Friday, January 31, 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"The Pluralism Wars" (hat tip to Critical Animal blog)

Link covering a cross-blog exchange, HERE.  I smiled fondly at Critical Animal blog pointing out the "process versus object" wars of times since past.  I don't think there was ever a final verdict on that.

In any case, included among the links is my contribution "Orientational Realism" (HERE) which is a very rough sketch of a post/thought - a very *lengthy* one that may deter readers from making it through the whole thing.  But my thesis is the following:
It is my view that each object of the universe lays an implicit claim to the validity of its own assertion to life.  That assertion is countermanded, of course, by any and all rivals. [However] because reason is by its very nature universal, the claims of rational philosophy, too, must be universal and one.
While there are many beings and many perspectives or "orientations," when it comes to realism (especially concerning knowledge), I think Kant is on the right path: "One reason, one philosophy."

Looking to reason I think we can recast the "pluralism: is it realism or is it relativism?" debate by reframing the epistemological context in which the debate finds itself, this while keeping the pluralist ontology intact.

Hopefully I'll find some time to say more about what I take "reason" to be, etc. etc.  But I did hint at some things discussing natural semiotics in my post linked above.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Strass de la philosophie with new posts on Kacem, Garcia, Jamesian pluralism, and the resurrection of Hegel in contemporary continental metaphysics


new blog focusing on the work of rising philosophical talent Mehdi Belhaj Kacem

Other than MBK, Schelling, Meillassoux, Badiou, and Ernst Juenger make their appearances.  (One mustn't forget that Juenger actually still has a strong following in France, despite him being a "historical" figure.)

The link is HERE.  Thanks to Terry / agent swarm blog.

quote of the day

"The historical world in which we find ourselves resembles a fast-moving vehicle, which at one moment presents its comfort aspects, at the next its horror aspects. It is the Titanic, and it is Leviathan. Since a moving object entices the eye, it will remain concealed to most of the ship’s guests that they simultaneously exist in another realm, one where a perfect stillness reigns. This second realm is so superior as to contain the first within it like a plaything, as merely one of an uncountable number of other manifestations. This second realm is the harbor, is one's homeland, is the peace and security that everyone carries within them. We call it the forest."

- Ernst Juenger

Idealism & Pragmatism: Convergence or Contestation?

April 2014 conference schedule is HERE.  The conference schedule from last year is HERE.

The project's overall website can be found HERE.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

cold winter

River Road, ice from the mountains. Enjoying the beautiful scenery afforded by the snow storm.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I am trying  So far it seems like it has its good and bad elements, like most anything else.  My reasoning is that can be a good place for an online public "filing cabinet" of sorts: for papers in progress, talks, open access publications, etc.  Why not just use one's own personal website as a place to post papers, or link to google docs, you might ask?

To its credit, has a very good search option and can serve as a "central hub" for those posting their research, in whatever form.  It can be downright difficult to navigate personal websites (or even find them), and so by intuitively just cruising around not only do you find interesting papers, but you can find scholars who have a web presence, there, for you to follow.  Those presences link to other closely related people, and so on.

I also like how you can look through papers as "works in progress."  I am in a minority thinking this way, as many warn against posting unfinished work.  However I think its good to see that ideas can change in real time given productive dialogue with scholars at other places (blogs, email exchanges, or even in person at conferences or whatever).  If a piece is going in for submission to a journal, I see nothing wrong with posting it in germ form to have others provide feedback.  Of course, its always wise to post a link to the finished product, too, in order to see how things turned out.  You can edit the title so that the paper doesn't appear in a google search during the peer-review process.

It seems good as well that the site - like blogs - provides a democratic voice for publication.  Open access is often touted as free and democratic publication, which it is, but of those open access venues there are still political measures in play that can keep good papers from appearing, even in a free form.  So like blogs, gives those who would otherwise be silenced a voice.  If you have something to say and it isn't yet quite fit for publication, *or* some just don't want it to be published for authoritarian reasons, you have a place to publish the paper where others will easily be able to search for it and find it (and sometimes folks could find it more easily there on than they would by hearing about the open access journal in which it would have appeared).  So unless the open access journal is supremely well established, you may get more eyes on your essay by putting it on, which is interesting.

