Tuesday, June 11, 2019

"To Speculate: On 'Realism'", or Heidegger, Schelling, and Meillassoux

I found section 2.2 on Meillassoux and Heidegger of the below linked chapter particularly interesting as it engages both philosophers through a discussion of the Kantian transcendental. Something hinted at in the chapter which I think is incredibly important and have written about before myself (see HERE) is how Heidegger isn't as actually truly subject to some of the more damning claims made by Meillassoux in After Finitude as many might supposeIn fact, I have continued to maintain, as I do now, that the Heidegger of the '30s evidences that Daseyn isn't necessarily correlationally a "human" subject at all, understood as subject in one pole of the subject-object correlation. It would be a gross misstatement to characterize Daseyn as some kind of required correlational center-piece in the sense that it is a "human-opening" through whose poetic thinking Beyng might appear, and that only through Daseyn-as-human-opening might Beyng appear or be understood. Just as the distinction between Being and Beyng holds in Heidegger to present a thought held in two completely different lights, so does the distinction between Dasein and Daseyn differentiate Heidegger's realism of the '30s from his earlier anthropocentrically conceived Dasein in Being and Time. In the Contributions for example, Heidegger's realism is an idealism of a sort, true, but a realist-idealism that is non-correlational and transcendental.

It is for this reason that I actually prefer the Emad and Maly translation of the Contributions to the Rojcewicz and Vallega-Neu translation. Despite being more cryptic and at times enigmatic it presents Heidegger's project of the '30s in a way more true to its original influence of German idealism and its philosophical trajectory of transcendental realism: as being close to the project, aims, and understanding of Being as Beyng by the master himself, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling. The fact that Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy works (as does his The Event and The History of Beyng) within a register of speculative idealism that is also a transcendental realism, means that the Heidegger of the '30s is often misunderstood as much as it is overlooked. The realist Heidegger of the '30s is certainly under-utilized in discussions concerning speculative philosophy, German idealism, and transcendental realism.

For the above reasons "To Speculate: On 'Realism'" (Chapter 2 of Dearth: Eco-Deconstruction after Speculative Realism, by Phil Lynes, through Fordham University Press) is definitely worth taking a look at. Here is its abstract and then the link.

This chapter turns to an eco-deconstruction of the Kantian questions of finitude, the imagination and reason [Vernunft], both theoretical/speculative and practical, as well as the principle of reason [Satz vom Grund] for which there must be something rather than nothing, as we continue illustrating a realist time-space of extinction from Derrida’s unpublished 1970s seminars on Blanchot and Heidegger. Key to our investigations will be the speculative materialism of Quentin Meillassoux, as well as all these thinkers’ engagements with Kant concerning the thing without us, the temporality of the gift or promise that can be neither known nor thought – but can perhaps be imagined, dreamt or attested – as a transcendental illusion, an antinomy or transgression of pure reason.

Link to paper HERE.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Plato's influence upon Schopenhauer's aesthetics: On the Idea and Nature

Aesthetics Today has a great post up engaging Plato's influence upon Schopenhauer's aesthetics, specifically the role Platonic Ideas play in alleviating suffering of the Will. He writes,
There is something other than what we normally think of as Platonic Ideas as play here. First, we have the notion of "sides of an Idea which rarely appear." Second, we value individualities expressing themselves and their peculiar characteristics, through an "unfolding." Since aesthetic perception of Ideas is perceptual it is a matter of seeing the inward significance...of individual things.
This points to how the Idea in Schopenhauer functions much like the Kantian Ideas, not necessarily as literal Platonic Forms in an ethereal other-world, but as fully natural, functional guides and lures to action. The author of the post remarks this functionality reminds him of Nietzsche (Nietzsche's pragmatic appropriation of the Idea-as-expression-of-Will) and how the expression of individuals proceeds along the lines "as-if" its metaphysical aesthetic were "true" or "real" as it would be in and of itself. In other words, it is not necessarily the "reality status" of the Ideas within the purpose of aesthetics which is important for the organism, but the function of the Ideas and what they enable the organism to achieve.

