Wednesday, November 26, 2014

my latest book now available

I am proud to say that my most recent co-edited book, A Philosophy of Sacred Nature: Prospects for Ecstatic Naturalism, is finally published! The book is the result of two and a half years of hard work, but I think the end product was well worth it. Anyone who is interested in a good introduction to the philosophy of Robert S. Corrington - his "ecstatic naturalism" - should pick up this book. The amazon link is HERE. Act quickly as apparently they are already selling out on amazon for a reduced price.

If you are curious about how ecstatic naturalism fits into today's metaphysics of the 21st-century, specifically as an American complement to Continental philosophy, I have posted the first page of our introduction in addition to the table of contents.  Along with Robert Brandom, Nicholas Rescher, and William Desmond, Corrington certainly has a new outlook to bring to the table within Euro-American philosophy (those philosophies that synthesize the Continental and American traditions).

Monday, November 24, 2014

Nick Land on Interstellar

A great write up with some very interesting thoughts expressed - ending with just a fantastic line:

"It might be human triumphalism that sells Interstellar to its audience, but this is a movie aligned with the distant Outside."

Click HERE to read his full post.

Attention Economy versus Attention Ecology

Some very good points in a nice post covering Yves Citton's Pour une Ecologie de l'Attention, HERE, by Unemployed Negativity Blog.

On the Romantic Absolute (3:AM interview with Dalia Nassar)

HERE.  I've posted HERE a link to the NDPR review of (and bought, recently) her book The Romantic Absolute: Being and Knowing in Early German Romantic Philosophy.

It's among my favorites of recent books on the subject in addition to the related Hegelian Metaphysics by Robert Stern (see HERE for my take and HERE for Stern's 3:AM interview).

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Still: Journey with a free diving philosopher, into the beautifully alien world of the living ocean" (Aeon Magazine video)

Not technologically savvy enough to embed THIS highly recommended video courtesy of Aeon Magazine.
Carlos Eyles is a a 72-year-old ocean photographer, author, and free diver. In Still, we accompany him into the ocean, as he describes his intimate relationship with the marine world. Reflecting on a realm that is still within the province of the unknown, Eyles illuminates how profoundly wondrous it is to live within the great scheme of life.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

short-listed for a prize in the Voiceless Media Prizes

The producer of the ABC National Radio program The Philosopher's Zone informs me that the episode "The Emotional Lives of Animals" featuring Niemoczynski and Theodorou has been short-listed for a prize among ten others in Voiceless Media Prizes.

The Voiceless Media Prize recognizes the most accurate and influential reports on animal protection and ethics.  Winners will be announced in December where there is a $15,000 reward.

For more information see the below copied post from earlier this summer.


Animal Experience: Consciousness and Emotions in the Natural World has now been published in the "Living Books About Life" series through Open Humanities Press.  The book is open-access, free, and online for you to read. 

ANIMAL EXPERIENCE, edited by Leon Niemoczynski and Stephanie Theodorou (both at Immaculata University, US)

Additionally Leon Niemoczynski and Stephanie Theodorou appear on ABC National Radio's The Philosopher's Zone promoting the book.  Direct link to MP3 DOWNLOAD HERE (11.2 MB). 

A link to the radio program's webpage where you can listen to or download the program:

A link to an article about us with snippets from the program and links to closely related topics: 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Critique of Creativity and Complexity

Process-relational philosophy is often critiqued for its "relational" component in that relations are taken either to be not as "real" as things related (or to the defense of the opposing view that William James defended: relations are just as real as what's being related), or that things somehow "exhaust" their relations (or to the defense of the opposing view that Whitehead and Hegel defended, no thing can be a "thing" unless it is related - so the notion of relation is inherent to being a thing).  Thus in defense a basic Fichtean-Hegelian move whether that relation is to be found between things or even at any things' constituting heart and center of negativity, the self-positing I as not-I, etc.

This book titled A Critique of Creativity and Complexity looks very interesting because even though process-relational philosophy is not to be found in it -at least not directly and upon a cursory glance - it does the job in defending that other notion that is often seen as a major component of process philosophy, and that's the (ultimate) category of creativity.

Also of note perhaps is the book's concern with order despite radical contingency or chaos, pace Quentin Meillassoux.  It discusses in other words how it is possible for order, or harmony, to emerge despite radically chaotic transcendental conditions.  Insofar as process-relational philosophy goes, C.S. Peirce, Charles Hartshorne, and Alfred North Whitehead were all interested in this question.

A free preview (73 pages!) of the book is available HERE.  Definitely worth a look at an often cliched subject: creativity.

Monday, November 17, 2014

quote of the day

Apropos the social media rage of today and the fact that we exist as personal "brands" and not much else.

