I am Full Professor in the Philosophy Department of University Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis. I am also co-editor of the journal SubStance.
My work is based on a theoretical use of fiction. I use fiction as a method for exploring the possible and its limits. In this way, I intend to give to philosophy both a speculative scope and a critical impact: fiction enables the philosopher to consider the real in the light of the possible.
My latest book Technofictions reads as a series of short stories that explore contemporary technologies through the phenomenology of the possible lives they seem to make possible.
More broadly, my research is organized around four areas.
1. In my most personal books, I use fiction to describe and conceptualize fields that philosophers tend to ignore, or repress: wasted time, phobias, seashores… Fields that philosophers most often avoid, preferring to talk about work rather than laziness, preferring the noble Angst to this absurd fear that is phobia, or preferring to set foot on firm land, where the tree of science is rooted, rather than exploring uncertain and moving shores.
2. However, I first began by studying how the imaginary (dreams, fictions) penetrates domains that belong to science: logic (in the work of Kurt Gödel), the cybernetics of Norbert Wiener, or the prospect of brain reading in neuroscience. I have worked on the archives of scientists: one can then show how scientific or technological advances are influenced by popular fictions, personal dreams, superstitions sometimes.
3. Conversely, the imagination is transformed through science and technology. A whole series of strange beings are born from these encounters: not only robots. Contemporary machines transform our fictions, even in their form or medium: in digital art and literature, fictions develop through apparatus that no longer have the linearity of a story nor the limits of a book. What can we tell in this way? Or how to explore this new form of imagination? I have co-authored a web documentary, Welcome to Erewhon, which is an adaptation of the novel published by Samuel Butler in 1871. With Paul Harris, and SubStance, we are also launching a collection of digital works: see here.
4. Finally, this interweaving of fiction, science and technology raises problems with regards to the history of philosophy in France. In this perspective, my field of interest is the historical epistemology that leads from Brunschvicg, Cavaillès, Lautman, Bachelard, up to contemporary authors. I have been particularly interested in the question of reason and imagination, the question of “style”, the critical attack on the philosophy of consciousness and, more generally, the problem of subjectivity.
I was born in Tunis in 1971. As a student at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, rue d’Ulm, from 1991 to 1996, I graduated both in mathematics and in philosophy. My PhD in philosophy, 1999, concerned the epistemology of Jean Cavaillès. I was then appointed research fellow at the CNRS. I am Full Professor in the philosophy department of the University of Paris 8 since 2011.
Some of my academic publications may be found here.