Tuesday, August 25, 2015

"‘Perceptual universes abounding all around of us" : Interview with Leon Niemoczynski, part 1

Leon Niemoczynski / enacting philosophical ecology

Speculum Criticum Traditionis blog has posted an interview with me (link HERE) that After Nature readers may enjoy.  The title is quite lovely, actually..."Perceptual Universes Abounding All Around of Us."  It is done in a down-to-earth conversational style despite being conducted through email.  While the interview is broken into two parts and was around 20-30 pages in text, SCT has edited things quite abit so that is reads easy.

If interested and if readers would like to know more about me, my life, how I grew up, or more about my current philosophical thinking, please take a moment or two to start to read the interview...if you have time it'd be great for some to check out the whole thing.  I put alot of time, heart, and effort into it, so even if one or two read it in entire length I'd be happy.

If possible it'd be a great help if readers could spread the link to this interview should you all out there find any of it interesting or informative.  Any assistance in spreading the news would be so much appreciated!


John Caputo on the End of Religion (mp3 audio)

Caputo's keynote lecture from the "End of Religion" conference where HBC partnered with Villanova University to air this as a live podcast.  Now available for download.

Link HERE.

Friday, August 21, 2015

"Nature May Have A Profound Effect On Our Religiosity" (NPR article)

Pointer to Tom Sparrow for emailing a link to a very interesting NPR article. Link HERE.  The photo above is from a previous trip to Maine some years back, but Na and I were just up there for about a week camping

This weekend we'll be camping out of our kayaks along the Delaware River, trip from Milford down to Portland along with my sister and her husband.  I believe we are camping overnight on one of the islands on the river.

Friday, August 14, 2015

We Have Never Been Human: response to R. Scott Bakker on transcendental phenomenology and BBT [feedly]

response to R. Scott Bakker on transcendental phenomenology and BBT
// Footnotes 2 Plato