I recently picked up Vaihinger's The Philosophy of 'As If' with the above in mind. For awhile now I've been working through Kant's moral, social, and political philosophy sideline to a more general study of aesthetics (German romanticism and idealism) and naturalism. I've learned to distinguish between a kind of - what I call - "naturism" and the more typical philosophical naturalism, the former being metaphysically pragmatic and fulfilling a social-political community function that more or less elevates the category of "nature" to that of religion. Johann Gottfried Herder's Aesthetics is a representative of this as is, remarkably given his atheism, Schophenhauer. In the case of Schopenhauer it is the effort to temporarily alleviate the Will which paradoxically allows us to affirm what is immanent within a transcendental register. Taking the aesthetic to be of a transcendental register itself is a move made by all of Plato, Kant, and Schopenhauer. Plato and Kant have much, much more in common I think than many suppose, but there are certainly engagements with the two in the thinking of the German romantics and idealists.

Link to the whole post can be found HERE.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Tom Sparrow's Review of 'Speculative Realism: An Introduction'

These two lines in particular had me in stitches: "I noted some instances where patience with one of his interlocutors was wearing thin and his distaste for the views or arguments under discussion became visible. Often, however, this distaste or impatience matches its target in tone and enlivens the prose with a hint of intellectual (if not emotional) investment." No Tom, this is just the usual under-handed passive-aggressive behavior of a man desperately shouting from the sidelines that he is still relevant - long, long after reasonable normal people have moved on. Talk about clutching on to the memories of your former high-school football team glory days. I don't think Tom realizes that this person is washed up and refuses to "leave the office" after the rest of us realized how taking the job was an embarrassment to begin with. And remaining in the office is not a virtue, it's pathetic and the action of a washed-up has-been. The fact that a person takes advantage of a situation and slanders a more capable philosopher in the name of a supposed objective "introduction" is absolutely hilarious as much as it is just, well, pathetic.

I wasn't even going to jot down and post any of this, but the mention of me in Sparrow's review was equally hilarious. There was no "inexplicable" excision, Tom. I perfectly explained that I don't have time to deal with or even talk about charlatans, gate-keepers, or other low-life internet scum who try to pass off their sleazy antics as "philosophy." I mean, there were literally no arguments at all to be found and thus to even talk about. I chose not to even go there out of fear of embarrassment. I never claimed to offer a comprehensive account of SR, a fact that you would have known if you had, you know, actually read my book. Oh, and I love the "you did!"-"no, you did!" moment where Sparrow claims to be confused by the whole how-can-you-talk-about-something-which-doesn't-exist thing by throwing back at me the same line of criticism I leveled at him concerning his "phenomenology is dead or doesn't exist" complaint, the thing he um writes his book about. Again, did you even read what I wrote?

Again, I wasn't going to waste my time by writing down these thoughts and even bothering with these people - I saw the review when it came out a few months ago and just chuckled. But a friend of mine mentioned it when mentioning how he liked my write-up on Brassier from the other day, and so I jotted this down as a response to what I thought about the review, if it wasn't obvious already.

Take it for what you will.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Revisiting Brassier's Deleveling of Object-Oriented Ontology: A Problem for Object-Oriented Ontology (that is Not a Problem for Ordinal Naturalism)

"Revisiting Brassier's Deleveling of Object-Oriented Ontology: 
A Problem for Object-oriented Ontology (that is Not a Problem for Ordinal Naturalism)"

Ray Brassier’s critique of object-oriented ontology is devastating. His primary purpose is to re-level the function of raized generality within immanence and hence re-invigorate a naturalized form of transcendence which is independent of perceiving transcendent consciousness and its horizon of apprehension. It is thus a form of scientific realism, pragmatism, and what I am currently referring to as “transcendental naturalism” in my own angle of vision which follows this part of Brassier’s thinking. One might think of this as a vector, an intersection, of Brassier’s work with that of Iain Hamilton Grant as transcendental naturalism is also, simultaneously, a transcendental materialism that admits the reality of the vital negative, that among other organic yet immanent features of the Hegelian and Schellingean systems.

