Monday, March 31, 2014

article on phenomenology of chronic pain

HERE, from Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities and Medicine.  Provisional draft of the article HERE.

Ht dmf.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

the basics of C.S. Peirce in ten minutes

Ht Dmf.

proud to announce two new books forthcoming

I'll have two co-edited books appearing this summer and early fall.

The first, in June, will be Animal Experience: Consciousness and Emotions in the Natural World, through Open Humanities Press's "Living Books About Life" series.

The second, appearing summer-ish or early fall, will be A Philosophy of Sacred Nature: Prospects for Ecstatic Naturalism, through Lexington Books.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Contingency and the New Era in Metaphysics: Hartshorne before Meillassoux on contingency?

Hartshorne is among those on the list of "proto" speculative philosophers within the twentieth century who endorse contingency, realism, and variant forms of agential materialism.  Others include Whitehead (of course) and Justus Buchler.  See Hartshorne's "Contingency in the New Era of Metaphysics" HERE.

I found it interesting, and true, when Alex Galloway said that Laruelle, for example, was the first "anti-correlationist."

Sometimes looking back a step can help us move a few steps forward.

Monday, March 24, 2014

cold materialism: the "non-world" (part 2)

HT Eigenlicht.  (Original link HERE).

Previous "cold materialism" post (part 1) HERE.

Nothing around here has been documented.
A cold world, a bleak reality, is one unnamed.  It is the "non-world."  It is the "one unmoved darkness" without "multiples" or a "one."

The positivity of value, however, is in that being unnamed.  In a sense, it is a "non-world" whose negative first instance of any many is the positivity of the "non" pushing behind it.  The "one unmoved darkness" is just that unnamed heterogeneous momentum in its authentically real plural force. Singularities are simply not determinate dead "ones."  Why mistake our names for a plural alien reality?

In the age where "to be" is to "belong to a network," to be a nameable, representable, repeatable "one" among a multiple - where life or reality, or matter, is not so until it is subsumed, hashtagged, "liked" - in essence named and framed as a one among many...before this is the "non-world." "Non-world" is silence but also intensity, and its other is merely the names we give to it.  It is the world that is "not," and as such, it is more real than the world we think we inhabit.

Thus, the true metaphysical realist is not the nominalist naming pre-determined ones.  The true metaphysical realist has only momenta - a plural of non-determined singulars of varying intensities - as the self-creating, self-negating, self-positing non-world.

What, then, are things without names in the "non-world," a world without both "beings and Being"?

The answer may be found when one arrives, for the first time, to new cosmic worlds.  Worlds previously dark, hidden from the anthropocentric hubris of names.

Reason, in its metaphysical scope, contemplates worlds.  Both dark and light, but most deeply, "non-worlds" of cold, bleak, darkness.  In such depths one encounters bright abyss: Aeon, Eternity, or The Unameable.

[Notes from "Deleuze and Theology" reading group, December-January 2013/14.]

Sunday, March 23, 2014

internet creeps (a response to the blogging "cold war" of ommision)

Copied below is my response to the "Deboycott Me!" post over at Agent Swarm blog run by Terrance Blake (HERE).  In support of Terry don't let your voice go unheard.  Encourage him to blog more at his new and productively improved place of blogging, Xenoswarm.

Hi Terry,
Gosh no, you shouldn’t stop blogging. Remember, not only you but folks like Jason Hills (of the blog Immanent Transcendence) and the gang, have been dodged *for years* – and I am not sure why anyone would be oblivious to those very easy-to-find critiques through Google. In fact, Google any of the names, critiques, arguments involved, and you are the *first person* who comes up! Even in! So what you are saying has an impact, believe me. But, actually, that isn’t besides the point. I think the go-to defense these days is now something like,

Troll: “Hey, YOU, you *troll*, you are critiquing my work with pretty good arguments online. You’re a troll!”
Blog: “Ummm, why don’t you address my arguments?”

And of course, you’ll never get a response. Cowards won’t address you directly. I’ve learned that long ago.

