Thursday, November 20, 2014

short-listed for a prize in the Voiceless Media Prizes

The producer of the ABC National Radio program The Philosopher's Zone informs me that the episode "The Emotional Lives of Animals" - featuring Stephanie Theodorou and me (both of Immaculata University) - has been short-listed for a prize among ten others in Voiceless Media Prizes.

The Voiceless Media Prize recognizes the most accurate and influential reports on animal protection and ethics.  Winners will be announced in December where there is a $15,000 reward.

For more information see the below copied post from earlier this summer.


Animal Experience: Consciousness and Emotions in the Natural World has now been published in the "Living Books About Life" series through Open Humanities Press.  The book is open-access, free, and online for you to read. 

ANIMAL EXPERIENCE, edited by Leon Niemoczynski and Stephanie Theodorou (both at Immaculata University, US)

Additionally Leon Niemoczynski and Stephanie Theodorou appear on ABC National Radio's The Philosopher's Zone promoting the book.  Direct link to MP3 DOWNLOAD HERE (11.2 MB). 

A link to the radio program's webpage where you can listen to or download the program:

A link to an article about us with snippets from the program and links to closely related topics: 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Critique of Creativity and Complexity

Process-relational philosophy is often critiqued for its "relational" component in that relations are taken either to be not as "real" as things related (or to the defense of the opposing view that William James defended: relations are just as real as what's being related), or that things somehow "exhaust" their relations (or to the defense of the opposing view that Whitehead and Hegel defended, no thing can be a "thing" unless it is related - so the notion of relation is inherit to being a thing).  Thus in defense a basic Fichtean-Hegelian move whether that relation is to be found between things or even at any things' constituting heart and center of negativity, the self-positing I as not-I, etc.

This book titled A Critique of Creativity and Complexity looks very interesting because even though process-relational philosophy is not to be found in it -at least not directly and upon a cursory glance - it does the job in defending that other notion that is often seen as a major component of process philosophy, and that's the (ultimate) category of creativity.

Also of note perhaps is the book's concern with order despite radical contingency or chaos, pace Quentin Meillassoux.  It discusses in other words how it is possible for order, or harmony, to emerge despite radically chaotic transcendental conditions.  Insofar as process-relational philosophy goes, C.S. Peirce, Charles Hartshorne, and Alfred North Whitehead were all interested in this question.

A free preview (73 pages!) of the book is available HERE.  Definitely worth a look at an often cliched subject: creativity.

Monday, November 17, 2014

quote of the day

Apropos the social media rage of today and the fact that we exist as personal "brands" and not much else.

"The pure form of servitude is to exist as an instrument, as a thing. And this mode of existence is not abrogated if the thing is animated and chooses its material and intellectual food, if it does not feel its being-a-thing, if it is a pretty, clean, mobile thing.”

- Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man

"Neuro-livestock" was how it was best put, recently.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Call for Papers: Ecstatic Naturalism 2015

2015 International Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism

This is a call for papers for the 2015 International Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism to be held on April 10th and 11th on the campus of Drew University in Madison, NJ.  The theme this year is the connection between American philosophy and ecstatic naturalism.  However, papers on other topics in American philosophy and the philosophy of nature are also welcome.  Interested parties only need to submit a 250 word abstract for the proposed article.  The deadline for abstracts is January 15th.

Please submit your abstract to:  Leon Niemoczynski at

Friday, November 14, 2014

Process Thought From a Continental Perspective

An article that contains the below very interesting tidbit:
In certain respects, the interest of European philosophers in the thought of A.N. Whitehead has proven often to be (after the title of a recent popular movie) a "Fatal Attraction." (I owe these stories to George Lucas.) In 1956, Professor John E. Smith of Yale University paid a visit to the venerable Martin Heidegger. Their conversation lasted for three hours, during which time Heidegger expressed his passionate interest in turning toward a new, post-Hegelian pursuit of a philosophy of nature. Smith responded that in America A.N. Whitehead had already spawned such a movement. Heidegger was most pleasantly surprised and interested, and expressed a desire to read some of Whitehead’s philosophy. It was, in fact, at Heidegger’s request that the tremendous project of translating Process and Reality (PR) was begun at Suhrkamp Verlag (Frankfurt). However, before the translation could be made available to him, Heidegger died.
Link to the full article HERE.  A book possibly of interest HERE.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Caputo, Catherine Keller and John Cobb

Courtesy of Homebrewed Christianity blog at the AAR.  A panel bringing together (for the first time) John Caputo, Catherine Keller, and John Cobb.  The panel will be broadcast live in the form of a podcast. Friday, November 21st from 7pm until 9pm

More information and link to the live broadcast of the event HERE.