Anyone who posits some form of efficacy or constraint outside the natural order on the basis of some kind of interpretation of 'experience' has the same argumentative burden to discharge: How do you know? What justifies such an extraordinary (supernatural) posit?…What makes the question so pressing now is that their instrument, reflection, has finally found itself on the coroner's table. -R. Scott Baker
There is nothing "outside" the natural order. In this sense, I am opposed to the transcendentalist's move to remove Reason or the reflective understanding from physical reality. There is indeed a supernaturalist residue in much transcendental and phenomenological philosophy. This is why my project has always been to theorize "the natural order" as itself always already creative, aesthetic, interpretational, experiential (mine is a naturalized transcendental (Schelling's "Nature is a priori")). There is no "other" world from which the causal efficacy of our world derives. With our universe, the cause is internal to the effect, which is another way of saying our universe is primarily organic (with mechanism as a secondary appearance). This is why I follow Whitehead in the endeavor to construct an ontology of organism, wherein: 1) Physics is the study of the evolutionary development of particles, stars, galaxies, and other micro- and macro- organisms-in-ecologies; 2) Biology is the study of the evolutionary development of single cells, plants, and animals in their meso-cosmic ecologies; 3) Philosophy, anthropology, and theology are different aspects of the study of the evolutionary development of languages, myths, and ideas in their noetic ecologies. The organism-environment field becomes the metaphysical metaphor guiding our theorizing, rather than the machine.
Now, when I say "my project has always been to theorize…", I should qualify that "theory" in the context of an open-ended, evolving cosmos such as ours can never pretend to certainty or finality. Theory is not the construction of a disinterested, reflective ego (at least, no valuable theory is). Theory always remains dependent on the speculative leap of some metaphor or another. Theory is imaginative construction requiring equal doses of aesthetic taste and logical clarity. Our theories are always as much science fiction as they are science fact.
I agree with Bakker than cognition of the real just isn't possible. But we must distinguish between cognition and sensation, feeling, and intuition. If an intuition of the real is our goal, using the reflective instrument is like shining a flashlight in search of darkness. Reflective cognition is like King Midas, turning everything it touches into noetic gold. It transforms everything not-I into food for itself, digesting the world and defecating whatever it can't assimilate as waste. It does't seem to me much of a stretch to say that modernity's exclusive reliance on reflective cognition is one of the main factors leading to the ecological crisis.
Let me be clear that, while I defend transcendental phenomenology from Bakker's eliminativist meta-critique, my own philosophical home base is process-relational ontology. I have major issues with transcendental phenomenology as a philosophical resting place. It remains too anthropocentric, too concerned with issues of human access and not attentive enough to solar nucleosynthesis, cellular mitosis, and atmospheric levels of CH4. But still, I just don't understand how, having grasped the power of transcendental critique–as critique–one could fail to see eliminativist arguments like BBT as anything but dogmatic materialism (materialism has today become the new School Philosophy, though it pretends to be the ultimate critic of all metaphysics). Where I leave transcendentalism behind is in my pursuit of a constructive, cosmologically-rooted philosophy, something the phenomenological approach just cannot provide.
It is clear Bakker has done his philosophical homework. I don't think it is fair of him to lump everyone into the same transcendentalist clown car, though. Phenomenology was born out of the intense debates between Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, all of whom accused Kant of not having cleared his vision of dogmatist residues. They all recognized the possibility and the fact of neglect, and even of the neglect of neglect. But for these post-Kantians (with the possible exception of Hegel), the transcendental project was an infinite one by definition, meaning there would never be a point when the a priori structures were finally reached and could be clearly and distinctly spelled out once and for all. Fichte grounded the transcendental historically in the ethical development of humankind, describing philosophy as an attempt to asymptotically approach absolute metacognition as an ideal while never in fact being able to reach it. Schelling went further and grounded the transcendental in the creative developmental arc of the cosmos itself. For Schelling (and here he converges with Whitehead), not even God knows the a priori conditions of experiential reality: the divine is just as caught in the chaotic turmoil of historical becoming as any creature is. None of these thinkers, with the possible exception of Fichte when he is sloppy, thought that impersonal natural systems could be cognized in terms of their own 1st person experience.
Here is Schelling mulling over this exact problem, for ex.:
"I could conceive of that being perhaps as something that, initially blind, struggles through every level of becoming toward consciousness, and humanity would then arise precisely at that moment, at that point in which the previously blind nature would reach self-consciousness. But this cannot be, since our self-consciousness is not at all the consciousness of that nature that permeates everything: it is just *our* consciousness and hardly encompasses within itself a science of becoming applicable to all things. This universal becoming remains just as foreign and opaque to us as if it had never had a bearing on us at all. Therefore, if this becoming has achieved any kind of purpose it is achieved only through humanity, but not for humanity; for the consciousness of humanity does not = equal the consciousness of nature" (The Grounding of Positive Philosophy, 1841).
In other words, 1st person reflective ego consciousness is largely a sham. It can tell us little if anything about the unconscious natural ground from which it emerges. Of course, Schelling (like Whitehead) argued that the field of experience extends beyond mere 1st person ego consciousness. My argument with Bakker has always been: why reduce the experiential field that is open to us to 1st person ego consciousness? Most of our daily and nightly experience is not egoic! Most of the time we are flowing through other experiential states more akin to animals, plants, and even minerals. So in a sense mine is also a post-human manifesto. We have never been human, if you want.


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Inhuman Rationality and Cosmos as the Space of Reasons

The below had me thinking about how in a speculative, ecological, and neo-rationalist metaphysics, the space of reasons in its true universality (or multiversality) would be cosmos itself.

From the blog Three Pound Brain in THIS post, called "Alien Philosophy":
Are there alien philosophers orbiting some faraway star, opining in bursts of symbolically articulated smells, or parsing distinctions-without-differences via the clasp of neural genitalia? What would an alien philosophy look like? Do we have any reason to think we might find some of them recognizable? Do the Greys have their own version of Plato? Is there a little green Nietzsche describing little green armies of little green metaphors?
The post then continues to quote Kant, as follows:
The highest species concept may be that of a terrestrial rational being; however, we shall not be able to name its character because we have no knowledge of non-terrestrial rational beings that would enable us to indicate their characteristic property and so to characterize this terrestrial being among rational beings in general. It seems, therefore, that the problem of indicating the character of the human species is absolutely insoluble, because the solution would have to be made through experience by means of the comparison of two species of rational being, but experience does not offer us this. (Kant: Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, 225)
Note, experience has not offered this as no (at least public and scientifically studied) contact with extra or non-terrestrial life has been established.  But I am intrigued by Kant's query, which is a query in the 18th century mind you, into the starry heavens above so as to think, how might we garner a characteristic property of rational beings in general.  That's amazing because, really, he is considering nonhuman forms of life whose rational being could divulge truly universal principles of knowledge that transcend our own terrestriality.  In short, he recognizes the inhuman nature, or "extra-human" nature of reason.

