Tuesday, May 27, 2014

quote of the day + The Logic of Theism

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has updated their entry on Modal Logic, HERE. Also, for those interested in modal logic and its application to questions within the philosophy of religion, one might find this book, Logic and Theism, interesting (HERE).

My interest in logic and its application to metaphysical theology stems from my early readings of Hegel, actually.  As time went on I discovered Hartshorne and learning modal logic became invaluable.  I think what cinched things for me - that one had to have a good grasp of logic in order to do good metaphysics (let alone theology) - was when I took two back to back seminars in Medieval philosophy during graduate school.

Since then I've reflected on logic and its application to metaphysics and religion frequently (for example, see THIS post).

Here is one of my favorite Hartshorne quotes:

"Logic is the backbone of philosophy. And nothing is quite clear logically unless it can be put mathematically. Ideally at least, a philosopher should be a mathematician and logician as well as metaphysician. Perhaps this could be said of Plato, certainly of Leibniz, Peirce, and Whitehead."

- Charles Hartshorne, Creative Synthesis & Philosophic Method

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

more Putnam on James, Dewey, and Pragmatism (VIDEO)

Hilary Putnam discusses his views on William James, John Dewey, and the pragmatic maxim. He also criticizes Bertrand Russell and the narrowness of analytic philosophy.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Practicality of Metaphysics: Putnam on Pragmatism & its Founders (VIDEO)

A good introduction to pragmatism and its metaphysics, well under an hour.


quote of the day

"Physis, nature, extends beyond animality, or beyond organized bodies in general…"

- Iain Hamilton Grant, Philosophies of Nature After Schelling

Sunday, May 18, 2014

quote of the day

"It is not experience which is experienced, but nature - stones, plants, animals, diseases, health, temperature, electricity, and so in. Things interacting in certain ways *are* experience...Experience thus reaches down into nature; it has depth. It also has breadth and to an indefinitely elastic extent. It stretches. That stretch constitutes inference."

- John Dewey, "Experience and Philosophic Method"

Friday, May 16, 2014

Phenomenology in French Philosophy: Early Encounters

There is a new NDPR covering Dupont’s recent Phenomenology in French Philosophy: Early Encounters.  The review explains the major themes of Dupont's book which covers the French reception of German phenomenology.  Specifically, we are told how Dupont explores the impact and influence that Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and to a lesser extent Max Scheler all had in France.  It is also interesting to see that Dupont explores the dynamics of this reception and then discusses how it actually lasted well into the late twentieth century, creating streams of influence that one finds even today.

The book is largely a survey work that traces the origins of French phenomenological thought back to a complex moment.  A number of important thinkers in the phenomenological tradition are covered, as are some less well known figures.  As a survey work in its detail we are told that Dupont’s erudition commands respect because it is often the case that such a complex moment has been overlooked.  Not only does Dupont uncover the moment when French phenomenology began, he does so without missing any of the details.

The thesis of the work (it is based upon Dupont’s 1997 dissertation) is that the reception of French phenomenology lead to a great divide in French thought from that point forward.  On the one hand the French reception of Husserl, Heidegger, and Scheler lead to  “French philosophy,” and on the other hand, so states Dupont, it lead to “French religious thought.”  Thus “Husserl was cleaved in two.”

Dupont argues that these two trajectories were “distinct,” and that they proceeded independently from each other.  Dupont characterizes the divide as follows:
In the case of French philosophers, their interest in phenomenology was encouraged by the interpretation of phenomenology as a continuation of the Cartesian tradition, that is, as an attempt to secure the foundations of science and logic through reflection upon consciousness. The interest of French religious thinkers, on the other hand, was incited largely by the desire to break from the strict rationalism that Cartesianism represented among French academic philosophers.
Dupont claims that “French philosophy” owes its trajectory to the pretentions of Descartes and the sciences, and to the goal of providing a descriptive inventory of consciousness.  Husserl’s approach to mathematics, to intuition, and to transcendental method all are discussed at this point in the book.

“French religious thought” on the other hand stems back to Bergsonian themes prominent in French theological circles.  A more primitive form of intuition and “method of immanence” that “reaches beyond the constructions of science” so as to get at “original intuitive sources of knowledge” is stressed.  The connection between French religious thought and the Catholic tradition is also cited, where Dupont discussess Bergson’s connection to Augustine and Aquinas in that they pointed toward intuition’s role in serving knowledge.  Bergson grappled with how intuition and religious insight “provided a model of thinking through the ways in which phenomenology could be applied to religious questions.”

The reviewer closes by questioning whether Dupont is right to suggest that there is such a sharp division between religious and secular thought in the French phenomenological tradition, or at least as sharp as Dupont claims it is.  Can one easily label, say, Merleau-Ponty a “French philosopher” or a “French religious thinker?”  In some cases (say, Jean Paul Sartre) it may be easier.  In other cases it may be more complex (Jacques Maritain is equally philosophically rigorous as he is theological).  What is certain is that the reception of Husserl, Heidegger, and Scheler was a complex moment in the French reception of phenomenology and that that moment perhaps should be revisited more often in hopes of better understanding the meaning of and possibilities for French phenomenology today.

