Monday, September 29, 2014

Bloomsbury Philosophy News: Plato and Nietzsche - a visual journey

Link HERE.

See also After Nature posts: "Plato's Near Miss: The Soul as Self Moved" HERE;

"Nietzsche on Soul in Nature" HERE;

"Hartshorne's Neoclassical Approach to Soul and Beauty" HERE;

"Locke's Theory of the Soul" HERE;

Joseph Grange's Soul: A Cosmology is also a very good book, HERE.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"A defense of Contemporaneanism" (AUFS blog post)

This was good.  Apropos some of my posts as of late...
"For adherents of the ground-breaking philosophical school of Contemporaneanism, it’s been a wild ride. Side-stepping traditional academic institutions, we stepped directly into the public sphere by using online technologies like blog posts and Twitter links to blog posts. The results have been astounding: in the last couple minutes alone, Contemporaneanism has gone from zero adherents to one. That rate of growth puts us on pace to take over every academic field within thirty minutes. And not unexpectedly, the powers that be in the Ivory Tower are nervous. 
Some people are still asking themselves, “What is Contemporaneanism?” Questions like that always make me impatient. If too many people ask, I start to wonder if there’s a coordinated campaign to discredit Contemporaneanism. I certainly wouldn’t put such a thing past the adherents of Pastism (a blanket term I literally just coined to cover all previous philosophers insofar as they reject the main tenets of Contemporaneanism). With their comfortable tenured bon-bons, they have the most to lose when Contemporaneanism completely changes the intellectual landscape. Sure, they cover up their systematic persecution with specious claims like “We’ve never even heard of Contemporaneanism” — but we see right through that. They’re running scared. 
We continually remind ourselves that radical new schools of thought always face opposition. What if Plato, Kant, and someone you’ve never heard of whom I’m putting forth as a self-evident part of the philosophical canon just gave up the first time someone asked them what they were talking about? And really, are we even properly a “school” at all? Isn’t Contemporaneanism more of a sensibility, a shared set of concerns, than a “movement” — at least a “movement” in the sense that we could be held responsible for some determinate positions and arguments? What’s striking to me is the radical diversity of Contemporaneanism. And you know what? It’s not my job to point out examples of the many people who adhere to Contemporaneanism (in such a way that it doesn’t constitute a determinate “movement” that can be criticized). If you don’t keep up with the most important and exciting developments in your field, that’s on you. 
God. Can’t someone start a philosophical movement without having to constantly argue with people?!"
Link HERE.

Oh, and this comment was particularly hilarious:
"Temporally-oriented schools of thought are so last week. Time itself is a pretty outdated concept for that matter. I’m all for Atemporal Simultaneityism, a school of thought which I never came up with at any particular moment in time."

Friday, September 26, 2014

Speculative ®ealism™ (a blog essay/opinion piece with some answers)

It seems there is some "confusion" regarding my take on the rumor that Speculative Realism is dead.

Adam Robbert (and indirectly Tom Sparrow) chime in about their confusion, as does Bryan (a good online friend of mine) from the blog Speculum Criticum Traditionis, HERE.

[Update: Robert Jackson chimes in as well and links this post on his blog.  My response to that post is HERE and is more recent than the below.]

My point in several of my last posts was to state what I think Bryan's post hints to but doesn't say outright. It is what I and others have been trying to say as clearly as possible but perhaps haven't been emphatic enough. So let's state it for the record:

"Speculative Realism" is dead, and what we are left with is Speculative ®ealism™.

Incidentally, Brassier's point seems to be the same in his "Speculative Autopsy."  The fact that Blake, Hills, Wolfendale, and myself have been saying this for years is only vindicated by that fact.  (And if you are wondering how I read the postscript, I am doing a review of Pete Wolfendale's book where the postscript appears.  His book won't be officially out there until October, but I've been honored an advance copy in order to write the review.)

Here's what's interesting.  I can't understand why I am lambasted for having an opinion that essentially confirms what others deeper in the stream are also saying.  Brassier for example brings up some terrific points.  In the postscript he asks for us to look at who is editing the supposedly "thriving" Speculative Realism book series.  Look at who is editing the PhilPapers "Speculative Realism" category.  And then finally look at who self-identifies with that label, i.e." "brand."  One person.  Brassier points out that not he himself; nor Meillassoux; nor Grant self-identify with that label nor even can they all be collected together in any coherent or meaningful way other than participating at a conference almost a decade ago (and Grant characteristically with good manners omits himself from being included in the Philosophy Today 2 page piece he wrote on the subject many years back).  Brassier then goes on then to challenge whether even citing a critique of "correlationism" would be an adequate way to situate together the four 2007 conference participants.  And his answer is "no."  (I've published a paper about two years ago arguing the opposite but he makes a compelling case.)

