Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hip Philosophers: The Short List for 2015

Back by popular demand in its third year: "Hip Philosophers: the Short List."

This is, of course, *tongue in cheek* relax.  Don't freak out.  It's "snarkiness" mode "lite."  Enjoy!

Hip Philosophers: The Short List for 2015

1. Pete Wolfendale.  Out of the rising young stars of philosophy Wolfendale has recently overtaken all French or Italian "peddled goods" by delivering a true masterpiece of critical philosophy from the UK.  Hailed by some as building something of  a "cathedral" when going out to "shoot a lame dog," a masterpiece was born.  Add a postscript by one Ray Brassier and Wolfendale takes the number one spot.
2. Terrance Blake.  Another newcomer to our list, Blake has popped on the scene in a very visible way within the past year despite him working his way up the ranks of good philosophers for many years.  Publications in Theoria as well as a very prominent journal covering Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, Blake takes number two as a philosopher to watch out for.  Plus, outsiders have placed him in the Wolfendale/Brassier/Niemoczynski/Blake axis, which increases his visibility as a bonus.  All in all Blake is writing about some of the hottest topics today and taking no prisoners.  Read him!
3. Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. de Castro has idled on breaking the top five but this year appears at #3.  His "multinaturalism" has impressed many outside of his own circles of anthropology by heading toward the realms of philosophical naturalism and pragmatism.  The fact that he typically draws from William James and John Dewey is a plus.  And he graciously linked one of my posts about his work HERE, which was a nice gesture.
4.  John Caputo. Caputo has straddled the speculative blogosphere while lecturing on "speculative realism" in the form of seminars at Syracuse for about three years or more now.  He takes the number 4 spot due to his Insistence of God publication which rocked the world of radical theology, but also that of speculative philosophy.  Adding to that he presented two seminars this past year at the Philadelphia Summer School for Continental Philosophy.  One on Meillassoux and Brassier, the other on Malabou and Latour.  He's still relevant while being a mover and shaker for many.
5. Adrian Johnston.  This was a tough one as Nick Land was hot on the heels of breaking into the list. (Land is a phenomenal philosopher who is bringing something new to the table.)  Still, Johnston's working with Malabou and pushing forward with a number of books through Northwestern UP earned him a spot.  Yet he slips to number 5 by publishing, again, in Speculations where recently that journal features the same people over, and over, and over, and over again ad nauseum.  You can literally count on one hand the same folks who publish there, and its abit stale.  Why not add fresh voices?

Runners up:
1. Nick Land may very well grab the number one spot next year.  His posts at Outside In are just, well, interesting.  Probably the most interesting blog of all year.  NRx, love it or hate it, is hot right now and everyone is talking about it.  (Accelerationism still has serious momentum too.)  Land is an intellect to watch out for, and I think a venture into the philosophical realm in a more direct way rather than on the periphery (perhaps in bleak theology?) would be welcome, and extremely awesome.
2. Philippe Descola Stylish, but...meh.  Too "Latourish" this year; while Latour fades from popularity it appears the same is happening for Descola.  New non-peddled voices please.

Biosemiotics as a foundation for animal and environmental ethics?

I discovered THIS abstract for a rather interesting looking paper, co-authored for the Animal meta-ethics: New directions in animal philosophy anthology edited by John Hadley and Elisa Aaltola.

"Beyond sentience: Biosemiotics as foundation for animal and environmental ethics" 
Morten Tønnessen (University of Stavanger, Norway) and Jonathan Beever (Purdue University, USA)

In this chapter we argue that biosemiotics can and should serve as foundation for animal and environmental ethics, particularly with regard to justifying attribution of moral status to non-humans. Our contribution rests on a contemporary semiotic interpretation of the Umwelt theory of Jakob von Uexküll (1864-1944), one of the founding fathers of ethology.

Our approach argues that sentience is not coextensive with phenomenal subjective experience, but instead is a particular instance of such experience. In an Uexküllian sense, all living beings, even unicellular beings, have subjective experience by having semiotic agency, the capacity to navigate in a world of signs (aka the capacity for signification). The reason why moral status (general moral considerability) and moral value should be attributed to all living beings is that all living being have semiotic agency. This latter assertion implies that there is a world of experience that means something to each living creature, and all living beings are capable of distinguishing between what is attractive (good) to them, what is repulsive (bad) to them, and what has no function for them.
Our actions might affect the wellbeing of any living creature insofar as they affect its worlds of experience and action. Whereas sentience has traditionally been understood in relation to the moral weight of suffering and pain in particular, our approach involves an acknowledgement that the wider ground of sentience is a reality of subjective experience that is omnipresent in the realm of the living at large.

