Sunday, November 19, 2017

The world of publishing work about speculative realism: are all really "welcome" as we are told?

My copy of Debaise's Nature as Event, just arrived the other day.

Let's call a spade a spade. The world of publishing about speculative realism in a purportedly "academic" context is simply this: we're happy to receive proposals of work having anything to do with "Speculative Realism" if we like you.

True story, and I left this out of my book on speculative realism in order to try to be polite, however due to a recent post that someone just wrote to me about, I feel it necessary to share with the world some more truth in addition to Speculative Realism: An Epitome in light of the total bullshit that this person just revealed to me in their email. What follows is abit of me venting and so if that is not your cup of tea please feel free to move on. However, the reason I am venting is because the words that just appeared on my screen are an insult to someone who has just spent three months researching a currently-being-written manuscript that is speculative realist philosophy yet the proposal for which won't be read due to personal politics despite the smiling face saying that any and all proposals are welcome. Not true, folks. Not true.


 Several years ago I was going to submit a proposal to Open Humanities Press. I won't reveal here what particular series in Open Humanities Press in order to keep polite the post that I am currently writing right now, and also, so as not to reveal specifically what series editor I am talking about. Afterall, it's not the person that I am concerned with here but rather their conduct in the particular situation that I am talking about, as well as the words that appeared in my friend's email to me today. So before we go further, from my end this is not personal. Sadly from their end it is.

A former friend of mine knew this series editor and actually was/is quite close with them, so I thought to have this person contact the editor to see how they'd like for me to submit the proposal, where to send it, and so on.  Well, the series editor promptly told my former friend that they refused to even receive the proposal. Yes, this Ph.D.'d scholar, entrusted with the power of supposed academic objectivity as a series editor, whose job it is to review manuscripts for their series to see which might be worth publishing and which not, on the basis of personal politics and not on the basis of the work itself, absolutely refused to read a proposal before it was even sent to them. True story.

Now, pause.  If you are a series editor and are purporting to contribute to academic scholarship, receive and review any and all manuscripts, you're meaning to tell me, years later, that anyone is "welcome" to submit an ms to your series (now not at Open Humanities Press but elsewhere) when - in fact - on the basis of personal bias it is possible to refuse to even receive a manuscript or even look at a proposal simply because someone has personal issues? Simply because you don't like the person? And worse, you say "any and all proposals are welcome" but yet some proposals shouldn't even be sent because they were written by someone you don't like, you won't read those proposals anyway, based not upon the content of the proposal god forbid, but the name attached to it?  Bullshit.  I call bullshit. I am sorry, but it is is outright disgusting and sick that anyone would put out there with some happy smile on their face that they'll receive any and all proposals when, well, they have to like you first to even look at what you wrote. So, no, your work doesn't matter. The quality of your scholarship doesn't matter. The fact that you have good arguments doesn't matter. What matters is if you are personally liked rather than disliked by the editor. Give me an effing break.

So someone, like me for instance, can spend a year writing a manuscript about speculative realism - a good one - one that is much, much better than most of what's passed through by this person in their series, and I mean they've desperately put out books about everything under the sun and speculative realism, and now due to a lack of a pool of authors who write about the subject are even repeating authors who previously published through the series, but because of some obscure personal bias, when this person doesn't even know me, refuses to even read my work? Are you kidding me? And let me say outright - the personal bias? Based on gossip and hearsay. I was never even asked about the bs that this person said was the basis of their dislike for me. Unreal. Just, unreal.

Let me tell you a quick story to put this in perspective. This summer I spent several hundred hours researching a book which I plan to call Transcendental Naturalism. It's a follow up to Speculative Naturalism: Philosophy After Nature (a book re-written several times and actually the ms that I was originally going to send to this person back then. So, yes, it was Speculative Naturalism which was an ms that this person wouldn't even agree to receive by email based on their personal dislike of me.). Anyway, Transcendental Naturalism is probably the most complex and substantially argued book that I've written yet to date and takes on the arguments of Meillassoux, Brassier, Grant, etc. The book just isn't about speculative realism, it is speculative realist philosophy. (Now, note as an aside that if you've read my latest book Speculative Realism: An Epitome you will see how there can still even be speculative realist philosophy despite my existence claims regarding the name branded "movement" of it. So, the book engages the most contemporary arguments out there and is a direct contribution to the scholarship. But, moving on.)

Transcendental Naturalism is a book that is speculative realist philosophy, and once published I am confident that it will make an impact as it directly engages recent arguments and puts forward what I think, at least, is a novel thesis. I mean, it's still being written, but is mostly researched, I've outlined the chapters, and now am just waiting for December break to put it all together.

But the point is, this book will not be published through the series which claims to "welcome" any and all proposals because despite the caliber of the book personal politics will keep it from even being read.

That's not academic conduct by any stretch of the imagination. That's not professional conduct by any stretch of the imagination.