I won’t pretend to offer arguments here, only to call the show as I see it. If that’s offensive to anyone, then folks don’t have to read beyond this point.
The fact is, there are only a handful (and by that I mean literally two or three) officially approved interlocutors in this game who – for political reasons – aren’t listed as “part of” the club so it looks like there *is* a club. Yet when it comes to critique from outside of the club (or better, “the tribe”) sadly not you, nor I, nor Jason, nor anyone *except* those approved will get response. But, that’s just a rhetorical strategy of running if you keep engaging them. You’ve done everything you’ve been asked to do: “Oh, oh… Well you haven’t read my books.” Or, “Oh, oh…Well you have to publish it first.” One excuse after another. You’ve jumped through every single hoop they’ve put in front of you.
Now that these *goons* and *kingpins* (yes, that’s what they are) can no longer stand up to the heat of the kitchen, i.e. the critical voice of blogs (ironically how they made their claim to fame to begin with; they just can’t stand competing voices of critique in a democracy), and now that the publications are there (Theoria, anyone?; Mute magazine anyone? Cosmos & History, anyone?) – the last resort seems to be to hide in one’s own vanity publishing shops of *books*…it now has to be *books*…and why? Oh, well that’s easy: the thought is, because if you aren’t in the academic fold then your critiques couldn’t possibly follow anyone there. But look at the publishing houses they are using. I am just left shaking my head. You could easily publish in any of those houses, which is why “you-know-who” has to stand guard over at least one of them. I’m surprised he hasn’t grabbed more. Actually, that would be too obvious.

Of course, then they had to go the route of attacking the weakest argument link in the chain (Galloway) *again* (didn’t that happen *last year* or even further back…my God) saying that they did so only because it was a major publication. Right. I think Pete Wolfendale had a 70 some page critique that has for a year or two now gone unanswered, your Theoria piece, unanswered, your 100 Theses piece, unanswered, and so on and so on and so on. Hell, you won’t appear in any “forthcoming” book answering criticisms, trust me. It’ll be an intentional slight by omission (and I’ve done that to THEM when it’s counted, in return. They’ve hit me, like they do you, by omission plenty of times, but when a bully hits me I immediately hit right back, just as hard if not harder). It’s all just an excuse, Terry, for someone to hide.

Ah, to boot, by the INSANE TROLL LOGIC involved, yes, on their behalf, they can just resort to saying, “You are a troll!” Please. As if the “You are attacking me personally!” line wasn’t enough. They say one thing, do another. Look at the now famous “re-writing of the abstract” move to include you-know-who; the massive threads over at AUFS (several of them); the Jussi Parikka debacle (remember that?), the ridiculousness that’s shown *time and time and time again* that these people can’t be trusted and are self-serving, sociopathic *monsters*. The slight against Caputo was the straw that broke the back for me: totally unnecessary and uncalled-for dickishness to extremes that I’ve never before seen. So that was it for me. Seriously. No need for that, but it was said. So the fact that they are monsters is pretty well established. And it’s just too easy for any of those fools to hide behind a keyboard because I’ve already established that *none* of them – NOT ONE – would behave that way to someone’s face (another rhetorical strategy: *chuckle* “We aren’t like this in person!”). Of course not. *Smile.*

You can only push around so many graduate students, you can only badmouth so many people behind their back, you can only intentionally ignore so many folks who are trying to engage you, all purposefully for so long, before your true colors show. So, newsflash blogosphere: the word is out about these creeps. And that’s what they are: internet creeps.

What this boils down to, and please take this seriously, is that the folks in question – and this isn’t trolling because it’s not opinion, it’s fact – are losing their power essentially because their fad is passing and good arguments and critiques – such as yours – will never be answered. BUT, on the other hand, at least your critiques stand. There is no longer prop-up support afforded by mere enthusiasm available for the other side. So you win. This has been true, for, oh gosh, I’d say at the very least two years now. No one hardly even cares about those guys anymore. It’s passé. What’s more interesting is the insane troll logic they play to folks who still think that they matter. They don’t. I mean, if you have to publish an article convincing yourself and the world that what you do “still exists” – then there is a problem. When that happened I knew that it was “game over.” And we move on.

Don’t stop blogging, but don’t stop fighting back to what essentially comes down to as bullying, either. You have SO much more to do than worry about folks who not only are bad philosophers and couldn’t get a position off the ground after the wave of faddishness washed over, but who also still cling to the hope that someone, anyone, would take such bad philosophy seriously by turning to publish books through vanity houses so it *seems* like they have something rigorous to say. Please. So lame. And so boring. I mean, if anything, publishing that way is more like trolling than calling people out on a blog.

Terry, just do your own thing. Cream rises to the top. You have a great following, your blog is awesome and alot of folks read it. Most importantly, people take what you say seriously. Your brand has “trust” – which the other side doesn’t. There’s a reason big players like Mackay, Brassier, etc. etc. (never mind small time players: you, Hills, me, Oyama, basically the entirety of P.E.S.T.) have “nothing but contempt” for them. But we’ve all moved past them long ago because, well, they have nothing important or substantial to say. As I just read the other day, “it’s not even worth trying to comprehend rigorously.” So let them – all whatever 12 of them – go play the violin for each other. I hardly think that the world is listening.

Keep blogging. Do your own thing. You have much more interesting and well argued *philosophy* to offer.

