Tuesday, August 25, 2015

"Perceptual universes abounding all around of us": Interview with Leon Niemoczynski, part 1

Speculum Criticum Traditionis blog has posted an interview (link HERE) that After Nature readers may enjoy.  The title is quite lovely, actually..."Perceptual Universes Abounding All Around of Us."  It is done in a down-to-earth conversational style despite being conducted through email.  While the interview is broken into two parts and was around 20-30 pages in text, SCT has edited things quite abit so that is reads easy.

John Caputo on the End of Religion (mp3 audio)

Caputo's keynote lecture from the "End of Religion" conference where HBC partnered with Villanova University to air this as a live podcast.  Now available for download.

Link HERE.

Friday, August 21, 2015

"Nature May Have A Profound Effect On Our Religiosity" (NPR article)

Pointer to Tom Sparrow for emailing a link to a very interesting NPR article. Link HERE.  The photo above is from a previous trip to Maine some years back, but Na and I were just up there for about a week camping

This weekend we'll be camping out of our kayaks along the Delaware River, trip from Milford down to Portland along with my sister and her husband.  I believe we are camping overnight on one of the islands on the river.

Friday, August 14, 2015

We Have Never Been Human: response to R. Scott Bakker on transcendental phenomenology and BBT [feedly]

response to R. Scott Bakker on transcendental phenomenology and BBT
// Footnotes 2 Plato

Anyone who posits some form of efficacy or constraint outside the natural order on the basis of some kind of interpretation of 'experience' has the same argumentative burden to discharge: How do you know? What justifies such an extraordinary (supernatural) posit?…What makes the question so pressing now is that their instrument, reflection, has finally found itself on the coroner's table. -R. Scott Baker
There is nothing "outside" the natural order. In this sense, I am opposed to the transcendentalist's move to remove Reason or the reflective understanding from physical reality. There is indeed a supernaturalist residue in much transcendental and phenomenological philosophy. This is why my project has always been to theorize "the natural order" as itself always already creative, aesthetic, interpretational, experiential (mine is a naturalized transcendental (Schelling's "Nature is a priori")). There is no "other" world from which the causal efficacy of our world derives. With our universe, the cause is internal to the effect, which is another way of saying our universe is primarily organic (with mechanism as a secondary appearance). This is why I follow Whitehead in the endeavor to construct an ontology of organism, wherein: 1) Physics is the study of the evolutionary development of particles, stars, galaxies, and other micro- and macro- organisms-in-ecologies; 2) Biology is the study of the evolutionary development of single cells, plants, and animals in their meso-cosmic ecologies; 3) Philosophy, anthropology, and theology are different aspects of the study of the evolutionary development of languages, myths, and ideas in their noetic ecologies. The organism-environment field becomes the metaphysical metaphor guiding our theorizing, rather than the machine.
Now, when I say "my project has always been to theorize…", I should qualify that "theory" in the context of an open-ended, evolving cosmos such as ours can never pretend to certainty or finality. Theory is not the construction of a disinterested, reflective ego (at least, no valuable theory is). Theory always remains dependent on the speculative leap of some metaphor or another. Theory is imaginative construction requiring equal doses of aesthetic taste and logical clarity. Our theories are always as much science fiction as they are science fact.
I agree with Bakker than cognition of the real just isn't possible. But we must distinguish between cognition and sensation, feeling, and intuition. If an intuition of the real is our goal, using the reflective instrument is like shining a flashlight in search of darkness. Reflective cognition is like King Midas, turning everything it touches into noetic gold. It transforms everything not-I into food for itself, digesting the world and defecating whatever it can't assimilate as waste. It does't seem to me much of a stretch to say that modernity's exclusive reliance on reflective cognition is one of the main factors leading to the ecological crisis.
Let me be clear that, while I defend transcendental phenomenology from Bakker's eliminativist meta-critique, my own philosophical home base is process-relational ontology. I have major issues with transcendental phenomenology as a philosophical resting place. It remains too anthropocentric, too concerned with issues of human access and not attentive enough to solar nucleosynthesis, cellular mitosis, and atmospheric levels of CH4. But still, I just don't understand how, having grasped the power of transcendental critique–as critique–one could fail to see eliminativist arguments like BBT as anything but dogmatic materialism (materialism has today become the new School Philosophy, though it pretends to be the ultimate critic of all metaphysics). Where I leave transcendentalism behind is in my pursuit of a constructive, cosmologically-rooted philosophy, something the phenomenological approach just cannot provide.
It is clear Bakker has done his philosophical homework. I don't think it is fair of him to lump everyone into the same transcendentalist clown car, though. Phenomenology was born out of the intense debates between Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, all of whom accused Kant of not having cleared his vision of dogmatist residues. They all recognized the possibility and the fact of neglect, and even of the neglect of neglect. But for these post-Kantians (with the possible exception of Hegel), the transcendental project was an infinite one by definition, meaning there would never be a point when the a priori structures were finally reached and could be clearly and distinctly spelled out once and for all. Fichte grounded the transcendental historically in the ethical development of humankind, describing philosophy as an attempt to asymptotically approach absolute metacognition as an ideal while never in fact being able to reach it. Schelling went further and grounded the transcendental in the creative developmental arc of the cosmos itself. For Schelling (and here he converges with Whitehead), not even God knows the a priori conditions of experiential reality: the divine is just as caught in the chaotic turmoil of historical becoming as any creature is. None of these thinkers, with the possible exception of Fichte when he is sloppy, thought that impersonal natural systems could be cognized in terms of their own 1st person experience.
Here is Schelling mulling over this exact problem, for ex.:
"I could conceive of that being perhaps as something that, initially blind, struggles through every level of becoming toward consciousness, and humanity would then arise precisely at that moment, at that point in which the previously blind nature would reach self-consciousness. But this cannot be, since our self-consciousness is not at all the consciousness of that nature that permeates everything: it is just *our* consciousness and hardly encompasses within itself a science of becoming applicable to all things. This universal becoming remains just as foreign and opaque to us as if it had never had a bearing on us at all. Therefore, if this becoming has achieved any kind of purpose it is achieved only through humanity, but not for humanity; for the consciousness of humanity does not = equal the consciousness of nature" (The Grounding of Positive Philosophy, 1841).
In other words, 1st person reflective ego consciousness is largely a sham. It can tell us little if anything about the unconscious natural ground from which it emerges. Of course, Schelling (like Whitehead) argued that the field of experience extends beyond mere 1st person ego consciousness. My argument with Bakker has always been: why reduce the experiential field that is open to us to 1st person ego consciousness? Most of our daily and nightly experience is not egoic! Most of the time we are flowing through other experiential states more akin to animals, plants, and even minerals. So in a sense mine is also a post-human manifesto. We have never been human, if you want.


