Thursday, June 29, 2017

Phenomenology and onto-empathy

Interesting NDPR review of a new book, Phenomenology of Sociality: Discovering the 'We' edited by Thomas Szanto and Dermot Moran, HERE.  Looking over the review I was prompted to take an extended peek at this book, just for a few hours this morning, and it appears that those who are interested in phenomenology's utility for developing new concepts in speculative philosophy, particularly that domain's possible relationship to ethics (which is currently horribly underdeveloped), might enjoy it.

One thing that annoyed me however, if After Nature readers will permit my own short review of Phenomenology of Sociality, is that despite the talk of pulling ethics into the foreground of new theoretical frameworks involving phenomenologies of sociality - so we hear of not just a "lifeworld" but a "We-world," the need for an emphasis on other-subjects, features of a phenomenology of sociality including sharing and togetherness, and finally, challenges to Mit-sein ("Being-with") including the drawing of false analogies, experiences involving that which is "totally alien," and the perplexing Pontyean "being-within-each-other," it seems that all of this takes place from within a radically anthropocentric point of view. 

Now, you may be saying that the book appears to be an explication of strictly methodical treatments of sociality, and so a division between human and non-human does not apply. However, it appears that the very categories employed by the authors, at times, do leave out the very possibility of non-humans being part of the equation. For example, linguistic analysis is at the center of the study of phenomenology of grief - all the while forgetting that non-linguistic expressions of grief, or even expressions of grief which occur in a language humans may not understand - may be foreign to a human being's usual understanding of that particular emotion (specifically I am thinking about the much-controversial subject of grief and elephants, for some do not believe that elephants can through a language meaningfully express grief let alone truly feel that emotion. I, personally, disagree. See my radio interview about animal emotions on ABC National Radio's "The Philosopher's Zone," mp3 file HERE.). The same applies with the chapter on love and affection. These are just two small examples but the criticism does apply, in my humble judgment, to the whole of the book.

On the other hand there is a bright side to Phenomenology of Sociality: Discovering the 'We' " which is that there is some extremely good discussion of an ontology of persons and the various dimensions of "personhood," especially in the discussion concerning shared emotions. I just wish that some of these analyses could have had more of a capacious scope in mind so that non-human persons could be included in the application of the concepts under discussion. Just something for the editors to think about.


Speaking of phenomenology and sociality, a corner of my research has always been not just the sociality of reason, page Hegel or Brandom, but also the sociality of feeling: sensa of the organic body which more universally put could be called cosmic community.  (Thus my old relationship to "catholic" meaning "universal" rears its head yet again.) To those ends I would like to explore "ontological regard" and "onto-empathy" as a priori categories of social relations, perhaps in the future if time allows. With this in mind After Nature readers may wish to consult my post "Reality as Social Process and Onto-empathy" HERE.

With respect to "catholicism" understood as universality - thus sociality of reason, civil religion, Hegel - the following After Nature posts might set a context as well with especial attention paid to how process-relational philosophers such as Alfred North Whitehead or Charles Hartshorne can, even in terms of their own theory, be appropriated by those of the Catholic faith who respect that form of philosophical universality (note: currently I am not in communion with the Church, having since several years ago left for Buddhism; e.g. for intense philosophical reasons but also for practical ones, i.e. my wife is Buddhist). But, with respect to those of the Catholic faith who might be interested in process-relational thought and its relationship to "catholic" universality, what I mean is that while often times, indeed if not most times, Whitehead and Hartshorne are picked up by liberal Protestant process theologians as models for theoretical advance, it is possible that from the Catholic perspective Whitehead and Hartshorne can be just as instructive .

In particular names and books that come to mind are Fr. James Felt (see his Coming to Be, a book that creates a Thomistic-Whiteheadian metaphysics of becoming), Fr. Frank Oppenheim (see especially his Thomistic-Process-Relational Reverence for the Relations of Life), Fr. Joseph A. Bracken (The One, the Many, and the Trinity traces the development of Roman Catholic theology as synthesized with process theology), Fr. Lewis Ford (a Thomistic re-construction of Whithead), Fr. Joseph Koterski (Aquinas and Whitehead in theoretical union), Fr. Norris Clarke (process-relational Catholic personalism), Fr. Hosinski (Stubborn Fact and Creative Advance - GREAT book) but also Daniel Dombrowski (aesthetics, beauty, process-Catholicism), John Haught (of Georgetown U, Catholic theology and evolution, nature, science, ecology), Fr. Walter Stokes (Whiteheadian-Thomistic realism). Kinast's Process Catholicism and Korsmeyer's God-Creature Revelation are also quite excellent. (In passing I should mention as well one significant historical text, Maritain's Bergsonian Philosophy and Thomism.) Here readers should keep in mind if wondering how I know all of this is that out of my roughly twelve year teaching career - or eight years teaching with the Ph.D. - I spent ten of those years teaching with Catholic institutions. Other than one VAP, Moravian College is the first non-Catholic institution for which I've taught.