Scientific questions such as How widespread is sentience in the animal kingdom? are certainly of continued interest. What we suggest is that we start out by recognizing what is common to all living organisms, namely their semiotic agency, and that this stand should inform these other discourses as well.

Attribution of moral status can be done at different levels of biological organization. We hold that moral status and value should be attributed at various levels simultaneously. Our basic premise, that semiotic agency is the soundest foundation for attributing moral status and value, suggests a certain (but not exclusive) emphasis on subjective experience and thus on the level of the organism/individual, where applicable. However, individuality is no simple notion, and the organism’s character of being already-ecological points to valuation of ecological levels too. An account of animal ethics, on this relational view, demands a complementary account of valuation of those environmental relations as well.

We propose particularism defined by the normative maxim that each living being deserves to be treated well in accordance with its specific needs. These needs vary so much that it neither makes sense to value all living beings evenly nor to rank them hierarchically. Proper treatment of different living beings has to be case-specific and take species-specific and other needs into consideration. Facilitating the fulfillment of the needs of the living to the greatest extent possible is what ethics is all about.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Animal Mind

The Animal Mind: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Animal Cognition.  Amazon link HERE.

I purchased my copy at the APA and it looks like it is an excellent book.

Friday, December 26, 2014

some resources on biosemiotics + Uexküllian/Peircean phenomenology

I thought to provide some resources given my post on semiotics from a few days ago.  Some of the below might be useful for After Nature readers who are new to semiotics.

1.) On whether the natural semiotic must be a living system or not, "The Scope of Semiosis: Can Non-living Systems be Considered Semiosic?" HERE.

2.) "How Living Systems Become Minded," HERE.

3.) "Feeling" is the bond between any and all objects or agents, HERE.

4.) "Why We Should Take Biosemiotics Seriously," HERE.

5.) On biosemiotics and information transfer.  See "Can Plants Communicate?" (HERE); "The Mind of Plants" (HERE); "A Phenomenology of Vegetal Life" (HERE); and "If Cats Could Talk" (HERE).

6.) Readers might want to check out the OHP book on biosemiotics HERE which is free for download, or the work of Jakob von Uexküll found HERE, again free for download; or THIS post on the biosemiotic philosophy of organism.

7.) Finally, THIS Powerpoint is extremely helpful on Uexküllian phenomenology.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

quote of the day

"Nothing is done in philosophy until one is changed as a person. Problems must be seen through, they must be understood; they must be made one's own. One cannot study philosophy without accepting the burden of its issues as one's own."

- John William Miller, "Style in Philosophy" (1933-34, Miller Papers 19:11)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Matthew David Segall on the Semiotic Universe

Interesting video by fellow Whiteheadian and ecophilosopher Matt Segall.  In the video he points out that there is no hard and fast ontological divide between nature and culture pace John Dewey, or between the realm of a natural semiotic and a human cultural semiotic pace Philippe Descola.  Drawing on the ideas of Charles Sanders Peirce then, Matt notes how the natural realm indicates or expresses data or information - "meaning" - just as the human symbolic realm does.

Just as the rings of a tree means that the tree is x number of years old, dark clouds and rumbling of the sky means that it will storm or rain.  I think "meaning" is off-putting to those who are afraid that meaning means a Platonic universal, or that it means some value that only humans can understand or possess (as in, there is a "meaning" to life).  Naturalists who are reductive naturalists in their approach tend to think of meaning in precisely that way and thus reject it, thinking meaning is somehow "outside" of nature or simply a "construction" in the mind of human beings.  A radically reductive naturalist would keep emphasizing how without human beings there couldn't be meaning in the world.  In this sense they would say, perhaps in the vein of some form of nihilistic naturalism, "life is devoid of meaning," or if humans are honest there just simply isn't meaning "out there" in the world.  Yet isn't it anthropocentric pride to think that human beings have some special "status" so as to be the only forms of existence to bring meaning into the world?

