Friday, July 20, 2018

Thinking Between Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty (NDPR Review)

Thinking Between Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty
// Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

Judith Wambacq, Thinking Between Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty, Ohio University Press, 2017, 264pp., $95.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780821422878.

Reviewed by Laura McMahon, Eastern Michigan University

Judith Wambacq's book, which explores resonances between the philosophies of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Gilles Deleuze, is thoughtful, well-researched, and a good resource for scholars interested in the philosophies of either or both Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze, and in the development of twentieth-century Continental philosophy more broadly. Though the philosophical projects of Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze are often sharply contrasted, Wambacq makes a convincing case that the differences between the two are more stylistic and matters of emphases than they are substantial and central, and argues that it is philosophically worthwhile to read Merleau-Ponty through a Deleuzian lens and Deleuze through a Merleau-Pontean lens. In what follows, I will (1) outline what I take to be Wambacq's central thesis and argument; (2) provide...

Read More


Monday, July 2, 2018

The Nietzsche House in Sils Maria, Switzerland

A re-post from last year around this time of the summer, for those who may have missed it when posted then. Surely one of the most exceptional places I've seen first-hand for sure, the Nietzsche Haue did not disappoint (nor did the surrounding area of Sils was absolutely gorgeous). Recently Corrington and I visited the C.S. Peirce house in Milford again - this was about two or so weeks ago - and so while I work on a post for that I thought to re-post the below. Enjoy.

Original post from July 11th, 2017 - Sils Maria, Switzerland (original post HERE)

Sign-post to the Nietzsche Haus 
PHOTO: Niemoczynski, 2017

Sils Maria is an indescribable place, if one wants to paint a picture of it perfectly. I'm not sure words could do justice to the peace which is that place. Granted, Switzerland now has a special place for me - mostly because of its picturesque landscapes, its pine forests, its mountains and peaks, and of course its quaint and romantic way of life . But if I had to put my finger on it (and I believe Nietzsche had mentioned this) - there is something about the air there. Something, rejuvenating, perhaps?

“Well, my dear old friend, I am once more in the Upper Engadine. This is my third visit to the place and once again I feel that my proper refuge and home is here and nowhere else.” 

- Friedrich Nietzsche to Carl von Gersdorff, Sils Maria, late June 1883

Our visit to the Nietzsche house was quick but informative. The house is tucked away just off the street past the train station stop which is marked "Sils Maria." Proceed not even a minute's walk to your left and the Nietzsche house is there off the street on the left.

My wife wasn't so much interested and began studying the adjacent hotel, a charming building in its own right. And for a few minutes she began to say how nice it would be that if we had children we could venture here as a family and vacation. I agreed. (We desperately want children, and the thought of vacationing in this beautiful place with my wife, and hopefully one day children, for a moment moved me.)

As to my expedition regarding more philosophical things, I think I learned more just by absorbing the surrounding experience of the mountains and forests, the creek nearby, the silence only being interrupted by the sounds of insects or the wind. But it was Nietzsche's own bare room which spoke most profoundly to me.

Inside the home there are many, many books which are organized according to various donated collections. There are various artifacts and items to look at, and a room dedicated to Nietzsche studies or exhibitions (currently in one of the rooms are paintings by an artist who lived in the house recently for two years). For me, though, it was Nietzscbe's room as well as the view from his room to the mountain outside which affected my experience of this place. Reminiscent of the painting by Caspar David Friedrich I had to think that the "wanderer"who was meant for those mountains could have only been Nietzsche himself. Inside his room there is not much to see but certainly much one might sense. The walls are bare, one small carpet is at the center of the floor, there is a small bed, and there is a porcelain washbowl and pitcher across from the bed. That's it.

But, there is a thing that struck me - and let me say right away that this will come off as quite personal and thus perhaps strange - is how Nietzsche placed on his wall a green piece of wall paper. Neat and rectangular, there it was in the midst of his Spartan-like room. But, it was the tone of the green which struck me. The tone was deep and seductive.

The Wanderer above a Sea of Fog, Caspar David Frierich, c. 1818
When I first discovered Nietzsche at age 19 one of my favorite poems that he wrote was called "The Sun Sinks," written in the year of 1888. I know this poem by heart and can recite it freely. However, there are a few very interesting lines in that poem which reference the color green. And yet within Nietzsche's room, his sheets? The color green. His carpet? Green. The wallpaper? Green. The room was bare save for whatever minimal color there was, it was green.

If one is to reflect upon the meaning of green in that poem alone, let alone its place in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the poem's use of color all hangs upon green and its place vis-a-vis the abyss. Standing there, in Nietzsche's room, looking out from his window, to his fabled mountains of Zarathustra, I realized that the color green was for him, the abyssFrom there we hear about gold, blue, brown, black, and so on.