With all of that said, the last point of this post is synthetic. More recently Bruno Latour has been drawn into the debate concerning "catholic" universality - but with respect to pluralism and its possible compatibility with process thought (cf. An Inquiry into Modes of Existence). This debate has made its way to the blogosphere, for better or worse, I want to say maybe...three years ago? In any case, two fundamental questions that arise with Latour, are; first, one may ask whether Latour's ontology is process-relational in perspective (I believe that it is); and second, is Latour's pluralism compatible with catholicism's universality - and not necessarily the Catholic church per se (again, I believe that it is for, again, "catholic" means universal). See posts below for commentary for how that might work and hopefully readers may find something interesting, entertaining, or of some use.

"Latour's Catholic ecology (article)" HERE

"More on Latour's natural religion and "speculative naturalism": on processes of pluralization" HERE

"Can Whitehead be a Christian philosopher? On the monarchical social organization of actual occasions" HERE

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

quote of the day

"Objectivity of thought, in Kant's sense, is again in a certain sense only subjective.  Thoughts, according to Kant, although universal and necessary categories, are only our thoughts - separated by an impassable gulf from the thing, as it exists apart from our knowledge. But, the true objectivity of thinking means that thought, far from being merely ours [emphasis mine, After Nature], must at the same time be the real essence of things." 

- G.W.F. Hegel, The Encyclopedia Logic

Monday, June 26, 2017

new essay by Nick Land on accelerationism

Two new essays by Nick Land in the newly launched Jacobite online magazine, "a magazine of philosophy, cultural analysis, exit, and post-politics."

One can read "The Atomization Trap" HERE or "A Quick-and-Dirty Introduction to Accelerationism" HERE.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

"Mother Nature might be lovely, but moral she is not. She doesn’t love us or want what’s best for us" *Aeon essay)

THIS article takes me back to one of my first sketches of the naturalism behind bleak theology (see my posts "Misanthropology and Bleak Theology" HERE and "The Ruthlessness of Metaphysics" HERE).  The Aeon essay and those posts have alot in common.  From the Aeon essay the below stood out in particular:
Nature can seem as inspiring, beautiful, strong and nurturing as a mother, but it would be foolish to believe that this ‘mother’ loves us. There’s no reason we can’t celebrate her glorious natural gifts while also appreciating the important ‘unnatural’ improvements our fellow humans have created. 
I think the last sentence begs the thought of how nature and culture relate, with nature being the more encompassing category as the "unnatural" is still nature.  We must remember that nature is whatever is in whatever way it is. Thus nature's scope encompasses a full range of value of what is - both bleak and bright, natural or "unnatural," beautiful or abhorrent.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Europe Travel Blog: Salzburg and Hallstaat, Austria + Heidelberg and Triberg, Germany

"Der Philosophenweg" (Philosopher's Path), Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg Schlosshof (Heidelberg Castle), Photo from Philosopher's Path

View of Heidelberg city, location of where I am currently writing Transcendental Naturalism (or Speculative Naturalism, title still yet to be determined)
"Fachwerk" (half timber), Swabian style farm home in the Black Forest, Triberg, Germany

The Eternal Romantics, Museum Exhibit, Triberg

Depiction of Goethe, Museum Exhibit, Triberg

Caspar David Friedrich, Museum Exhibit, Triberg

Albrecht Altdorfer, first German lansdcape painting  from 1520, Museum Exhibit, Triberg

Fascination of the Forest, Museum Exhibit, Triberg

Field and forest, Triberg

Triberg village, view from mountain path

Triberg station, hiking trails adjacent to the station

Salzburg, Austria

View from bridge, Salzburg

Narrow city streets offer their charm below the Untersberg, massif of the Bertesgaden Alps, Salzburg