Now, here's where I come in as a commentator.  Why do I think, too, that "Speculative Realism" is dead and what we are left with is Speculative ®ealism™.  (And this is where the rumor comes in too.)  As Ben Woodward has described it, Speculative Realism is the "dead elephant in the room."  Or as Armen Avenessian put it: we are now "after" Speculative Realism.  We all know that the initial speculative thrust, the initial turn to realism and materialism in metaphysics, is something that Continental philosophy today is now by and large doing as a main stream of thought, opposed to, say, deconstruction or postmodernism.  And yes, that is a turn and general approach to philosophy that is alive and well today.  And, yes, to some degree that conference set into motion, or at least augmented that motion, - to some degree.  But Badiou, Kacem, Meillassoux, Malabou, Serres, Laruelle: those and others in Continental philosophy have appropriated for quite some time, even long before 2007, speculative and materialist philosophy. Meillassoux for example as far back as 1997; Laurelle and Badiou even further back.  "New materialism" as a related stream of inquiry; speculative philosophy as a new-found return to metaphysics; ontology drawing upon the sciences...these motions were prefigured before "Speculative Realism" - which at best "was" a tendency or spirit of philosophy.  But  Speculative ®ealism™ is not in any philosophy departments; few know what it is; few take it seriously (because of its online antics); and few actually publish about it.  It is mostly an online phenomena put out there by kooks yelling from the sidelines.  Those graduate classes on it?  Philosophy departments in Holland.  Those theses about it?  Written by M.A. students in Russia.  I do not believe there are any philosophy departments in Canada or the U.S. who have "specializations" and consistently offer graduate seminars on "Speculative Realism."  What would they talk about?  Who?  So those who say Speculative Realism is "thriving" and that the "existence" question is not a question are full of it.  Period.  Otherwise the now infamous "orgy of stupidity" phrase has been by and large true; it's been where most of Speculative ®ealism™'s activity has been happening.

Speculative Realism did initially take off on blogs insofar as a certain networking took place, where folks with like-minded interests met (as materialist, speculative, or realist metaphysics is concerned).  But that's a wide net for today's philosophy.  So "speculative" and "realist" philosophy?  Not just the 2007 conference then.  Is Hegel a "speculative realist?"  Yes.  Is Whitehead a "speculative realist?"  Yes.  Is Deleuze a "speculative realist?"  Yes.  Is C.S. Peirce a "speculative realist?"  Yes.  And Bryan's post does point out that largely in the history of Continental or Americanist metaphysics most figures are doing speculative philosophy with a certain sort of realism in mind.  Otherwise we are talking about some people online.

On the other hand, it is true that that 2007 conference did culturally let's say put an emphatic underscore on the "return" to metaphysics within the Continental tradition.  But we must consistently be reminded that this return was prefigured historically and is not such the new revolution one might think that it is.  See for example Andrew Reck's Speculative Philosophy - an older book but it makes the point.  As does Rosenthal's Speculative Pragmatism.  Both published long before the two - yes two books on "Speculative Realism" in the nearly decade that has passed.  These motions have more or less always been there, it's just that the online underscoring had brought them to prominence as contemporary figures (Kacem, Meillassoux, Laruelle, etc. etc.) were and are carrying them forward.

Finally: I think the idea that I am so quick to claim "Speculative Realism" is dead because somehow I have an ax to grind or that I am "personally" motivated is a non-issue.  Do I find Speculative ®ealism™ objectionable?  Yes.  Do I find the propagators of Speculative ®ealism™ objectionable?  Yes.  But their behavior doesn't necessarily always involve just me.  Why is it that Terry Blake's papers (many of them published: in Theoria, also in a prominent review of Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, etc. etc. etc.) aren't found on PhilPapers? Why is it that Galloway was harangued and ridiculed the way he was?  Why is it that Wolfendale's 70 page article was just, well, ignored?  Why is it that so many of the most well known commentators or figures who publish about it, let alone blog about it, are flat-out ignored?  And yes, apparently the criteria now is that you just not publish, it has to be that you publish books.  Yet, through blog posts we have most of the repartee on the other side of the trenches which essentially equals Speculative ®ealism™ propagators taking personal cheap shots and then running for cover.  Oh, and my blog posts are cited in the literature.  Hill's are.  Blake's are.  But all of us, and many, many more folks to boot, are ignored otherwise.  Intentionally blackballed.  And Sparrow knows and admits this.  He is pretty much the only one on "the other side" who mentions who and what needs to be mentioned.  But you don't find that sort of fairness with anyone else.  So the fact that Blake, Hills, Wolfendale, and on and on and on are ignored is blatantly obvious to everyone who even has an inkling of a clue.

Fun fact: Do you know that I submitted nearly all of my publications on "Speculative Realism" to PhilPapers and waited and waited and waited for them to appear on their listings, which they never did?  I emailed Chalmers, who is one of the main guys behind PhilPapers, and was told that the editor hadn't approved my submissions under the "professional author" category.  In fact almost all of them I believe weren't approved.  These are peer-reviewed journal publications I have done.  So I was blackballed.  Intentionally.