There are obvious problems with such a view of "meaning."  In actuality, meaning is nothing more than the natural action of an indexical sign.  It is simply "information transfer." All of nature is constantly sign-ing, whether there are human beings there to interpret the meaning of those signs or not.  The natural world is constantly in a state of information transfer through the interaction of agents or bodies.  Because there is nothing non-natural, and because there are bodies present throughout the world (even molecules interact semiotically, this is the basis of chemistry and thus how various bonds form - as in, various compositions where behaviors of atoms mean such and such an atom is of a specific type and is able to bond with such and such other atom), we cannot say that human beings and the symbolic cultural realm of meaning is somehow "separate" or different from the ubiquitous natural semiotic that includes all of the material realm or perhaps even its structuring conditions.

Biosemioticians do not think there must be intelligent interpreters there in order for meaning to happen.  All of nature has mentality present within it insofar as nature communicates with itself.  So long as events occur in the universe there will be data transfer.  Even within the cold void reaches of space, so long as the universe is expanding the change present within the universe indicates various happenings and events, thus data that has occurred for expression.  I suppose the only time the natural semiotic would die is if the universe in its growth died (but is it possible for all universes to simultaneously die in some absolute manner such that there was absolute nothingness, and yet, even in such an absolute form, that "nothingness" would still reify itself to be and mean what it is, as itself as some state that has occurred!)

However, back to the natural semiotic that is present now.  Regardless of whether or not there are human beings on the planet the number of rings on a tree stump still indicates that the tree is x number of years old.  In this way the expressed information is objective, as the "meaning making" or action of data expression is found within the semiotic communicative power of the agent in question, which is the tree stump.  This is what Peirce called the semiotic object.  The "sense" of the sign - its data or information - is represented in the form the sign takes and is available for other interpretants to discover.  Red dust on Mars would still mean rust even if no one ever saw the planet.  And rust means that Mars cannot sustain a certain form of atmosphere.  I couldn't help but thinking of this as Matt walked through the forest: look at the color of trees around him, where the healthy color of the pines indicated the health of the tree via pine needles, and so on.

In the triadic exchange of data, certain possibilities are afforded and others are denied.  Objects communicate actions to other objects which in turn stand in for signs.  Signs are objects and objects signs.  What's "in between" is both sign and object in a different sense.  And so on. Or again, citing Peirce, "Namely, a sign is something, A, which brings something, B, its interpretant sign determined or created by it, into the same sort of correspondence with something, C, its object, as that in which itself stands to C."

True, Peirce states that 'A sign... [in the form of a representamen] is something which stands to some body for something in some respect or capacity."  But as Matt pointed out, so far as there are "bodies" interacting there will be information transfer in a triadic relation (just like in chemistry).  It is also how information may be regarded as "mind" or mentality when the sense of that information is distributed before other acting bodies.

Belfiore's book The Triadic Mind emphasizes such a point (see HERE).  Matt's video is below, about six minutes in length and worth a watch.

Gilbert Simondon's Psychic and Collective Individuation (NDPR Review)

Review of an introductory text and guide covering Simondon's as-of-yet translated Psychic and Collective Individuation.  It's a good review that walks through the exposition provided in the book, and covers some basics of Simondon and his connection to Deleuze, Nietzsche, Whitehead, and process philosophy.

Link HERE.  As an aside, HERE is a very good write up by Latour on Simondon, and a post HERE titled "Simondon's 'Transindividual' and Nonreductive Relationalism."

Friday, December 19, 2014

a nice video touching on how ecology is process-relational (Aeon video)

Whale Fall (After Life of a Whale) from Sweet Fern Productions on Vimeo.

new Cosmos & History now online: special issue on "Naturalism" with an article on "Speculative Naturalism"

A very interesting issue of Cosmos & History is now posted, featuring "Naturalism" as its theme (this issue rivals my other favorite from 2008 "What is Life?" - HERE).

What's great is that Arran Gare (the editor) has published an essay on "Speculative Naturalism," tracing its historical roots in American speculative Idealism and the naturphilosophie of F.W.J. Schelling, Alfred North Whitehead, Gilles Deleuze, and C.S. Peirce.  He also situates speculative naturalism in context of "speculative realism" (speculative materialism) and recent Continental metaphysics.

There's really nothing that I disagree with in his characterization of Speculative Naturalism, and I like how his characterization of the view is open to other articulations of it (including my own) while remaining loyal to something of a consonant core of the view as it has developed historically.  In fact, there is nothing that I said HERE in my own paper "Speculative Naturalism" - published some months ago - that contradicts his painting of the speculative naturalist picture.

