Report: UTCP in NYU, Prof. Viren Murthy's talk

10 April, 2008 KOBAYASHI Yasuo, YOSHIDA Kei, Times and the Unconscious

From March 22 to 31, Yasuo Kobayashi, Takahiro Nakajima, UTCP fellows (Dennitza Gabrakova, Misato Ido, Wang Qian, Kei Hirakura, and Kei Yoshida), and Satoru Hashimoto (the former UTCP fellow, currently Ph.D. student at Harvard University) visited New York University.

This visit included a signing ceremony of academic exchange agreement between Graduate School of Arts and Science, New York University and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo. The beginning of the relation between both parties was academic collaboration between Prof. Xudong Zhang at the Departments of Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies, NYU and Nakajima at UTCP, and thus we took part in Prof. Zhang's seminar and the graduate conference organized by graduate students at the Departments of Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies.

The beginning of our visit was Prof. Viren Murthy's talk, "Historicizing Time and the Problem of Perioridization" on March 24. Although we planned to have his talk with other talks on March 25, we had to have it on March 24 for some reason.


Although I cannot explain Prof. Murthy's talk in detail, he argued that we presuppose linear or abstract time, where each segment is formally identical, but the content of each segment is unique. Prof. Murthy tried to examine the relation between the structure of such linear or abstract time and the historical emergence of capitalism. Referring to Aristotle's and Kant's concepts of time, he criticized orthodox Marxists for understanding time as a variable independent of any change, and thus for not historicizing abstract time. In Prof. Murthy's view, Marx's Capital suggests a possibility of historicizing abstract time. Furthermore, he argued that there is a crucial break between premodern and capitalist societies and that we need to understand capital as a subject of history.

As to Prof. Murthy's talk, the following questions were asked and we had a lively discussion. For instance, does a Marxist criticism of capitalism produce anything substrantial? Or how does Prof. Murthy explain the fact that our reality is based on a kind of speculation, calculation, or investment? Prof. Murthy plans to visit Japan this year. We hope that we can discuss such problems further at UTCP.

(Reported by Kei Yoshida)

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