See the review upon which this commentary is based HERE.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

quote of the day

"One may resort to the distinction between 'nature natured' (natura naturata) and 'nature naturing' (natura naturans)....Yet between the rigorous naturalists of nature naturing and the staunch culturalists of nature natured, one might attempt to follow the path that conjoins the two sides [and articulate a mere concept of 'nature']."

"[However], left to itself, 'nature' is always mute, even unknowable in itself; it comes into existence as a relevant reality only when translated into the signs and symbols that culture attaches to it."

- Philippe Descola, The Ecology of Others

the essence of Multiplicities: on Laruelle and the One beyond Multiplicities

This late spring/early summer I've been re-reading some Laruelle, in addition to listening to some lectures by Alex Galloway on Laruelle (Galloway has some fantastic material out there, be sure to look it up).

Laruelle expresses “disappointment in the philosophies of difference” (as conceived in the 19th and 20th centuries, so Nietzsche, Deleuze, Derrida, and Heidegger) and is instead enchanted by the Absolute “as such.”  From reading Laruelle, it is interesting to consider the way in which his Absolute admits difference “deeply” as an "in-One."  It seems that for Laurelle, as he points out, that ontological difference is not relative but is continuous among and between multiplicities such that multiplicities are not “static” but are always immanently “in relation” in-One.  From these comments I am inspired to read more about Laurelle’s criticisms of Deleuze especially (see here: https://ndpr.nd.edu/news/44829-franois-laruelles-philosophies-of-difference-a-critical-introduction-and-guide/)

For Laruelle, the One is without unity save for difference; it is “beyond” Being – and taking that step beyond Being we go not into the emptiness of difference but a “beyond filled” with  the multiplicity of difference.  Against this notion philosophies of difference only provide “relative” multiplicities however, contained within hypostases of Being, of the Idea.  What we need then is a “new” philosophy of difference, one free of the same false promises and enslavement to multiplicities traditionally conceived.

About Laruell’s deep monistic-pluralism Terry Blake writes “The Absolute is not won through to by active and willful negation, but is attained more passively and patiently, by letting go, allowing oneself to be convinced, letting oneself be enchanted…”  In the words of Laruelle, “Consenting at last to the One as to that which keeps the multiplicities beyond Being itself.”  Enchantment is central for his project in terms of how one is to grasp the sort of difference he wants to portray.

“Relative pluralism,” so says Laruelle, is not enough.  One must consider instead a “non-relativist essence of Multiplicites.”  Philosophical thought, or better, “non-philosophical thought,” is “thought of the multiple and of becoming, of dispersion and of dissemination” and it is at work in the “contemporary hopes of an overflowing…Representation” with a “thought of the Absolute … a thought of the One, but of the One without unity, beyond the Idea, the Logos, even of Being.”

This pluralism is more deeply committed to a deeper sense of ontological difference and relation found among and between multiplicities; it seeks non-philosophically to consider a deeper general essence that is, in some sense, “beyond” the multiple “in-One” as a generality of Being.  This seems to be a greater sense of true generality that is in-One or in-different, perhaps the One as such as multiple difference.

For more thoughts on Laruelle's non-relativist plural monism see Agent Swarm on "The Renunciation of the Mentors" HERE and "Non-Philosophy, Disappointment, and Enchantment" (HERE).

In a post from last year I've posted some introductory materials about Laruelle HERE.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

philosophy is not a luxury podcast: "Emerson's call for originality" (MP3 AUDIO)

Link HERE.  A very first outing here by Jeff Carreira.  Professionally produced and sounding that way, the length is perfect (around the 20 minute mark).

I also like how Jeff ties this into his blog, stating that it is in some sense a continuation of it.  He's been blogging for six years and this is his first podcast.

This is certainly inspiring.  I've said before that After Nature should do a podcast.  I've reached out to two folks in hopes of securing a partner in crime, but despite wanting to help, busy schedules are preventing me finding a co-host at the moment.  Maybe one day.

Nick Land on Twitter: a "eulogy" for the platform

Googling “Twitter is dead” pulls up nearly two billion hits, which isn’t an obvious indication of vitality. Adrienne LaFrance and Robinson Meyer, writing in The Atlantic, supercharged the meme with their ‘eulogy’ for the platform, which described it “entering its twilight” as the tensions in its “inherent (and explicit) attention market” have been exposed.

Links HERE and HERE.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

new book: Pragmatist Aesthetics


Two NDPR reviews: The Idea of Hegel's Science of Logic and Hegel and the Metaphysics of Absolute Negativity

Regarding the recent The Idea of Hegel's Science of Logic we are told that, "No one who is seriously interested in Hegel can afford to neglect this book."  Read the review HERE.

Also very good is Brady Bowman's Hegel and the Metaphysics of Absolute Negativity, review HERE.

In the end however both books still can't compare (in my judgment at least) to the absolutely masterful Hegelian Metaphysics by Robert Stern (Oxford University Press).  That book is just amazing and superb. A "must read" for anyone with an interest in Hegel's relevance for metaphysics today.

