Friday, January 14, 2022

Reading Groups updated for Spring and Summer 2022

I've updated the plan for our weekly get-together Reading Group for spring and summer 2022.  I began running these reading groups my first year of grad school and chose not to stop once I graduated with the Ph.D.  (I took my Ph.D. in 2009.)  Hard to believe but they've proved invaluable in encountering new ideas and discussing ideas with others so as to get real hands-on experience with texts and research that, more often than not, helped me move in profitable directions while avoiding the pitfalls of others.

Link HERE.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

quote of the day

 "Here and now is the Forest Rebel's motto - he is the spirit of free and independent action."

- Ernst Junger, The Forest Passage

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Didier Debaise: Nature and Its Others. The Invention of a Political Force (video)


 The moderns have invented a ‘nature’ and made it one of their most important political institutions. The talk will revisit this very singular adventure through which a number of local inventions, gestures, and operations, namely within experimental systems, have given birth to a new political force. Disconnecting this nature from the very conditions of its emergence and existence, the moderns have instantiated it as an essential actor within processes of normalization of practices and as a crucial instrument justifying the extension of their impact on all other territories. Today the question has become the following: How to resist the hegemonic tendencies of this modern version of nature in order to restore space and give back legitimacy to other ways of inhabiting the earth. 

 Didier Debaise is a permanent researcher at the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS) and the director of the Center of Philosophy at Free University of Brussels (ULB) where he teaches contemporary philosophy. He is one of the co-founders, with Isabelle Stengers, of the Groupe d’études constructivistes (Geco). His main areas of research are contemporary forms of speculative philosophy, theories of events, and links between American pragmatism and French contemporary philosophy. He wrote three books on Whitehead’s philosophy (Un empirisme spéculatif, Le vocabulaire de Whitehead and L’appât des possibles), edited volumes on pragmatism (Vie et experimentation), on the history of contemporary metaphysics (Philosophie des possessions), and wrote numerous papers on Bergson, Tarde, Souriau, Simondon, and Deleuze. In 2017, two of his books appeared in English: Nature as Event: The Lure of the Possible and Speculative Empiricism: Revisiting Whitehead. He is currently working on a new book, Pragmatique de la terre.

Link HERE.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Quote of the Day (with Photos: All Photos by After Nature blog)

[The above photos are from various locations during After Nature blog's travels. Photos from Japan, Switzerland, Iceland, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Maine. I thought these photos fit well with the below quote as they might serve as a broad representation of Nature understood to be both consciousness and flesh, "the mother."]

"Do a psychoanalysis of Nature: it is the flesh, the mother." 

 - Maurice-Merleau Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible (pg. 267)

Sunday, July 11, 2021

C.S. Peirce, F.W.J. Schelling, Martin Heidegger: A Panentheistic Metaphysics of Nature

Recently I’ve been prompted to reflect upon my dual specialization in the Continental and American philosophical traditions, e.g. “Euro-American” philosophy, given some research projects I’ve just completed. In that line of thought and given the topics I was researching I came to consider my 2009 dissertation on C.S. Peirce, F.W.J. Schelling, and Martin Heidegger, and how it sent me on a comparative trajectory – specifically in looking at possibility’s concept and mode – as well as possibility’s importance in attaining lines of religious insight as afforded by experiences of beauty within the natural world. 

 When I mention that my dissertation included a comparison of Heidegger and Peirce, usually I am met with puzzled looks. However, if it weren’t for the dissertation written by David Jerimiah Higgins, “Possibility in Peirce and Heidegger: A Propaedeutic for Synthesis” (1969), I don’t think I would have thought to reap the benefits of such a comparison. I certainly wouldn’t have been sent down the road of process-theology or panentheistic philosophy of religion and nature, in particular by way of Schelling, given how important Schelling was for both Heidegger and Peirce. 

 Higgin’s dissertation was such a crucial document for me. At the time, the faculty who I wished to be my dissertation director was more or less “hit or miss,” sometimes in his office and sometimes not – sometimes informative and sometimes not, sometimes helpful and sometimes not, and so on. By chance I had taken a seminar on C.S. Peirce and came to be interested in the Peirce-Schelling connection (German idealism being very much influential for Peirce as well as for American Transcendentalism and pragmatism generally) and thus came to find a new prospect for my dissertation director. Had I stuck with my original choice for dissertation director I don't think I would have ever finished the Ph.D.

Over twelve years later from time to time I still  contemplate Schelling's massive importance for both C.S. Peirce and Martin Heidegger, and still do believe Schelling to be the "key" in comprehensively grasping a panentheistic metaphysics of nature - especially when the aesthetic is taken to be its crowning achievement. 

If you have an interest in Heidegger and have any interest in C.S. Peirce at all (or perhaps even the American pragmatists) then by all means do check out this dissertation. It’s informative and provocative, and like I said – it was of crucial importance for me and my own intellectual development. It contains some supremely excellent insights into a very rare comparison of two first rate philosophers, and may be of some help to something related you may be working on in your own research. Link HERE.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Divine Beauty (Randall Auxier book review)


About three months ago I completed a book review of the massive tome, The Mind of Charles Hartshorne for the American Journal of Theology & Philosophy. In order to complete the review (in particular of such a large book) I took copious notes, which incidentally filled two - yes two - small notebooks.  I "rediscovered" Hartshorne the last year of my Ph.D. and upon completing my dissertation read every single book that Hartshorne wrote in addition to a good number of his articles.

