The seminar introduces key concepts of the history of modern political philosophy, political economy and aesthetics. In particular, it takes the notion of abstract labour as a prism through which to address unresolved issues in contemporary theory in and beyond academia. While abstract labour is a central concept of Marx’s writings on the critique of political economy, it was originally introduced by Hegel in the Jena lectures (1805/06) to describe an exteriorized stage of subject formation and recognition. As a transitory stage of spirit’s concretion, already for Hegel abstract labour is constitutive of the social bond. In Marx, abstract labour becomes generic: it forges the social bond in all modern societies in which the commodity form prevails. Ever since Marx, particularly in a globalised world post 1989, the conceptual limits and Western genealogies of abstract labour have been problematized (Chakrabarty, 2000). The seminar discusses what activities, ruptures, knowledges and aesthetics have been shaped by abstract labour and how this notion has travelled to critical theory, epistemology, contemporary art theory, and history of science and technology.


A certificate (Schein) is possible with credit in Media Philosophy. Students can a) make a project or deliver a presentation in class and write a short essay of ca. 10 pages, or b) write an extensive essay of ca. 20 pages. All materials will be shared via Dropbox.

Further information and materials soon to be published here

Prof. Dr. Matteo Pasquinelli
mpasquinelli [∂] hfg-karlsruhe.de

Prof. Dr. Sami Khatib
skhatib [∂] hfg-karlsruhe.de

Enrolment: via email or Moodle
Mondays 15:00 – 18:00, weekly
Course start: 24 October 2022
Room: 112 and online
Language: English