Mozart Residence, Salzburg

Mozart, central square, Salzburg

Mozart dinner concert, video courtesy of Na

Salzburg Cathedral

Exploring hidden groves near the cemetery, Salzburg

Friedrich Schiller statue, Salzburg

View of Salzburg from path atop the edge of town

Streets and gardens, Salzburg

Festung Hohensalzburg, view from field, Salzburg

Welcome to Hallstaat, Austria

Hallstaat, village on Western shore of Hallstaat Lake located in the mountainous Salzkammergut region of the Alps

In cable car en route to the ancient salt mine of Salzwelten, Hallstaat

Hiking atop the mountains of the Echern Valley, Hallstaat

Salzkammergut Berge station, beginning of the trail, Hallstaat

Cozy mountain cabin accommodations for a romantic night with Na, Hallstaat

Edge of stream by Salzkammergut Berg, Hallstaat

Monday, June 19, 2017

Prometheanism and the brothers Jünger (excerpt from The Titans)

The brother of Ernst Jünger (1895-1998), Friedrich Georg Jünger (1898-1977), is known for his Prometheanist text The Titans (1943), second only to his master treatise The Failure of Technology (1953) (HERE).

Ernst Jünger's The Worker: Dominion and Form (1932) is similar to both of his brother's most famous books and is due to be published in English translation this coming fall of 2017 through Northwestern University Press (HERE), however an alternate translation was once proposed but never made it through.  You can see that alternate translation in its entirety HERE. The alternate translation is very, very rare and I had the privilege of finding it after having been seeking it out for years.  I finally made contact with Dirk Leach, the original translator, and asked for the page proofs that were eventually rejected by Northwestern UP in favor of another translation.  So the original is quite rare and a gem to have.

Below is an excerpt from The Titans, perhaps interesting for those interested in proto-accelerationist texts or NrX texts of "right-accelerationism" so-called (whatever that might mean).

Friedrich Georg Jünger

Die Titanen (1943)

* * *


….The Titans are not the Gods even though they generate the Gods and relish divine reverence in the kingdom of Zeus. The world in which the Titans rule is a world without the Gods. Whoever desires to imagine a kosmos atheos, i.e. a godless cosmos, that is, a cosmos not as such as depicted by natural sciences, will find it there. The Titans and the Gods differ, and, given that their differences are visible in their behavior toward man and in view of the fact that man himself experiences on his own as to how they rule, man, by virtue of his own experience, is able to make a distinction between them.

Neither are the Titans unrestrained power hungry beings, nor do they scorn the law; rather, they are the rulers over a legal system whose necessity must never be put in doubt. In an awe-inspiring fashion, it is the flux of primordial elements over which they rule, holding bridle and reins in their hands, as seen in Helios. They are the guardians, custodians, supervisors and the guides of the order. They are the founders unfolding beyond chaos, as pointed out by Homer in his remarks about Atlas who shoulders the long columns holding the heavens and the Earth. Their rule rules out any confusion, any disorderly power performance. Rather, they constitute a powerful deterrent against chaos.

The Titans and the Gods match with each other. Just as Zeus stands in for Kronos, so does Poseidon stand in opposition to Oceanus, or for that matter Hyperion and his son Helios in opposition to Apollo, or Coeus and Phoebe in opposition to Apollo and Artemis, or Selene in opposition to Artemis.


What distinguishes the kingdom of Kronos from the kingdom of Zeus? One thing is for certain; the kingdom of Kronos is not a kingdom of the son. The sons are hidden in Kronos, who devoured those he himself had generated, the sons being now hidden in his dominion, whereas Zeus is kept away from Kronos by Rhea, who hides and raises Zeus in the caverns. And given that Kronos comports himself in such a manner his kingdom will never be a kingdom of the father. Kronos does not want to be a father because fatherhood is equivalent with a constant menace to his rule. To him fatherhood signifies an endeavor and prearrangement aimed at his downfall.

What does Kronos want, anyway? He wants to preserve the cycle of the status quo over which he presides; he wants to keep it unchanged. He wants to toss and turn it within himself from one eon to another eon. Preservation and perseverance were already the hallmark of his father. Although his father Uranus did not strive toward the Titanic becoming, he did, however, desire to continue his reign in the realm of spaciousness. Uranus was old, unimaginably old, as old as metal and stones. He was of iron-like strength that ran counter to the process of becoming. But Kronos is also old. Why is he so old? Can this fluctuation of the Titanic forces take on at the same time traits of the immovable and unchangeable? Yes, of course it can, if one observes it from the perspective of the return, or from the point of view of the return of the same. If one attempts it, one can uncover the mechanical side in this ceaseless flux of the movement. The movement unveils itself as a rigid and inviolable law.


