Lambert Zuidervaart
Professor (Emeritus) of Philosophy
"The only philosophy which can be responsibly practiced in the face of despair is the attempt to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption."
— Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia
Truth, Art, and Society: Redemptive Border Crossings
Many scholars regard epistemology, aesthetics, and social philosophy as philosophical subdisciplines separated by borders both clear and distinct. We often draw similar boundaries between "analytic" and "continental" traditions in philosophy. Inspired by the reformational tradition, I prefer to crisscross such borders or ignore them altogether. My current work on truth and globalization grows out of questions I have addressed in the philosophy of art: Why are the arts important? What do they contribute to life in contemporary society? In what sense might an artwork be said to be "true?" Initially I approached these issues via a critical dialogue with figures from the German philosophical tradition: Kant, Hegel, Marx, Heidegger, Adorno, Gadamer, and Habermas. Gradually, however, I have expanded the discussion to include analytic philosophy, feminism, and post-structuralism. The result is a new social philosophy of the arts and culture, published in two volumes. The first —Artistic Truth— takes up issues in epistemology, philosophy of language, and aesthetics. Addressing both analytic and continental traditions, this book argues that philosophy needs a new conception of artistic truth, and it proposes such a conception. The second —Art in Public— discusses civil society, public spheres, and the cultural impact of economic globalization. Examining cultural policy as well as social theory, Art in Public develops a new rationale for public arts funding. Artistic Truth sets the stage for my next book project. It will spell out a comprehensive and transformative conception of truth, in debate with prominent philosophers in both the analytic and the continental traditions. My other new book project will take up theories of globalization. It will develop a normative critique of societal macrostructures (economy, state, and civil society) and argue for the necessity of a global ethic. These themes are announced in my book Social Philosophy after Adorno and are partially elaborated in Art in Public.

My Research Foci
  • Theories of Truth
  • Civil Society
  • Globalization
  • Critical Theory
  • Hermeneutics

My Bio

Lambert Zuidervaart, PhD
Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Philosophy, Religion and Social Ethics
BA (Dordt College), MPhil (Institute for Christian Studies), PhD (VU University, Amsterdam)

Lambert Zuidervaart is a recognized expert in critical theory, especially the work of Theodor Adorno. His research and teaching range across continental philosophy, hermeneutics, social philosophy, and philosophy of art, with an emphasis on Kant, Hegel, Marx, Heidegger, Gadamer, and Habermas. He is currently developing a comprehensive and transformative conception of truth, in debate with prominent philosophers in both analytic and continental traditions. His most recent books include Art in Public: Politics, Economics, and a Democratic Culture (Cambridge UP, 2011), Social Philosophy after Adorno (Cambridge UP, 2007), and Artistic Truth: Aesthetics, Discourse, and Imaginative Disclosure (Cambridge UP, 2004). Lambert is an Associate Member of the Graduate Faculty in Philosophy at the University of Toronto and a Faculty Associate of the University’s Centre for Ethics.