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Inhuman Rationality and Cosmos as the Space of Reasons

The below had me thinking about how in a speculative, ecological, and neo-rationalist metaphysics, the space of reasons in its true universality (or multiversality) would be cosmos itself.

From the blog Three Pound Brain in THIS post, called "Alien Philosophy":
Are there alien philosophers orbiting some faraway star, opining in bursts of symbolically articulated smells, or parsing distinctions-without-differences via the clasp of neural genitalia? What would an alien philosophy look like? Do we have any reason to think we might find some of them recognizable? Do the Greys have their own version of Plato? Is there a little green Nietzsche describing little green armies of little green metaphors?
The post then continues to quote Kant, as follows:
The highest species concept may be that of a terrestrial rational being; however, we shall not be able to name its character because we have no knowledge of non-terrestrial rational beings that would enable us to indicate their characteristic property and so to characterize this terrestrial being among rational beings in general. It seems, therefore, that the problem of indicating the character of the human species is absolutely insoluble, because the solution would have to be made through experience by means of the comparison of two species of rational being, but experience does not offer us this. (Kant: Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, 225)
Note, experience has not offered this as no (at least public and scientifically studied) contact with extra or non-terrestrial life has been established.  But I am intrigued by Kant's query, which is a query in the 18th century mind you, into the starry heavens above so as to think, how might we garner a characteristic property of rational beings in general.  That's amazing because, really, he is considering nonhuman forms of life whose rational being could divulge truly universal principles of knowledge that transcend our own terrestriality.  In short, he recognizes the inhuman nature, or "extra-human" nature of reason.