But is this really about me and me alone?  Do I really care that I, and so many others, aren't to be answered by Speculative ®ealism™?  No, not really, if push comes to shove.  Because that sort of running away is to be expected of cowards, cronies, and online thugs. That's where that graduate student, the one who has never met me before, never interacted with me online before, the one who doesn't know a thing about me comes in.  Yet there they are in the "online orgy of stupidity" running their mouth on Twitter, lambasting me stating that my point is, "Oh, Speculative Realism is soooo dead....because it hasn't written about me enough."  Right.  Because that's really my point; yep, you got me.  And you wonder why I said you need professional help?  Do you even know me?  Do you you even know anything about me?  Please.  Get a clue.

Blake has written thousands of pages on the topic; Hills thousands of words through his blog posts, many of which are stellar, clear, and publishable - and again, YES - blogs are cited in literature reviews.  Look at Wolfendale's 400 page gauntlet, let alone a 70 page article never looked at.  (Incidentally, during the half hour or so that I was writing this post I had just gotten an email from UMN Press offering to me a review copy of Shaviro's new book, which I have commented upon during my introductory lecture at this past year's Philadelphia Summer School in Continental Philosophy.  So yeah; I guess I'm soooo not relevant.)  Oh, and why is it that Robbert and Sparrow - Sparrow to his credit has given credit where credit is due - are confused that an "SR" commentator is still talking about Speculative Realism?  It's because not just me - but a whole litany of folks -are blackballed in a spot-clutching political power-brokering game with one internet wizard in regrettable control.  That's what killed "Speculative Realism," as in, to use Woodward's description, what was the spirit of "what could have been."

I don't think it is ironic that, as a blogger, or as someone talking about the subject one could say, oh, well, if it is dead why do you still talk about it?  Well, why do you still read it?  I'm the one who enjoys the philosophies of Brassier and Wolfendale, and  loves to read/engage Meillassoux and especially Iain Hamilton Grant; and loves many of the philosophers whom those figures read: e.g. Hegel, Schelling, Deleuze, Kant, Brandom, Sellars, Plato, etc. etc. etc. And that love, from time to time does equal a blog post or an article, a book review, or perhaps even, yes, a book!  But many of the same topics are those that I enjoy too: naturalism, philosophical pessimism, a "dark" vitalism, metaphysics and speculative philosophy, logic, pragmatism, philosophical ecology, German idealism, and a host of others.  There is no shame in blogging about speculative, Continental realist and materialist philosophy as much as I blog about philosophical ecology, philosophy of nature, or animal ethics.  Medhi Belhaj Kacem is a great philosopher.  Laurelle is great to read for the challenge.  Heck, even the ontological turn in anthropology and ecology has me excited: Latour, Descola, Vieveiros de Castro and so on.

But don't for a second make this about your label; your power-brokering; or your fantasyland "movement."  Now that everyone knows straight from the horse's mouth that there is no "movement" except for what you and your cronies try to make it be in your own selective awareness bubble, it may be best to let dead dogs lie.  Oh, and the objection that an "anti-brand" movement is a cheap way of an opposing side to, itself, be a movement?  No.  Philosophy isn't about brands, at all.  Give me arguments, not drippy rhetoric with a "brand" name that one simply says is real.  Saying so doesn't mean that it is so.

Bryan says let speculative realism live forever.  I agree.  But the spirit of that conference, the spirit of what "was to be"?  It's now dead and gone.  Online cronyism and politics killed that.  Long, long ago.  And it's not just about me folks.  Again, I'll defer again and again to those who were major players or commentators yet who have been straight up ignored...for years.  It's all right there in black and white.

So, yes, "Speculative Realism" is dead, and sadly, Speculative ®ealism™ remains.  And that's no exaggeration.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Ecology Re-naturalized" (process versus object debate)

My latest publication, "Ecology Re-naturalized," will be featured in A Philosophy of Sacred Nature (Lexington Books) to be published this November.  It is a chapter covering philosophical ecology and a number of related themes in an anthology about naturalism and religion.

Anyone interested in the "process" versus "object" debate will want to read this.

Page proofs are HERE.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ray Brassier's postscript to Pete Wolfendale's book

Just finished reading it.  Brassier puts to rest the "existence" question of Speculative Realism once and for all, as I have tried to do recently in several of my last posts.  The postscript is truly the "last word" on the issue and essentially has led me to confirm rather conclusively my decisions to refrain from publishing my IEP and Stanford entries on "Speculative Realism" and to decline the editorship of a "Speculative Realism" series offered to me by x University Press.

Of course this does not mean I will stop talking about speculative realism, just that I will not assume certain duties or publish those two specific entries.  The next question, then, is whether speculative realism is still worth talking about. 

