Université de Strasbourg

Franck Fischbach & Éric Pineault

Biography – Franck Fischbach

Research Centre for Contemporary and German Philosophy (CREPHAC), University of Strasbourg

Franck Fischbach, USIAS Fellow 2020Franck Fischbach is a former student of the French École normale supérieure de Fontenay-Saint-Cloud (1987); after an Agrégation in philosophy (1991), he obtained his PhD (1996) and subsequently a professorial thesis in philosophy (2002) from the Pantheon-Sorbonne University of Paris. He was professor at the universities of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès (1997-2009) and Côte d'Azur in Nice (2009-2013) before becoming, in 2013, professor of modern and contemporary German philosophy at the University of Strasbourg, where he is a researcher attached to the Research Centre for Contemporary and German Philosophy (CREPHAC). Professor Fischbach was dean of the Faculty of Philosophy from 2014 to 2018. He is currently president of Section 17 (Philosophy) of the National Council of Universities (CNU).

His research initially focused on German idealism (Fichte, Hegel, Schelling) and its Heideggerian reception in France and Germany, then - via Young Hegelianism and the problematic of activity and practice - on Marx and critical theory. Franck Fischbach contributes to the epistemological and historical legitimisation of the field of social philosophy by devoting his work to problems and issues (recognition, alienation, work, socialism, social criticism) falling within its domain. His work is currently oriented in two directions: on the one hand a questioning of the articulation between society and nature and, on the other hand, a problematisation of "doing together" and joint action.

He is the author of several books in French, on the following topics: How to begin in Philosophy? Study on Hegel and Schelling (Vrin, 1999), The Recognition. Fichte and Hegel (PUF, 1999), Being and Acting (Vrin, 2003), The Production of Men (PUF, 2005), Objectless. Capitalism, Subjectivity, Alienation (Vrin, 2009), Manifesto for a Social Philosophy (La Découverte, 2009), World Deprivation. Time, Space and Capital (Vrin, 2011), The Meaning of the Social (Lux, 2015), Marx's Philosophies (Vrin, 2015), What is a Socialist Government? (Lux, 2017), and After Production. Labour, Nature and Capital (Vrin, 2019).

Biography - Éric Pineault

Institute of Environmental Science, University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM), Canada & USIAS Fellow, Research Centre for Contemporary and German Philosophy (CREPHAC), University of Strasbourg

Éric Pineault, USIAS Fellow 2020Éric Pineault holds a PhD in the economics of institutions and sociology from the French École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and Canadian University of Québec in Montreal (UQAM) in 2002. The focus of his research throughout his career has been to contribute to the political economy and critical theory of advanced capitalism. In his dissertation (1999-2002) he studied the structure and emergence of financialised accumulation regime in advanced capitalism. He became professor at the department of sociology of UQAM in 2003 and continued to study financialisation from a more empirical angle, which led to a number of book chapters and scholarly publications on how this form of accumulation impacted firms and households.

During and after the 2008 financial crisis, his research focus moved to the structural and macro-economic impacts of the austerity policies pursued by various governments, and more particularly of austerity as a form of class struggle from above. This research agenda was developed collaboratively with social movements and trade unions struggling in Québec against these policies. In parallel, Professor Pineault also developed an analytical framework to study the extractive industries in Canada, in particular how the development of the Tar Sands has impacted the trajectory of Canadian Capitalism. It is in this context that he was introduced to the field of social metabolism and ecological economics. His current focus, the development of a social ecology of capital, rests on the integration of these findings and concepts with the political economy of advanced capitalism.

Éric Pineault currently teaches ecological economics and social ecology at the Institute of Environmental Science of UQAM, and economic sociology in its sociology department. As of 1 June 2020, he is the director of the Institute of Environmental Science. 

Professor Pineault has published many papers and book chapters in the above fields, as well as Le Piège Énergie Est (The trap of the Energy East pipeline), with David Murray, in 2016.

During his time in Strasbourg, Professor Pineault will be welcomed by Professor Fischbach and Professor Anne Merker to the Research Centre for Contemporary and German Philosophy (CREPHAC).

Project – A natural history of advanced capitalism

01/11/2020 - 31/05/2022

The thesis that modern industrial societies have freed themselves from a dependence on space that characterised agricultural societies was first developed by the German historian and environmental theorist Rolf Peter Sieferle. The objective of this project is to deepen this thesis and to complement it with the idea that these same modern societies, freed from dependence on space, have fallen into a new dependence: dependence on geological time. All societies prior to industrial capitalist social formations had a metabolism bounded and limited by their capacity to appropriate the fruits of biological productivity. Subsistence and surplus were mediated by space and by the ecological processes that determined biological productivity.

In contemporary capitalist societies, geology – in the form of fossil fuels and the massive extraction of minerals and metals through machinery energised by fossil fuels – mediates the production of all commodities. Without geology, labour power would be unable to mediate the social metabolism of contemporary societies. We have seemingly emancipated ourselves from the boundedness of space based biological productivity and ecology. And yet the geological mediation of the metabolism of advanced capitalist societies, which has sustained unprecedented economic growth and accumulation of surpluses, has its own boundedness in the form of climate change. The question we are asking is whether advanced capitalist societies have not fallen into a new dependence: by tapping into the immense store of accumulated power that are fossil fuels to accelerate their growth, these societies may have subsumed themselves to the slow irreversibility of geological time that has been accelerated by their own activities.

The objective of the project is to contribute to the analysis of the historicity of capitalist societies, as well as to the understanding of the ecological contradictions of their development. Though the natural science of global warming and climate change works with the concept of slow geological time, and does understand anthropic impact as accelerating this time, fundamental – philosophical – inquiry into the nature of geological time as a mode of subsumption of capitalist development has not been undertaken. And if “acceleration” is a key word to understand the culture and dynamics of contemporary capitalist societies (Rosa, 2005), including their environmental impact, a fundamental inquiry into the acceleration of natural history by capital has not either been explored. Finally, Professors Fischbach and Pineault want to contribute to debates within contemporary Marxian theory, in particular concerning the priority of space over time, which has been put forward by authors such as Anderson and Jameson. It will also enrich the concepts of “abstract time” and “abstract energy” developed by Postone (1994) and Lohmann (2014).

Investissements d'Avenir