"The pure form of servitude is to exist as an instrument, as a thing. And this mode of existence is not abrogated if the thing is animated and chooses its material and intellectual food, if it does not feel its being-a-thing, if it is a pretty, clean, mobile thing.”

- Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man

"Neuro-livestock" was how it was best put, recently.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Process Thought From a Continental Perspective

An article that contains the below very interesting tidbit:
In certain respects, the interest of European philosophers in the thought of A.N. Whitehead has proven often to be (after the title of a recent popular movie) a "Fatal Attraction." (I owe these stories to George Lucas.) In 1956, Professor John E. Smith of Yale University paid a visit to the venerable Martin Heidegger. Their conversation lasted for three hours, during which time Heidegger expressed his passionate interest in turning toward a new, post-Hegelian pursuit of a philosophy of nature. Smith responded that in America A.N. Whitehead had already spawned such a movement. Heidegger was most pleasantly surprised and interested, and expressed a desire to read some of Whitehead’s philosophy. It was, in fact, at Heidegger’s request that the tremendous project of translating Process and Reality (PR) was begun at Suhrkamp Verlag (Frankfurt). However, before the translation could be made available to him, Heidegger died.
Link to the full article HERE.  A book possibly of interest HERE.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Caputo, Catherine Keller and John Cobb

Courtesy of Homebrewed Christianity blog at the AAR.  A panel bringing together (for the first time) John Caputo, Catherine Keller, and John Cobb.  The panel will be broadcast live in the form of a podcast. Friday, November 21st from 7pm until 9pm

More information and link to the live broadcast of the event HERE.

Thanks to Marilynn L. for the tip.  This looks like it will be very exciting!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

bad infinity

Wayne Martin was kind enough to post a very interesting (and fantastically clear) paper on Hegel's notion of "bad" infinity versus a "true" infinity (sometimes rendered as "spurious" versus "genuine" infinity).  Or in German schlect Unendlichkeit versus wahrhaft Unendlichkeit.  His analysis centers mainly on the larger Logic and its section on infinity which is part of chapter 2 "Determinate Being," section c. (a) through (c). Anyone wanting a refresher or just a clear articulation of Hegel's at times just incredibly cumbersome discussion of the metaphysics of infinity ought to read the paper, which interestingly has some larger goals in mind (such as providing a Fichtean response to Hegel's pre Phenomenology of Spirit essay "The Difference Between Fichte's and Schelling's Systems of Philosophy" of 1801).

In a nutshell a bad infinity, for Hegel, is just one that is open-ended.  For Hegel true infinity - accessible by reason, but still beyond the understanding - is a totality.  Intensive and extensive mathematical infinities, such as those infinitesimally available between any two numbers or those which are sets of numbers to be aggregated indefinitely to any other set, fail before the sort of actual infinity that is an absolute total requiring nothing outside of itself.

The interesting part isn't Hegel's critique of the bad infinite as one that is a possible infinite.  It is that Hegel states an infinity that "sets itself over and against" any other (such as the finite) is bad precisely because it lacks an infinite nature that is its own and is therefore delimited by negating something else so as to take on its own identity.  So the logic of contrasts that establishes an infinite precisely because it is not finite, or "in-finite" is one that necessarily fails having no essential nature that is, itself, properly infinite or total.

Hegel compares the "true" infinite for this reason to a circle.  A circle does not "go on and on forever" but rather is "unending" in the sense that it is a closed actual total.  This total encompasses the finite, or contains it, but is in no way limited by it. God, for Hegel, in traditional definitions, fails to capture the logical meaning of true infinity because God's nature and infinitude is always set over and against finite creation and thus is always dependent upon it to be what it is.  God in that sense is limited and finite, but not truly infinite.

A final thought. As the paper's title is "In Defense of Bad Infinity" it seemed appropriate to me to recommend in contradistinction to Hegel's infinite Schelling's take on infinity, for it was Schelling who was the first German idealist I had encountered even before Hegel. For a time in fact it was Schelling's "bad infinity" that served as a model for me to attempt to understand Hegel's own division between true infinite and spurious infinite.

To whit, then: might we be able to define the absolute not necessarily as something unending such as in an unending series of numbers (a potential infinite) or on the other hand as something total as in a closed circle (an actual infinite). Perhaps, rather, might not the absolute be something absolutely unconditioned as Schelling ventured to maintain? That is, an unconditioned infinite? What might this mean?