How can we describe the sufferings of the Titans? How much do they suffer anyway, and what do they suffer from? The sound of grief uttered by the chained Prometheus induces Hermes to derisive remarks about the same behavior which is unknown to Zeus. In so far as the Titans are in the process of moving, we must therefore also conceive of them as the objects of removal. Their struggle is onerous; it is filled with anxiety of becoming. And their anxiety means suffering. Grandiose things are being accomplished by the Titans, but grandiose things are being imposed on them too. And because the Titans are closer to chaos than Gods are, chaotic elements reveal themselves amidst them more saliently. No necessity appears as yet in chaos because chaos has not yet been measured off by any legal system. The necessity springs up only when it can be gauged by virtue of some lawfulness. This is shown in the case of Uranus and Kronos. The necessary keeps increasing insofar as lawfulness increases; it gets stronger when the lawful movements occur, that is, when the movements start reoccurring over and over again.

Among the Titanesses the sadness is most visible in the grief of Rhea whose motherhood was harmed. Also in the mourning of Mnemosyne who ceaselessly conjures up the past. The suffering of this Titaness carries something of sublime magnificence. In her inaccessible solitude, no solace can be found. Alone, she must muse about herself — a dark image of the sorrow of life. The suffering of the Titans, after their downfall, reveals itself in all its might. The vanquished Titan represents one of the greatest images of suffering. Toppled, thrown down under into the ravines beneath the earth, sentenced to passivity, the Titan knows only how to carry, how to heave and how to struggle with the burden — similar to the burden carried by the Caryatids.


The Olympian Gods, however, do not suffer like the Titans. They are happy with themselves; they are self-sufficient. They do not ignore the pain and sufferings of man. They in fact conjure up these sufferings, but they also heal them. In Epicurean thought, in the Epicurean world of happiness, we observe the Gods dwelling in-between-the-worlds, divorced from the life of the earth and separated from the life of men, to a degree that nothing can ever reach out to them and nothing can ever come from them. They enjoy themselves in an eternal halcyon bliss that cannot be conveyed by words.

The idea of the Gods being devoid of destiny is brought out here insofar as it goes well beyond all power and all powerlessness; it is as if the Gods had been placed in a deepest sleep, as if they were not there for us. Man, therefore, has no need to think of them. He must only leave them alone in their blissful slumber. But this is a philosophical thought, alien to the myth.

Under Kronos, man is part of the Titanic order. He does not stand yet in the opposition to the order — an opposition founded in the reign of Zeus. He experiences now the forces of the Titans; he lives alongside them. The fisherman and boatman venturing out on the sea are in their Titanic element. The same happens with the shepherd, the farmer, the hunter in their realm. Hyperion, Helios and Eos determine their days, Selene regulates their nights. They observe the running Iris, they see the Horae dancing and spinning around throughout the year. They observe the walk of the nymphs Pleiades and Hyades in the skies. They recognize the rule of the great Titanic mothers, Gaia, Rhea, Mnemosyne and that of Gaia-Themis. Above all of them rules and reigns the old Kronos, who keeps a record of what happens in the skies, on the earth, and in the waters.


The course of human life is inextricably linked to the Titanic order. Life makes one whole with it; the course of life cannot be divorced from this order. It is the flow of time, the year’s course, the day’s course. The tides and the stars are on the move. The process resembles a ceaseless flow of the river. Kronos reigns over it and makes sure it keeps returning. Everything returns and everything repeats itself — everything is the same. This is the law of the Titans; this is their necessity. In their motion a strict cyclical order manifests itself. In this order there is a regular cyclical return that no man can escape. Man’s life is a reflection of this cyclic order; it turns around in a Titanic cycle of Kronos.

Man has no destiny here, in contrast to the demigods and the heroes who all have it. The kingdom of Zeus is teeming with life and deeds of heroes, offering an inexhaustible material to the songs, to the epics and to the tragedies. In the kingdom of Kronos, however, there are no heroes; there is no Heroic Age. For man, Kronos, and the Titans have no destiny; they are themselves devoid of destiny. Does Helios, does Selene, does Eos have a destiny? Wherever the Titanic necessity rules, there cannot be a destiny. But the Gods are also deprived of destiny wherever divine necessity prevails, wherever man grasps the Gods in a fashion that is not in opposition to them. But a man whom the Gods confront has a destiny. A man whom the Titans confront perishes; he succumbs to a catastrophe.