Don't believe the hype folks. The world of publishing about speculative realism is total bullshit. Obviously I'm irate and insulted because my hard work means absolutely nothing because of personal politics. My summer spent with my wife in Germany and Switzerland, toiling away day after day while she worked during the day and I stayed behind whether at the hotel or coffee shops and libraries to produce what is, with all due humility, the most challenging work I've created to date. It doesn't mean jack because a gatekeeper would refuse to read it. No, in the past I was told not even to bother sending it ahead of time. And now, today, this new book is three months of hard work is not allowed to proceed in the direction that, frankly, it should.  Think about it: how ridiculous is it, that, not just my work, but others (Terence Blake, Jason Hills, Pete Wolfendale) goes unmentioned, unsaid, when it is contributing to the exact same debate? It's like being in a room of about a dozen people (and that's literally about the number of people who work on this stuff, in the world) and some just squinch their eyes shut and put their fingers in their ears and start yelling because they don't want to hear your arguments. I mean, this is crazy. I have never, ever seen anything like this.

So, obviously I wouldn't bother to send my "proposal" there to have that smiling face just step on my work by telling me a priori, no, it won't be read. That is disgusting and that is sick. I am so insulted if only because my hard work means nothing in this case. Nothing. And we're talking three months of my life working on this book. Over the summer I put nothing less than one hundred and ten percent of my effort into this project. And some smiling face will smugly say to the world that they're willing to look at any and all proposals? I don't even know what to say to that, except, in terms of academic scholarship and the integrity that is supposed to go behind editorialship, I've never been so insulted in my life. Who knows, maybe that was this person's goal and they're laughing right now. Well, good. Good for them. Joke's on me.

Don't believe the hype and move on to more professional series where hard work does amount to something and proposals are accepted, any and all. Not just some idle hand waiving and smiling when in fact there are more insidious motives at play. I have nothing to "prove," and am not lobbying for acceptance. I am not lamenting that I am unable to publish in this series. Obviously the book can and will be published elsewhere. And obviously, yet again, the world will be confused as to the great silence that will surround what I think will amount to a fantastic game-changing book. In this post I am asking though that in the world hard work should be reviewed for its merit, not for the politics surrounding who wrote it. That is just shallow and absurd. Judge work for its quality, for what it says, not just by the name on its cover. If you accept anything based on a name, or refuse anything based on a name, then that is not professional editorialship. It's censorship, and it's blatant personal politics.

Venting done, and I move on. Do look out for Transcendental Naturalism though soon enough. I hope that the book accomplishes what I wanted it to. And, for the record, Debaise's book Nature and Event is the better of his most recent two, so ignore the other and buy Nature and Event. It is through Duke University Press which is a legitimate and reputable press whose vetting process is as fair and objective as can be, and the editors are actual human beings rather than monsters with a grudge. (Note that this is not his book through the Edinburgh University Press Speculative Realism Series where, well, much of what I said above applies. And shame on Edinburgh University Press if they support this kind of editorialship. They ought to rethink what they're doing. You now have a blog post which will probably hit seven or eight hundred-plus readers this week alone so maybe they'll listen and change a thing or two.)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

quote of the day

"Just what is it we sense so poignantly below the heart, absorbing the zephyr of sadness, soft as a prevailing breeze? Are you pleased with us, darksome night?...You brace the wings of our sentient being."

- Novalis, Hymns to the Night

Friday, November 17, 2017

Dernière Volonté (Last Will, in English)

French cold-wave/darkwave synthpop band Dernière Volonté has hit the nail on the head with its 2012 "Mon Meilleur Ennemi" album. Released by the Tesco label of Germany, Dernière Volonté (Last Will, in English) has evolved over the years into something like a more dark and brooding Dépêche Mode, one who isn't afraid of venturing out to explore the more melancholic nature of human existence not knowing what one might find.

Favorite track?

On any given night recently, you might find me dancing alone in my living room with the lights low to "J'oublie Que Tu Existes" (embedded above, or click HERE). At least until my wife comes home.

Highly recommended. The entire album, which I'll link HERE is absolutely fantastic.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Karl Jaspers (SEP entry update)

SEP entry update on Karl Jaspers.

Karl Jaspers
// Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

[Revised entry by Chris Thornhill and Ronny Miron on November 15, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Karl Jaspers (1883 - 1969) began his academic career working as a psychiatrist and, after a period of transition, he converted to philosophy in the early 1920s. Throughout the middle decades of the twentieth century he exercised considerable influence on a number of areas of philosophical inquiry: especially on epistemology, the philosophy of religion, and political theory.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Classic and Romantic German Aesthetics

I am at the mercy of German romanticism and classicism before bed these days, hence I post this. My god, of what beauty is Stephan George. Philosophically, THIS book always proves invaluable.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Louis C.K., Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche on How to Suffer and Be Happy

Partially Examined Life considers why happiness so often presents itself as a problem. HERE.

On a related note, my First Year Writing Seminar, a first year writing seminar developed for first semester college freshmen, is going wonderfully. What a great, great bunch of kids this year. All doing the readings, all have plenty to say, all intelligent and polite. Wow. Blown away by this bunch. The seminar is called "What is the Good Life?"  Basically faculty pick whatever topic they'd like to teach and then follow the basic outlines of a writing course with that content serving as the main center of reading and discussion. We are using Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Epicurus' The Art of Happiness, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche.