I have a few thoughts about his paper before posting a link.

All in all, speculative naturalism focuses on speculative query rather than critical analysis; it is a non-reductive form of naturalism when it comes to science (and thus makes room for topics of concern within the camps of Idealism or spiritualism, i.e. mind or Spirit); it challenges strictly analytic types of naturalism (those types that paralyze speculative inquiry); embraces neo-rationalism and speculative materialism (pace Meillassoux, but also Bergson, Deleuze, and Whitehead with emphases on creativity and contingency); and embraces "synthetic" historical thinking and philosophical realism going beyond the anti-realism of deconstructive postmodernism. 

Tracing speculative naturalism's history, of course, begins in Presocratic nature ontologies, although Garre picks up with Quine's naturalism (for constraints of space) to illustrate speculative naturalism's non-reductive character (and such is why Democritus or much later Lucretius would have been left out in favor of, say, Anaximander or Pythagoras, or much later Epicurus, or perhaps even Seneca for admitting reason as a divine principle into the equation, in tracing Ancient origins for the view).  It's a nice touch how Garre also points out the importance for logic for speculative naturalim, given the fact that the general belief is that logical and mathematical conclusions may reach ontological ones.

From Quine Garren then proceeds to set out how the naturalism of American Idealism (Garre mentions Royce but I think John William Miller, Justus Buchler, Paul Weiss, or Nicholas Rescher with his pragmatic idealism would be a bit closer) is able to challenge Quinean naturalism by simply being a more defensible position.  He then travels to the moment of siding with either Kant or Hegel within German Idealism in order  to show how Schellingean ("speculative") naturalism - as it is found in the German moment of Idealism - is superior to Quine's own conception of nature.  So, "between" so to speak Kant and Hegel one must follow Schelling.  I completely agree that it is Schelling's philosophy which is truly the lynchpin for any speculative naturalism.  Let me say just abit more about this.

As I've argued, recovering the tradition of speculative naturalism requires recovering Schelling and his naturphilosophie - a domain of interest that has been brought back to light by figures such as Iain Grant, Sean McGrath, and myself.  The key is thinking about how, not just a speculative nature philosophy sits with regard to reductive materialist naturalism, but how the concept of nature entails a physics of the Idea with respect to the Absolute.  Thus, it involves thinking about mentality, or Spirit for some, but more generally for most about motion, activity, generation, and the conditions of ultimacy.  In other words, speculative naturalism today asks "what are the conditions for the dynamic construction of matter, and how do they - if at all - relate to the Absolute?"  Further, what is the precise relation between the Absolute and intelligence or the Idea?  How does human intelligence - or the creative intelligence of any living form for that matter - represent nature's ultimate determinative conditions?  In order to flesh out these questions Garre points to the American reception of Schelling's nature philosophy, specifically C.S. Peirce.  Garre writes, "Like Schelling, Peirce was a speculative naturalist concerned to conceive physical existence in a way that would enable humans to be understood as creative products of, and participants in, nature."  So a tradition is traced from American (and German) Idealism to pragmatism: from Schelling to Peirce, Dewey, and Whitehead.  On the Continental side Bergson and Deleuze are mentioned.

Garre ends the piece on a practical note and a call for the future: "The development of the natural sciences on the more defensible foundations of speculative naturalism [rather than the foundations of analytic naturalism, or materialist naturalism] makes science consistent with the reality of humans and their potential for understanding and creativity...speculative naturalism supports Aldo Leopold's dictum that 'A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.  It is wrong when it tends otherwise."  And so there are ethical implications for speculative naturalism (in addition to the theological ones that I have so oftenly pointed out).  The ethics of speculative naturalism recognizes and augments the condition for the flourishing of ecosystems, of multiple agencies, none of which are separate, static, or strictly quantifiable but are rather interconnected, active, and qualitative and temporal at their core.

Worth checking out the entire issue HERE, or Garre's paper specifically, HERE.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Noncorrelationist phenomenology: the Whitehead-Hartshorne-Peirce axis

In polishing my book tentatively titled Speculative Naturalism: An Ecological Metaphysics, I came across the following part of a book review where two useful paragraphs never made it to print, at least in full. These two unpublished paragraphs will actually form the kernel of a chapter in my book.

I think the below paragraphs from THIS review (second part HERE) provides a good taste for the chapter and the amount of detailed argument I plan to present.