We can say, however, that whatever happens to man under the rule of the Titans is a lot easier than under the rule of the Gods. The burden imposed on man is much lighter.

* * *

What happens when the Gods turn away from man and when they leave him on his own? Wherever they make themselves unrecognizable to man, wherever their care for man fades away, wherever man’s fate begins and ends without them, there always happens the same thing. The Titanic forces return and they validate their claims to power. Where no Gods are, there are the Titans. This is a relationship of a legal order which no man can escape wherever he may turn to. The Titans are immortal. They are always there. They always strive to reestablish their old dominion of their foregone might. This is the dream of the Titanic race of the lapetos, and all the Iapetides who dream about it. The earth is penetrated and filled up with the Titanic forces. The Titans sit in ambush, on the lookout, ready to break out and break up their chains and restore the empire of Kronos.


What is Titanic about man? The Titanic trait occurs everywhere and it can be described in many ways. Titanic is a man who completely relies only upon himself and has boundless confidence in his own powers. This confidence absolves him, but at the same time it isolates him in a Promethean mode. It gives him a feeling of independence, albeit not devoid of arrogance, violence, and defiance. Titanic is a quest for unfettered freedom and independence. However, wherever this quest is to be seen there appears a regulatory factor, a mechanically operating necessity that emerges as a correction to such a quest. This is the end of all the Promethean striving, which is well known to Zeus only. The new world created by Prometheus is not.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

What happens when the twin worlds of biotechnology and artificial intelligence merge, allowing us to re-design our species to meet our whims and desires?

NBC tech news article "Godlike 'Homo Deus' Could Replace Humans as Tech Evolves," HERE.

One may also wish to check out THIS article, perhaps being enticed as I was due to this:

"Machines are predicted to be better than us at translating languages by 2024, writing high-school essays by 2026, driving a truck by 2027, working in retail by 2031, writing a bestselling book by 2049 and surgery by 2053. In fact, all human jobs will be automated within the next 120 years, say respondents."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Land on Kant and Hegel, Husserl, phenomenology, and Schelling (quote of the day)

While reading Land's The Thirst for Annihilation the below stood out as particularly interesting. I decided to type out some excerpts for After Nature readers to enjoy as well. As I begin thinking about lines of research for this summer some of these ideas and directions certainly will come into play, so re-typing it has its research purpose as well. (Note: see also After Nature post "A humble attempt to introduce the philosophy of Nick Land...", HERE.)