As Brassier correctly points out, the sort of “flat ontology” merely posited by object-oriented ontology fails not only because it is simply posited, but because it lacks what Justus Buchler has articulated as “ontological ordinality.” In Buchler’s famous Metaphysics of Natural Complexes he identifies two necessary pillars required for any ontology that purports to be a naturalism as well. One is “ontological parity” – the idea that no object of nature is more real, nor any less real, than any other object of nature. (This idea sounds remarkably similar to the “ontological flatness” posited by the object-oriented ontologists despite Buchler having articulated it thirty five years earlier.) The other pillar is “ontological ordinality” – the idea that whatever is, is naturally complex. Meaning, there are no metaphysical simples. And further, as such, ordinality means that no object can be entirely unrelated to anything else and still be considered a singular, simple individual (thus it follows that to be is to be related). Thus Buchler provides us with a picture of nature that is more capacious and robust than the “flatness” posited by the object-oriented ontologists as for Buchler nature is “whatever is, in whatever way it is.” Buchler does not reduce any items of nature to assumed grounds independent of the traits which relate hem, nor does he reduce objects simply to the relations among and between objects themselves. This is important because Buchler’s ordinal ontology contains parity, successfully, in a way which object-oriented ontology fails to do. And thus Buchler’s ordinal naturalism and its twin principles of ontological parity and ontological ordinality is immune to the sorts of criticisms leveled against object-oriented ontology and its failure to provide for an adequate rendering of nature.

There are four theses of object-oriented ontology that Brassier identifies which fail (quite miserably) specifically within the scope of ontology, and more generally within speculative and realist metaphysics. They are as follows:

  1. There is no transcendence. No one sort of entity is the origin or ground of explanation of all others.
  2. There is no generality (universality). No one sort of entity (or presumably method or discipline) accounts for (or explains) any possibility of unity or commonness to be had among all others.
  3. There are no internal relations among entities. All relations are external and involve sensuous qualities only.
  4. There is not ontological “dignity.” No entity can be asserted to rank higher or lower within an ontological continuum and thus all entities are ontologically univocal. (All “is.” Nothing is not.)
Aside from the fact that at least two of these are mutually contradictory, it is Brassier’s calling out as fatal one of these theses alone that I find to be relevant here, for even though it but one point of contention Brassier demonstrates quite clearly why the failure of this thesis as posited fails on several fronts at once and collapses the whole project. In a future post I shall double-back to Buchler’s ordinal naturalism avoids these criticisms and thus survives what is rightly a death-blow to a quasi-naturalistic ontology as well as charlatan metaphysics that has no right to claim any kind of systematicity whatsoever (let alone rationalistic rigor).

1. Brassier points out that the denial of transcendence (at least as its denial is posited here) denies forms, species and genera, natural kinds (and thus also natural difference; that is, an internal principle of differentiation), abstracta, and law.

2. He also points out that the second thesis denies the possibility of totality, whether universe or One-All. This would also deny the  Absolute.

3. The third denies subjectivity. This thus denies not only epistemological relevance to any and all objects, but also any re-presentation (repetition) required for any meaningful notion of ontological difference.

4. And finally, the fourth thesis inadvertently denies ontological integrity as it denies ontological “dignity.” The vital negative is lost as is difference sui generis, also by theses one and three.

Following Brassier, I only wish to address one of these theses. It is the same thesis Brassier addresses and then identifies as being fatal for the very ontology operating within “object-oriented” ontology.

As the objects of nature are claimed to be immanent to themselves, the essential nature of (and relevant relations to) objects collapse upon themselves. Correlationism is still present, although it is merely shifted from subject-object relation to object-object relation. As an aside, this move accomplishes nothing other than illegitimately attempting to save essential natures (“quiddity”) and internal relations without calling those relations as such.

As Brassier points out, fatal problems result. As transcendental naturalists believe (as do transcendental materialists), it is impossible to specify the ground or principle of object-individuation. Moreover, if we add the loss of generality (universality) to the loss of transcendence (or the “transcendental,” the conditions for the possibility of x, to follow Kant) then we cannot precisely identify what objects are in general – it becomes vacuously empty – nor can we say what objects are in particular, for we have lost quiddity. Objects cannot enter into relations for there is no internal nature to be related. If there are only sensuous qualities that could interact or be related then those relations proliferate to the extent that they cannot refer (intend) any essence. Brassier writes, “…the immediate consequence of adopting this full-blown object-oriented immanence is that we cannot say what anything really is.”