His postscript is something anyone who has/had an interest in the subject ought to read.  So, buy Pete's book.

Brassier lucidly communicates s a truth that has been for a long time in need of telling.  Blake, Hills, Wolfendale, Galloway, Oyama, and myself have been telling that truth for years, if not in recent months to the denial of many.  I respect Ray personally and am glad he wrote the postscript the way that he did.

I suppose that's all I say for now. Afterall, what can I say? - the man has said it all.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tristan Garcia "What is something?" (from 6.10.14 on Digital Milieu)

Wolfendale "went out to shoot a lame dog, and ended up building a cathedral"

When Lessing said, "People always speak of Spinoza as if of a dead dog," he was referring to the fact that Spinoza had been conclusively refuted.  Hence Wolfendale has finally put down the lame dog. 

See also HERE; HERE; HERE; or HERE.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

P.E.S.T. "Speculative Autopsy"

For those local in the Philadelphia area...

P.E.S.T. presents,

Speculative Autopsy

Following upon last year's highly successful "Speculative Misanthropy" workshop, P.E.S.T. returns once again to discuss 21st-century philosophy in the P.E.S.T. organization's own unique and daring style: underground, off radar, and free from constraint.  The best and brightest of young philosophers doing contemporary metaphysics in the States will discuss their views on a variety of topics within contemporary metaphysical philosophy.  Seminar leaders include Karen Oyama, Leon Niemoczynski, and Jason Bell.    

This year's workshop is a four hour evening event; hosted locally in Philadelphia, October 31st!  Yes, that's music, philosophy, and Halloween!

Topics up for discussion include: the philosophy of Ray Brassier, Nick Land, and Francois Laruelle; Pete Wolfendale's latest book on OOP through Urbanomic; #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader; Ontological Suprematism; Dark Vitalism; Dark Fiction and Non-Philosophy/Non-Theology; Speculative and Ecstatic Naturalism; Bleak Theology; and Science Fiction and Philosophy.  Plus you can expect a few surprise guests and live music for all!

If you're in the area come join the fun.  Dancefloor, electronics, dark philosophy.  That's for more info.  (Limited seating available.)

#No_light  #No_social  #No_charlatans

A fist in the face of cronyism since 2013... This isn't a "skirmish," this is war ...

An Emotional Hegel (Alex Dubilet)


Friday, September 19, 2014

A Speculative Autopsy on Object-Oriented Philosophy: The Noumenon's NewClothes (Urbanomic)

And to think, last week I was lambasted for having the same thoughts that this forthcoming book seems to be putting out there, i.e.; it's time for that autopsy of the dead elephant in the room. If you think the dead elephant is alive and well...I believe "fantasyland" was the way I described it.

Wolfendale's got a good head on his shoulders, and Brassier is just the man to drive the final nail into the coffin.

The death knell is ringing.

a book anyone interested in naturalism ought to get

Two Metaphysical Naturalisms: Aristotle and Justus Buchler, coming out in November 2014 through Lexington Books (same date/month as A Philosophy of Sacred Nature: Prospects for Ecstatic Naturalism).

The books TOC is worth copying/pasting below, as is the description.  I *must* get this book.

Two Metaphysical Naturalisms: Aristotle and Justus Buchler provides an American naturalist reading of Aristotle's "Metaphysics" with extensive literary-philological considerations of the original Greek text. Victorino Tejera defines and evaluates the underpinnings of the systematic metaphysics of Justus Buchler through the American tradition of reading Aristotle. The book expands on classical Greek thought and develops a matured stance on Aristotle's modes of knowing and Justus Buchler's systematic metaphysics.

Tejera extracts from the Aristotelian-Peripatetic metaphysics the core of Aristotle's discussion of existence as existence by keeping track of the Peripatetic and Platonist interpolations of the editors who brought the text into being. The book also summarizes Buchler's Metaphysics of Natural Complexes in less technical terms to make it more accessible. With the help of Justus Buchler, Tejera reintroduces the concept of metaphysics as coordinative analysis.