“The importance of Hegel is not immediate [but] stems from the character of Hegelian thinking as redemption of Kantianism; its attempt to save transcendental philosophy from the lethal spasms welling up from within….Hegel's philosophy is the life-support machine of Kantianism, the medical apparatus responding to a crisis.” 
“Hegel's reading of Kant is complex and multifaceted; but also of an unprecedented coherence. Its intelligibility is, in the end, coterminus with the possibility of a system of reason, or actual infinity. Hegel realizes that the Kantian conception of infinity, which abstractly opposes itself to finitude rather than subsuming it, indefinitely perpetuated a dangerous tension, insofar as it suspends the moment of resolution. This bad infinity – the endless task of perpetual growth (capital) – is incapable of ever diminishing the prospect of utter collapse. Kantian infinity is deprived of any possibility of intervening….Kantian infinity is given, whereas Hegel sets it to work.” 
“To repeat, Kantianism is to perpetuate the exacerbative displacement of critique, to exceed it is to cross the line which divides representations from the real, and thus to depart both from philosophy and the world that has expelled it into its isolation. Critique is a matter of boundaries, or the delimitation of domains of application for concepts. The Kantian name for the items within the legitimate field of theoretical cognition is phenomena, whilst the extra-territorial items are called noumena. Because the noumena escapes the categories of the understanding Kant says “we can neither say that it is possible nor that it is impossible.” Noumena are what escapes the competence of theory...noumena are only understood as being such only in a negative sense.” 
“The most coherent attempt to establish a connection between conception and outside is Hegel's, in particular his phenomenological solution to the delineation of experience. Hegel argues that the boundary of experience is produced by the inherently self-transcending character of reason, so that the discursive excess which is not confined by the difference which restricts or determines phenomenality, since it is itself auto-differentiation….This is not merely the collapse of Kant's thing-in-itself back into the phenomenal world, because Hegel does not think of spirit as a timeless (transcendentally pre-given) system of cognitive faculties in Kantian fashion, but as a historical auto-production in which the self is really – and not merely reflectively – determined by the logically orchestrated activity of thinking as and through time. Hegelian history is not formal but speculative, which means that the subject is developed and not merely expressed through the series of predicates by which 'it' is thought.” 
“Since Hegel the word phenomenology has fallen even further into disrepute. Compared to the majestic system of Hegelian philosophy, the philosophy of Edmund Husserl – with which the word 'phenomenology' is now inextricably tangled – is a mere neo-Kantian eccentricity.” 
“An altogether richer vein of thought [richer than Husserl – After Nature, ed.] is that initiated by Schelling, provoked by Hegel's famous remark concerning a 'night in which all cows are black.' Like Hegel, Schelling saw the weak spot of Kantianism to lie in the impossibility of a rigorous determination of the transcendental ground of knowing, since what is transcendental has to remain immanent to ts own disjunction. What differentiates these two philosophical modes is that where Hegel's Auhebung or assimilatory negation passes through the other, appropriating it as a mediating pause of absolute reason, Schelling's Indifferenz undercuts the articulated terms, exacerbating the critical gesture, since one of the transcendentally subverted terms is in each case the simulacrum of the transcendental. Hegelian thought is guided by the exigency of comprehension (which when pushed to its limit grounds itself), Schelling's by that of transcendental grounding (which at the limit comprehends all difference).”

Félix Ravaisson, Selected Essays (NDPR review)

This book looks incredibly interesting: link HERE.

Irony and Idealism: Rereading Schlegel, Hegel, and Kierkegaard (NDPR review)

G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831)

Putting below excerpts which characterize the review overall hopefully saving the reader time in looking at the review as a whole. Link to the review in its entirety is after the excerpts.

Rush begins by noticing the developments in the academic discussion of German romanticism that have taken place over the last twenty years. Once mostly the province of literary scholars, the field of German romanticism also came to acquire in this period remarkable new interest within the Anglophone philosophical world. 
One question raised by this new philosophical attention, of course, is just what is meant by "romanticism"... 
Rush is particularly interested in what is now usually characterized as "early" German romanticism, a term employed above all to distinguish between pre- and post-Napoleonic phases of German romanticism and centering (depending on how one counts these things) on the small town of Jena and the years 1796-1801. Although the ambit of even this more restricted cultural phenomenon involves a fairly wide constellation of figures (Novalis, Ludwig Tieck, Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder, Friedrich Schleiermacher, August Schlegel, etc), Rush keeps his focus on three main authors: Friedrich Schlegel, who emerges at the center of Jena romanticism; Hegel, who came to Jena late and whose idealist approach is often taken simply to be in opposition to romanticism; and Kierkegaard, whom Rush sees as offering a kind of synthesis that is both responsive to and critical of its romantic and Hegelian sources. 
The key term for Rush's consideration of romanticism within its own development and in relation to idealism is the romantic figure of irony. His argument here is that a proper understanding of the romantic notion of irony lies behind post-Jena philosophical developments from Hegel to Kierkegaard. On this view, Schlegelian irony is seen less as a poetic mode than a primary way of exploring subjectivity: Rush's stress is on Schlegelian irony in the context of individual agency and what he calls the "first-personal sense of lived regulative cognitive and cultural orientation." 
Hegel's notion of dialectic in this context is understood as having an "uncomfortable proximity" to Schlegel's sense of irony, although Rush thinks the Hegelian system must be characterized as "retrospective and autotelic" in contrast with the Schlegelian system of fragments which is "prospective and tentative" (p. 10). On Rush's view, Hegel might be seen as a sort of "irresolute romantic," one who tries to nail down philosophical stability too soon and at a cost to the chaos that Schlegel can take on; the "really resolute romantic" would be one who denied the sort of resolution that Hegel craves. 
The book's two long chapters on Schlegel and Hegel are followed by a shorter chapter that presents Kierkegaard as offering a synthetic view. As Rush argues, Kierkegaard's "controlled" notion of irony allows him both to make use of Hegel's line of critique against Schlegel and to employ Schlegelian resources in turn against Hegel. Key here is Kierkegaard's notion of "spheres of existence" (aesthetic, ethical, religious) and the transitions among them.
Link to review HERE.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Outside Thought: Meillassoux, Uexküll, Peirce