Great class, fun to teach.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Two fantastic SEP entries: "Logic and Ontology" and "Bradley's Regress Argument"

The "Bradley's Regress Argument" obviously draws from Hegel in several important ways. As is well known, Bradley was a British idealist and the example using the the sugar cube comes directly from Hegel's Phenomenology.

"Logic and Ontology" entry HERE and "Bradley's Regress Argument" HERE.

New tag "Logic."

Friday, November 10, 2017

What does it mean to be an idealist?

Interesting article HERE in the October issue of Epoché . I've linked the table of contents because there are a few other good articles (one on Kant in particular) that are quite good.

Creating new tag "Kant." There are many posts about Kant, not sure why I've never formally done that before.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Hegel futuriste - à propos de "Logique de la science-fiction" de Jean-Clet Martin / Mickaël Perre

« Il faudrait arriver à raconter un livre réel de la philosophie passée comme si c’était un livre imaginaire et feint. »
(Deleuze, Différence et répétition, p. 4)

« La Logique (…) se place au-dessus de l’art de son temps, sans doute au-delà de toute esthétique humaine, annonçant des modes d’expression qui n’existaient pas à l’époque de Hegel, des médiations imageantes que son texte appelle, très en avance sur lui-même, vers des créations qu’il ne manquera pas d’inspirer. »
(Jean-Clet Martin, Logique de la science-fiction, p. 132)

« Quoi de plus gai qu’un air du temps ? » demandait Gilles Deleuze peu avant la parution de Différence et répétition[1]. Cette question n’est pas seulement l’expression d’une certaine modestie visant à atténuer l’originalité de sa pensée en la référant à un mouvement d’ensemble dont elle dépendrait. La référence à l’air du temps dissimule en réalité une thèse sur l’origine des problèmes philosophiques : comment expliquer que des penseurs différents, appartenant à des générations différentes, évoluant dans des espaces théoriques différents, puissent poser les mêmes problèmes ? Comment rendre compte de ces convergences ? Si les problèmes doivent être construits et ne se posent jamais d’eux-mêmes, on peut parfois avoir l’impression qu’ils évoluent dans un temps virtuel et participent d’un « esprit du temps »[2]. Cela ne veut pas dire qu’ils sont déjà là, disponibles, n’attendant qu’un penseur volontaire pour les cueillir et les exposer. Les problèmes participent peut-être d’un « air du temps », mais il faut encore être capable de les « reconnaître » ; il faut d’abord être sensible aux virtualités d’une époque avant d’en actualiser les problèmes. Les grands penseurs sont tous des « voyants » en ce sens[3] : ils voient les problèmes là où les autres se contentent de répéter ce qui a déjà été dit ; ils ne s’en tiennent pas à l’histoire des problèmes mais scrutent l’invisible, quitte à revenir les « yeux rouges », fatigués par l’effort d’une vision attentive aux devenirs. Comme le remarque Deleuze dans son texte sur le « structuralisme », c’est seulement parce qu’ils permettent de décrire l’appartenance à un « air libre du temps » que les « mots en -isme sont parfaitement fondés », « tant il est vrai qu’on ne reconnaît le gens, d’une manière visible, qu’aux choses invisibles et insensibles qu’ils reconnaissent à leur manière. »[4]

Le livre de Jean-Clet Martin semble s’inscrire lui aussi dans un « esprit du temps ». Mais cet « air du temps » ne correspond plus tout à fait à celui que Deleuze décrit dans l’Avant-propos de Différence et répétition, à savoir celui d’un « anti-hégélianisme généralisé »[5]. Logique de la science-fiction relève d’une dynamique comparable à celle qui anime le livre de Mark Alizart, Informatique céleste[6] : que signifie lire Hegel aujourd’hui ? Comment penser avec lui ? Comprendre Hegel n’est-ce pas « penser Hegel contre Hegel »[7] ? Ces deux livres, parus à quelques mois d’intervalle, nous donnent à découvrir un autre Hegel et cherchent à savoir, selon les mots de Foucault, « jusqu’où Hegel, insidieusement peut-être, s’est approché de nous »[8]. Celui-ci nous parle encore aujourd’hui parce qu’il était déjà en son temps un penseur « futuriste ». C’est du moins ce que ces deux auteurs ont vu à leur manière : non seulement la Science de la Logique déploie l’ontologie de notre modernité informatique[9] mais ce « livre extraordinaire » (p. 19) est aussi la machine philosophique à laquelle s’alimentent toutes les œuvres de science-fiction. L’air du temps est donc peut-être celui d’un « hégélianisme futuriste » s’efforçant de rendre la Logiqueà son incroyable puissance visionnaire et prospective : texte « très en avance sur lui-même » (p. 132) dont nous commençons à peine à mesurer les effets.

Continued HERE.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Pragmatism as a Way of Life: The Lasting Legacy of William James and John Dewey (NDPR Review)

See the below.

