Monday, March 4, 2013

Adrian Johnston interview at Cosmos & History

I would like to post a link to THIS fascinating interview with Adrian Johnston over at Cosmos & History.  I've been reading alot of Johnston's work recently, who I interpret, along with Brassier and Hagglund, as being a productive intellectual conversation partner when I read him, where indeed reading all three philosophers never ceases to provoke only my most carefully argued work.  That I take these philosophers as influential for me surprises nearly everyone that I mention this to, given some of their fundamental conclusions with respect to some of my own.  This makes me think that reading them is a productive affair, especially when one's own work is propelled in better directions because of the engagement.

Now, I am asked fairly regularly as to how my own naturalism or interest in German idealism and materialism is situated with respect to these figures, and reading the Johnston interview I could only find myself in agreement with nearly everything that Johnston was saying.  In that interview he nailed it.  Of course, for as much as a proximate thinker that I find him to be - as well as Brassier - there is one key point where we would disagree.  But again, even on that point they challenge my own thinking to respond with (what I hope is) as equally precise and careful argued response.  That key point of course is the question of theism.

Nevertheless, I have been following Brassier's naturalism and Johnston's own materialism, as well as both of their interests in Hegel and German idealism's relationship to materialism for several years now (since my last years of graduate school, so '07 or '08 or thereabouts).  I have followed their readings and critiques of Bergson and vitalism, and have attempted to take from those critiques points that I can usefully apply to a more honest and rigorous philosophy of nature as I see it (indeed crafting a philosophy of nature that is critical of process philosophies which "sugar coat" the various powers of creativity and neglect radical conceptions of autonomy and its relationship negativity.  However, this is also to say that metaphysics can be inspired by German idealism and process philosophy and can be shaped into new and more fruitful directions in the 21st century).  I have especially followed Johnston on Hegel and Brassier's call to take Hegel seriously with recourse to material and conceptual practices.

In addition to following Bergson through his arguments in effort to confront the problem of life, I am firmly convinced that such a journey is required of contemporary philosophers for dealing with Hegel.  One must follow through with the arguments even if the conclusions turn out to be different than what anyone expected.  On the other hand, I think that there are philosophers who should be brought into the conversation as well, in addition to Plato and Sellars, Hegel and Brandom, or Bergson and Whitehead.  For me, philosophers such as Peirce and Schelling can certainly shed light on the conversation, and in that respect (Schelling especially) I frequently return to someone like Ian Grant's work whose thought takes up the dynamic between materialism and realism, a "physics of the Idea" as it were, is first rate.

What is more, I think that a re-creation of a sort of conceptual materialist pragmatism could offer something substantial to the conversation as much as German idealism can (there are some strong connections between Hegel and pragmatism that can be worked out and drawn upon).