Finally bridging the classical with the modern, Tejera reveals a cohesive revitalization of metaphysical naturalism for contemporary scholars and students of both ancient and modern philosophy.
Table of Contents
Part I: Metaphysics from the Perspective of Classic American Philosophy
Chapter 1: Metaphysics as Coordinative Analysis or Speculative Metaphysics
Part II: The Aristotelian-Peripatetic Metaphysics: a Naturalist Reading and Critique
Chapter 2: Books Alpha and Alpha the Less
Chapter 3: Book Beta: Some Problems in the Search for Knowledge
Chapter 4: Book Gamma: First Philosophy as the Study of Primary Being and the Most Basic Categories
Chapter 5: Book Delta: Terms and Concepts
Chapter 6: Books Epsilon and Zeta: On Primal Existence
Chapter 7: Book Eta: On the Unity of Matter and Form: Potentiality
Chapter 8: Book Theta: Potentiality is Power, Energeia is Function
Chapter 9: Book Iota: Unity and Derivative Concepts
Chapter 10: Book Kappa: Knowledge, Principles and First Philosophy
Chapter 11: Book Lambda: Does Aristotle's Naturalism Leave Room for the Supernatural?
Chapter 12: Books Mu and Nu: Mathematical Being, the Ideas, and First ‘Archai’
Part III: The Metaphysics of Ordinal Naturalism
Chapter 13: Buchler's Modes of Judgment and Aristotle's Kinds of Knowing
Chapter 14: Buchler's Metaphysics of Natural Complexes
Chapter 15: Ordinality, Relation, Possibility and Actuality
Chapter 16: The World as Infinite Complexes, and Nature as Ordinality
Part IV: Applying Buchler's Metaphysics
Chapter 17: Peirce, Parmenides, and Buchler on Continuity and Relatedness
Chapter 18: Buchler, Peirce and Interpretation Theory
Chapter 19: Buchler's Philosophy and Plato's Method
Chapter 20: Did Plato Give a Lecture or a Recital? 

A work of loving students for their teachers: a tale of the mission by dedicated mid-twentieth century professors at Columbia University to rescue Aristotle for modern readers, with insights on human nature, human knowledge, and the literary transmission of philosophy.

James A. Arieti, Hampden-Sydney College

This book is an indispensable resource for understanding both Aristotle and American naturalism as developed by Justus Buchler. Victorino Tejera and his editor have given us a much needed and illuminating commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics that frees it from overly transcendental and theological interpretations by drawing on Buchler's radically pluralistic concepts of natural complexes and ontological parity
Gary Shapiro, University of Richmond

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Xenophanes: the first non-anthropocentric theist (quote of the day)

"Mortals suppose that the gods are born and have clothes and voices and shapes like their own. But if oxen, horses, and lions had hands or could paint, horses would paint horse-like images of gods and oxen ox-like ones, each would fashion bodies like their own...There is one god, among gods and men the greatest, but it is not at all like mortals in body or mind."

- Xenophanes (478 B.C.)

speaking of Homebrewed Christianity, Catherine Keller interviewed

HERE.  Lots of Whitehead, Deleuze, and Derrida...and alot of process theology.  Homebrewed will be live-streaming interviews with Keller and Cobb at this year's AAR.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

a late "thank you"

To Tripp Fuller for interviewing me on his Homebrewed Christianity podcast. It was an interesting discussion covering all things "nature," metaphysics, logic, ecology, environmental philosophy, and environmental philosophy's relationship to the philosophy of religion.

Lots of Schelling, Whitehead, Deleuze, and Peirce, abit of Latour and Meillassoux, some on Brassier, Grant, and others. Nature and metaphysics.

Plus I tell a few stories about hiking and fishing!

Available (hopefully) within a few weeks time. Thanks again, Tripp!

the possibility of Ustreaming my upcoming lecture on Parmenidean logic

"That Parmenides introduced a significant change in the method of Greek philosophic thinking is admitted on all hands..."

 If anyone would like me to stream my lecture on Parmenidean logic, as part of my Ancient Philosophy class, please email me to indicate interest.  I've spent alot of time preparing for this lecture and have grown quite passionate about the themes present in Parmenides' logic, specifically.  As I am teaching Ancient Philosophy this semester for my VAP position I am really paying attention to mastering my Greek philosophical terms and going (painfully at times) slowly through the fragments and texts.  Thus I came across some interesting modal ideas present in Parmenides (as well as reconfirmed my love for the nature ontologies of the Presocratics generally).

My Ustream channel is HERE.  I delete videos about a week or two after streaming them because apparently Ustream does that anyway on a basic account.  But those interested can watch live.  I just need to know if it is worth it to do.  So please email me to let me know if you'd like me to stream it.

I plan to cover the theme of correlationism in Parmenides believe it or not, his modal logic (the possibility or impossibility of such), Plato's beard (abit of Quine, actually), and all things interesting pertinent to Parmenidean logic as it comes from what remains of his writings and commentaries on those writings.  About an hour and fifteen minutes which should include lots of student discussion (and heads frying, which is great).  It's quite fun, so thought to share the excitement.  Possibly.  Unless on Parmenides' accord possibility is, itself, impossible as everything that can exist, does exist, and does so necessarily. Erm.  You see? Fun!

Let me know, readers.  I can send out a private link if need be.  It'd also be a good chance to show readers how I interact with my wonderful students and how I am passionate about teaching.  I have great students this year and wonderful classes.

Another link HERE.  HERE.  And finally, HERE.

So, is there a logic of non-being?  And, relating to current pluralistic-atomistic philosophies, following Quine, is it the case that to be is to be a bound variable? An "atomic" subject, so to speak?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Experimental Evidence of Massive-Scale Emotional Contagion through Social Networks (article from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

Interesting.  A very scholarly article HERE discussing how social media networks influence on a mass scale the emotions of its users, often in a manipulative and negative manner.  On social media and "social engineering," see a very good write-up HERE.