Latour and Descola (VIDEO)

"Approaches to the Anthropocene - A Conversation Between Philippe Descola and Bruno Latour"
University of British Columbia, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre

From the IKB website.  Original link HERE.
Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. Dr. Philippe Descola and Dr. Bruno Latour are two of France’s most prominent intellectuals, and both have redefined their respective fields of expertise by considering the place of human agency – and non-human actors – in the construction of the modern world. In this conversation, Dr. Latour and Dr. Descola will debate the idea of the anthropocene, a new geological era in which humans have become the principal agents for the transformation of our planetary systems: from small scale consumption of natural resources to large-scale human-induced climate changes. Drawing on the fields of anthropology, science studies, and other allied disciplines, these two thinkers will discuss their views on how intervention in the natural world has not only transformed planetary ecosystems, but also the very ideas and models we use to think about the planet as a whole. Sponsored by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, UBC Museum of Anthropology,  and the French Consulate Vancouver. 
About the SpeakersDr. Philippe Descola is currently the Chair in Anthropology of Nature at Collège de France. With a background in philosophy, Dr. Philippe Descola specializes in the relations that human societies establish with nature. His ethnographic work in Ecuador revolutionized anthropological research in Amazonia. Gradually extending his scope to other societies and looking beyond the opposition between nature and culture, Dr. Descola has redefined the dialectic that structures humankind’s relationship with the world and with other beings. Dr. Descola is the originator of “relational ecology”, the investigation of relations between humans, as well as between humans and non-humans. His most recent work focuses on how universal modes of identification interact with modes of figuration and the use of images. Since 2011, Descola has been working on an “anthropology of landscape”, identifying the principles of iconic figuration and transfiguration of the environment at work in cultures that have no conventional tradition of landscape representation. For further references : click here. 
Dr. Bruno Latour is professor at Sciences Po Paris. Trained in philosophy, he has been instrumental in the development of an anthropology of science and technology. This field has had a direct impact on the philosophy of ecology and on an alternative definition of modernity. He has taught for many years in North American universities. Most of his books have been published with Harvard University Press. The most recently published is An Inquiry into Modes of Existence ‐ An Anthropology of the Moderns. All references and most articles may be found on Bruno Latour gave the six Gifford Lectures on Natural Religion for 2013, under the title Facing Gaia, Six Lectures on the Political Theology of Nature, and was awarded the prestigious Holberg Prize for 2013.

Select Articles and Books Available at UBC LibraryDescola, P. (2013). Beyond nature and culture. (J. Lloyd, Trans.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [Link]Descola, P. (2013). The ecology of others. (G. Godbout and B.P. Luley, Trans.). Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press. [Link]Latour, B. ( 2013). An inquiry into modes of existence: an anthropology of the moderns. (C. Porter, Trans.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. [Link]Latour, B. (2010). On the modern cult of the factish gods. (C. Porter and H. MacLean, Trans.). Durham [NC]: Duke University Press. [Link]

Saturday, March 22, 2014

quote of the day

"If life lurks in the interstices of every living cell, one can also say that the singularity of living societies, what justifies them as such, would have to be called a ’culture of interstices‘."

- Isabelle Stengers, Thinking with Whitehead

Friday, March 21, 2014

Merleau-Ponty's relational ontology and the meaning of "environmental"philosophy

Interesting article, "Flesh and Nature: Understanding Merleau-Ponty's Relational Ontology" in an older issue of Research in Phenomenology, from 2011, HERE on

Lately I've become interested in the question of how a philosophy of nature might be more metaphysically generic and hence truly more ecological than so-called "environmental" questions.  The article linked above points to the question of relational ontologies and nature, where it is said that, today, all too often relations and agencies are downgraded before "nature" understood as a "container" (hence, "the environment") as well as before the "things" within it.  In fact, there is *so* much orientation toward things (without much regard to the relationships between things) that the fabric or "flesh" of the world - the "texture" of the world, as Calvin Schrag would put it - drops out of the picture.  In other words, when it comes to environmental philosophy and a truly ecological perspective, that can be dangerous if we focus only on the things of the world without regard for how they relate, what they do, or how they affect each other (or, in Whiteheadian language, a good way to put this is to regard objects of the world not as inert "things" but as "occasions" or "societies of occasions" in relation to one another).

An "environment" can too easily be seen as a container with objects in it; as the "environment" literally means "that which surrounds."  This can misdirect the questions we need to be asking the sense that the question of "nature" - really as a guiding concept and framing metaphysical picture - ought to transcend in scope that which surrounds "us" (not the point of view from which one ought to be asking the question if our metaphysics is to be capacious and ecological).  Clearly, the world is more than things, and it is more than things that are there "for us."  Indelibly, then, if we are focusing on "things" in a container we tend to idolize the things (radical pluralism to the exclusion of all else, with a corresponding materialism and commodity fetishism) or the container itself (radical monism to the exclusion of all else, idealism and a stock spiritualism).  The question of nature, as it should be posed within environmental philosophy, should cover a more dynamic picture than either one of those alternatives.