Pragmatism as a Way of Life: The Lasting Legacy of William James and John Dewey
// Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

Hilary Putnam and Ruth Anna Putnam, Pragmatism as a Way of Life: The Lasting Legacy of William James and John Dewey, David Macarthur (ed.), Belknap Press, 2017, 496 pp., $49.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780674967502.

Reviewed by David Boersema, Pacific University

When Hilary Putnam (HP) passed away in 2016, obituaries appeared in the New York Times and other venues. He was called a "giant of modern philosophy," and, indeed, among academic philosophers he was universally recognized as having been influential in a variety of areas, with a number of his articles anthologized in a wide range of publications. While known to some philosophers, HP's wife, Ruth Anna Putnam (RAP) has not received the level of recognition or accolade as HP. This current book is in part an attempt to address and respond to this discrepancy. The book contains a brief introduction by the editor, David Macarthur, followed by twenty-seven essays. Ten of the essays were authored by HP, fifteen by RAP,...

Read More


Sartre and Camus

Speaking of analytic philosophy and its latching onto the interesting merits of Continental philosophy (yesterday's post), Brian Leiter reports on an interesting article on Sartre appearing in TLS, HERE.

Incidentally in my Existential Philosophy class we're covering Sartre, after having just finished up Camus, then Dostoevsky, and now Sartre. Thus the below is also appropriate for today's post.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Logic of Being: Realism, Truth, and Time (NDPR review)

NDPR review of a new book The Logic of Being: Realism, Truth, and Time by Paul Livingston. This is, odd.

I know that in recent years analytic philosophy has, well, "analyticized" metaphysics, and then ethics, and then began on Continental philosophy - knowing perhaps that the history of analytic philosophy itself was too boring of a subject to dwell upon, and its traditional subjects of philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and all things logic - as practiced by analytic philosophers, at least (and I love logic, by the way) weren't grabbing many converts. Keep in mind that this is also not to say that all of analytic philosophy is that bad. It's not. Quine's From a Logical Point of View, abit of Wittgenstein here and there, even the history of mathematical logic whether in Frege or today by the mighty Paul Benacerraf. I mustn't forget that I will be running an independent study on the topic of mathematical logic as well. So it is not like it is outright disdain.

So, at first the analytics started on Deleuze. Then it was Hegel. And now, their arch-nemesis himself, Martin Heidegger.

Yes, my friends. We live in times when an author writes about Heidegger and Frege in the same book. Again, not that in itself this is necessarily evil or wrong. It's just that, ugh.

I do appreciate the clarity of the book and for years have argued that, indeed, ambiguity is not the hallmark of Continental philosophy, nor impenetrable language for the sake of it. Rather, even if the writing style is more prosaic - the topics of ethics, politics, values, power and knowledge, etc. are intrinsic to philosophers in this tradition rather than found as passing topics of curious interest. My experience is that whatever analytic philosophy might mean, its general approach is ok with me - but just not how that approach is actually pulled off sometimes.

Anyway, link to the review HERE.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Galloway's Break Up with Deleuze + Pluto [Updated]

Because I am currently considering some aesthetic changes for this blog - changes that probably will occur just before the migration to YouTube - I am thinking that a more "cosmic-looking" layout for After Nature would be most appropriate to match some of the more "sparse" or "bleak" abstract problems I'll be working on.

We'll see, as the current After Nature design is now two years old, which is the maximum I tend to leave a layout go for without being updated. So, we're due for an update - the final one I am sad to say; but, onward to other places deeper in the cosmos.

 This update and eventual migration to the After Nature YouTube channel will really will fit with the research into speculative and systematic philosophy that I'll be doing for the next two years - whether re-reading Hegel's Science of Logic, two of Kant's critiques, Fichte, Schelling, and so on. All bright life will be drained into the singularity of the Hegelian black hole of negativity, pace Alex Galloway's recent post (see HERE) opining the general consensus that a break-up with Deleuze ought to take place. So I am moving from Deleuze over to the ranks of Kant, Hegel, German idealism, et al.

I commend Galloway though, as his arguments are far and away from the dumb "Deleuze is old wine in a new bottle" complaints that have been made by others critical of Deleuze (mostly by the "object ontologists," so called). The "old wine new bottle" complaint is, by the way, only matched in its stupidity by the claim (also made by object ontologists incidentally) who cry "We ought a priori not read Whitehead because Whitehead is a theist!" But to this I respond: look at how that has turned out! Whitehead scholarship is on the rise moreso than ever before. People read Whitehead, whether Whitehead was a theist or not, whether his metaphysics entails God or not.

Moreover, the anti-Deleuzian object ontologists of whom we speak also somehow believe in the rather disturbing angle of "philosophy as bloodsport." They claim that the Deleuzeans, rather than themselves, are somehow the ones carrying "billieclubs" and looking for a fight - this to match the fact that they believe philosophy is justifiably a "bare-knuckle" sport. That is sick in my opinion. I'm sorry. Absolutely sick. Perhaps violence is intrinsic to their ethic-less ontology? Who knows, or frankly, at this point, who cares. I just cannot but help be very disturbed sometimes by any philosopher (object ontologist or otherwise) who calls philosophy bloodsport or refers to "striking back" with "bare knuckles." Billieclubs, knives, shots fired, dodging bullets, etc. etc. etc. Keep in mind that these are pudgy late 40-something year olds with their threats of intellectual violence, usually (of course) male, and usually having something to prove in order to try to stay relevant. Is this what has become of what it means to say that one intellectual camp has challenged another? When we speak of, say, Deleuzians versus Heideggereans, or whathaveyou?