For more balanced perspective, "10 Great Articles About Social Media," repeat of an older link HERE.

If I can find some time I'd like to collect/post my thoughts/posts on social media that I've authored here at After Nature over the years.  Maybe soon, but again, just need to find free time.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

quote of the day

"Nothingness surrounds being on every side and at the same time is always expelled from being. Nothingness is that by which the world receives its outlines."

- Jean-Paul Sartre

Friday, September 12, 2014

Loops and Augmentation: Pragmatism, Accelerationism, and Navigation (Ben Woodward on Pragmatism and Accelerationism)

For those thinking about how Brandom, Peirce, and Schelling fit into the scheme of Accelerationist metaphysics, see HERE.  There is also some commentary on the affinities and differences between Schelling and Hegel.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Varieties of Panpsychism?

Jon Cogburn has a post up discussing panpsychism, HERE.  He makes an interesting distinction between forms of agency-based versus intellectual or concept-based panpsychisms advocated by Schopenhauer and Hegel.

He then proceeds to mention where Bergson, Whitehead, or Deleuze may fit into one of his three articlations mentioned in the post (physical Cartesian panpsychism; agential or "will" panpsychism; or a panpyschism of mind understood as concept-formation).  He also mentions Schelling too, placing him in the agential/will category, which makes sense to me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

the practice of citing blogs: is it good scholarly practice?

I'm not sure what the fuss is about, a search on my blog being cited turns up plenty of results.  I see no problem in using blog posts or blogs as a resource when reporting a literature review or making use of a citation.  It's done quite frequently, actually.  From memory I recall Ian Bogost doing it quite abit in Alien Phenomenology (despite the book itself not being well argued or containing much in the way of argument, he did in fact cite quite a few online resources).

Anyway, see HERE and HERE for example where my blog has been cited in the literature either as a useful resource or by making use of a specific post itself.

The Romantic Absolute: Being and Knowing in Early German Romantic Philosophy (NDPR Review)

HERE.  Based on the review I did go ahead and order this book.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

thoughts on “A NeoPresocratic Manifesto”

I discovered the intriguing article "A NeoPresocratic Manifesto" which rather provocatively identifies how nature ontologies first and foremost also imply moral ontologies.

It is interesting to see that with the current recrudescence of nature ontology - of metaphysics as an engagement with, and exploration and explication of, nature in the most generic terms - a coherent theory of value, whether axiologically in moral or political terms - is largely absent.

Indeed Stengers makes headway with her cosmopolitics, and others such as Bennett and Connolly are not far behind.  Still, many of the movers and shakers today creating new and unique nature ontologies haven't made a much needed connection between the normative realm of value and the realm of nature that is itself intensely normative.

Part of the antipathy toward the normative realm involves the apparent divide between those ontologists who see psyche - or conscious experience or awareness, even agency - working itself down into the deepest recesses of the natural (or working itself "up" from the deepest recesses from the natural), and those who choose to excise subjective experience or intensity from the natural world altogether, indeed even stating that "mind" does not arise from matter as an emergent phenomenon, seeing such as "subjectalism" and a move reminiscent of reading human experience upon nature at large.  (So nature for them is "mindless.")

My take is that regarding valuation and the normative realm, that this is a rather elementary mistake to make (somewhat like identifying "correlation" with "relation" and then opposing oneself to relational philosophy without having an adequate nor even sophisticated view of internal and external relations).  I shall call this "the correlationist error of valuation" - that somehow nature requires human valuers to be making judgments of value in order for value to exist.  Also, when identifying valuation with human valuers or with beings who must somehow subjectively experience value in order for there to be value, that subjectalism is actually *not* an anthropormophic projection of human subjective experience upon nature at large.  Rather, to see the subjective in nature - to see agency within the natural - is to simultaneously recognize the intensity of aesthetic contrasts and values that make for subjective experience itself - experience as felt - but also experience that is deeply natural in its emotive intensive connection to a world that human beings (and other creatures) experience as emotive and intensive.

The other side of the coin is to divulge the rational conceptual space that is extra-human by identifying the interplay between emotive, subjective, or felt intensive-qualitative experience and the conceptual apparatus that assists in propelling the life of qualitative intensive experience.  In a sense, this larger intensive but conceptual space is even non-human in its "naturalness"; so it includes human beings but transcends human beings (thus it is "non-human").  (See for example HERE.)

By recognizing the larger-than-human space of rationality we see that a.) aesthetic contrasts of value create normative dimensions of experience that humans are subject to, and b.) these dimensions of experience transcend human-to-human ecologies of knowledge and therefore guarantee a truly rational but also normative aspect to reality itself.  Indeed, reality or nature is rife with "experience" that is both conceptual and of an aesthetic value yet which is, also, not human.