Further on, this piece from the post:
Of course, the plausibility of humanoid aliens possessing any kind of philosophy requires the plausibility of humanoid aliens. In popular media, aliens are almost always exotic versions of ourselves, possessing their own exotic versions of the capacities and institutions we happen to have. This is no accident. Science fiction is always about the here and now—about recontextualizations of what we know. As a result, the aliens you tend to meet tend to seem suspiciously humanoid, psychologically if not physically. Spock always has some ‘mind’ with which to ‘meld’. To ask the question of alien philosophy, one might complain, is to buy into this conceit, which although flattering, is almost certainly not true. 
And yet the environmental filtration of mutations on earth has produced innumerable examples of convergent evolution, different species evolving similar morphologies and functions, the same solutions to the same problems, using entirely different DNA. As you might imagine, however, the notion of interstellar convergence is a controversial one. [2] Supposing the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence is one thing—cognition is almost certainly integral to complex life elsewhere in the universe—but we know nothing about the kinds of possible biological intelligences nature permits. Short of actual contact with intelligent aliens, we have no way of gauging how far we can extrapolate from our case. [3] All too often, ignorance of alternatives dupes us into making ‘only game in town assumptions,’ so confusing mere possibility with necessity. But this debate need not worry us here. Perhaps the cluster of characteristics we identify with ‘humanoid’ expresses a high-probability recipe for evolving intelligence—perhaps not. Either way, our existence proves that our particular recipe is on file, that aliens we might describe as ‘humanoid’ are entirely possible.
Evolution assures that cognitive expenditures, the ability to intuit this or that, will always be bound in some manner to some set of ancestral environments. Evolution means that information that makes no reproductive difference makes no biological difference. 
An ecological view, in other words, allows us to naturalistically motivate something we might have been tempted to assume outright: original naivete. The possession of sensory and cognitive apparatuses comparable to our own means Thespians will possess a humanoid neglect structure, a pattern of ignorances they cannot even begin to question, that is, pending the development of philosophy. The Thespians would not simply be ignorant of the microscopic and macroscopic constituents and machinations explaining their environments, they would be oblivious to them. Like our own ancestors, they wouldn’t even know they didn’t know.

Here are some excerpts from posts from After Nature where I've picked up on some of this before.

From "Thoughts on a 'NeoPresocratic Manifesto'"
The other side of the coin is to divulge the rational conceptual space that is extra-human by identifying the interplay between emotive, subjective, or felt intensive-qualitative experience and the conceptual apparatus that assists in propelling the life of qualitative intensive experience. In a sense, this larger intensive but conceptual space is even non-human in its "naturalness"; so it includes human beings but transcends human beings (thus it is "non-human"). 
By recognizing the larger-than-human space of rationality we see that a.) aesthetic contrasts of value create normative dimensions of experience that humans are subject to, and b.) these dimensions of experience transcend human-to-human ecologies of knowledge and therefore guarantee a truly rational but also normative aspect to reality itself. Indeed, reality or nature is rife with "experience" that is both conceptual and of an aesthetic value yet which is, also, not human.

From a quote of the day:
Reason liberates its own spaces and its own demands, and in the process fundamentally revises not only what we understand as thinking, but also what we recognize as “us.”    
- Reza Negarestani
And on "Octopus Intelligence," where essentially the point is that intelligence is ubiquitous.  My next question would be, is there information only where there is intelligence?  Or, what is the relationship between the two?  Even if both are extra-human, that is transcending but encompassing the human, yet also other forms of life, then how ingrained within the world is intelligence (pysche) and also information?  I find myself continually going back to the likes of Hegel, Fichte, and Schelling to sort out the question of mind within nature.  From there biosemiotics builds upon the notion of ubiquitous intelligence that the German idealists had in the 18th and 19th centuries.