Thanks to Marilynn L. for the tip.  This looks like it will be very exciting!

Monday, November 10, 2014

my abstract for Ecstatic Naturalism 2015

"The Naturalistic Idealism of American Philosopher John William Miller: His Concept of 'Midworld' Applied to Philosophical Ecology" 

Leon Niemoczynski
Visiting Assistant Professor, East Stroudsburg University

In this paper I attend to the naturalism (and idealism) of the American philosopher John William Miller (1895-1978).  I explore Miller's concept of the "midworld" and relate that to the notion of ontological "scale" in philosophical ecology.  Specifically, I argue that just as reality is ontologically flat - so "ordinal" and of "ontological parity" pace Buchler - reality's depth and breadth stretches beyond the semiotic in that nature's true reality scope encompasses value as well, most especially considering the reality of value relation.  So relations (and semiosic processes) on the level of the ant and its environment are not only "just as real as" but are also "just as important as" the human relation to its world and the relation between God and a divinely created world.  To say that these relations are each as important as the other is not to say a.) that they are absolutely relative or b.) that they collapse into the flat reality of one, univocal relation.  There are varying "scales" of ontological relation where each varying scale has just as much value as the next.  I think Miller's notion of "midworld" can add something to philosophical ecology in this respect: one gains a better appreciation for how other agents interact with their own environments, and yet those smaller or larger environments affect other larger or smaller environments. Axiological value is one although the perspectives and relations between perspectives are many.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

bad infinity

Wayne Martin was kind enough to post a very interesting (and fantastically clear) paper on Hegel's notion of "bad" infinity versus a "true" infinity.  Or in German schlect Unendlichkeit versus echt Unendlichkeit.  His analysis centers mainly on the larger Logic and its section on infinity, but anyone wanting a refresher or just a clear articulation of Hegel's at times just incredibly cumbersome discussion of the metaphysics of infinity ought to read the paper, which interestingly has some larger goals in mind (such as providing a Fichtean response to Hegel's pre Phenomenology of Spirit essay "The Difference Between Fichte's and Schelling's Systems of Philosophy" of 1801).

In a nutshell a bad infinity, for Hegel, is just one that is open-ended.  For Hegel true infinity - accessible by reason, beyond the understanding - is a totality.  Intensive and extensive mathematical infinities, such as those infinitesimally available between any two numbers or those which are sets of numbers to be aggregated indefinitely to any other set, fail before the sort of actual infinity that is an absolute total.

The interesting part isn't actually Hegel's critique of the bad infinite as one that is a possible infinite.  It is that Hegel states an infinity that "sets itself over and against" any other (such as the finite) is bad precisely because it lacks an infinite nature that is its own, and is therefore delimited by negating something else so as to take on its own identity.  So the logic of contrasts that establishes an infinite precisely because it is not finite, or "in-finite" is one that necessarily fails having an essential nature that is, itself, properly infinite or total.

Hegel compares the "true" infinite for this reason to a circle.  A circle does not "go on and on forever" yet is unending as a closed actual total.  God, for Hegel, in traditional definitions fails to capture the logical meaning of true infinity because God's nature and infinitude is always set over and against finite creation.  God in that sense is truly limited and finite.

A final thought.  It seems to me that speculation beyond or after finitude should be able to define the Absolute not necessarily as something unending such as in an unending series of numbers (a potential infinite), but as something absolutely unconditioned.  In and of itself the Absolute is infinite in being unconditioned in identity, or absolutely indifferent to identity but being capable of infinitely determining identity.  In short it seems that Schelling's infinite or Absolute is an open-ended infinite in just this way.  In other words Schelling, too, defends a "bad infinity" in that his system is open ended because his Absolute is not a closed totality.  It is absolute indifference, unconditioned ground in perpetuity.

Paper "In Defense of Bad Infinity" HERE.