So I think its good that using search terms etc. you can essentially have a very broad range of open access that isn't stifled by some of the current problems in open access publishing through typical channels of journals.  And there seems to be better search features in place that may trump the promotion efforts of just one journal.  On the other hand, you lose the rub of having the piece appear in a journal, as well as lose an official peer review process.  So there are drawbacks as well, but they are the drawbacks of not publishing something "official" (and I am not sure what that means).

The quality of papers varies widely, of course.  But this problem can be self-correcting I think.  Various scholars have their work on display.  Once you find someone whose interests match your own, you can just determine if you'd like to keep coming back or not.

The downside is that it doesn't seem that folks frequently use  Maybe a few hours a month, if even that.  That is because not many are out there cranking out papers left and right.  But email updates (I am assuming) *should* notify you when someone you are following has uploaded a paper.  We'll see about that.

Another downside is "interests."  At first it appeared as if I should limit my research interests to categories and labels that I would put on a CV.  But that's actually harmful, because I want to know more about my, say, three specializations and may want to know about an array of historical figures or debates in current topics.  I am noticing that the average user lists anywhere between 20-40 research interests (mine has ballooned up to 50-60, but I've included a dozen or so historical and contemporary philosophers in my interests that I'd like to read about in the feed that pops up).  I judge research interests by the top three interests which are visible without having to click on the "more" tab.  If anything, the research interests box "paints a picture" with many, may tags where you get a general impression of what the scholar is interested in, with those first three being the most pointed description because that is what is immediately visible.

In the end, my general impression is that best serves as a public filing cabinet and research hub where you can find other scholars and papers who have similar interests.  That tool just isn't available through google, where scholars may not even have a personal webpage or blog (in fact most don't) where you are dependent upon the whims of the person putting up the paper on a school server or google docs or whatnot.   It seems like a good way just to sort through tags and search terms and find similar research interests, or those with whom you might even like to correspond, network.  (I understand that I haven't even touched the "open access question" - that is, what of putting published papers there, as a repository, etc.)

Ah, this brings me to my last point.  The difference between a blog,, and PhilPapers (as I am reasoning about this) for me is as follows: blogs are often "scanned," rather than read.  It doesn't work to  try to post formal academic essay fit for journal publication as a blog post. 

This seems true because as new posts arrive, a post which you spent so much time on creating is knocked down the list and disappears in a day or two.  If someone reads your blog through a feed they may even miss it.  Blog posts lack permanence in that way.  The blog "mini treatise" is just such a waste of effort, even if you are able to pull it off, because the amount of labor you put it doesn't match the amount of labor people invest into it.  And this happens by the very nature of a blog post.  I save personal opinions, diary-like entries, recommendations, or quick thoughts for the blog.  Philosophical posts in rough form can appear there too, of course.  But I think just the fact that something is a "paper" tends to slow down the reading mind.  And is just the place for that.  Papers or philosophical pieces "stick" - they aren't disappearing anywhere with time and people can know to look for them there.  Once things are "officially" published and set in stone then one can list them on PhilPapers. 

So I would use PhilPapers as my personal research bibliography of things I've published or are due to be published, and as a filing cabinet and network hub or sorts. 

In closing, I also want to say that I am not completely sold on  For me this is a trial - like I tried with Twitter - and I may just delete the account if its not working for me.  But that's what's nice about these platforms, you can just stick with "what works."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

melancholy and the otherness of God

I have to recommend with much excitement Alina N. Feld's new book Melancholy and the Otherness of GodWhile I make mention of many books here at After Nature, I actually emphatically recommend very few.  In addition to Bron Taylor's Dark Green Religion and Adrian Ivakhiv's Ecologies of the Moving Image, Feld's book should be on anyone's "must read" list.

A nice review of the book can be found HERE at Metapsychology.

Here are a few commentaries on this book.

Thomas Altizer, HERE.

Tom Rockmore, HERE.

Michael Raposa, HERE.

Alina Feld's response to these commentaries HERE.

quote of the day

"The authentic tradition of immanence resides in the Platonic divine, and in the gods of Spinoza and Hegel, not in the 'philosophical atheism' of Heidegger."

