The Universal proposes a radically new philosophical system that moves from ontology to ethics. Drawing on the work of De Beauvoir, Sartre, and Le Doeuff, among others, and addressing a range of topics from the Asian sex trade to late capitalism, quantum gravity, and Merleau-Ponty's views on cinema, Dorothea Olkowski stretches the mathematical, political, epistemological, and aesthetic limits of continental philosophy and introduces a new perspective on political structures.
Straddling a course between formalism and conventionalism, Olkowski develops the concept of an ontological unconscious that arises from our "sensible" relation to the world-the information we absorb and emit that affects our encounters with the environment and others. In this "realm of the senses," or the field of vulnerability defined by our experience with pleasure and pain, Olkowski is able to rethink the space-time relations put forth by Irigaray's notion of the "interval," Bergson's "recollection," Merleau-Ponty's idea of the "flesh," and Deleuze's "plane of immanence."
This aesthetic sense is shared by all humankind and nonhuman entities in the organic and inorganic world. The sensible universal can be applied to categories of pure and practical reason; experiential binaries of male-female and subject-object; and issues of autonomy, moral laws, and the regulation of perception.