From "The Pain of Rocks"
I don't think that it is anthropomorphic to speculatively explore non-human consciousness supposing that non-human worlds of experience overlap or may be like our experience in some respects, as much as they may be unlike our experience in other respects.  
In the tradition of Jakob von Uexkull or even to some degree William James and Alfred North Whitehead, it isn't about multiplying different world pictures nor even rendering them common to ours, even though the diversity of world pictures has its place. I think it is about speculatively and phenomenologically allowing non-human worlds to exhibitively self-display their experiential features where these features are attended to for what they are. 
Removing human beings from nature and stating, "Ok, the experience of others may not be like our subjective experience" doesn't mean that others aren't capable of experiencing emotion, pain, etc. etc. The fact is, it isn't our experience to begin with. If human beings didn't exist, elephants would still grieve the loss of a matriarch, dolphins would still express joy, crabs would still feel pain, and so on. Further still, all things - taking a panexperiential viewpoint - would struggle to persist and would undergo self-relations. We do not need to appeal to analogies involving human-centered experience to make that case. No one is saying the world is like us. I (for one) am simply saying that we are part of the world, naturally, like everything else.
After having watched Pete Wolfendale's talk from the "Inhuman Symposium" I am inclined to think that rationality is *not* merely an invention or category created by the moderns.  Actually, rationality in the fact that it encompasses the human - any human regardless of specific socio-political contexts (what Braidotti was grilling him about, prompting his response that he grew up in an environment that critiques postmodernism) - is something which is a universal horror, at first.  The security of what humans thought gave them the "one up" over everything else turns out to be precisely what motivates forms of life to project critically noumenal realities outside of it.  And so, what is reason then in these universal instantiations, or more specifically and precisely, what can we say of its activity?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Inhuman Symposium [feedly]

From Pete Wolfendale...

Inhuman Symposium
// Deontologistics

I recently gave a talk at the Inhuman Symposium at the Fridericianum in Kassel, titled 'The Reformatting of Homo Sapiens'. The video of the event has just been released, so I'm sharing it here for those who are interested. The paper itself is slightly truncated, and really needs a further section discussing desire, and outlining a positive conception of agency, selfhood, and value on that basis. However, such are the perils of time limits.
Here is my talk:

And here is the panel discussion, in which I have quite a lively back and forth with Rosi Braidotti:

I highly recommend watching the other talks, which are also available here.


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Friday, August 7, 2015

Ernst Jünger’s Eumeswil now available for preorder

HERE.  The older hardcopy version (which I have) is worth over three hundred dollars, so this new Telos paperback is certainly worth it for around twenty seven dollars.  It will be available September 1st.

Eumeswil, ostensibly a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel, is effectively a comprehensive synthesis of Ernst Jünger’s mature thought, with a particular focus on new and achievable forms of individual freedom in a technologically monitored and managed postmodern world. Here Jünger first fully develops his figure of the anarch, the inwardly liberated and outwardly pragmatic individual, who lives peacefully in the heart of Leviathan and is yet able to preserve his individuality and freedom. Composed of a series of short passages and fragments, Eumeswil follows the reflections of Martin Venator, a historian living in a futuristic city-state ruled by a dictator known as the Condor. Through Venator, the prototypical anarch, Jünger offers a broad and uniquely insightful analysis of history from the post-histocric perspective and, at the same time, presents a vision of future technological developments, including astonishingly prescient descriptions of today’s internet (the luminar), smartphone (the phonophore), and genetic engineering. At once a study of accommodation to tyranny and a libertarian vision of individual freedom, Eumeswil continues to speak to the contradictions and possibilities inherent in our twenty-first-century condition.

For those new to Juenger's work you might want to see some of these After Nature posts, or check out THIS blog as a must-see:

"The Forest Passage"

"More on Juenger"

"The Magic of the Real"

"Nick Land and Ernst Juenger on Ultimate Exit"

"Ernst Juenger Quote of the Day"

"Promethean Time Travel"

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Real Chance: the Necessity of Contingency

Fwd: Space and Time in an Ontology of Organism [feedly]

As I mentioned in my last post, in July we'll be doing Part II of our "Philosophy of Organism" summer reading group, this time covering Plato and Schelling, where last year we covered Whitehead, Deleuze, Dewey, and Merleau-Ponty.  Matt from Footnotes to Plato blog was kind enough to offer some inciteful comments below apropos the topic.
Space and Time in an Ontology of Organism
// Footnotes 2 Plato

Henri Bergson (1859-1941)

I'm thoroughly enjoying Jimena Canales social, scientific, and philosophical history of the Einstein-Bergson debate in The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate that Changed Our Understanding of Time. There are quite a few pages on Whitehead's alternative rendering of relativity theory. There is one place (198-99) where Canales, while commenting on George Herbert Mead's criticism of Whitehead, offers what to me reads like a distortion of Whitehead's concept of eternal objects. It could be that Whitehead only worked out a more coherent understanding of eternal objects in Process and Reality as a result of his early exchange with Mead at Harvard in September of 1926.