Beyond a mere critique of perspective, it seems that environmental philosophy can better achieve perspective if it takes the "environment" to be part and parcel of nature broadly understood.  It needs a truly "ecological metaphysics" behind it.  Of course, "nature" must be tailored beyond its 19th-century romantic renderings (and hence those who capitalize  the 'N' of Nature ought to think twice about doing that) as much as it should be understood in lights different than those which deflate it from the power of its metaphysical scope, common in much of today's 21st century environmental philosophy.

So far I have found two philosophers whose "definitions" of nature offer very good examples of what I have in mind here: Justus Buchler (see his essay "Probing the Idea of Nature") and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (see his concept of "multinaturalism".)  Sadly, both are relatively unknown.

However, both should be re-visited, I think, in order to sort out how a more generic notion of nature can be used as a powerful tool to metaphysically redirect environmental philosophy.  This means including relations and agencies as part of an environmental ontology where we have a robust metaphysical ecology not "without" nature, but perhaps "after" its recent misdirections.

.pdf for The Barbarian Principle: Merleau-Ponty, Schelling, and the Question of Nature

Link to the Introduction HERE.

Latour on Semiotics, Yale University

"How Better to Register the Agency of Things: Semiotics."  Lecture by Bruno Latour at Yale University, March 26th @ 5pm.

More information HERE.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Koopman on Infopolitics

Using Foucault, Dewey, and Peirce as resources for thinking about self-individuation in social media, as well as discussion of dataveillance. Featured in the New York Times.

New book: The Accelerationist Reader (Urbanomic)

Link to page and ordering information HERE.

The Accelerationist Reader will be available April 14, 2014.  Books contents and description are copied below.

(See also: Accelerationism Symposium Berlin 2013 HERE with VIDEO HERE, older conference audio HERE, e-flux special issue on Accelerationism HERE, and check out Mute Magazine which always publishes lots of accelerationist pieces.  After Nature "Accelerationist" label results HERE.)

And of course we suffer, we the capitalized, but this does not mean that we do not enjoy, nor that what you think you can offer us as a remedy - for what? - does not disgust us, even more. We abhor therapeutics and its vaseline, we prefer to burst under the quantitative excesses that you judge the most stupid.
- Jean-François Lyotard, Libidinal Economy

We believe the most important division in today's left is between those that hold to a folk politics of localism, direct action, and relentless horizontalism, and those that outline what must become called an accelerationist politics at ease with a modernity of abstraction, complexity, globality, and technology.
- Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek, #Accelerate

Accelerationism is the name of a contemporary political heresy: the insistence that the only radical political response to capitalism is not to protest, disrupt, critique, or détourne it, but to accelerate and exacerbate its uprooting, alienating, decoding, abstractive tendencies.

The term was coined to designate a certain nihilistic alignment of theory with the excess and abandon of capitalist culture, and the associated performative aesthetic of texts that seek to become immanent to the very process of alienation. Developing at the dawn of contemporary neoliberal consensus, the uneasy status of this impulse, between subversion and acquiescence, between theoretical purchase and aesthetic enjoyment, constitutes the core problematic of accelerationism.

Since the 2013 publication of Williams's and Srnicek's #Accelerate: Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics, the term has been adopted to name a set of new theoretical enterprises that aim to conceptualise non-capitalist futures outside of traditional marxist critiques and regressive, decelerative or restorative solutions.

#Accelerate presents a genealogy of accelerationism, tracking the impulse through 90s UK darkside cyberculture and the theory-fictions of Nick Land, Sadie Plant, Iain Grant, and anonymous units like CCRU and SWITCH, across the cultural underground of the 80s (rave, acid house, Terminator and Bladerunner) and back to its sources in delirious post-68 ferment, in texts whose searing nihilistic jouissance would later be disavowed by their authors and the marxist and academic establishment alike.
On either side of this largely unexplored central sequence, the book includes texts by Marx that call attention to his own 'Prometheanism' and key works from recent years document the recent extraordinary emergence of new accelerationisms steeled against the onslaughts of neoliberal capitalist realism, and retooled for the twenty-first century.

Contributing to the energetic contemporary debate around this disputed, problematic term, #ACCELERATE presents a historical conversation about futurality, technology, politics, enjoyment and Kapital. This is a legacy shot through with contradictions, yet urgently galvanized today by the poverty of 'reasonable' contemporary political alternatives.