- Q. Meillassoux 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

4th Annual Bonn Summerschool in Philosophy: Hegel's Philosophy of Subjective Spirit

I'm glad to have been recognizing signs of the times. We *just* finished up a year-long reading group/independent study of Hegel's Phenomenology before moving on to the Logic.

This semester we are working on "Hegel's Relevance for Contemporary Metaphysics" and thus are reading a wide range of folks, from Grant to Gabriel, to Malabou and Meillassoux.

Friday, January 10, 2014

another great issue of Parrhesia

After re-reading Nathan Brown's excellent (and picture-perfect accurate) review in the last issue of Parrhesia I decided to bounce back to their site and there found an even newer issue available for download.

This time worth recommending is Keith-Ansell Pearson's "Attachment to Life, Understanding Death: Nietzsche and D.H. Lawrence," link HERE.  Todd May, Christopher Watkin, and Claire Colebrook all make appearances as well in the issue.  Volume 18 featuring a symposium on Kevin Hart,  HERE

Now Available: Ernst Jünger’s The Forest Passage

HERE from Telos Press.  The book is the full translation of Juenger's essay which previously appeared (in small excerpts) as "The Retreat into the Forest" in the 1954 issue of Harvard University's Confluence literary journal.  See Confluence: An International Forum, vol. 3, no. 2 (1954): 127–42.  (I've posted those excerpts HERE.)

The below video discusses Juenger's Die Schere, a book closely related to the Der Waldgang essay in its nature spirituality.  A better translation for "The Forest Passage" would be "The Forest Fleer" or "Those Who Flee to Forests."

Previous posts about Juenger (written by me) are HERE and HERE, with an interesting photo HERE.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Nonhuman Experience: A Whiteheadian Analysis" and "Feeling as a Metaphysical Category: Hartshorne"

Two dated but very interesting articles HERE and HERE.

"Why I Am Not a Process Theologian"

Roger Olson's piece "Why I Am Not a Process Theologian" (HERE) - despite taking a stand against a theology among whose ranks I'd count myself - actually provides a decent break-down of the basics of process theology.

Philip Clayton responds to Olson's piece in the form of "Roger Olson't Not a Process Theologian (But He Should Be)" HERE and it is an excellent rejoinder.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Would Hegel be a Hegelian Today?

(Photo of H.S. Harris with his students on his 70th birthday, 1996.  Courtesy York Repository.)

I've discovered two very interesting items.  The first is a repository of the famous Hegel scholar H.S. Harris (where I found the photo to your left).  The repository contains some very rare texts and photos, as well as a depiction - in the form of an etching - of Hegel writing The Phenomenology.  The link to the repository is HERE.  Interestingly, there are also lecture notes on the Encyclopedia Logic from Harris' seminars.

Harris is probably the ultimately trustworthy person to read when it comes to Hegel.  Harris' 2 volume Hegel's Ladder is worth the ridiculously expensive price if you plan to take a year or two to work through the Phenomenology (otherwise there are .pdfs of the book floating around online for free of course; it depends if you must "read with a pencil" as I do).

Really, Harris' Hegel's Ladder set is equivalent to H.J. Patton's Kant's Metaphysics of Experience (also a 2 volume set), which finally appeared in paperback - so much cheaper - around 2007 I believe.  (Amazon link HERE.)  As I spent three seminars on Kant in graduate school it turned out that the Patton set was just as indispensable.  With just one seminar on Hegel in graduate school we were required to buy the Harris Ladder set anyway.  Still, with many of my students pressuring me to do reading groups on Hegel, to this day it was worth it.  A note and a warning: DO NOT buy the Harris from amazon.  I've heard weird things if one tries to do that.  I called Hackett and ordered the set over the phone.  (See HERE.)

With my finger on the pulse through many of my students, I saw U of Oregon ran a Hegel seminar focusing on the role of "the negative" in the Phenomenology, and so apart from any supposed "projection of grim human moods" one is certainly able to discern that thinking about the role that negativity, loss, and diremption plays in nature's own processive development is a hot topic for a reason.  Afterall, diremption and loss, dismemberment, is indeed very much part and parcel of reality.  That does not depend on human beings to be of a reality.  Aesthetic tones and intensities make for the motions of concepts, and the conceptual is birthed only through a form of sullen and melancholic loss.  This is true moreso in Schelling, but in Hegel its there.