I've often wondered if it makes more sense to replace Whitehead's phrase "eternal object" with the poet Charles Olson's suggestion of "eternal event." The poet's phrase may actually convey Whitehead's concept better than Whitehead's way of wording it. Perhaps Whitehead's original intent was to put eternal objects in irrevocable tension with occasional subjects, such that experience always presupposed participation in both. Every event or occasion is eternally temporal, a differential repetition or concrescence of Creative Process into creaturely product.

Earlier today, Justin commented under my essay on Whitehead's cosmological scheme titled Physics of the World-Soul. He took issue with Whiteheadian jargon and with what he thought was the "straw man" version of Einstein I spent several paragraphs critiquing. These are both valid concerns. I'd argue that the former concern is true of every significant thinker. Personally, if I don't find a philosopher's prose difficult to understand at first pass, I quickly become bored with the ideas. Sure, Burt Russell is often clearer and more straightforward than the "muddleheaded" Whitehead. But Russell's demand that the depths of the world reveal themselves to him in clear and distinct ideas may in fact do violence to the chaotic heteronomy of those depths. New ideas cannot always be expressed in old words. The latter concern is something I hope to respond to more fully after I finish Canales' book. The wider question of the relationship between space, time, and experience in an ontology of organism is one I hope to expand upon in my dissertation.


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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Is Materialism a Type of Idealism? [feedly]

Is Materialism a Type of Idealism?
// Alexander R. Galloway

I've already posted on Jameson's materialism and his theory of interpretation in light of today's new materialism and the larger ontological turn in contemporary theory. Much of the new materialism tends to elevate empirical, descriptive, even pragmatic approaches in its quest to unlock material reality, while denigrating hermeneutic pursuits as a kind of useless culturalism, or what Quentin Meillassoux in a different context labeled "correlationism." As I already described in the previous two posts, such a dramatic step is wholly incompatible with Jameson's conception of material reality. Jameson's "ontology" -- disclaimers surrounding the use of this term notwithstanding -- requires a reduction to material conditions, a determinism (no matter how weak or strong) of these material conditions, and indeed ultimately an accounting of the absolute horizon that conditions the world as a whole. Hence the dialectic of reduction-and-expression is absolutely necessary, as are the structures of figuration like allegory and metaphor engendered by them, along with the interpretive techniques required to parse them.

Let me offer one final post on Jameson, this time on his Hegelianism. This aspect has always mystified me. Jameson's primary influence is undoubtedly Marx. Yet he has never renounced the elder dialectician, nor does he have any intention of doing so. I generally hold a dim opinion of Hegelians, particularly those in whom there is no visible Marxist spark (unlike Jameson). Still, Hegel is popular again today, the academy well-stocked with Hegelians, while Marxists are only marginally less difficult to spot than, oh I don't know, fluent speakers of Esperanto.

At a young age I was taught to be skeptical of Hegelianism in all its forms. Metaphysical, idealist, bourgeois, and bound to a repugnant anthropology, Hegel was something to be avoided, something to be excised. The task of thinking, I was taught, was to identify Hegelian elements in order to invert them, remove them, or otherwise think beyond and without them. This is what Marx did. It's what Deleuze did. In fact a common thread united the kinds of thinkers I was drawn to: they all rejected Hegel.

Of course it's not that simple. And I'm realizing more and more that the idea, or perhaps the concept or form, is absolutely essential, even for any kind of Marxist endeavor. One might cite Deleuze and Guattari's late work, What is Philosophy?, in which the concept plays an important role. But the thinker who ultimately convinced me is probably Alain Badiou. I'd like to write more on Badiou in the future -- possibly even a full monograph -- but what convinced me is Badiou's structure of the event, particularly how subjects are created in relation to events.