Karl Marx
Fragment on Machines
Samuel Butler
The Book of The Machines
Nikolai Fyodorov
The Common Task
Thorstein Veblen
The Machine Process and the Natural Decay of the Business Enterprise

Shulamith Firestone
On the Two Modes of Cultural History
Jacques Camatte
Decline of the Capitalist Mode of Production or Decline of Humanity?
Gilles Deleuze + Félix Guattari
The Civilized Capitalist Machine
Jean-François Lyotard
Energumen Capitalism
Gilles Lipovetsky
Power of Repetition
JG Ballard
Fictions of All Kinds

Nick Land
Nick Land + Sadie Plant
Iain Hamilton Grant
LA 2019: Demopathy and Xenogenesis
Cybernetic Culture

Mark Fisher
Terminator vs Avatar
Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams
#Accelerate: Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics
Antonio Negri
Reflections on the Manifesto
Tiziana Terranova
Red Stack Attack!
Luciana Parisi
Automated Architecture
Patricia Reed
Seven Prescriptions for Accelerationism
Reza Negarestani
The Labour of the Inhuman (Extended Mix)
Benedict Singleton
Maximum Jailbreak (Extended Mix)
Ray Brassier
Prometheanism and its Critics
Nick Land
Teloplexy: Notes on Acceleration
Diann Bauer

CFP: Schelling in the Anthropocene: Thinking Beyond the Annihilation of Nature

2014 North American Schelling Society (NASS) Conference, CFP HERE.

Flier and conference speakers set to appear HERE.

CFP: Pittsburgh Summer Symposium in Contemporary Philosophy: Formalism and the Real: Ontology, Politics, and the Subject

Symposium website HERE.

Pittsburgh Summer Symposium in Contemporary Philosophy
Duquesne University
Dept. of Philosophy
Pittsburgh, PA

Call for Applications

We are pleased to announce the 2014 Pittsburgh Summer Symposium in Contemporary Philosophy, held at Duquesne University. Details for the program are as follows:

Formalism and the Real: Ontology, Politics, and the Subject
August 4 – 8, 2014
 (Optional Participants’ Conference, August 2-3)

“The real can only be inscribed on the basis of an impasse of formalization.”
— Jacques Lacan, Seminar XX

“We need a theory of the pass of the real, in the breach opened up by formalization. Here, the real is no longer only what can be lacking from its place, but what passes through by force.”
— Alain Badiou, Theory of the Subject

Seminar Leaders:
Prof. Bruno Bosteels (Cornell University)
Prof. Tom Eyers (Duquesne University)
Prof. Paul Livingston (University of New Mexico)

Course Description:
Philosophy in the twenty-first century has seen an extensive reconsideration of formalistic methodologies and theoretical structures. This is heavily influenced by the formalism developed by a number of mid-twentieth century French thinkers who rejected humanist philosophies of experience or consciousness typified by dominant forms of existentialism and phenomenology. Insights derived from Marxism, Freudianism, and philosophy of science were argued to undermine central tenets of the latter, including the priority of description and the emphasis on first-person experiences. Rather, stress was placed on the priority of construction, an emphasis on the concept, and a rethinking of the nature of knowledge and the object of science.

The recent history of formalist approaches is framed in important ways by Louis Althusser and Jacques Lacan. As is well known, Althusser rejected historicist and humanist readings of Marx in favor of a structuralist approach, which was amenable to the conception of science developed by thinkers like Jean Cavaillès, Gaston Bachelard, and Georges Canguilhem. Simultaneously, Lacan rejected ego-psychological readings of Freud, forming interpretive, theoretical, and clinical bases for psychoanalysis that drew on Ferdinand de Saussure’s structuralist linguistics and Claude Levi-Strauss’s structuralist anthropology. This led him to a methodological formalism, particularly when addressing the Real and the psycho-dynamics in which it is involved. The presence of Althusser and Lacan at the École Normale Supériere during this time formed the intellectual milieu in which students such as Alain Badiou, Jacques-Alain Miller, Étienne Balibar, and Jacques Rancière would begin to develop their own thought. An important forum for this was the journal the Cahiers pour l’Analyse (1966-69). The current project to translate it into English has prompted a surge in research related to these themes. In the Cahiers, efforts were made to reconcile Marxist politics with a Lacanian account of the subject. Lacan’s notion of the Real was essential to this and, along with the other elements of his thought, came to be developed by Badiou to address political and ontological domains.