The pluralism so fondly cherished by the object-oriented ontologists suddenly collapses as well. As it does it finds itself ruthlessly subjected to its own second thesis. No internal principle of difference, no ground of differentiation, no internal relations, and suddenly All is One. Again, Brassier: “…if we cannot specify the essential qualities that distinguish one real object from another how can we be sure that the discrete multiplicity of sensual objects does not mask an underlying continuity…?” Object-oriented ontology has “undermined” (as compared to “over-ming”) itself. Further, without real difference we are left with nominalism. Or better even, psychological nominalism. Bundles of perceptions that cannot be explained without a correlational observer and philosopher of access to impart upon the perceptions a unity. As such there is no rational way to determine the nature of identity. No logical way to render the supposed pluralism found within the univocal sense of being posited. Hegel’s critique of Hume using the sugar cube example in The Phenomenology of Spirit is an excellent illustration of this fatal foundational flaw in the object ontologists metaphysics.

To conclude, I find it extremely interesting, but also perplexing, frankly, the object-oriented ontology finds Deleuze or Manuel De Landa to be an influence. They appear to mimic the commitment to individuals yet in throwing out the ground of difference at all cost deny the functional components required for any object to be an individual from the start. Thus the ultimate failure of object-ontology is not just a failure of transcendence, it is one of immanence as well.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Quote of the day

"The idea that unites all is the idea of beauty, taking the world in a higher, Platonic sense. I am now convinced that the highest act of reason, that in which reason contains all ideas, is an aesthetic act, and that truth and goodness are only united in beauty. Indeed, the philosopher must possess as much aesthetic power as the poet. The philosophy of spirit is [fundamentally] an aesthetic philosophy."

- "The Oldest Programme for a System of German Idealism" (1795-97)

[Authorship attributed to Schelling, Hegel, and Hoelderlin, jointly]

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Some new Schelling texts, including the 1811 'Ages of the World'

It is well known that Schelling drafted three distinct versions of his Ages of the World (Weltater) in the years 1811, 1813, and 1814/15. Until now, the last two had been published under the same name by SUNY and the 1813 version was published as The Abyss of Freedom. Now, many years later we finally find the 1811 version (the first version) of Ages of the World published by SUNY. This is truly a landmark event in Schelling scholarship.

Interestingly, a smaller publishing house has published the 1841-42 lecture “Philosophy and Revelation” as On the Doorstep of the Absolute. This was the same house that published Schelling’s 1804 Philosophy and Religion back in 2009. I remember that I had made some very good use out of that when I was working on my dissertation, so it is interesting to see a related lecture published all of these years later as I have circled back around to German idealism and romanticism.

Finally, we find Schelling’s Statement on the True Relationship of the Philosophy of Nature to the Revised Fichtean Doctrine published this year, which consists of his scathing reviews of Fichte. I've just come off of a fairly intensive year-long study of Fichte so the timing for me is impeccable. Other than Fichte and Schelling I have been working with Kant and Hegel quite abit.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

9th International Bonn Summer School in German Philosophy - Call for Applications

From the Bonn University website, please see the call for applications below. This year's topic is the tradition of hermeneutics in German philosophy.