[Update: I guess I wasn't clear in saying at first that I am the author of the review!]

Hartshorne's “My Eclectic Approach to Phenomenology” articulates a phenomenological method which is a “descriptive science” – one that, in Whiteheadian terms, “gets its basic concepts from the most general aspects of experience” and which does not specifically reference the observer but experience itself” (Harsthorne, 11). Hartshorne articulates how his phenomenology is different from Husserl’s and Heidegger’s - he met and briefly studied with both philosophers during his travels in Europe as a Sheldon Fellow in 1924-1925 (Hartshorne published the first English review of Sein und Zeit in 1929). If some argue that phenomenology may never truly be a “realist” method of metaphysics due to the “human-centeredness” of its methodology (the charge is that the phenomenological method espoused by Husserl is “correlationist” because it refers its results to a human standpoint, that is, always to an observer), then Hartshorne’s version of phenomenology easily dodges the correlationist bullet.

Hartshorne emphasizes that the question of phenomenology is, “As what are sensations experienced?” Disagreeing with Husserl and agreeing instead with Whitehead (and Peirce), Hartshorne explains that, “Experience-of-x is x plus something. But the relation of the two is no mere and. Experience-of-x includes x. Whitehead uses ‘prehend’ for this inclusion” (Hartshorne, 12). This is to say that reality is experiential and not just experiential-for a human observer which activates within an observation some experience. Experience and sense (feeling) are instead said to be one. Hartshorne’s phenomenology, being panexperiential and a priori in metaphysical orientation, shifts speculative query back into an exhibitive display of the real without recourse to a specifically anthropocentric intentionality. As an “eclectic phenomenologist,” Hartshorne elaborates, “I can say…Husserl was right in seeking the source of meanings in concrete experience as such but dismally wrong in trying to conceive experience in abstraction from an actual world, without…dynamic agents other than the experiencing or experiencer itself” (Hartshorne, 24). In this Hartshorne establishes the beginnings of a “non-correlationalist” phenomenology, indebted to both Peirce and Whitehead for its construction.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Here's the tiny human twig in the Tree of Life"

Pointer to Nick Land for drawing my attention to this.

From the Tree of Life Web Project : "[T]his epic infographic is one monster family tree, showing the history of 3.5 billion years of life on Earth."
As you look at the graphic, realise that time radiates outward and each kingdom’s appearance is also in chronological order from left to right. What you’ll discern then is a story of origins and mass extinctions, the way life almost bided its time through the Ice Age then hit the gas through the Cambrian Explosion. It was here when the protostomes (everything from trilobites to squids) simply went nuts, and the separation of plants vs. animals as we know them arose. 
Those big white splotches that disrupt various branches throughout the tree represent either extinction events or the end of species whose evolutionary pathway did not lead to further species. 
It’s a pretty sobering thought that humans, all the way down there in the bottom right-hand corner, have been wiping their way through so many species, particularly in the past half a century."
It's also sobering to see how late in the game humans have arrived, and how another mass extinction seems inevitable.  As Whitehead said, other cosmic epochs are indeed possible.  It's mind boggling to see the various natural historical epochs - even those of the earth's own life forms.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

a very interesting post on "anim(al)ism"

HERE.  Some highlights:

"Animal is the one who phenomenally shows to have a soul, by being drawn to things, or pushed away by them. The animal is not like the rock who stays where it is, no matter what, or the water, which indifferentially seeks the easiest route. Not even like the plant, which shows some kind of sensitive reaction, but which never moans for pain, or jumps for joy. The animal is the most expressive creature of them all. It cannot resist to react visibly or audibly to what it meets. Even not when keeping things in with grand mastery. So what is an animalist? It is someone who feels that the human being is not only not alone for being part of the world of ongoing translation between all creatures, but still less alone for belonging to a large family of expressive creatures."

"The animalist is by definition an animist, in my view – for I have never met an (non-human) animal who didn’t treat the whole of visible reality as being inhabited by spirit/soul. No fools among animals."

Readers may be interested to see my "If Cats Could Talk" post HERE which considers what the "otherness" of animals might reveal; and my link to "The Soul of All Living Creatures" HERE.

For more on panpyschism see a link to Charles Birch on the soul HERE with a post "Is Matter Mental?", and posts on Plato and Hartshorne on the soul HERE and HERE.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

recommending a smart, compelling, and overall fantastic new series on Netflix

Black Mirror (TV series) is a smart, entertaining, and thought provoking techno-apocalyptic fusion of The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected.  It has won several awards including Best TV Mini-series at the International Emmy's.