More recently, formalism in philosophy has expanded to address issues beyond these origins. For instance, formalistic reconstructions of Heideggerian and Husserlian thought have proved intensely productive and have problematized the opposition of philosophies of the concept to phenomenological philosophies. Moreover, recent efforts to address questions in aesthetics and politics with formal approaches has further expanded the boundaries of formalism’s theoretical scope. Paul Livingston’s book, The Politics of Logic: Badiou, Wittgenstein, and the Consequences of Formalism, examines the landscape of political criticism and change given the results and paradoxes of 20th century projects of formalization in mathematics and logic. Following this, his current project focuses on Heidegger’s philosophy, and will reexamine our inherited notions of sense and truth. After writing a book on Lacan’s concept of the Real, Tom Eyers has analyzed the intellectual foundations of structuralism in 1930s and 1940s French epistemology and philosophy of science. He is presently writing a book entitled Speculative Formalism: The Poetics of Form in Literature, Science, and Philosophy which will bring that work to bear on poetics and literary theory. In addition to translating Badiou’s Theory of the Subject and Wittgenstein’s Antiphilosophy, Bruno Bosteels has devoted numerous books to Badiou and issues in political thought. In his recent Marx and Freud in Latin America: Politics, Psychoanalysis, and Religion in Times of Terror, Bosteels investigates ways art and literature provide insight into processes of subjectification at the core of Marxist and psychoanalytic concerns.

This summer symposium will bring together interested graduate students, postdoctoral students, and junior faculty for a week of discussion, lecture, and close textual study. Together, we will pursue questions regarding formalism and its relation to the Real in contemporary ontology, politics, and theories of the subject and their consequences for understanding knowledge, history, state, language, art, and literature. Lacanian and Badiouian thought will form a key theoretical backdrop. Yet, we expect our studies will include work by a number of other figures, including Plato, Marx, Nietzsche, Frege, Freud, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Lautman, Bachelard, Canguilhem, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida, Macherey, Miller, Butler, Jameson, Žižek, Hägglund, and Malabou.

All texts and discussion will be in English.

We invite current graduate students, postdoctoral students, and junior faculty in philosophy or related disciplines to submit an application composed of a C.V. and a short letter of intent (500 words maximum) to The deadline for applications is Friday, April 25th, 2014. We expect to respond with notifications regarding acceptance to the symposium by Thursday, May 1st, 2014 to help facilitate summer plans. The seminar will be limited to 30-40 participants. For more information as it becomes available, we have created a website for the symposium:

Participants’ Conference (August 2-3):
In order to facilitate a further exchange of ideas and research, a participants’ conference will be held the weekend before the seminar begins. Applicants who receive notice of acceptance as participants will be asked – if interested – to submit an abstract of up to 500 words on any theme related to the topic of the seminar. The participants’ conference will take place on Saturday and Sunday, August 2-3, 2014.

Financial Information:
There will be a $200 registration fee for each participant of the seminar. This money will be used for event expenses like a conference dinner, celebration, daily coffee, etc. Please note that participants will be responsible for arranging their own housing as well as financing most of their own meals for the duration of the symposium. However, with respect to lodging, we expect a limited number of arrangements with graduate students will be available on a first come, first serve basis.

James Bahoh Dept. of Philosophy
Duquesne University
   Martin Krahn Dept. of Philosophy
Duquesne University
     Jacob Greenstine Dept. of Philosophy
Duquesne University
         Dave Mesing Dept. of Philosophy
Villanova University

Thursday, March 13, 2014

the material ontology of signs: a few (free) and briefer introductions to biosemiotics

By request.  For lengthier (and more theoretical) materials you'll want to be searching for Jakob von Uexkull (A Foray into the World of Animals and Humans is a good place to start), or even anything by Deleuze on Peirce and semiotics can be quite good (see THIS dissertation, for example, Toward a Material Concept of the Sign).  Deleuze, Whitehead, Peirce, von Uexkull all have biosemiotical theories that can stand as introductions.

See also these below.

"What is biosemiotics?" Alexei Sharov

"Biosemiotics" Soren Brier

Biosemiotics (Living Book About Life)

"Theses on Biosemiotics" Kalevi Kull

Jesper Hoffmeyer page

Jesper Hoffmeyer presentation (below)

Why we should be taking biosemiotics seriously: Meillassoux, Uexküll,Peirce

Re-reading Eric Savoth's "Outside Thought: Meillassoux, Uexküll, Peirce” in Interdisciplinary Journal for Germanic Linguistics and Semiotic Analysis, 16.1, 2011.

It outlines why one ought to take seriously (bio)semiotics using three very interesting, and timely, philosophers.

How Brainless Slime Molds Redefine Intelligence (Video) - ScientificAmerican

Redefining what could be understood as intelligent.  Perception and external memory in organisms without brains or nervous systems.