Back to the matter at hand: I've argued, in THIS post, that synthesis between Deleuze and Hegel is possible. Calls to such intellectual violence (or otherwise, apparently) are not necessary. Synthesis is more productive than divisiveness and derision when it comes to scholarship and behaving like a mature adult.  It's just that when I hear of these divisions cast in such ways I wince.  On the other hand, you do have people like Galloway out there who are producing excellent work and furthering the debate in productive ways. Like I said, in ways that are far and away from the inanity perpetrated by some of these other folks.

'll soon be off to confront Hegel yet again to see if this is truly possible, as much as I believe that it is, I should say. Research into the cosmos of Hegel, Kant, Fichte, and Schelling proceeds in 5...4...3...2...1...

What Darwin Can Tell Us About Aliens

Scientists have published a paper speculating what aliens living upon other worlds might look like. Mostly devoid of anthropocentric trappings, the forms of life imagined are said to have been subjected to natural selection - yet what exactly things turn out to be obviously depends upon to what environment the form of life is adapting.

Fascinating article. Link HERE.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Is the real always concrete and individual?

Speculative theists during the early to mid 1800's were attempting to work out Schelling's various criticisms of Hegel. One output of those criticisms was that of Christian Hermann Weisse (1801–66) who transformed Hegel's absolute idealism into personal idealism. This mainly occurred due to Weisse's association with I.H. Fichte (1796-1879), Johann Gottlieb Fichte's son, where both Weisse and I.H. attempted to work out a philosophical basis for the personality of God.
Personalism in the sense of a distinct philosophy or worldview focusing on the full, accumulated import of the concept of the person, however, emerged only in the context of the broad critical reaction against what can be called the various impersonalistic philosophies which came to dominate the Enlightenment and Romanticism in the form of rationalistic and romantic forms of pantheism and idealism, from Spinoza to Hegel. Key figures in this reaction were Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743–1819), the initiator of the so-called Pantheismusstreit in the 1780s, and F. W. J. Schelling (1775–1854), who in his later work rejected the impersonalist positions of his early idealist systems. (SEP entry "Personalism")
In particular following I.H. Fichte was Hermann Lotze (1817-1881) who emphasized the ancient Greek distinction between persons and things within a personalistic idealism. "Persons" were said to be centers of consciousness, properly "subjects" so-called, which can initiate causes and change by their own intentional volition (among other requirements, many outlined in Schelling's Outline nature book), where volition is understood as agency. In Europe this was picked up later on in the metaphysics of the French philosopher Emmanuel Mounier (1905-1950) in his book Personalism. German personalism, by the time of the twentieth-century, had largely been adopted only by Catholic church but not so much by other philosophers (with the exception of Max Scheler).

While reading this, I had three thoughts that I'd like to type out very, very quickly.

1. Arne Naess, the Norwegian ecophilosopher, proposed we ought to consider mountains "persons," not because they "think" in any regular sense of the term or possess consciousness as in panpsychism (which would be ridiculous), but because of the intrinsic dignity of the mountain afforded by the agency it possesses - its power to affect change. Today, corporations have been long considered "persons." But if a corporation is a "person," then why isn't a mountain? There is a distinction of course between legal and moral rights, yet ontologically legal rights rely upon moral rights - for the value those laws and considerations possess can only be established by the reality and natures of the subjects those laws are said to govern. Thus, according to personalistic criterion, whose lineage goes back to the German idealists and the American personalists who followed from them (from Lotze to Bowne), and the European personalists who followed from the German idealists (in particular Mounier, perhaps Scheler), certain "things" are now being granted rights as persons due to new ontological perspectives which owe their viewpoints to the personalists of the 19th and 20th centuries - for example, recently rivers have been granted the same rights as human beings, due to environmental concerns. See HERE.

2. The danger of miscategorizing all of nature as "objects" or "things" is worse now than its ever been. Object-oriented ontologies may grant agency to things, fine; but nevertheless objects are things according to their view. Many object ontologies deny consciousness or personhood to even the most basic of "things" for fear that consciousness or personhood is an "anthropocentric" trapping. While I agree we ought to, in the name of an ecological approach, not make our choices according to anthropocentric and heirarchical ordering, I do not agree personhood is an improper attribution to non-human animals, for instance; or to rivers and mountains. "Objects" is, frankly, a depersonalizing categorization from the start. And when one starts with a category mistake, then one's following system is completely flawed from the start for it is flawed in its very foundations. "Agents" would at the very least be a better start, if "persons" is too "humanistic" (which, in cases of helping others less fortunate, the weak, the sick, the dying, then a humanistic-oriented form of personalism is indeed called for. In cases where the weak, the sick, the dying or suffering are non-human animals then the more encompassing form of agentialism, personalism, is called for. Afterall, I'd rather be thinking about the metaphysics of animal rights than about what it's like to be the inside of a watermelon, or how the essence of the watermelon forever "withdraws," or how the cotton and the flame magically interact when I'm not looking).