To go back to Pre-Socratic philosophy: I believe that the Pre-Socratics noticed this.  For example, the normative ontology of Empedocles recognized the intensity of love and strife within nature, but he wasn't referring to a specifically human-centered emotive or moral dyad.  Rather, the tension was implicit to the natural itself, of which human beings were said to be a minor part in the grand motion of such forces (Empedocles, like Anaximander, had purported a nascent form of fatalism given material forces - for him four of them - like Anaximenes motion was predominant - given those forces' dynamic interplay in love and strife).  Indeed, the tension described by Empedocles was, to use a point made about nature much later by Dewey - HERE, that experience is among the interactions and processes of the natural.  Or more succinctly, the dynamic interplay of material forces is nothing but ideal moral normative dimensions construing experience as such.  The rational, present within such normative dimensions of experience, demands a reassessment, then, of what it *means* to be a human being comprehending the rational, specifically among other beings.  With the notion of "arche" but also "logos," the Greeks were well aware of this.

J. Baird Callicott, "A NeoPresocratic Manifesto" Environmental Humanities 2 (2013): 169-186.  Link HERE.

Ancient Greek philosophy begins with natural philosophy (the Milesians, Heraclitus, Empedocles, Anaxagoras), followed after about a century by a focus on moral philosophy (Socrates and the sophists). The pattern is repeated in the Modern period: first natural philosophy re-emerged after the Dark and Middle Ages (Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, Newton) followed by a correlative revolution in moral philosophy (Hobbes, Hume, Kant). In particular, moral ontology (externally related individuals) reflected the ontology of physics (externally related atoms). Individuals are, in effect, social atoms. Curiously, 20th-century philosophy has largely turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the vast philosophical implications of the second scientific revolution in 20th-century science, among them a correlative moral ontology of internal relations and social wholes. The environmental turn in the humanities, grounded in ecology and evolutionary biology, is a harbinger of the re-orientation of philosophy to the revolutionary ideas in the sciences and foreshadows an emerging NeoPresocratic revival in 21st-century philosophy.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

If you are still wondering about NRx... (on dark vitalism and accelerationism)

A new article gives the lowdown HERE.  HT to Nick Land from Outside in blog.

A quick point. This paragraph:
Neoreaction says, “There is objective value in the principle of “perpetuating biological and/or civilizational complexity” itself*; the best way to perpetuate biological and/or civilizational complexity is to “serve Gnon” (i.e. devote our efforts to fulfilling nature’s pre-requisites for perpetuating our biologial and/or civilizational complexity); our subjective values are spandrels manufactured by natural selection/Gnon; insofar as our subjective values motivate us to serve Gnon and thereby ensure the perpetuation of biological and/or civilizational complexity, our subjective values are useful. (For example, natural selection makes sex a subjective value by making it pleasurable, which then motivates us to perpetuate our biological complexity). But, insofar as our subjective values mislead us from serving Gnon (such as by making non-procreative sex still feel good) and jeopardize our biological/civilizational perpetuation, we must sacrifice our subjective values for the objective good of perpetuating our biological/civilizational complexity” (such as by buckling down and having procreative sex even if one would personally rather not enjoy raising kids).
Makes me think of the below comment from an AUFS post from awhile back:
Your talk of “dark” vitalism reminded me of the great August Weissman’s fundamental distinction between the immortality of the germ plasm and the mortality of the soma, translated into meme and vehicle by Richard Dawkins. “Dark” vitalism seems to go back to the idea that we are hosts to a mindless parasite that uses us for its own purposes. There is a version of the “old vitalism” that recommends to us that we embrace the parasite. It meant embracing somatic death for the sake of the immortal germ plasm. “Dancing on the abyss.” Very heady German romantic stuff. Ernst Juenger as you point out was one of the exponents of this. (Not so much Nietzsche, at least as I read him. But the Juenger folks certainly thought he was on their side.) Futurism and Expressionism is full of this, what they called “pathos.” Today, the pathos is gone and the advocates of “embrace the parasite/meme” see it, as you say, as a sort of cool objectivity, a rejection of the “wam, fuzzy” vitalism of Driesch et al.
My question to Nick Land is: I am wondering if there is room for "bleak theology" within the NRx framework, or whether theological NRx would just be "bleak theology." (See HERE and HERE.)


Friday, September 5, 2014

blogophobia: have philosophy blogs helped or harmed our profession?

Brian Leiter conducted a poll last week asking whether blogs in the profession of philosophy have been more helpful than harmful.  Good friend Terry Blake from Agent Swarm blog offered his thoughts HERE.

I've written about this before, HERE.

One should also question how profitable (or risky) is it for graduate students to blog, versus someone protected by tenure or new to the job market.