But "green," a dark majestic green, is the color of the golf-course greens where I was a night watchmen, my own Zarathustra at age 19, reading Nietzsche and marveling beneath the stars in the middle of those humid but cool, clear summer nights at 3am. Here in Sils Maria I was at the very place where one of the most influential philosophers who attracted me to philosophy in the first place lived. And here I was gazing out his window - at the same forests, the same mountains, the same stream. My Nietzsche journey had come full circle as I looked out his window.

Now that I have become part of "the establishment" of academia - a "philosophy professor" - part of that same establishment Nietzsche so despised, Herr Nietzsche and his anti-philosophy has crept up from behind me yet again to spur me into open reflection, just as he had when I was 19. And for that, my good friend, Friedrich Wilhem Nietzsche, I am thankful.

Today I still ask that most dreadful question, why? Hanging onto my late '30s, with respect to that question maybe Nietzsche's response, fittingly from the poem, remains the same when I found him while I was so young. "Stand firm my brave heart, do not ask: why? -"

A visit to the house costs 8 Francs (no Euros accepted).


Below one can find photos with captions of my visit. I'll attempt to upload a video of me traveling the path behind the house where Nietzsche would take walks when he could. As Sils Maria is a place for holiday one can see a hotel near the one where Nietzsche himself stayed. The only two cars that pass in the video toward the end were the only two heard during the hour I was there. Otherwise it was complete silence.

Finally, I am not an expert video producer so my apologies for the camera work (which is non-existent). I just wanted to show what the path looked like and attempt to transcribe to video the experience of what it may have been like for Nietzsche to walk along that path. Of course, that is impossible. In the end this was really an amazing experience and is on par with our visit to the Heidegger Hut (link HERE). Both visits were magical. Now on to the photos and video...

Mountains en route to the Nietzsche Haus

We've arrived! Sign directing visitors to the Nietzsche Haus, just off the street at Sils Maria, Switzerland 

View, front of the house


Dedicatory sign above front door

A simple stone path directors visitors 
Left side front of house

Right side front of house where Nietzsche stayed

Forest path behind the house

View of the mountains from the front path front of house

View of adjacent hotel

Some visitors leaving Sils Maria

Leon and Na leave Sils Maria

Last glance at the lake before we leave for Turano

Read also about our visit to the cabin where the most infamous philosopher of the 20th-century Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) would stay each summer, and where he would eventually write his masterpiece, Being and Time (1927), link HERE.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Philosophy Talk podcast with free philosophical cosmology episodes

Philosophy Talk podcast has some freely available episodes - so you can download them for free or stream for free straight from the website - available HERE.

The eight episodes form a mini-series covering philosophical cosmology, due in part to grant support from the Templeton Foundation. The program seems quite fascinating, or as Philosophy Talk describes:
What is the origin of the universe? What exactly are space and time? Could the laws of physics ever change? Is the universe fine-tuned to support intelligent life? What are dark matter and dark energy? Are we part of a multiverse? How does science make progress in answering these questions? And are there limits to what we can ultimately know about the nature of the cosmos? 
In this eight-episode series, sponsored by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation, we invite listeners on a grand philosophical journey through the cosmos, tackling deeply puzzling questions about the nature of the universe, and our knowledge of it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

quote of the day

"Experience is of as well as in nature. It is not experience which is experienced but nature - stones, plants, animals, diseases, health, temperature, electricity, and so on."

- John Dewey, Experience and Nature

See also THIS After Nature post from some time back.

Monday, June 18, 2018

After Nature streaming

As many of you know, I am winding down the blog so that in place I might begin an official YouTube channel. For the past month I have been doing test streams over at Twitch so as to experiment with equipment, resolution, length of stream, topic, etc. etc.  The reason I have been approaching the stream this way is because I would like to have only the best quality for my audience. Thus far I have purchased/obtained if for free, used, and tweaked to near-perfection a 1080p webcam, a DSLR camera, the Blue Yeti mic, an Ipevo HD document cam, and other equipment or software (such as OBS) that allows me to stream philosophical content while discussing books visible on the stream, PowerPoints, or stream from remote locations.

(The results of my test streams? The technical-quality results have been mediocre at best, not due to the equipment but because I need a new computer which can proficiently use and process the equipment. I had to upgrade my internet just to even run the stream without lag. Content-wise it has just been experimental - nothing too serious in the sense that the streams turn out to be more or less like very loose seminars/philosophical conversations. Those watching report that they like it, which is  good.)

So far the experience has been both positive and negative. Now, the negatives are due mostly to the Twitch platform and the audience that one finds there. On the other hand, the only pro of Twitch is its censorship free (or nearly so) approach to the inclusion of free thought and ideas, as well as music: something YouTube doesn't approach the same way. The very weird thing is that Twitch does ban my videos (they will mute your audio) if you critique their platform or if they catch you using music and then using music again on a following stream. So they are pretty hypocritical when it comes to allowing certain streamers to do something and others not. Still, I've been pretty brazen to test the limit and well, it's been interesting. YouTube would have just deleted me, so I consider it a positive.