3. If onto-sympathy and empathy are key in understanding persons and their agency, I am wondering how, if the real is always concrete and individual, and if, as in personalism, we universalize the 'I' -so that each particular I is in its center the Absolute, how philosophically "individualism," as a philosophy and approach, lost touch with a notion so central to the philosophy of personalism that grants a common form of singularity among and between each 'I' (thus granting a true "community of particulars"). So in other words, does someone like Max Stirner, for example, make the same mistake as the object ontologists in having each Absolute 'I' so absolute that it is absolutely private and distinct from all others - so much so that it is always collapsing back into its own universality, thus eliminating the very possibility of real connection, contact, feeling, and communication between each 'I'? Or, on the other hand, is it the case that for Stirner universality is commens, and in that very collapse there is an inner form of empathy that is the same as the outer extension of touch, feeling, prehension, or whatever modes of interaction allow communication between particulars. This would mean that any "vicarious" form of causation (connection) between them would not be required. No "magic" needed.

Thinking about Stirner and personalism leaves me torn. There seems to be two very different and distinct dimensions at work when one considers Stirner and personalism. Stirner's "ownness" - each One being the Unique One, each particular itself Absolute. This uplifts each individual self, or subject, or person, or agent, to the infinite degree of value it ought to have in being One. Yet, personalism allows for individuals, selves, subjects, agents, to allow their own current status of value to meet the status of value had by another one suffering - to attempt to feel what they do in lack and need. (See for example Jean Vanier's Becoming Human - it is almost as if in manys' current status of "human" they are actually not human at all, but rather "things." Or at least treated as such.)

Obviously Stirner's "egoistic" personalism is very, very different from its speculative theist roots. But in any case, whether egoistic personalism or personalism proper (idealistic personalism), both are extremely preferably to ontologies which begin from the category mistake of "objects" from the start. Any subject or agent is not a "thing" - persons are not "things," persons are not "objects." This is the sort of thinking that leads to murder, torture, and genocide, not only of "human" persons, but of non-human persons such as non-human animals.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The horror of contingency

Cosmic calamity is possible, and perhaps likely. However, come to think of it, real contingent events are neither likely nor unlikely, otherwise they wouldn't be "contingent" in the true sense of the word. This is because contingency has nothing to do with possibility - bur rather potentiality. No one saw this more clearly than C.S. Peirce, followed only by Hartshorne, Deleuze, and perhaps Meillassoux.

But I've digressed. The interesting article is linked below.

A Nearby Neutron Star Collision Could Cause Calamity on Earth

From certain death to a scientific goldmine, here's the spectrum of possibilities that we might expect from merging black holes, colliding neutron stars or detonating supernovae in our galactic neighborhood.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

quote of the day

"When Fichte says, 'the I is all,' this seems to harmonize perfectly with my statements. But it's not that the I is all, but the I destroys all, and only the self-dissolving I, the never-being I, the -finite I is actually I. Fichte speaks of the 'absolute' I, but I speak of me, the becoming I."

"I am not nothing in the sense of emptiness, but am the creative nothing, the nothing out of which I myself create as creator."

- Max Stirner, The Unique and Its Property 

Also translated as The Ego and Its Own or sometimes most adequately as The Unique One and Its Own, Stirner's text is probably the one I turn to most often when I can tolerate reading political texts (I do not have much interest in the political, save for any ontology undergirding it). Plato's Republic, though, is another "political text" I enjoy, but to me that text is more axiological if not outright ethical.

Ernst Juenger's The Forest Passage is yet another - should I say "quasi-political" text, where again, like Stirner, things are more apolitical than political, if we are speaking ontology first. Nevertheless Stirner's book is quite amazing.

Apparently Stirner's philosophy and subsequent criticism of Feuerbach forced Marx to publish hundreds of pages in response. So there is certainly something there. I myself picked up Stirner due to Ernst Juenger referring to him as "Saint Max."

A highly recommended book.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Process Philosophy (SEP entry)

Another SEP entry update worth looking at.

Process Philosophy
// Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Process philosophy is based on the premise that being is dynamic and that the dynamic nature of being should be the primary focus of any comprehensive philosophical account of reality and our place within it. Even though we experience our world and ourselves as continuously changing, Western metaphysics has long been obsessed with describing reality as an assembly of static individuals whose dynamic features are either taken to be mere appearances or ontologically secondary and derivative. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Finally, a presentation of objects that makes sense (SEP entry)

A close read of this elucidates a few key theses about object ontology which hadn't been part of my conscious attention until I read this.

1. There is a history of objects which currently only a few attempt to pass off as their own recent discovery. In fact though, here SEP provides an intelligible and most of all *argument-centered* exposition as to the possible natures for objects that doesn't pretend to be the novel invention of a select but very obscure few. Moreover, there is no stomping the ground and huffing "Well, everything's just objects...because!!!!" No, we have *arguments* - real arguments.