I know of blogs written by poor philosophers who have unworthy amounts of influence in their areas of specialization or study, and yet other blogs who have fantastic authors and posts but who go unnoticed.  I, personally, have lost a good friend of many years due to blog politics and social media smearing (he simply took sides and sided with online cronies and bullies who badmouthed me and/or ignore me as some kind of punishment, despite my hard work in the field).  And I can't say that any alliances that I've built have led to any career "break-throughs" as some tout when it comes to social networking.

On the other hand, writing a blog gives me a voice that is hard for others to ignore.  Which is to say, whether others ignore me or not in my field is actually irrelevant when in fact I still have a presence - a presence that at least some folks (or at times even many folks) are listening to and using as a resource.  This is why bloggers who try to clutch "spots" have recently discounted blogs and instead began to focus on "books" or publications as the new and *only* alternative: simply an effort to exert more totalitarian control and extinguish competing voices that really ought to go unimpeded in a true democracy of scholarship or commentary.  True, rigorous scholarship shall always outdo the fast paced and less subtle nature of "bloggish" posts - but when all is said and done each has a specific role to play.  While less suitable for the rigor of argument (mainly due to how blogs are scanned rather than read), blogs nevertheless provide an environment where voices can be heard and where resources can be offered; voices and/or resources that the dictators of the speculative internet would love to see just "go away."  Like it or not, blogs are a democratic outlet and often report the truth.  So, in that sense, they can outmaneuver even the most politically minded editors of journals or book series.

A blog is a place for me to voice personal expression and communicate ideas.  It is a place (among others) where a process of individuation can take place.

addressing adjuncts as a "lost generation" (article)

Tim Pettipiece addresses the situation in Canada where contingent academic labor is on the rise (adjuncts in Canada are referred to as "sessional" labor).  In alarming news we find that working conditions in Canada are quickly beginning to mimic those found in the U.S.

The article voices some very understandable concerns and reports on the cold, hard facts of reality: namely that even if one does what they are supposed to do (has great teaching evaluations, a host of quality publications, a wide range of experience, and perhaps even various teaching or scholarship awards) that more often than not hiring simply comes down to whim and fancy, often appealing to name-brand degree above all else and not much more.

The article also points to how many tenured faculty today would never survive in today's job market.  Hence applicants who have better records of publication and frankly who are much better teachers are the ones without jobs, while tenured faculty shamelessly wallow in poor teaching and thin numbers (if any) of publications.  This is a shame considering that those same applicants (those who trump tenured folks in quality and ability) are the majority yet do not go on to hold tenure track positions.  In fact, the number of unemployed or underemployed Ph.D.s snowballs each year.

I've been on both sides of the isle having held a tenure-track position and having been offered at least three times different tenure track opportunities.  I have also been part of the ranks of "contingent" faculty.  I can say wholeheartedly that there is not much difference save for a title.  Contingent faculty, too, do perform as much service and scholarship as do tenure stream folks.  In fact, contingent faculty are oftentimes much better teachers because the stakes can be higher.

Link to the full article is HERE.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

some recent news in cosmology

Nick Land's Outside in blog has provided a link HERE describing a great forthcoming "cosmic concealment."  As the universe expands ever-outward, propelled by dark energy and dark matter, the initial light of the big bang and from every other galaxy will move beyond our own visible light-cone leaving the Milky Way in a cold darkness.

So, the universe will be getting "darker" as any visible trace of any other diminishes and then disappears.  Lawrence Krauss gives the details in his talk "Our Miserable Future," link HERE.

My first thought was that an ultimate form of flat-line generality, say the Absolute fulfilled and completed where any particular details have become generalized, would be a final state of information so complete that any interaction and communication would cease.  In other words, a state of final completion for the universe would be indistinguishable from death, or "nothing," an absolute zero point.  But those states, we are often told by science, are actually among the most creative.  As Peirce put it, the universe that we know "leapt" from the possibility afforded by the logic of pure zero.

In other news, NASA's Hubble space telescope shows that the Milky Way is on a collision course with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy.  Read details HERE. page update

For those interested, I've finished a fairly large update to my page by adding some of my more recent publications.  See HERE.

In the next month or so I also plan to update the design of my blog and personal homepage design (hopefully!).

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology (PROBIO)

Egenis: Centre for the Study of Life Sciences is looking for two postdocs to work on its new project of "A Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology."  Applications are due by October 2014.  More information HERE.
This ERC-funded project aims, first, to rethink central issues in the philosophy of biology by elaborating an ontology for biology that takes full account of the processual nature of living systems. Starting with a careful survey of existing positions, especially Whitehead and the American Pragmatists, the goal will be to develop a concept of process adequate for addressing the multiple levels of interacting processes at different time scales characteristic of living systems. The concept of a stable biological thing will be analysed as a stabilised process relative to an appropriate time scale, and this conception should make possible a better understanding of familiar biological pluralisms (about genes, organisms, species, etc..) in terms of different ways in which distinct scientific practices intersect with biological processes.