Further on, this piece from the post:
Of course, the plausibility of humanoid aliens possessing any kind of philosophy requires the plausibility of humanoid aliens. In popular media, aliens are almost always exotic versions of ourselves, possessing their own exotic versions of the capacities and institutions we happen to have. This is no accident. Science fiction is always about the here and now—about recontextualizations of what we know. As a result, the aliens you tend to meet tend to seem suspiciously humanoid, psychologically if not physically. Spock always has some ‘mind’ with which to ‘meld’. To ask the question of alien philosophy, one might complain, is to buy into this conceit, which although flattering, is almost certainly not true. 
And yet the environmental filtration of mutations on earth has produced innumerable examples of convergent evolution, different species evolving similar morphologies and functions, the same solutions to the same problems, using entirely different DNA. As you might imagine, however, the notion of interstellar convergence is a controversial one. [2] Supposing the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence is one thing—cognition is almost certainly integral to complex life elsewhere in the universe—but we know nothing about the kinds of possible biological intelligences nature permits. Short of actual contact with intelligent aliens, we have no way of gauging how far we can extrapolate from our case. [3] All too often, ignorance of alternatives dupes us into making ‘only game in town assumptions,’ so confusing mere possibility with necessity. But this debate need not worry us here. Perhaps the cluster of characteristics we identify with ‘humanoid’ expresses a high-probability recipe for evolving intelligence—perhaps not. Either way, our existence proves that our particular recipe is on file, that aliens we might describe as ‘humanoid’ are entirely possible.
Evolution assures that cognitive expenditures, the ability to intuit this or that, will always be bound in some manner to some set of ancestral environments. Evolution means that information that makes no reproductive difference makes no biological difference. 
An ecological view, in other words, allows us to naturalistically motivate something we might have been tempted to assume outright: original naivete. The possession of sensory and cognitive apparatuses comparable to our own means Thespians will possess a humanoid neglect structure, a pattern of ignorances they cannot even begin to question, that is, pending the development of philosophy. The Thespians would not simply be ignorant of the microscopic and macroscopic constituents and machinations explaining their environments, they would be oblivious to them. Like our own ancestors, they wouldn’t even know they didn’t know.

Here are some excerpts from posts from After Nature where I've picked up on some of this before.

From "Thoughts on a 'NeoPresocratic Manifesto'"
The other side of the coin is to divulge the rational conceptual space that is extra-human by identifying the interplay between emotive, subjective, or felt intensive-qualitative experience and the conceptual apparatus that assists in propelling the life of qualitative intensive experience. In a sense, this larger intensive but conceptual space is even non-human in its "naturalness"; so it includes human beings but transcends human beings (thus it is "non-human"). 
By recognizing the larger-than-human space of rationality we see that a.) aesthetic contrasts of value create normative dimensions of experience that humans are subject to, and b.) these dimensions of experience transcend human-to-human ecologies of knowledge and therefore guarantee a truly rational but also normative aspect to reality itself. Indeed, reality or nature is rife with "experience" that is both conceptual and of an aesthetic value yet which is, also, not human.

From a quote of the day:
Reason liberates its own spaces and its own demands, and in the process fundamentally revises not only what we understand as thinking, but also what we recognize as “us.”    
- Reza Negarestani
And on "Octopus Intelligence," where essentially the point is that intelligence is ubiquitous.  My next question would be, is there information only where there is intelligence?  Or, what is the relationship between the two?  Even if both are extra-human, that is transcending but encompassing the human, yet also other forms of life, then how ingrained within the world is intelligence (pysche) and also information?  I find myself continually going back to the likes of Hegel, Fichte, and Schelling to sort out the question of mind within nature.  From there biosemiotics builds upon the notion of ubiquitous intelligence that the German idealists had in the 18th and 19th centuries.