2. Adding Lucretius-worship, Spinoza-worship, or Latour-worship doesn't add anything to your argument-less stomping and huffing. No, a sober analysis minus the hero worship or French flavor of the month (Tristan Garcia, et. al.) is possible.

3. Jason Hills long ago (like ten years ago) called out that the obscure object ontology of today is Leibniz lite. Had more studied up on their history of philosophy this SEP entry wouldn't be as revealing as it is.

I love this SEP entry and urge anyone interested in contemporary metaphysics to read it. I think something like this provides sensible and sober material to work with rather than the, well, whatever you'd like to call it (in an attempt to be polite) that's been around for a few years now. I mean, at least that sort of thing wound up floundering about in the outskirts of architecture or art departments rather than sucking up valuable *philosophical* air.

So, great SEP entry linked just below...check it out!

Object (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Speculative Realism selling extremely well

I have to gush for a moment at this phrase in particular from a forthcoming review about to appear in a very good Continental philosophy journal which states, "Speculative Realism: An Epitome is the best book about 'Speculative Realism' yet." The review in large part appears to appreciate the honesty with which the book was written and how it provides a history of speculative realism as it really happened, something other books refuse to do in the name of pathetic alliances or vain attempts to put one's self over. But blog kingpins and internet wizards have no power outside of the "journals" (and I truly do hesitate to even use that word, and really I should say "journal" as in the singular, because there is only one that I know of, and it hasn't put out an issue in about two years or more) or book series, or other venues that they themselves have created to manufacture the studio-like reality which would suggest that their silly views actually have any sort of current impact in the academy at large, at all, or that these folks are in any way, well, still relevant. They aren't, so don't be fooled.

Like I said before - there are quite a few poseurs and charlatans out there, and, yes, by and large they are ignored. Still, you have a few losers shouting from the sidelines refusing to go home, aged and tired as they are. The nail is in the coffin, and this book is the eulogy. The best one yet, apparently.

Accordingly, I've been told that the book is selling like "hotcakes" and copies of it don't remain on the shelves for very long. The voices in this book have been silenced for too long and I think folks appreciate that those voices are finally allowed to speak.

According to amazon it was the number one selling book in metaphysics and phenomenology, and for awhile was outselling all other books on speculative realism out there.

Not too shabby if I say so myself. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Life is not easily bounded (Aeon article)

We may all too easily misattribute the accelerating development of intelligence throughout the natural world to some sort of vital principle, elan vital, or conscious mind of God, working itself out toward a greater form of generality (and this is in part true, although it is not necessarily a conscious process of a divine being) when in fact there is at the very minimum a more basic principle of Gnon at work: Reality Rules.

Reality's processual inclination toward Promethean heights unbound in and of itself knows no limit. It is "not easily bounded."

Life is not easily bounded
// Aeon

Working out where one hare ends and another begins is easy; a siphonophore, not so much. What is an individual in nature?

By Derek J Skillings

Read at Aeon

New theory of why the universe is three dimensional draws upon Hegelian trichotomic ontology

As it turns out, the Schelling-Hegel-Peirce axis explains the universe. Onto-cosmological "intercommutations lead to the well-known scaling behavior in cosmic string networks" - structurally in essence the categories of Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness; Schellingean invisible matter; Hegelian synthesis incarnate.

Geesh, haven't thought about that sort of thing in a long, long while.

A New Theory Explains Why the Universe Is Three Dimensional

Monday, October 23, 2017

He died as he lived: David Hume, philosopher and infidel (Aeon article)

This morning was a creaky, slow start. My students, subjected to Hume on a Monday morning, nevertheless found out that Hume thought that morality was a matter of our passions, our feelings, much the same as "reason" was said to be - that "rationality" is a matter of our feelings as well.  Moreover, class ended on the note that Hume never gave up his strictly held view that "God" is not much more than fantasy. Wishful thinking and God go hand in hand, Hume thought. But which is the more controversial and challenging idea? Hume's atheism or his repudiation of reason and any corresponding "necessity" in the name of "animal faith"?

The Aeon article below, which I've decided to republish in full (thanks to the Aeon Creative Commons license they allow and actually encourage this) charts Hume's atheism and its shocking results of a man who never gave up his atheistic beliefs.

He died as he lived: David Hume, philosopher and infidel
// Aeon

As the Scottish philosopher David Hume lay on his deathbed in the summer of 1776, his passing became a highly anticipated event. Few people in 18th-century Britain were as forthright in their lack of religious faith as Hume was, and his skepticism had earned him a lifetime of abuse and reproach from the pious, including a concerted effort to excommunicate him from the Church of Scotland. Now everyone wanted to know how the notorious infidel would face his end. Would he show remorse or perhaps even recant his skepticism? Would he die in a state of distress, having none of the usual consolations afforded by belief in an afterlife? In the event, Hume died as he had lived, with remarkable good humour and without religion.

