Perec, Harry Mathews and Italo Calvino. The group is concerned with the intersection between mathematics and literature and concentrates on experimenting with restrictive writing techniques.

He also has an amateur’s interest in urban planning and architecture, focusing mainly on the experience of urban environments. He's especially interested in the transformation of urban environments, and positive interpretations of ‘urban sprawl’. This has involved some engagement with Rem Koolhaas’ theory of the Generic City; Bill Hillier’s spatial analysis of urban environments and buildings in The Social Logic of Space, andSpace is the Machine, and finally Joel Garreau’s account of the transformation of American urban space in his book Edge City.

AHRC funded studentships are available in his research area - more details