A very interesting thesis is, to what extent might rationality - and all that is included along with conceptual navigation and the implementation of that navigation, including inference-making and judgment - be extrahuman as much as it is human?  While such activity is found immanent within human consciousness there is a sense in which it is immediately other than human consciousness: already "outside" of it, already part of "the great outdoors."  In the below linked paper the author turns to  the semiotic thought of Charles Sanders Peirce and Jakob von Uexküll vis-a-vis Quentin Meillassoux in order to flesh out notions of radical alterity and perception which are, perhaps, always and already other-than-self.  This is to say that the radical alterity in question is already outside as much as it is inside.

The practical upshot of such a notion is that perhaps there is more of a continuity than supposed between human and nonhuman by way of (natural) semiotic expression and communication, with modes of reasoning and acts of natural semiotic articulation allotted more broadly to who, or more essentially what, is actually capable of such acts - this without necessarily claiming that such acts are of a strictly "mental" or immaterial nature (thus "subjectalism" and the reading upon the world explicitly human traits or features).  Here it is possible to see that rationality, encompassing semiotic expression and communication, is of course not a strictly human affair and may be more deeply embedded in the world than once supposed, part of perceptual universes other-than-the-human but equally capable of complex conceptual navigation, inference-making, and judgment.  The result is that while the conceptual is part of the world this is not to say that the world is at bottom conceptual.  In a very strange way, then, the very notion of what "consciousness" means, what "perception" means, and what "reasoning" means - changes to the benefit of de-leveling any anthropocentric privilege formerly granted to explicitly human forms of consciousness, perception, and reasoning. Following Hegel, the real is rational and the rational real. Nature does not just affectively express, it reasons. And humans are but a small part of that.

Finally, I should say that while there is certainly much, much overlap ontologically and cosmologically between C.S. Peirce and Meillassoux, most profoundly on the issue of the necessity of contingency, the virtual and the possible in the role of counter-factuality and logic of possible Worlds (an "immanence" of the World beyond), set-theory's use in the advancement of arguments purporting not only the necessity of chance but the statistical formation of "universal" "figures" generally accrued over the long-run through a kind of habit-formation of the universe, and a Hegelian eschatological hope for a future World of justice and community albeit a tempered hope due to the Schellingean motor of reality which being the only absolute seems to forever forestall such an eschatological completion, that semiotics would be another ground upon which these two philosophers seem to converge.  Even in seeing speculation an alternative to dogmatism and criticism, spurred on by acts of abduction or "retroduction" and the function of a "metaphysics-of-the-open," of speaking not of what is but rather only what can be, is enough to warrant any side-by-side comparative study of these two philosophers extremely productive and of immense fruitful benefit.

To that end this paper is a welcome, illuminating step.

"Outside Thought: Meillassoux, Uexküll, Peirce"
Eric Savoth (UC Berkeley)

This paper considers Quentin Meillassoux’s notion of a “great outdoors” to consciousness in light of the semiotic thought of Charles Sanders Peirce and Jakob von Uexküll. Meillassoux argues that philosophies proposing a correlation between human thought and the world cannot account for the existence of the universe before human life. According to Meillassoux, this state of the universe is radically other to human consciousness. With the help of Uexküll and Peirce, I revise the role Meillassoux assigns to the universe before living beings emerged. I argue that not only the universe before living beings, but also the logic of life itself is radically other to human consciousness.

Link HERE.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Our visit to the Heidegger cabin (Heidegger's hut)

PHOTO: Niemoczynski, 2017.
Arriving to the top of Todtnauberg

A few days ago Na and I had the pleasure of visiting Martin Heidegger's cabin located in the mountains of the Black Forest region of southern Germany. Built in 1922, the small three room cabin (often referred to as "die Hütte" or "the hut") was where Heidegger wrote many of his most famous books, including Being and Time (written in 1927).