In the below Randall Auxier reviews Dombrowski's excellent Divine Beauty: The Aesthetics of Charles Hartshorne. Even to this day I find Hartshorne's aesthetics extremely compelling.

See the review HERE.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

quotes of the day

"That consciousness is a sort of public spirit among the nerve cells. Man as a community of cells; compound animals and composite plants; society; nature. Feeling implied in Firstness. The triad in theology. Faith requires us to be materialists without flinching."

- C.S. Peirce, Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce I.354

"The community of memory is as infinite as the community of hope."

- Randall E. Auxier, Time, Will, and Purpose Preface xiii

Monday, June 21, 2021

perhaps a useful tool for those of you returning to teach this coming fall

 I've used the Intelecom Examined Life series for at least a decade of my teaching, going even so far as to create fill-in-the-blank and study question worksheets corresponding with some of my most used episodes, for example "Is Reason the Source of Knowledge?" on rationalism or "Does Knowledge Depend on Experience?" on empiricism. There's a range of subjects covered by various episodes, even episodes on hermeneutics, phenomenology, and existentialism for all of you who may teach those courses or those subjects in a course. But, it's all there: aesthetics, various moral theories, political theory, social philosophy, you name it. Whether you show these in class, or assign them as homework on-campus or online as I have done, they are very, very helpful in allowing students see and hear someone other than you pitch the concepts you are going over and it gives more visual or auditory learners the chance to go over things according to their own personal learning styles.

Despite it being dated now by about 25 years I still use it. Students from time to time complain that it is "so '90s," which is fine with me, but of course if there is some better or more recent series out there like this please absolutely do email me because I would love to know. But for now this is the most comprehensive and best I could find. There are of course newer single episode philosophical videos created, for example I enjoy The School of Life videos on YouTube and Then & Now on YouTube - those are the two which immediately come to mind, but as far as lengthier treatments of these subjects, this is the series you want. 

As regards any philosophy videos on YouTube that you like: be sure to download them immediately to your home archive of teaching materials as you never know when they'll disappear. Don't rely on them remaining on YouTube forever not necessarily due to the whim and fancy of those who've posted them, but because YouTube is ridiculously and at this point stupidly censorious. I found this out when I saw that some of the very good philosophically and historically based philosophy videos on say Heidegger, or even in some cases on Nietzsche, were flagged as requiring sign-in to watch or simply removed for being flagged as "hate."  This is disturbing considering that the videos I am referring to were professionally produced, in two cases by the BBC production company. So we aren't talking home-made videos here. And by the way, I should let you know that some philosophy departments are removing Heidegger, and now Nietzsche too, from their syllabi. You can ask yourself whether you support that.

Ok, back to the point of this post! I would like to tell you that the Intelecom YouTube page has up for free selections from this DVD series which may be helpful for you to use in the teaching of your classes. As the series itself is exorbitantly priced in the thousand dollar plus range (I borrowed the set from my school's library and, um, made sure I would have access to them on my PC with burned DVDs so that I could show them or watch them whenever), having free excerpts up like this might be useful for you if you can't get the DVDs at your own school's library or through inter-library loan. Plus, things like this are just good to have in your teaching arsenal if you need them, I think at least.

The excerpts range from two or three minutes long to ten to twelve minutes long and are on a whole host of subjects, even broader in topical range than the DVDs themselves are organized. So that is extremely helpful if you are like me who actually prefers video clips which are no longer than ten or so minutes as I can't afford to lose too much class time with a video.

So check it out and I hope you are able to use them. Link HERE. (See the episode list HERE.)

Friday, June 18, 2021

environmental justice and ecological metaphysics (a gift to myself and Schelling-Peirce-Plato)

C.S. Peirce is usually read from the two volume The Essential Peirce and usually less so from the eight volume The Writings of Charles Sanders Peirce: A Chronological Edition (of which an eight of a projected ten volumes have been published), both published by Indiana University Press. However, as with anything, there is a gold standard. The four volume (printed as two books in each volume) Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce is that gold standard.

Edited by mainly by Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss who were graduate students at Harvard at the time, it is the manner in which the texts are assembled that renders them both unique and powerful as a presentation of Peirce's ideas. I've always wanted this set, using the electronic version on CD but finding it difficult to navigate and actually read as I would a book.

Being asked to complete a prominently featured essay on Peirce (which I've just completed for publication) and twelve years after the writing of my dissertation on Peirce (and Martin Heidegger and F.W.J. Schelling, being a Schellingean then and now I live by the rule of thirds), I finally treated myself to this glorious collection.

Just something to cherish, reading the ideas of America's most brilliant philosopher, without whom I wouldn't have found my current home in Naturphilosophie. That home includes (for me, at least) of course C.S. Peirce, but also Schelling, Plato, Hegel, Fichte, Deleuze, Merleau-Ponty, as well as Alfred North Whitehead, Charles Hartshorne - and the lesser known philosophers of Justus Buchler, Paul Weiss, William Ernest Hocking, and John William Miller.

I'll be revisited the Schelling-Peirce-Plato axis in more research to come, focusing on recognizing the rich insights of this triad available for contributing to environmental philosophy. This with an especial eye toward attaining an ideal form of ecological justice which would be inclusive of non-human animals and other sentient forms of life.