(In fact Deleuze and Guattari's What is Philosophy? was a veiled attack on Badiou, at least in part. For instance, their "Example 12" contains a summary of Badiou's Being and Event, which had just been published; and chapters 5 and 6 in general seem to be geared against Badiou, specifically Badiou's privileging of mathematics within philosophy. In those chapters, Deleuze and Guattari aim to separate science from philosophy by separating functives from concepts. The "event" also appears a number of times the book. And Deleuze and Guattari's refrain of "Art, Science, and Philosophy" is surprisingly similar, at least structurally, to Badiou's proposed configuration of "Art, Science, Politics, and Love.")

As I understand it, materialism requires adherence to the concept. It's why Badiou talks about hypotheses rather than facts. Or why Laruelle talks about axioms rather than worlds. But not just any concept or axiom, and certainly not all of them. Materialism stems from one axiom. Indeed, sometimes it is simply called the axiom of the one, while other times it comes under different names like identity, equality, univocity, the common, or the generic.

Materialism means adherence to the concept of the one. Each element in this definition is important, and I'll gloss them in reverse order: (1) the one means radical identity (equality, univocity, the common, etc.); (2) the concept means that such identity is asserted axiomatically/theoretically; (3) adherence means an insistence or persistence (Badiou's term is "fidelity").

We have, then, a new formulation of that old philosophical pairing "genesis and structure," or what Deleuze in his own way called "difference and repetition." Genesis refers to the being and becoming of things, how things arise or are born. Ironically structure refers to the non-becoming of things, how they adhere to a particular plan or arrangement. Materialism interprets this pairing as follows: the concept of the one ("genesis" understood as the asserted axiom of radical equality) is sustained or upheld via adherence ("structure" understood as fidelity).

In other words, there's nothing natural about materialism; materialism doesn't spring from the earth, nor is it revealed by physical laws or material reality. Whoever begins with empiricism, physicalism, naturalism, or realism will never arrive at materialism. The same is true for all the journalistic pursuits (observation, study, description, documentation, modeling) and the ideologies they require (transparency, neutrality, foundationalism, the transcendental, principles of sufficiency).
Materialism doesn't mean "pay attention to the material conditions." You're doing it wrong if you say "I want to be a neutral observer of the world" or "let's abstract scientific laws from physical phenomena." These are simply extensions of the journalistic pursuits.

Likewise, materialism is not self-grounding. It doesn't mean "the things as they naturally are." Yes, materialism is often colloquially understood as the determination of thinking by material conditions. And that's not untrue. But the only way to ground materialism (which is not self-grounding) is to adhere to the concept of the generic common. I'll admit it's counter-intuitive, but materialism begins from adherence to a concept, even if it results in a determination by material conditions.
Badiou is illuminating on this point, as when he speaks of communism as nothing more than "the radical inclusion of the excluded." Indeed, defined in this way materialism becomes essentially synonymous with communism -- or what others sometimes call radical democracy (as opposed to the kinds of representational or parliamentary democracy that are dominant today).

How unsatisfying, then, for today's conversation. For these are simply the old debates staged anew, with those same tired criticisms of Marxism waiting on the sidelines to be trotted out once again like some ragged old warhorse: Marxism is just thinly veiled essentialism; Marxism is just thinly veiled idealism; or, worst of all, Marxism is just thinly veiled romanticism.

But isn't that the problem? To borrow a classic concept from Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, perhaps a bit of strategic essentialism is precisely what is needed at this particular point in time. Strategic idealism, even. Criticality is so thoroughly disempowered today, the velocity of co-optation so rapid, the inversions of political desire so complete, perhaps the only truly revolutionary act available now is to promulgate a kind of strategic essentialism. It's as if to say that no sort of direct, rational process will ever yield a result, such results arising rather from those irrational processes, those untranscendable horizons that fix the very coordinates of nature itself.

Is this not what Hegel meant by "objective thoughts," by concepts becoming objects? Hegel was fond of citing that old maxim from Anaxagoras that "nous governs the world" (πάντων νοῦς κρατεῖ), arguing that nature is "a system of unconscious thought...a petrified intelligence." When the stress falls on νοῦς, this is undoubtedly a form of idealism. But when the stress falls on κρατεῖ (to rule over, to govern), a more kinetic logic takes over. Mind governs the world; mind incites the world; mind is insurrectional. (Badiou's theory of the subject is more or less identical.)