Each episode is a different story featuring different characters.  Each episode, like The Twilight Zone, features a different reality with unique plots and compelling content.

Described as "a twisted parable for the Twitter age," the program generally shows the dark side of life with technology; with twists-in-tale and lots of philosophical ideas to chew on. It masterfully achieves a "techno-paranoia" feel for our modern age.

I started with "The Entire History of You" and was instantly hooked.  Each episode is 60 minutes long, but they're great and well worth watching.  The program has a nihilistic, dark, crypto-techno apocalyptic feel featuring some very interesting themes from within the science fiction genre.  Very good stuff here.  Highly recommended for fans of The Twilight Zone (I was also a fan of the '80s three season version of The Twilight Zone).

More info on Wikipedia HERE.  Two seasons now available on Netflix.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Nick Land (and Ernst Juenger) on Ultimate Exit

Nick Land put up THIS post about "tech secessionism."  The basic idea stems from "seasteading" where, because no government will give up its lands yet 70% of the world is covered by ocean, experimental city-states not bound by current existing government law could be floated upon the water.  In other forms tech secessionism looks to a mass "ultimate exit" into the frontiers of the Net, where alternate currency and new forms of expressive freedom could be found.  See THIS article on the "ultimate exit," for example.  In short, "cloud-based communities of individuals are imagining city-state-like sites escaping state jurisdiction."

In many ways this sort of fleeing or inner emigration reminds me of the flight-to-the-forest imagined by science fiction author and philosopher Ernst Jünger. Jünger (himself "apolitical") in several places wrote about and anticipated the sort of retreat into the Net that we see beginning to happen today.  But instead of taking the uncolonized frontier of the Net to be an autonomous zone of individual liberty he had a sort of inner spiritual domain represented by the forest in mind.  The frontier of individual liberty, he stated, is any zone where inner freedom is the pillar allowing escape from extraneous forces.  One may look to his science fiction masterpiece Eumeswil (1977) or his essay "Retreat to the Forest" (1951) to see this idea take shape.

In his writings Jünger develops the prototype of the "Forest Fleer," a version of his "Anarch" (neither anarchist nor libertarian but a kind of fusion of both).  In Jünger's words, "One becomes a Waldgänger [Forest Fleer; sometimes translated as Forest-Goer] and by extension an Anarch not only when one enters or flees to the literal forest but at the deepest level of being each single person is already in the forest, is already a forest-goer, the forest being the original untamed core of one's being."  (See THIS post for more.)

Jünger's book The Forest Passage is a testament to opposing the power of the omnipresent state, where freedom found in the forest is found in each individual. "No matter how extensive the technologies of surveillance become, the forest can shelter the rebel, and the rebel can strike back against tyranny."  Indeed, the book is a manifesto for freedom.

I've written about Jünger periodically before, see my posts "The Forest Passage" HERE, "The Magic of the Real" HERE, or "More on Juenger" HERE.

Finally, I think that there is a neat tie between Jünger's embrace of technology as an accelerationist device for freedom - a device that he developed very early on in his writing career in his The Worker: Domination and Form (1932).  The book was never published in English although I do have a copy of Dirk Leach's proposed translation that he had once submitted to SUNY Press in the early '90s.  I plan to scan and post that typescript here time permitting.  But the interesting thought is that Landian themes conducive to a "Right Accelerationism" are primarily Jüngerian in orientation.  There is definitely an affinity, and if I can I'd like to write an essay on NRx, Land, and Jünger in my forthcoming speculative realism book Speculative Naturalism: Speculative Realism as an Ecological Metaphysics (as it covers some of Accelerationism too) which I'll be polishing up this coming winter break.  It would fit in the theme of a metaphysics of freedom, environmental thinking, and political ecology.

My last post touched on wandering and the exploration and colonization of space. Landian-Jüngerian themes are timely (especially given the excitement over Interstellar) in that more individuals are looking not only to the deep space of the cosmos, but also to the deep space present within.  It seems that the renewed dream of space exploration is not only a proposed escape from ecological collapse then, it is also a proposed escape from the forces which deny the human quest to transcend the current and embark into the limitless space of the future.  It is truly a form of Promethean time travel where the "inside" and "outside" become one.