Secondly, Cosmos & History for some reason archives issues that are before 2007, and so I happened to stumble upon an EXCELLENT issue on Hegel.  Open access, but what struck me was the re-publication of H.S. Harris's article. "Would Hegel be a Hegelian Today?"  This is an especially important question for me due to a number of factors.  First, in the spring, some of my students are doing a reading group where will be covering readings aimed at looking at Hegel within contemporary metaphysics.  Second, last year our group divided out the Phenomenology over a yearlong period of study, followed by a semester's worth of study on the Logic.  So Harris' notes, I am sure, will be invaluable to my students and those involved in some of our reading groups.

You can find the Cosmos and History issue on Hegel HERE.  Harris' article in that issue is HERE.

Friday, January 3, 2014

empiricism and the drama of experience

The very fact that things occur and thus create novel "experience" where none was before - linking experiences to one another, self-sufficiently in their own "concatenation" as James puts it - defeats the pretensions of nominalism outright.  True, reality may be of particulars and thoroughly plural, but particulars relate by their very nature (none are absolutely isolated) and they develop in their form, whether temporally and prehensively to their own singular futures (or prior pasts), or to others so as to be the "singular" particulars that they are.  This concatenated relational metaphysics is found in the ontological pluralism of James and is found in the pluriformalism of Aristotle as well.

Following this thought, the particular, a "one," only gets to be "a one" by a count, a process.  Otherwise, singulars would be frozen ones, particulars waiting for a count to establish their identity from eternity.  Nothing would begin to move or come into being.  And this contradicts facts given that singulars change in their form and evolve over time according to a non-determined future that involves the freedom and spontaneity of change.  Whether the forms themselves are of an eternal nature, as Whitehead suggested with his theory of eternal objects, may be true, though the theory still demands a temporal nature for the forms to lure active singulars into their full being over the course of a developmental trajectory.  This necessarily would involve the free responsive and creativity activity of the singular understood as an agent (indeed one that is capable of failing to achieve its nature as much as it is of realizing it).

Empiricism is best expressed when it is radical.  It is a perspective which extends how "deep" particulars are able to be perceived in their essential nature, and how "broadly" one is able to extend and relate the nature of a particular to other natures.  The depth and broadness of experience determines how and in which ways the forms of the particulars are able to stretch or bend before being forced to take on a new form over time.  Are the forms in experience, or not?  Perhaps the question should be better stated as, "In what ways do the forms enter into experience?"  Even for Plato, in the Timaeus, the Forms were said to enter through and into the world - the cosmic body - from time to time.  Whitehead stated that these Forms were changeless and eternal, though capable of relating to change; while Hartshorne suggested that there were no eternal objects at all, and that the forms are part of experience and grow and change over time.  Along Hartshorne's line of thought I remember Tom Alexander saying in a Dewey seminar once, "Once we forget that the Forms grow and change, and also die over time, we forget God."

The "drama" of experience is precisely this entrance of novelty into experience; that things happen with these particulars, and that in a subsumption of particulars within new forms of experience new identities of particulars are created where there was only a germ before.

This is the essence of flourishing, I think.  Flourishing requires the challenge of change and the gift of process.  Flourishing is dramatically undergone, rather than something that merely "happens to" an agent as a completely passive and stale phenomenon.  In fact, flourishing is often suffered, indeed dramatically, but also interactively.  We make things happen, and things happen to us.  Such is the career of any active agent in the world.  That is to say, the experience of any agent is always undergone and suffered, as well as overcome with growth in a dramatic interplay, or interchange, with other agents, as much as it is a personal experience or journey.

The above two videos feature my former mentor from Ph.D. graduate school days, Doug Anderson.  He's a marvel to watch and provides rich insight into some of the debates mentioned in this blog post.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Analogia Entis: Metaphysics: Original Structure and Universal Rhythm (Resourcement: Retrieval and Renewal in Catholic Thought)

Wow.  This is incredible.  So another 500+ page text that I have to add to my "must read" list for 2014.  I found out about Pryzwara through Guy Woodward (who is contributing to our anthology on ecstatic naturalism).  Guy has been translating portions of this book, and from what I've seen, it's mind blowing.  

Analogia Entis: Metaphysics: Original Structure and Universal Rhythm by Erich Przywara, link HERE.