I suspect that the apogee of idealism, or at least the point where it ineluctably transgresses its own logic, remains the condition of subjective transformation if not self annihilation, wherein names become so suspended they appear nameless, faces so defaced they become blank, the world so remote it withdraws, like Dante's first glimpse of the great abyss, "dark and deep and filled with mist... [and] though I gazed into its pit, I was unable to discern a thing."

Was it not Husserl, that master of suspension, who summoned phenomenology to transcend the seemingly "anonymous" nature of the life-world, or Michel Henry who plumbed the deeps of the ego only to find the "facelessness" of essence, to say nothing of Descartes and his hyperbolic doubt? Idealism, one will recall, is not so much the science of forms or abstractions, much less concepts or notions, but the science of subjectivity. Or to put it in reverse: subjectivity is always the ultimate stake in any idealism. And idealism's own special ironic condition is one in which the invigorated potency of a pure subjective stance is, as it were, so potent that the subject becomes transformed in the wake of its own stubborn fidelity. This, again, is the lesson of Badiou, a strange dialectical creature comprising equal parts radical idealist and radical materialist. (Shall we not simply agree to call him a radicalist?) And it is the most convincing rationale he provides for Plato's ongoing relevance today, in short, that Socrates and Rimbaud speak in one voice: il faut changer la vie!
And that, since Marx at least, has been the defining premise of materialism.


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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Empathy in Rats [feedly]

Empathy in Rats
// Animal Cognition

As the go-to animal for biological and behavioral research, rats have long been the darlings of science. But only in recent years has their capacity for empathy started to get more attention. That's not to say that research into rat empathy hasn't been done in the past. In 1962, scientists George E. Rice and Priscilla Gainer presented individual […]
The post Empathy in Rats appeared first on Animal Cognition.


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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."

Quentin Meillassoux - The Divine Inexistence

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

quote of the day

C.S. Peirce (1839-1914)
"To be idealists we must be materialists without flinching."

- C.S. Peirce (quoted from Hartshorne's Creativity in American Philosophy)

Monday, June 15, 2015

more Charles Hartshorne interviews, definitely worth listening to

Three more very good interviews with Charles Hartshorne, one session is a Q & A session which is quite informative.  You certainly might want to take the time to listen to these - each are about 50 minutes long, but it would be perfect if you are taking a long drive or doing some yard work (which is what I often do - listen to philosophy sometimes while mowing the lawn and so forth).

While the videos are "dated" the quality of ideas in play leaps out.  Try giving one a listen!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

quote of the day

"The necessarily existent is the purely existent in which there is not yet anything determinate"

- F. W.J Schelling, quoted by Charles Hartshorne

Off to go kayaking

Friday, June 12, 2015

quote of the day

“I possess a sense of divine transcendence from the Catholic tradition balanced by a pagan appreciation of the mystery of nature itself, the sensuous being-there of the world in its sometimes unbearable beauty.”

- William Desmond, Perplexity and Ultimacy

Thursday, June 11, 2015

quote of the day

Eric Voeglin (1901-1985)

"To take transcendence seriously is to take the world good as it is."

(pointer Speculum Criticum Traditionis)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Charles Hartshorne: reflections on a long career and my philosophical giants

A very interesting talk by Hartshorne which is him essentially reflecting on his philosophical influences. Although delivered from a podium and at times he reads abit too much from his paper, this is just a fascinating talk in the sense that one sees Hartshorne's philosophy as a whole - given the "giants of philosophy" he cites as being influential for him and given his reflections on how he was impacted by those under whom he had studied.

Above the video embedded in this post below I've posted several renditions of influential philosophical "giants" of my own, which includes Hartshorne.

C.S. Peirce (1839-1914)
F.W.J. Schelling (1775-1854)

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)
Charles Hartshorne (1897-2000)
Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995)

Plato (427-347 B.C.E.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

quote of the day

Inspired by the content of my last post:

"In animals we can see emotional feeling, dominantly derived from bodily functions, yet tinged with purposes, hopes, and expression."

- Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought

Whitehead on Feelings (draft of a talk by Steven Shaviro)

Alfred North Whitehead

Link HERE.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

What Would Plato Do? (audio)

"The great Plato embarks on a twenty-first-century book tour. He tangles with an obnoxious TV pundit, charms a live audience at the 'Y', and bowls over the entire staff at Google headquarters. What would he make of us? What would Plato conclude about how we live?"