Stern has a flair for Continental thought (Deleuze) as well as American thought (Peirce) that comes up in this book - despite him often being associated with the more "analytic" camp of Hegelian studies.  Really, any interest in Hegel, do pick up Stern's book!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mehdi Belhaj Kacem on Meillassoux and naturalism, insight from Christopher Watkin and Terry Blake

Christopher Watkin and Terry Blake are homing in upon an interesting feature that is, also, the point of critique offered by Kacem against Meillassoux.

While it is well known that Meillassoux reinstalls correlationism from within a Hegelian rationalist materialist viewpoint (although this only after having dismantled the history of correlationism), it is not well known to what extent Meillassoux actually draws upon a dismantled and then reinstalled deep seated form of naturalism in his appeal to the concerns that drive both naturalism and science: namely mathematics and rationality, or how "nature" is organized and could be described to be organized in any meaningful way despite there being radical contingency.

Meillassoux does eschew "scientific" naturalism, yet his (in Watkin's words) appeal to "speculative primo-absolutizing properties" is the sort of appeal that honors a "robust" sense of both science and nature - a move that any metaphysician in the traditions of German idealism or American philosophical naturalism would indeed champion. What I find interesting here is that there are eschatological quasi-theological reasons for this, as much as there are reasons to honor a realist metaphysics that seeks an "outside" without modal necessity, independent of reasons involving a coming-to-be divinity etc. etc..  (see Watkin's paper HERE.)

Blake draws in Kacem's critique (from Kacem's forthcoming book The Meillassoux Effect) where Meillassoux's appeal to mathematics and materialist-rationalist ontology (pace Badiou) is in tension with his challenge to metaphysical necessity.  (see Blake's paper HERE.)

The issue becomes this: what kind of naturalism will Meillassoux create or invoke?

For me this is exciting because I've enjoyed watching what roads of naturalism the likes of Brassier, Grant, and Johnston have all traveled.  Now it is Meillassoux's turn in the sense that his ontology demands a clear statement of how exactly he sees nature, if only to address the tensions found in his simultaneous appeal to contingency and mathematical rationalist materialism in addition to explaining the "naturalness" (i.e. non-transcendental nature) of a possibly appearing future God.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

CFP: Philosophy After Nature


Philosophy After Nature

Utrecht University

3-5 September 2014

The Joint Annual Conference of The Society for European Philosophy and Forum for European Philosophy in 2014 will be hosted by the Centre for the Humanities, the Faculty of Humanities and the Descartes Institute, Utrecht University, the Netherlands.

Plenary speakers
Professor Michel Serres, Stanford University, Académie française

Information and Thinking/l'information et la pensée

Respondent: Professor Françoise Balibar, Université Paris-Diderot

Professor Rahel Jaeggi, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Critique of Forms of Life

Respondent: t.b.a.

Professor Mark B.N. Hansen, Duke University
Entangled in Media, Towards a Speculative Phenomenology of Microtemporal Operations

Respondent: t.b.a.

The SEP/FEP conference is the largest annual event in Europe that aims to bring together researchers, teachers and others, from different disciplines, interested in all areas of contemporary European philosophy. Submissions are therefore invited for individual papers and panel sessions in all areas of contemporary European philosophy. For 2014, submissions that address the conference's plenary theme – Philosophy After Nature – are particularly encouraged. This would include papers and panels that are after nature in the sense of being in pursuit of nature's consequences. We invite perspectives on critique, science, ecology, technology and subjectivity as bound up with conceptions of nature and  experiment with various positions in contemporary thought.

Abstracts of 500 words for individual paper submissions and proposals for panels should be sent to Rick Dolphijn (philosophyafternature@uu.nl) by 17 May 2014. Proposals for panels should include a 500-word abstract for each paper within the panel. Proposals from academics, graduate students and independent scholars are welcome.
Conference committee: Rosi Braidotti, Bert van den Brink, Rick Dolphijn, Iris van der Tuin and Paul Ziche.

Enquiries: Rick Dolphijn (philosophyafternature@uu.nl)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

photos from the studio during yesterday's radio interview with The Philosopher's Zone

More info HERE in the last section "Conferences, appearances, talks."

I just finished listening to the raw recording of the interview and it sounds great.  Stephanie and I promote our forthcoming Animal Experience book through OHP, and there's alot of discussion about Latour, James, Whitehead, Hartshorne, and Peirce and how those philosophers can be used to think about non-human animals, agency, and the emotions.

There's even a name drop of "correlationism" and how a speculative naturalists' phenomenology can tackle it. Hint: it involves the universal nature of suffering, empathy, and allowing other agents (in this case non-human animals) to speak for themselves; to develop a truly ecological metaphysics and wider culture of empathy.

another new series in Speculative Realism

So I've actually just been approached by a very good UP stating that they'd like for me to edit a new series in Speculative Realism for them.  I understand that the usual scenario is for potential editors to approach the publisher and ask to create a series, but this was an honor to be approached and asked.

On the other hand, I am swamped in commitments.  So do I take the job or not?

[UPDATE: As it turns out, I think for obvious reasons given SR's "reputation," it was a wise choice for me to turn down the offer.]

(For more about my publication schedule, see HERE.)