The urge to live as a challenge
Where: Palau de la Virreina
La Rambla, 99

Previous activities / Seminars and talks


The urge to live as a challenge
Santiago López Petit

04.10.2016 – 25.10.2016

Philosopher Santiago López Petit gives this first seminar, In First Person, which addresses the challenge involved in the will to live, a radical gesture requiring us to reflect on fundamental questions, from politics to love, from the space of anonymity to the power of pain. Over the course of four sessions, subjects raised will include the very definition of the challenge of life, the rethinking of everyday existence in a period of global capitalism and the anomaly as a form of resistance.

The will to live as a challenge

I had no choice but to think about life. The workers’ movement had been defeated. The illness came on unstoppably with the night. I kept on asking myself: Is there any meaning to life? In order to live, I discovered that you have to free the will to live from the life that imprisons it. You have to release it from this life that sees us as cogs in the great capitalist mobilising machine. With the will to live in our hands, this question vanishes in the face of the really crucial question: How can we turn the will to live into a challenge? I have tried to come up with an answer that is both individual and collective, since both dimensions make up the essence of the will to live. Clearly, it is about expelling our own fear and creating the conditions to achieve this collectively, but the idea of a challenge entails far more. The challenge posed by the will to live represents a radical gesture that forces us to think about the most fundamental issues: what constitutes politics, what does it mean to love, what is a space of anonymity and what can the strength of pain achieve?



Tuesday 4 October, at 7 pm. Virreina LAB

The concept of life is now everywhere: in humanist discourses, in bioethics, in self-help books and, of course, in the news that warns of the growing threats to humankind. But appealing to life in general, often in abstract terms, has also been an alibi that has served to wage war and channel fear. Metaphysics has played a key role in this task by showing how the nihilisation of life is carried out in the name of saving it. The unusual and provocative assertion that “life doesn’t exist; the urge to live exists” opens up a path of nominalist criticism of this hypostatised—and therefore lifeless—life. Living is therefore simply saying I/you/we/they have the urge to live. The idea is to analyse the ambivalence of the urge to live, its internal recomposition and its expansion and then to see to what extent its affirmation represents a challenge.

Free entry. Limited places



Tuesday 11 October, at 7 pm. Virreina LAB

The global era means that capitalism spans the world and that we live in the heart of the insoluble. Criticism of political economy stalls when capitalist exploitation becomes a permanent mobilisation. But critiques of everyday life also become useless when life itself comes under the microscope, since it has become a full form of control and domination. As a result, traditional forms of criticism (dialectic negation or not, transgression, vitalist affirmation, etc.) are of no use when it comes to thinking about the challenge of attacking the beast in which we live and which we feed. The urge to live cannot be turned into a challenge without an interruption. How can we interrupt a reality that is at the same time a battleground, a space of possibilities, a headlong rush and a pure tautology that endlessly repeats “This is what there is”?

Free entry. Limited places



Tuesday 18 October, at 7 pm. Virreina LAB

Living in today’s world means accepting, on a day-to-day basis, that people’s own lives are worthless: they will be used while they are still of some use before being left to their own fate. Faced with the planned obsolescence that is our destiny, the radical gesture of interruption brandishes the urge to live. We can perforate reality, we can subvert the domination of pronouns and the game of life, but to do so we need to take control of the power of nothing and detach ourselves from nihilism. The power of nothing is power that is that also non-power, and non-power that is also power. Every time we get rid ourselves of the factories of impotence, every time we dare to cross an impasse, we seize this power in our own hands. This is the form the interruption takes. On an impersonal level, interrupting the domination of pronouns leads to spaces of anonymity. On a personal level, a political life emerges whose simplicity makes it invincible.

Free entry. Limited places



Tuesday 25 October, at 7 pm. Virreina LAB

By crushing our lives, or directly expelling them as waste, the global mobilisation extends the anxious night. The growing impossibility of living stifles the cries with fear and indifference. Those who refuse to pay the price for this normality are branded as anomalous. They resist and fight on in their own way, never stopping for rest, clutching on to their urge to live. And what if, unable to unfurl outwards, the only way to bear this excess of life were—paradoxically—to insert death inside it? The power of nothing finds its true home in the anomaly, because every anomaly is a broken life that is somehow still defiantly standing. In the impossibility of living lies the very possibility of life, and this is the origin of a strange joy that the wind of life is unable to extinguish. This is how the anxious night becomes the night of resistance. Life is a dark force, but only from this darkness can light emerge.

Free entry. Limited places


Santiago López Petit (Barcelona, 1950). Philosopher. Member of the workers’ autonomism movement in the 1970s, while working as a chemist. He taught philosophy at the University of Barcelona between 1990 and 2013. His latest books include La movilización global [Global Mobilisation] (Madrid, 2009) and Hijos de la noche [Children of the Night] (Barcelona, 2014). He has been a key figure in several collective initiatives, such as Dinero Gratis and Espai en Blanc.