Plans showing the evolution of the C.S. Peirce house
My impression of the cabin and surrounding area was one of awe and wonder. Like when visiting the house of C.S. Peirce in Milford, Pennsylvania a few years ago, I was able to see how the contours of a philosophy can be very much the product of where that philosophy was created.  For example, Peirce's home was a project of continual re-construction and addition with Peirce adding new levels and rooms to the home frequently.  The home itself was ordered in its design and its layout block-like in orientation; lean yet ornate at the edges at the same time.  Peirce's philosophy was much the same: systematic yet speculative and exploratory at the edges; subject to continual revision and re-construction in such a way that the old was always incorporated into the new.  In a way, one can see the ideas of a speculative evolutionary philosophy, a cosmological metaphysics of morphe', present in the continual expansion and change of the design and building of the Peirce home.

Heidegger's cabin is simple yet quite romantic in its austerity; connected to the surrounding rustic, idyllic valley of fields and forests in a way that is quite indescribable.  Even Na remarked how the surrounding Black Forest had a magnetism to it; a certain charm of magic and air of mystery which draws one closer wondering what lies ahead in those dark woods.  The valley itself is quaint with its rolling hills, green pastures, and a rural village which abuts the forests.  I could see Heidegger's ideas spelled out in this landscape, especially essays like "Why I Stay in the Provinces" written in 1934 or "Conversations Along a Country Path" written in 1944. I can see how many have taken up Heidegger's thoughts on place and space, dwelling and thinking, mortals and gods, while looking at how his writings may have been affected by writing in the cabin.

Directions to the Heidegger hut or Heidegger cabin are quite simple although it is generally off limits to visitors to see up close due to its location on private property.  Na and I were granted access just by chance however as we ran into an immediate family member who happened to be there during a German holiday (I imagine that if you do find someone who owns the property or someone who knows a family member that they'd let you see it up close as long as you ask).  So in that respect we were extremely lucky to see it up close as we were expecting only to see it from a distance along the path.

The cabin is located in Todtnauberg with the path leading to it (the "Heidegger Rundweg") beginning at the center of the village.  The path in its entirety takes about 90 minutes to walk although the cabin itself is visible from the path after about ten or so minutes of walking.  Many locals come to the path (which is owned by the town, only its adjoining fields are privately owned) to walk and enjoy the scenery.

We traveled by train from Heidelberg which took about four hours, stopping to change trains in Rastatt, then Offenburg, and then taking a bus from Kirchzarten (a very nice small village itself) to Todtnauberg.  Our bus took us up several steep forested mountainsides where there are a few resorts and ski places, a nature center, and then fewer and fewer remote mountain villages. Once on top of the mountain Todtnauberg appears (on a map part of "Todtnau") which is very, very small and consists mainly of farm houses and a few small hotels.

PHOTO: Niemoczynski, 2017.
Sign for the Heidegger Rundweg, town center
There are signs pointing to the path and one walks uphill to its beginning which takes about fifteen minutes from the center of town. From there the path goes uphill slightly until after another ten to fifteen minutes of walking you'll see the cabin on top of a hill to your left.

The hill to the cabin is quite steep so be sure to wear sturdy shoes or have a friend that can help you climb up. During our visit the field grass was thick and it was extremely muggy out making the climb somewhat difficult. We ascended along side a stream whose water helped keep us cool on such a hot day. After a few minutes of climbing the hill we finally reached our destination which was awe-inspiring to see up close after having read and written about Heidegger for so many years.

 As you can see in the photos I will post below, it is quite beautiful.  The views from the front of the cabin are stunning - and a little ways from the cabin toward the front at a crest there is a wooden bench where you can sit and take in the scenery.

It is certainly a trip that has changed the way I see Heidegger's writings.  A very powerful experience for sure, I'd recommend it to anyone who currently or has in the past taken interest in Heidegger's philosophy and would like to see where some of his most profound ideas were generated.

Click on photos to see larger image. (All photos were taken by Niemoczynski June 2017.)

Heidegger Rundweg, looking back to beginning of path

Panoramic shot of valley

View of cabin from the bottom of the path

About ten to fifteen minute walk along the path, base of hill to cabin

View of the cabin at hill summit

Front of cabin

View from the front steps of the cabin

Front view

Right side view

Water pump about 20-30' from cabin side

Side of cabin, cut wood is stacked along its side

View of valley from the top of the hill

View of valley to the left

Another small path leads from the cabin side to the paved path below

Cabin atop the hill, stream runs in cut shown in middle of photo

Another view of cabin, top

Building maintained by family member, to the left, base of hill

Valley view exiting path back to town