Monday, March 10, 2014

interesting comparison of Rorty and Latour

HERE at the blog No Borders Metaphysics, who writes
[Rorty's] point is to distribute respect to all languages...Latour's strategy is to respect all languages by taking them seriously ontologically. He can be read as an ontologized Rorty. Instead of hermeneutics, allagmatics. Instead of Lebensformen [forms of life], modes of existence. 
Point to Terry / Agent Swarm blog for tweeting about this.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Saturday, March 8, 2014

hello to some new readers of my blog

A quick word to say "hello" and "thanks" to new After Nature readers Gary Slater, Art Niewiadomski, Robyn Espinoza, and Chris Sharp.  All have gotten in touch this past week to connect about interests and engage philosophically either through just asking questions, dropping a short note, etc. etc. etc.

When folks like the above decide to get in touch and write - folks who are cordial, open to collaboration, supportive, and who are just generally friendly, nice, and interesting - I really appreciate the positive feedback and interest.  It's definitely encouraging to hear from After Nature readers and to know that blogging can have a positive impact.

Thanks, and check out their work!

Friday, March 7, 2014

So, what has edged out "Speculative Realism" in being all the rage these days?

Easy.  The "Dark Enlightenment."


[Update: For those out of the loop, "Accelerationism" is the leftist version of the more libertarian-sided "Dark Enlightenment."  Both have overtaken Speculative Realism in popularity within the past year or two.]

Dark Matter: Neoreactionary Journal and Dark Enlightenment

HERE.  Point for K. Oyama P.E.S.T.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

life before (and after) matter

In a new article, a Harvard astronomer speculates that the ambient temperature of the early universe made everywhere a habitable zone for life given the universal conditions present for an abundance of liquid water (today even Neptune would be water), although matter at that time was not sufficiently complex nor material components present for life to emerge as we know it. 

Following the implications of the cosmic timeline as presented in the article, life is now not as rare as we think given just how common life, as a basic ingredient in the cosmos, is purported to be.

This makes me wonder: both the early and ending universes would be fairly dead places despite conditions where organisms could survive either ambient heat or extreme cold - organisms would be abundant if material complexity were just right.  But the material complexity either just wasn't present, or in the future won't be capable of holding itself together as the universe accelerates and material bonds and matter itself begins to fly apart at the seams, eventually ending in cold, frozen death.

What a unique time to be living in the current universe.  The article essentially states that humans may not be so special afterall, not because we could be extinguished at any moment, but rather because we possibly are one but of many living things in the cosmos at this time.  It's "when" human beings are living (now, given the appropriate millions of years required for evolution to do what it does) which seems to be a special moment on not just an earthly scale, but a cosmic one. A Godiliocks time rather than zone.

Link HERE.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

more on Kacem's The Meillassoux Effect

The following are some thoughts prompted by a post from Terry of Agent Swarm blog HERE.  Terry has given us some invaluable translations and presents in English for the first time just how important MBK's criticisms of Meillassoux truly are.  Kacem is definitely a name you'll be hearing about in the future.

Kacem construes Meillassoux to be a problematic thinker due to his dual allegiance to Badiou and Deleuze. Badiou for the inspiration of ontology as mathematics (set theory), and Deleuze for surcontingency (and its virtual nature).  It is not that Meillassoux veers toward subjectalism, vitalism, or even scientism, as someone who unites Badiou and Deleuze might.  Rather, it is the noumenalisation of these factors that is problematic, according to Kacem.

In the past many philosophers have criticized moments in After Finitude where Meillassoux is just at a loss when proper citation, evidence, or support seems needed.  In particular, there are, indeed, several instances of straw men in that book, particularly when it comes to criticisms of "correlationism."  (In fact, many recent criticisms of the phenomenological method are put forward in the same vein as these straw men and come off as disingenuous for similar reasons.)  Here Kacem states that QM is "hiding from himself" and is incapable of recognizing the fatal contradiction in his system.

The contradiction is not performative and actually does not involve a human correlate.  It is much more dangerous, and hence, possibly truly a fatal error.  In essence, Kacem points out that the "factial negation" of any form of surcontingency in QM's system is precisely the sort of mathematical necessity and universality which is required (and presupposed) for his argument concerning set theory to work.  (QM's argument is that because no totalizable number of sets are possible one cannot say one coming-to-be "event" is any more likely than any other.  There just isn't a closed total to draw from.)

The result is that QM has duplicated Absolutes.  One in surcontingency, and one is the necessity required to either ground surcontingency or the logical and mathematical ontology needed to explain the nature of its existence.

In the past I've compared to QM to a Schellingean process philosopher on this account, where, instead of two there are three Absolutes within his system.  The third Absolute holds true in temporal form, and hence there is a way to construe three modal operators at work in rotatory motion within his system ala Hegel, Schelling, and Bergson.  But the "bluff," as Kacem points out, is that QM denies necessity, though requires it at each turn of the rotor: whether in the establishment of Worlds, the creation of an advent, or whathaveyou.

