Prof. Marc Rölli

September 2011 - February 2012

Since September 2011, Marc Rölli (born 1969) is professor at the Department of Philosophy of the Fatih University in Istanbul, Turkey. After having studied philosophy, comparative religion and Indian philology in Marburg and Berlin, he received his Ph.D. from Ruhr-Universität Bochum in 2002. In the same year, he became associate professor of Philosophy at Technische Universität Darmstadt. There, he achieved his Habilitation in philosophy in 2008 and was visiting professor for theoretical philosophy between 2008 and 2011.

Fields of research

Philosophical anthropology; philosophy of technology (main focus: media philosophy); history and philosophy of science (main focus: biology and eugenics in the 19th century); classical German philosophy from Kant to Hegel; phenomenology, hermeneutics, critical theory, structuralism; philosophical aesthetics. Current research: Power and infrastructures – towards a transformation of the chronology and typology of power; anthropology and life-sciences; French 20th-century philosophy (Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Bruno Latour); pragmatism: action theory, conceptions of pluralism, life-world and technology, science studies (main focus: John Dewey)

IKKM Research Project

Pragmatism as a theory of material dispositifs
A social-philosophical draft to revise traditional action-theory

The project aims to develop a theory of material dispositifs with respect to media
infrastructures by actualizing pragmatism as a strong social-philosophical position. Media
infrastructures can be determined as dispositifs as far as they define action conditions that are
not rationally grounded or sublated in subjective action-owners. Dispositifs play a role in all
possible forms of action: they cannot be separated as merely strategic from any real
communicative action in a so-called life-world. In this research project it is argued that
traditional action-theory in behalf of the teleological scheme of instrumental action needs to
be reconstructed.

One of the leading concepts of the social-philosophical writings of the pragmatist philosopher
John Dewey includes the idea of the relevance of practice: in the name of the so-called
"instrumentalism" the traditional subject-theoretical frame of actions is overcome. In their
operational aspect, actions refer to problematic situations – explicating their meaning is
corresponding to the way in which dispositifs in the sense of assemblages or agency-
conditions are called into question. It can be made evident that pragmatist action-theory and
structuralist approaches do not exclude each other in general. This theoretical background
enables us to understand why media philosophy can describe cultural techniques as cultural
practices and vice versa.

The research project aims to give answers to the following questions:

  • If the instrumental scheme of action has to be revised thoroughly, how can the
    typology of action-forms – established by Max Weber (zweckrational*, wertrational*,
    affective, traditional) – be transformed?
  • What kinds of differences of medial infrastructures are relevant if material dispositifs
    are reflected as a variety of "acting-media"? Is it still an effective distinction to refer to
    symbolically generalized communication-media on the one hand and to some
    redundancy spreading mass-media on the other hand? (Cf. Luhmann 1997, 202 sqq.)
  • (How) can the Deweyian instrumentalism be improved by using the theory of
    situation, later developed in his Logic? (Cf. Dewey 1938, 87 sqq.)
  • In which way can there be a mediation between action-theory and structuralist
    perspectives by a theory of material and infrastructural dispositifs? What are the
    differences between pragmatist and traditional subject-oriented theories of action?