Course Description 
This year's summer school will focus on the tradition of hermeneutics that stretches from Herder and Schleiermacher to Heidegger and Gadamer. In particular, we will look at their various conceptions of what exactly it takes to understand others and ourselves, paying special attention to their theories of the interpretation of texts. 
In the first week, we will examine what has been called "romantic hermeneutics": the approaches developed by Herder, Schleiermacher, and Friedrich Schlegel that sought to enable discovery of an assumed original meaning. These approaches rested on two important breaks with assumptions commonly made by the Enlightenment: a rejection of the Enlightenment's conviction in the universality of mental characteristics in favor of a conception of radical mental differences; and a rejection of the Enlightenment's dualistic conception of the relation between language and thought/concept in favor of doctrines that assert the intimate interdependence, or even identity, of the two sides. Schleiermacher's approach is the best known of the three and will accordingly receive especially close attention, but the contributions of Herder and Schlegel are of at least equal intrinsic importance, and will therefore be considered carefully as well. 
In the second week, we will look at Heidegger's and Gadamer's conception of hermeneutics as a foundational discipline and its potential relevance for contemporary debates. Our focus will be on issues pertaining to the relation between self-consciousness and understanding; phenomenology and meaning-holism; and the relation between understanding different kinds of utterances (ranging from ordinary conversations to what Gadamer calls "the eminent text") and the question of the objectivity of meaning. In this context, we will assess Heidegger's and Gadamer's meta-philosophical approach (hermeneutics as first philosophy) in light of various prominent criticisms of it (in particular, ones that come from so-called "critical theory").
Please send the following by April 1st, 2019 to: philosophy-summerschool@uni-bonn.de: 
  • CV of no more than 2 pages
  • Statement of intent of no more than 1 page. Please mention in your statement whether you are interested in attending and participating in several seminars on the topic in German, which will be offered should demand warrant.
  • Writing sample of no more than 2,000 words in either English, French or German.
  • All students must in addition have at least one degree in philosophy.
  • All texts and discussions will be in English.
  • The course will be open to a maximum of 40 participants.
For more information please see their website HERE.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Ecstatic Naturalism Congress 2019 - Program Schedule (Ninth International Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism)

Ninth International Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism

2019 Theme: Race, Class, and Gender

Drew University, Madison, nj – April 12th and 13th


Stephanie Theodorou and Robert S. Corrington

(“Perkiomen in November” by Marilynn Lawrence)

The Papers and most of the Meals Will Take Place in the Great Hall of the Graduate School Building (S.W. Bowne)

Friday April 12th

Registration Table Open all Day and Tomorrow by Sarah O’Brian

9:30 – 10:20:

Nick Wernicki. Abby Wernicki, and Susan Erck (panel):

Economies of Nature: A Dialogue on the Human Process and Class Structure.”

10:30 – 11:40:

Sasinan Kruaechaipinit and Leon Niemoczynski:

The Ontological Influence of Sociopolitical Transitions Upon Women’s Empowerment in Southeast Asia.”

Iljoon Park:

Betweenness and Intersectionality in Human Identity of Gender, Race, and Sex.

11:50 – 1:00:

Jung Doo Kim:

“The Problem of Racism from the Perspective of Planetary Theology.”

Hyun Shik Jun:

Sex and Gender in Ecstatic and Dialectical Relations”

Lunch 1:00 – 2:00

Group Photograph 2:00 – 2:30

2:40 -- 3:50:

Adam Crabtree:

Is it Possible to Identify a ‘Meta-Telos’ in Natura Naturans?”

Robert S. Corrington: Response

4:00 – 5:10:

Jea Sophia Oh:

Entanglement of Nature and Expansion of Care, Ecstatic Family of Nature.”

Joseph Harroff:

Toward an Ecstatically Naturalist and Pragmatist Conception of Persons.”

5:20 – 5:40: Announcement of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize for an Outstanding paper by a Junior Scholar ($500)

6:00 – 7:30: Dinner in University Commons

7:45: Plenary Speaker:

Elaine Padilla:

Totality, Nothingness, and The Dark Luminous Being”

Saturday April 13th


Moon Son:

Creating Change in the Ecology of Religious Education for Overcoming Racism.”

Thomas Millary:

Inexhaustibly Complex: Pursuing Justice in an Unpredictable World.”


Sarah O’Brien:

Ecstatic Naturalism and Eco-Phenomenology.”

Stephanie Theodorou:

Mind as Subject and Substance: Hegel, Naturalism, and the Sacred.”

12:10 – 1:20: Lunch

1:30: 2:40:

Kim Soo-Youn:

Sacred Nature, (M)Other and Tao.”

Marilynn Lawrence:

Healing the Holes of Nature: Post-Jungian Considerations.”

2:50 – 4:00

Jonathan Weidenbaum:

The Mixture of Unity and Diversity: The Social Relevance of William James and the Metaphysics of Ecstatic Naturalism.”

A.J. Turner;

What’s so Radical About Radical Empiricism?

4:20 – Plenary Speaker:

Desmond Coleman:

On Being Sunk.”

Refreshments after Plenary Address: Dinner on Your Own

Korean Session – Monday April 15th at 3:00 in Seminary Hall:

Young Sup Song:

A.I. Counseling and its Ethical Implications.”