The most famous depiction of Hume’s dying days, at least in our time, comes from James Boswell, who managed to contrive a visit with him on Sunday, 7 July 1776. As his account of their conversation makes plain, the purpose of Boswell’s visit was less to pay his respects to a dying man, or even to gratify a sense of morbid curiosity, than to try to fortify his own religious convictions by confirming that even Hume could not remain a sincere non-believer to the end. In this, he failed utterly.

‘Being too late for church,’ Boswell made his way to Hume’s house, where he was surprised to find him ‘placid and even cheerful … talking of different matters with a tranquility of mind and a clearness of head which few men possess at any time.’ Ever tactful, Boswell immediately brought up the subject of the afterlife, asking if there might not be a future state. Hume replied that ‘it was possible that a piece of coal put upon the fire would not burn; and he added that it was a most unreasonable fancy that we should exist for ever’. Boswell persisted, asking if he was not made uneasy by the thought of annihilation, to which Hume responded that he was no more perturbed by the idea of ceasing to exist than by the idea that he had not existed before he was born. What was more, Hume ‘said flatly that the morality of every religion was bad, and … that when he heard a man was religious, he concluded he was a rascal, though he had known some instances of very good men being religious.’

This interview might show Hume at his brashest, but in the 18th century it remained mostly confined to Boswell’s private notebooks. The most prominent and controversial public account of Hume’s final days came instead from an even more famous pen: that of Adam Smith, Hume’s closest friend. Smith composed a eulogy for Hume soon after the latter’s death in the form of a public letter to their mutual publisher, William Strahan. This letter was effectively the ‘authorised version’ of the story of Hume’s death, as it appeared (with Hume’s advance permission) as a companion piece to his short, posthumously published autobiography, My Own Life (1776).

Smith’s letter contains none of the open impiety that pervades Boswell’s interview, but it does chronicle – even flaunt – the equanimity of Hume’s last days, depicting the philosopher telling jokes, playing cards, and conversing cheerfully with his friends. It also emphasises the excellence of Hume’s character; indeed, Smith concluded the letter by declaring that his unbelieving friend approached ‘as nearly to the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man, as perhaps the nature of human frailty will permit’.

Though relatively little known today, in the 18th century Smith’s letter caused an uproar. He later proclaimed that it ‘brought upon me 10 times more abuse than the very violent attack I had made upon the whole commercial system of Great Britain’ – meaning, of course, The Wealth of Nations (1776). Throughout his life, Smith had generally gone to great lengths to avoid revealing much about his religious beliefs – or lack thereof – and to steer clear of confrontations with the devout, but his claim that an avowed skeptic such as Hume was a model of wisdom and virtue ‘gave very great offence’ and ‘shocked every sober Christian’ (as a contemporary commented).

Boswell himself deemed Smith’s letter a piece of ‘daring effrontery’ and an example of the ‘poisonous productions with which this age is infested’. Accordingly, he beseeched Samuel Johnson to ‘step forth’ to ‘knock Hume’s and Smith’s heads together, and make vain and ostentatious infidelity exceedingly ridiculous. Would it not,’ he pleaded, ‘be worth your while to crush such noxious weeds in the moral garden?’

Nor did the controversy subside quickly. Nearly a century later, one prolific author of religious tomes, John Lowrie, was still sufficiently incensed by Smith’s letter to proclaim that he knew ‘no more lamentable evidence of the weakness and folly of irreligion and infidelity’ in ‘all the range of English literature’.

In the 18th century, the idea that it was possible for a skeptic to die well, without undue hopes or fears, clearly haunted many people, including Boswell, who tried to call on Hume twice more after their 7 July conversation in order to press him further, but was turned away. Today, of course, non-believers are still regarded with suspicion and even hatred in some circles, but many die every day with little notice or comment about their lack of faith. It takes a particularly audacious and outspoken form of non-belief – more akin to the Hume of Boswell’s private interview than to the Hume of Smith’s public letter – to arouse much in the way of shock or resentment, of the kind that attended the death of Christopher Hitchens some years ago. (Indeed, there were a number of comparisons drawn between Hitchens and Hume at the time.) The fact that in the 18th century Smith endured vigorous and lasting abuse for merely reporting his friend’s calm and courageous end offers a stark reminder of just how far we have come in this regard.Aeon counter – do not remove

Dennis Rasmussen

This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Call for Papers: North American Schelling Society 6

Call for Papers

Schelling and Philosophies of the Earth

Sixth Annual Meeting of the North American Schelling Society

5-8 September 2018
Volcanoes National Park, Hawaiʻi

NASS invites presentations on vulcanism, the world-soul, and the powers of nature, and their relationships to other areas of Schelling’s philosophy. Submissions on other topics related to Schelling studies are also welcome.  Papers may be presented in English, French, German or Spanish. Conference events and lodging will be located inside Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. The venue is remote, but transportation from the Hilo airport to the park will be available. NASS deplores the U.S. government’s recent travel restrictions and will work with presenters to help secure visas.

Send 500-word proposals for thirty-minute presentations, prepared for blind review, to Chris Lauer ( by January 15, 2018. Acceptance letters will be sent by February 8, 2018.