The question is whether YouTube's heavy hand of censorship will eliminate my channel as soon as it begins. Time shall tell I suppose, but you dear readers here at After Nature would be the first to know as soon as a channel opened up.

In the meantime I am still struggling for a channel name. I would like to have a new name for the stream other than After Nature if only to start a new chapter in my online philosophy presence. The name I go under at Twitch, I am told, has associations online that could possibly wrongly implicate me with some wrong ideas out there, so that isn't worth the risk. But, I do need a good, interesting stream name for YouTube and I just can't think of one.

A friend of mine suggested Forest Crown, which I quite like... or Eumeswil (the title of Ernst Juenger's best science fiction book), which I like too. Waldganger is too clunky and weird, but in English it translates to something like "Forest Fleer" or "Flight to the Forest" - both interesting. But yet the former's "fleer" may elude some, and the latter sounds, I don't know, like a bad movie title. So I'm stuck. No channel until I think of a good name.

Any suggestions? I really like things from Juenger, who is one of my favorite literary-philosophical authors.

Ever since the golden age of philosophy blogs ended (for better or worse), I've been privy to see that streaming is the future. Twitter's obvious political censorship campaign discourages any free-thinking person from taking them seriously; same with something like Patreon or even Google in general. But Twitter is the absolute worst for it.  Likewise Facebook (another platform I have never used on principle) is pretty much self-explanatory. I've saved myself the trouble from trolling over my own posts and doing re-posts saying, "See? I told you so!"  Gosh, I called that with Facebook probably about five years ago. And people thought I was some sort of outcast. Same with Twitter. It's just unfashionable to use tools which aid the neo-gulag and their thought-police. I don't want anything to do with it it.

Hence my hesitation with YouTube ...

Right now my main objective is to find a channel name and upgrade my computer. The computer is going to be soon, hopefully the new name as well. The original estimate for the channel was this past spring. That seems to have been pushed back until the end of summer (on YouTube that is; if you're lucky you might be able to find me on Twitch in the meantime).

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Legacy of Kant in Sellars and Meillassoux: Analytic and Continental Kantianism (NDPR Review)

Reviewed at NDPR, link below.

The Legacy of Kant in Sellars and Meillassoux: Analytic and Continental Kantianism // Reviews // Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // University of Notre Dame

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Schopenhauer's Aesthetics (SEP entry)

Schopenahuer is a philosopher who, if you haven't looked at his work in awhile, certainly deserves to be dusted off and looked at . Sadly he is neglected in today's standard university survey courses when most definitely he shouldn't be. His relevance not only for aesthetics but for ethics, including animal ethics, is as strong as ever. I suspect that even in today's times he is overshadowed by Hegel. Try glancing at some Schopenhauer today if you can, or if in a rush perhaps the below, which has been updated. (Link is the title.)

 The focus of this entry is on Schopenhauer's aesthetic theory, which forms part of his organic philosophical system, but which can be appreciated and assessed to some extent on its own terms (for ways in which his aesthetic insights may be detached from his metaphysics see Shapshay, 2012b). The theory is found predominantly in Book 3 of the World as Will and Representation (WWR I) and in the elaboratory essays concerning Book 3 in the second volume...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

quote of the day

"None of our spiritual thoughts transcends the earth."

- Friedrich Schelling (letter to Eschenmayer, dated 1812)

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Peirce’s transmutation of Schelling’s Philosophie der Natur

A lengthy and extremely well-detailed article covering Schelling's impact upon Peirce and both philosophers' development of a philosophy of nature can be found linked below. I've written somewhat extensively in the past about the connection between Peirce and Schelling and have read quite abit on the subject as well (whether primary sources or secondary literature about it), but this article goes pretty in-depth into it all.

As some After Nature readers might remember, my first book Charles Sanders Peirce and a Religious Metaphysics of Nature has an entire chapter dedicated to exploring the relationship between these two philosophers and Schelling's Naturphilosophie informs an important backdrop of understanding to the book overall.

The article is definitely for anyone who is interested in Schelling's philosophy of nature even most generally, or Schelling's connection to the philosophy of C.S. Peirce more particularly.

Link HERE.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

quote of the day

"The relation between living subject and object is unlike that between two objects; for, the subject does not react mechanistically to all object stimuli but rather it assigns a significance or meaning to specific ones."

- Jakob von Uexküll

"Every living cell is a machine operator that perceives and produces and therefore possesses its own particular perceptive signs and impulses or 'effect signs.' The complex perception and production of effects in every animal subject can thereby be attributed to the cooperation of small cellular-machine operators, each one possessing only one perceptive and one effective sign."

- Jakob von Uexküll

(See also "Introducing Uexküllian phenomenology - Powerpoint download" HERE ; "Some resources on biosemiotics + Uexküllian/Peircean phenomenology" HERE ; and an enormously informative post with tons of great information and links on biosemiotics HERE titled, "Mathew David Segall, media ecology, and biosemiotics.")