It was Schelling's view that absolute being - "the Absolute" - must mean unconditioned being, and as unconditioned being, the absolute, must therefore be "endless" for any "beginning" or "end" of it would qualify some condition as being other to that absolute's identity and the result would be a non-absolute identity. Here we see that for Hegel the absolute contains its own identity as well as all else, and this is what makes it "genuine" or "true" (wahrhaft Unendlichkeit). In this way we might say its infinite nature is of a pure metaphysical positivity of sorts. Schelling's absolute, on the other hand, is said to be "spurious" for it is absolutely indifferent to any particular identity in the sense that nothing can be other to it save only for itself. Paradoxically to be "itself" it must both be "itself" and "not itself" in different respects (so that there is no "other" conditioning it). Therefore, Schelling's absolute is "endless" but without closure as a totality because there is nothing other that it could be other than its own identity, but also quite strangely, its "non-identity"; that is, it accommodates for "that which it is not."  In this way we might say that Schelling's absolute is "in-different." And so with that said, why might Schelling's notion of the absolute be preferable to Hegel's?

Hegel's absolute is a thing, it is an identity: the Absolute, the All, which contains all things. But Schelling's main point was that the absolute, unlike in Hegel's philosophy, could never be a totality or a thing. Schelling claimed instead that the absolute was no-thing at all! Here Hegel railed against Schelling for thinking that the absolute had no identity sensu stricto and raved that as being "nothing" Schelling's absolute could only be a blanket that simply absorbed all things in its cloak of night, in a "blank" identity, where those particular things would not be preserved within the circle of infinity. This is to say that Hegel was fearful that Schelling's absolute annulled particular things within an indifferent identity instead of raising them up and encircling things within the identity of an absolute that is itself complete and total. Thus Hegel claimed that Schelling's absolute was an identity that was a "night in which all cows are black."

In short, then, it seems that Schelling's infinite or absolute is conditioned by no other indeed. But... it is "absolutely unconditioned" as indifferent to identity in its being unconditioned. And this, therefore, can be said be its positive. Schelling's unconditioned infinite is absolute indifference; that is, it is unconditioned ground in perpetuity and as such it nevertheless exhibits a sort of metaphysical positivity that Hegel claimed it was lacking.

Should we agree with Hegel that this lack of identity within Schelling's notion of the absolute means that his concept of the absolute as infinite is deficient as compared to Hegel's own understanding of the absolute? Or, might it be that in this very deficiency, in this "spurious" nature lies hidden a more adequate "positive" conception of the absolute and hence its virtue?

Paper "In Defense of Bad Infinity" HERE.

Friday, November 7, 2014

quote of the day

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"Crash and Burn: Debating Accelerationism" (Alex Galloway and Ben Noys interview at 3:AM Magazine)

Link HERE.  I think what's interesting, for me at least, is how at one point in the interview it is suggested that there is a sort of "Existentialist Revival" going on.  But unlike classical existentialism the subject is either annihilated, or it is "evacuated" into an undetermined space of the future.

I think the "evacuation" of the subject puts it best, in the sense that with the always ongoing annihilation of the present out-moded subject a new form of subject is continually being re-created on a basis or "ground" of freedom which is the very possibility of the future.  In this it seems the classical existentialists were right.

The existential moment in Accelerationism seems to be that an existential self, a self-creating "self," is only a self in its light of its continual and future self re-creations.  This is a process of creativity that creates at perpetual telescoping speed until a base line of flight (infinite speed) is achieved.  Here the immanent presence of self-hood and the ground of freedom and creativity upon which self-hood is based would become an indistinguishable one.  At that point time would ultimately be transcended.  So this process accelerates in creativity and intelligence faster and faster, moving and being driven by a form of tension found in a vital negativity that continually uses its own out-moding (or continual "crashing and burning," continual self-revision) to leap over itself again and again in acts of self-recreation until a point of absolute singularity is achieved.

Also, in the interview there is plenty of discussion about the role of the negative - or what in the past I have referred to as "vital negativity."  Here it seems that not only Hegel and Nietzsche are lurking in the background -  Nietzsche for his, what he called "active" nihilism, endorsed over what he called "passive" nihilism - but also Schopenhauer, whose name is brought up with mention of Land, Thacker, and Brassier.

This interview has prompted me to glance at again Schelling in the context of his "proto-existentialism."  What is the role of freedom and vital negativity in Schelling's proto-existentialist work?  How does that sense of freedom relate to the sort of freedom, futurity, and vital negativity that classical existentialists endorse in their discussions of the self and its creative act of determining a future self.  What about Sartre or Jaspers, for example?  Would Schopenhauer here too have a form of proto-existentialism?  And finally, in what sense might "will," or in terms of contemporary metaphysics - agency - come to play in this?

Could we update classical existentialism in this current "revival" and call it agentialism?  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Meillassoux and Malabou (with an audio link)

HERE and HERE.  Pointer to J.C. Martin.  (To hear Malabou present her keynote "It Does Not Have to Be Like This - On Meillassoux and Contingency," from  the Society for European Philosophy, click HERE.)