From "The Pain of Rocks"
I don't think that it is anthropomorphic to speculatively explore non-human consciousness supposing that non-human worlds of experience overlap or may be like our experience in some respects, as much as they may be unlike our experience in other respects.  
In the tradition of Jakob von Uexkull or even to some degree William James and Alfred North Whitehead, it isn't about multiplying different world pictures nor even rendering them common to ours, even though the diversity of world pictures has its place. I think it is about speculatively and phenomenologically allowing non-human worlds to exhibitively self-display their experiential features where these features are attended to for what they are. 
Removing human beings from nature and stating, "Ok, the experience of others may not be like our subjective experience" doesn't mean that others aren't capable of experiencing emotion, pain, etc. etc. The fact is, it isn't our experience to begin with. If human beings didn't exist, elephants would still grieve the loss of a matriarch, dolphins would still express joy, crabs would still feel pain, and so on. Further still, all things - taking a panexperiential viewpoint - would struggle to persist and would undergo self-relations. We do not need to appeal to analogies involving human-centered experience to make that case. No one is saying the world is like us. I (for one) am simply saying that we are part of the world, naturally, like everything else.
After having watched Pete Wolfendale's talk from the "Inhuman Symposium" I am inclined to think that rationality is *not* merely an invention or category created by the moderns.  Actually, rationality in the fact that it encompasses the human - any human regardless of specific socio-political contexts (what Braidotti was grilling him about, prompting his response that he grew up in an environment that critiques postmodernism) - is something which is a universal horror, at first.  The security of what humans thought gave them the "one up" over everything else turns out to be precisely what motivates forms of life to project critically noumenal realities outside of it.  And so, what is reason then in these universal instantiations, or more specifically and precisely, what can we say of its activity?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Inhuman Symposium [feedly]

From Pete Wolfendale...

Inhuman Symposium
// Deontologistics

I recently gave a talk at the Inhuman Symposium at the Fridericianum in Kassel, titled 'The Reformatting of Homo Sapiens'. The video of the event has just been released, so I'm sharing it here for those who are interested. The paper itself is slightly truncated, and really needs a further section discussing desire, and outlining a positive conception of agency, selfhood, and value on that basis. However, such are the perils of time limits.
Here is my talk:

And here is the panel discussion, in which I have quite a lively back and forth with Rosi Braidotti:

I highly recommend watching the other talks, which are also available here.


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Friday, August 7, 2015

Ernst Jünger’s Eumeswil now available for preorder

HERE.  The older hardcopy version (which I have) is worth over three hundred dollars, so this new Telos paperback is certainly worth it for around twenty seven dollars.  It will be available September 1st.

Eumeswil, ostensibly a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel, is effectively a comprehensive synthesis of Ernst Jünger’s mature thought, with a particular focus on new and achievable forms of individual freedom in a technologically monitored and managed postmodern world. Here Jünger first fully develops his figure of the anarch, the inwardly liberated and outwardly pragmatic individual, who lives peacefully in the heart of Leviathan and is yet able to preserve his individuality and freedom. Composed of a series of short passages and fragments, Eumeswil follows the reflections of Martin Venator, a historian living in a futuristic city-state ruled by a dictator known as the Condor. Through Venator, the prototypical anarch, Jünger offers a broad and uniquely insightful analysis of history from the post-histocric perspective and, at the same time, presents a vision of future technological developments, including astonishingly prescient descriptions of today’s internet (the luminar), smartphone (the phonophore), and genetic engineering. At once a study of accommodation to tyranny and a libertarian vision of individual freedom, Eumeswil continues to speak to the contradictions and possibilities inherent in our twenty-first-century condition.

For those new to Juenger's work you might want to see some of these After Nature posts, or check out THIS blog as a must-see:

"The Forest Passage"

"More on Juenger"

"The Magic of the Real"

"Nick Land and Ernst Juenger on Ultimate Exit"

"Ernst Juenger Quote of the Day"

"Promethean Time Travel"

Monday, July 27, 2015


Jägerblut was founded in 1996 by former member Julius Gospodard and Anton Knilpert as a project intended to reflect the myths, rites and strange stories based in the landscapes of Bavaria, together with themes about nature, forest and hunting. The music is basic, traditional, mixed with the charm of the Catholic church, heathen-like Orff instruments and Volksmusik, but everything extremely dark, dramatic, intense.