Interesting radio interview entertaining the question "What would Plato do?" HERE.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

New research places us on the cusp of brain-to-brain communication. Could the next step spell the end of individual minds? (Aeon article)

Paul Weiss (1901-2002)
HERE.  Is fused consciousness in-itself necessarily desirable?  The argument would be that inherently human consciousness or bodily identity is already a many creating a "one" - a society of occasions, a nexus of cells which only together produce the appearance of a unified being. 

Still, in significant ways my thoughts are not your thoughts.  It's that old balancing act one finds in Fichte and Hegel between the I and not-I, between self and other.

Reminiscent of Weiss's Privacy and You, I, and the Others.  Who is Paul Weiss?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Eduardo’s: Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s Cannibal Metaphysics and Eduardo Kohn’s How Forest’s Think

"While still reading the introduction of Kohn’s book I got a pleasant surprise – that it will be the old pragmatist Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) who will provide for Kohn the groundwork for understanding how forests, and animals, all living creatures for that matter, think. Kohn announces that he will draw on ‘the 'weird' Peirce, [that is on] those aspects of Peirce’s writing that we anthropologists find hard to digest – those parts that reach beyond the human to situate representation in the workings and logics of a broader nonhuman universe out of which we humans come.’"

From an interesting post "Forest, Signs, and the 'Weird' Peirce" covering Viveiros de Castro's and Eduardo Kohn's relationship to C.S. Peirce...HERE.  Contemporary French anthropology (de Castro, Descola, Latour) draws more and more each passing year on both Peirce and John Dewey, also William James.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

quote of the day

"Metaphysics is a body of necessary truths that no experience can contradict but that any experience must be able to illustrate."

- Charles Hartshorne

"Metaphysics gives us no fact ordinary or superior, but gives us the keys to fact, the clue or ideal by which factual experience is to be interpreted."

-Charles Hartshorne

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Black bear mother and cubs are latest visitors to my back yard (Photos and Video)

My TG-2 Tough Camera certainly isn't made for long shots, which is why they sell an extension lens, and unfortunately I do not have it.  My camera takes great still shots, mostly for point and shoot to landscapes, mountains, groves, etc. while hiking.  The video on my camera is atrocious as you can see, and hear.

If I can (or if readers want) I can post some of those photos here, we have many woods' creatures visit each day.  Usually a flock of turkeys will visit, many, many deer, a red tail hawk lives in a visible tree back in the oak forest, and occasionally you'll see black bear.  Oh, and given that that is 80 acres of oak forest we're talking about back there (not all ours by the way, it runs into others' lands and then state park), eerily at night you hear coyotes yip and even sometimes howl.  That'll make your skin crawl.

I'll watch numbers on this post to see if there is interest.

Anyway, black bear are extremely quiet for their size.  This mother (called a "sow") and her fairly large cubs were looking for food but must usually take a pass through our yard at earlier times in the morning.  This time they passed about 11am.

Thankfully I wasn't outside - because I was going to take a walk just around the time that I happened to see these bear, glancing out my window.  You don't want to get in between a sow and cubs, ever.  Even if just a 300+/- pound black bear, which probably is more afraid of you than you it.  Still, things have happened.  Especially when cubs are involved.

My apologies for the shakiness of the camera, and the focus.  But enjoy what you can.  I certainly enjoyed their visit.  And after I shot those video clips I crept downstairs and out on to the deck to watch them venture off into the neighbors yard and then off into the woods.

Close up, Black Bear in my back yard by deck

Larger photo of Black Bear (mother with cubs, cubs are on my car in driveway)

Trailing off into woods by clothesline

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Turkey in back yard and CV hike

Another view from a hike in Cherry Valley, followed by a "Where's Waldo" type photo of a turkey hiding while pruning itself within the shadow of a tree in my backyard. See if you can't spot it.

My latest pub (book review)

Friday, May 22, 2015

"What Has Kant Ever Done for Us? Speculative Realism and the Kantian Heritage" (book chapter)

Gironi is one of the founders/editors of Speculations journal.  Anyway, lots of C.S. Peirce in here actually, and in many ways that makes sense. Also Sellars and Kant.  HERE.