Webinar – Roy Bhaskar – Dialectical Critical Realism

Bhaskar’s analysis of the dialectic, often simply called dialectical critical realism, offers a powerful tool of analysis for understanding the complex ontological relationships of the world through an analysis of becoming. In this presentation Bhaskar steps through the four stages of the dialectic using the mnemonic MELD signifying non-identity, negativity, totality and praxis.

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Webinar – Roy Bhaskar – Transcendental Realism part 2

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Webinar – Roy Bhaskar – Transcendental Realism part 1

Recently, we were able to hold a webinar in which Roy Bhaskar covered the first movement in critical realism, a Realist Theory of Science and transcendental realism. This covers the project of Lockean underlabouring, science, the revindication of ontology, the new ontology put forward by critical realism, induction, and retroduction,  Here is part one, part two to follow.

Special thanks to Gary Hawke (Alethic coaching) for organising and hosting this event.

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Interview – Roy Bhaskar. Overview of critical realism, dialectical critical realism, and metareality in less than 6 minutes

Is such a thing possible? Can critical realism be summarised in less than 6 minutes? In this interview for the journal of critical realism Roy Bhaskar gives it a good go stepping up through the ontology of critical realism and metareality.

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Interview with Roy Bhaskar –

In this 2013 interview Roy Bhaskar explores aspects of critical realism and the four-planar social being to address the question of social transformation and human flourishing.

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2014 IACR Annual Conference – From the Anatomy of Crisis to the Ontology of Human Flourishing

The 2014 IACR Annual Conference will take place on 18th to 21st July at the International Centre of Critical Realism (ICCR) at the London Institute of Education. Please visit the conference website for further details: www.ioe.ac.uk/iccr

The event will also be the inaugural Conference for the new International Centre for Critical Realism at the IoE.

Pre- and post-conference program:

16th-18th July: Pre-Conference workshop on critical realism

21st July (after lunch): An exploratory post-conference workshop on metaReality.

22nd July: A symposium on integrative metatheories

ICCR conference poster

Conference Postcard

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Eurocentrism and Metaphysics – A quick book review of two prize winning texts

Each year, from the many critical realist books published a few are selected for The Cheryl Frank Memorial Prize.. This annual prize is awarded for a book or article that constitutes, motivates or exemplifies the best and/or most innovative new writing in or about the tradition of critical realism.  This year the award was shared by Ruth Groff and Nick Hostettler.

Ruth Groff. Ontology Revisited: Metaphysics in Social and Political Philosophy 

Ontology Revisited is a sustained demonstration of the inexorability of ontology and the relationship between social and scientific (or metaphysical) ontology. It draws very persuasively on the resources of original critical realism and causal powers realism to show how modern social and political philosophy, pace ‘post-metaphysics’, has in fact been dominated by an implicit Humean ontology via Kant. In particular, where metaphysical ontology and social ontology meet is the question of agency. This analysis leads to (among other things) an analysis of critical theory as complicit with Kant in locating agency within the mind, and a critique of the emerging speculative turn in continental philosophy which de-agentifies humanity by agentifying being all under the guise of Spinoza.


1. The myth of metaphysical neutrality

2. Hume – Custom as metaphysical necessity

3. J.S. Mill: Humeanism and the Perfection of Distinctly Human Capacities

4. Kant and the Frankfurt School – Freedom as Escape from the Transcendental Subject.

5. Agents, Powers, and Events : Humeanism and the Free Will debate.

6. Metaphysics and the Capabilities Approach: Martha Naussbaum, Political Liberalism and the Idea of Metaphysical Neutrality.

7. Powers, Ontology an the Appeal to Spinoza

2. Nick Hostettler: Eurocentrism: a marxian critical realist critique 

Eurocentrism is innovative in its application of dialectical critical realism and Marx to political and post-colonial theory. It aims to shift the debate about eurocentricity decisively onto new terrain, elaborating in the process a systematic anti-eurocentric approach to understanding modernity. The central claims of the book are that the universality of modernity and the resulting political and social structures of modernity and capitalism, are dominated by eurocentric forms and relations. The world is viewed as Europe (the centre and pinnacle of humanity) and its Other. Nevertheless, the critique of Eurocentrism has been misunderstood or ignored, remaining largely marginalised and underdeveloped.


Introduction: Eurocentrism and Modernity

1. Fragments and contradictions of an emerging concept

2. Anthropocentrism and Europic universals

3. Marxism and the Europic problem

4. The dual dialectics of Europic theory

5. Critique of the eurocentrism of civil society

6. Ethical economic symbollic representation: Eurocentrism and imaginary dialectical universalisation

7. Capital: Marx’s anti-europic theory of modernity

Conclusion: Eurocentrism, capitalism, and the end of modernity (and post-modernity)

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Video – David Graeber – Debt the first 5000 years

Recently, the London post graduate reading seminar was fortunate to have David Graeber present an overview of his recent best-selling work. David is known for his involvement with the Occupy Wall Street movement and is influenced by critical realism.  Debt the first 5000 years builds on the works of Marcel Mauss and Karl Polanyi by providing an anthropological economic history of debt and seeks to answer a simple question, why do we feel we need to pay our debts? Taking aim at Adam Smith and classical economics, Graeber argues that the early barter-exchange society proclaimed by Smith has never existed. What anthropology finds is a system of social structures based on reciprocity and giving founded upon a common life – a form of primitive communism. From this Graeber provides a compelling narrative of the emergence of money connecting with military conquest, colonisation and slavery, the spiritualisation of debt and ‘paying one’s debt’ as a quantification of social relationships which inaugurates the homo economicus, an exploration of primordial debt theory, an analysis of the modern banking system as founded upon US war debt, as well as offering the suggestion that it is in fact a base line communism which sustains capitalist society including ‘the communism of the rich’ and the realisation that after all is said and done, it is only ever the poor who need to pay their debts. In light of this ideological rubbish, the solution is simple, we need to cancel debts and redistribute wealth – the cry of all revolutions since ancient times.

Unfortunately, this video is not from our post-graduate reading seminar, but provides a comprehensive introduction to his work.

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Video – Tony Lawson – Really reorienting economics

Mathematical Models: Rigorously Testable, Qualitative Metaphors, or Simply an Entry Barrier.

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Video – Margaret Archer – Consciousness, complexity and change: how realism needs reflexivity (July 2012)

In July 2012, the IACR conference was held in Grahamstown South Africa. One of the plenaries was given by Margaret Archer on the reflexive imperative and modern forms of social conflationism.

[Margaret Archer video]

Abstract: There has always been a strand in social theory that attributes importance to the non-conscious in the concept of agency and explanation of action (individual and collective): psycho-analysis, habitus, Latour’s ‘actants’ and now appropriations from Complexity theory. Critical Realism’s response has been ambiguous; quite ‘soft’ on unconscious motivation and habitual action, as exemplars of generative mechanisms, whilst requiring agential activity and awareness in its accounts of social transformation. I will refer only briefly to the first three instances above in order to concentrate on the incompatibility between complexity theory – its model of the ‘self-organizing’ social system together with the poverty of its (empiricist) ‘agent based modelling’ – and CR. The main argument will be that with the increasing speed of social change (morphogenesis), CR needs to acknowledge the ‘Reflexive Imperative’ in its account of the form the changing social order is taking in the ‘relationally contested organization’ of late modernity.


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