Kacem then goes on to critique the incompatibility of QM's statements with contemporary scientific findings concerning natural laws.  Here Kacem seems to be neglecting a Peircean (and even Deleuzian) understanding of law as a natural feature of the world established by habit.  There are laws, but they may change (rather slowly) over time.  On the other hand, Kacem is right to state that the fact that QM states that these laws can change at any time, for any reason, seems to undermine his position that the laws governing surcontingency (or the necessity of it) *and* the proposed temporal order of the creation of Worlds, are a real possibility in the sense that their creation/event can be anticipated in any meaningful way.

The issue comes down to stability.  There is a "meta" level of stability whose appearance seems unjustified if his theory concerning surcontingency and set theory is true.  Kacem thinks that it is QM's Kantian noumenalisation of surcontingency that allows the positing of this "meta" level to take place.  (I am not sure I agree.)  On Kacem's account, surgcontingency is nowhere to be seen, and thus there is no way to account for surcontingency's real properties save for the mathematical ontology whose necessity surcontingency denies.  Deleuze does not suffer this problem because the Deleuzian mathematical ontology is fundamentally a description of empirical conditions (albeit an empirical transcendental method, e.g. "transcendental empiricism"), whereas QM's is a "demonstration" only in the sense that it relies on mathematical ontology to achieve phenomenal expression of an unfalsifiable hypothesis ("transcendental materialism").  This is to say that whatever surcongtingency is or does, we can never know so directly or according to a method that can make sense of its necessity, despite Meillassoux's own claims.  That necessity is presupposed rather than proven given the contradiction in the system.  Ironically, I think this is because Meillassoux, despite denying that there is a transcendental core to his dismantling of correlationism, utilizes a transcendental core and then keeps it.  Thus, QM is not a philosopher of immanence, but of transcendence.  For me, personally, philosophically, this is not especially problematic because of my own theological commitments.

In the end, Kacem finds that Meillassoux noumenalises what ought to be (and can be) adequately described within a rationalist, materialist ontology.  Just as Harman, so says Kacem, cannot explain the interior of whatever he presupposes to be an already eternally individuated item (and thus is a philosopher of transcendence in two ways: that of an unknowable inner core and that of failing to provide a meaningful account of individuation), Meillassoux cannot explain the noumenal Absolute that his phenomenal Absolute presupposes, and thus also is a transcendental philosopher.  In this way Kacem states QM is still stuck in finitude (and indirectly in correlation) despite his rationalist materialism and mathematical ontology.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


From the album review from Resonancity HERE.
Electronic music in Toronto is presently enjoying some serious love (see Trust, Austra, Azari & III etc.). Jumping into the party is Phèdre, a collaboration between April Aliermo and Daniel Lee of Polaris Prize-nominees Hooded Fang, and Airick Woodhead of Doldrums fame. Eschewing the surf rock feel of Hooded Fang’s critically acclaimed release, Tosta Mista, Phèdre comes off like an ode to electronic decadence. It’s a lush, sensual album, and you’re likely going to want to get your dance on soon after hearing it.
By way of a quick primer for those of us without access to Wikipedia (it’s not the 18th again, is it?), Phèdre is named for Phaedra, one of Greek mythology’s crazier, angst-y heroines. Phaedra’s story is pretty classic: She meets a guy, in this case Theseus, slayer of minotaurs, subject of the shitty film Immortals, and marries him. Unfortunately for her, she falls in love with her stepson, who would rather spend time with his horses than his lusty stepmom. So Phaedra does what anyone would do – she accuses her stepson of rape and then commits suicide to drive the point home. 
Ah, Greek mythology. There are lessons everywhere.

What the myth of Phaedra has to do with the band Phèdre is pretty clear from the first track. The album is loaded with sensuality while simultaneously sounding schizophrenic and strange. Layers of effects and elements are piled on top of the band’s vocal tracks, which have a crisp, clear, and innocent sound to them. Phèdre’s first single, ‘In Decay’, is a perfect example of the band’s aesthetic. 
‘In Decay’ combines lyrics revolving around a few brutal murders with a perfectly jangly pop melody. The overall feel of Phèdre is something akin to a disco party in an insane asylum. It’s a good thing.

The rest of the album borrows liberally from new-wave and dreamy pop tunes. The band claims their sound was at least partially inspired by the ’67 Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra tune “Some Velvet Morning”, another slightly off-putting (also in a good way) pop song about a mysterious woman named Phaedra.

Strange and beautiful though it is, there are plenty of tracks on the album that are simply fun to dance to. After all, we know that Hooded Fang and Woodhead can create great electronic music independently. This kind of collaboration simply cements the fact that Toronto’s electronic scene has some impressive artists at work.