Wanderers (Aeon video)

A stunning vision of the possibilities of humanity’s expansion into space.

Wanderers - a short film by Erik Wernquist

Immanent Polytheism (paper)

Thomas Millary has a new paper up on "Immanent Polytheism" which takes a new materialist and pluralist approach to theology using a diverse range of figures from James, to Latour, to Whitehead, to Connolly and Keller.

The interesting part of the paper is where Millary tries to fashion his own emergent-pluralist concept of gods rather than rely upon the (process-relational) concept of God as creative-ground and universal; or the traditional theistic notion of God as ultimate personality.  For Millary, the concept of gods, rather than the process of emergent creative becoming, cannot be grouped under one universal or concept, as God(s) is or are within panentheistic process theology or more traditional theism.  Millary states that a polytheistic notion of a multiplicity of divine personalities best expresses what a true pluralistic cosmotheology might achieve in rendering adequately divinity.

Thomas and I have corresponded some, and he participated in the Philadelphia Summer School of Continental Philosophy this past summer where John Caputo lectured (and incidentally Millary mentions Caputo's Divine Insistence book of this past year in his own paper).

The only thing I am left wondering, that I am always left wondering with polytheism, is what distinguishes divine multiple becomings (or personalities) as such from other multiple becomings.  It seems to me that the universal of creative ground found in panentheistic ontologies, which are indeed pluralistic as well, is that that creative ground is what precisely guarantees its own ontological integrity so as to be considered ultimate or divine.  Even if all mutiplicities house their own specific creative grounds, some are more capable than others, with only one taking the name "ultimate."  But with this, the notion of personality is lost.  So I haven't figured out how that works just yet.  Maybe Thomas has some thoughts.

Link to his paper HERE.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

interviews with Synthetic Zero blog and Homebrewed Christianity blog

Dirk and Michael from Synthetic Zero have gotten in touch with the prospect of an interview with me for their blog.  I am told that I'd be able to give some thoughts about ecological metaphysics, realism, phenomenology, bleak theory, etc.  Sounds like it will be fun.  Dirk has always been a "connector" and I appreciate very much his willingness to bring folks together in conversation.

On the topic of interviews, Tripp Fuller from Homebrewed Christianity blog reports that his interview with me from this past summer is now in the production stages where they are recording the introduction for it this evening, actually.  It should be one of the next two interviews to go up on his blog.  Tripp was a blast to talk with, and with him I spoke about process philosophy and ecological thinking; hiking and metaphysics; Whitehead, Schelling, and Hegel; God and the problem of evil; and my latest books on naturalism and animal emotions.  We also spoke about my new project of "speculative naturalism" as an ecological metaphysics.  Really looking forward to hearing how that conversation turned out.

I'll post links for these when they appear in time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dewey and the Ancients (NDPR review) + Schelling's 1794 commentary on the Timaeus

HERE.  This seems timely for me to think about, as lately I've been looking into Plato's import for deep ecology and environmental philosophy.  (Dewey has alot to say about Plato and environmental philosophy or nature ontologies, as do others - e.g. Peirce, Schelling, Whitehead.)  Most especially I have been looking at Schelling's commentary on the Timaeus with an eye toward thinking about Greek organic naturalisms.

THIS book is also helpful on the subject (another resource on how ancient philosophy might contribute to modern ecological theory), as is THIS IEP article on Plato's organicism.  There is some mention of Whitehead in it, fittingly.

Thanks to Matt / Footnotes to Plato blog for the Schelling's commentary on the Timaeus piece (from 1794).  That's definitely playing into my current research.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Bees have feelings too, and scientists should respect them" (Aeon article)

Some highlights from a very interesting article covering insect (and other non-human) emotions.  Concerning bees, other than exhibiting the emotion of anger, bees actually communicate a range of complex behavior and feelings:

From the article:

"The scientists at Newcastle wanted to know if stress would affect the bees’ mood, so they vigorously shook one group of bees to simulate an invasion into the hive. The bees, it turns out, were not just physically but also psychologically shaken. Not only did they exhibit lower levels of serotonin and dopamine, they also became pessimistic in their responses..."

"The pessimistic reaction, seen as an emotional response to stress, thrilled the researchers. ‘We show that the bees’ response to a negatively valenced event has more in common with that of vertebrates than previously thought,’ the team wrote in Current Biology in 2011. The finding suggests ‘that honeybees could be regarded as exhibiting emotions’."

Link HERE.