Wednesday, December 18, 2019

A "must-read." Excerpts included.

Great review of Ernst Junger's The Forest Passage. It's become the bible I live by. Excerpts and link below. The review, itself, is a "must-read."
We live in turbulent times that are sometimes hard to grasp. The vast amounts of stupidity and the further stupid reactions to this stupidity have created a terrifyingly negative situation we all have to face. Over-consumption, over-population, massive collectivism (including its most brutal and stupid form: monotheism) and an angst-ridden denial through petty consumerist compensations… What a mess!
"Man has immersed himself too deeply in the constructions, he has devalued himself and lost contact with the ground. This brings him close to catastrophe, to great danger, and to pain. They drive him into untried territory, lead him toward destruction. How strange that it is just there – ostracized, condemned, fleeing – that he encounters himself anew, in his undivided and indestructible substance. With this, he passes through the mirror images and recognizes himself in all his might.” 
At the core of the conflict lie not only its effects (pollution, depletion, poverty, pandemic potential) but also the philosophical dilemma for the thinking man and woman: how to deal with this world gone bananas? Each of us have to deal with the same question(s) but it seems that for most people the process becomes too painful and the perspectives too staggering. If we initially see ourselves as a contributing part of a whole (collective), it still won’t be long before the feeling of loneliness appears again. If survival on the individual level becomes too complicated, then of course people look for collective/tribal solutions. That’s just human nature. But what if the collective has gone bananas too and won’t realize it? A total Verfremdung then sets in, and the routes of life are now basically two: succumb/suffer or resist. 
Ernst Jünger’s figure/type of The Forest Rebel (Der Waldgänger) is not someone who physically roams through nature as some kind of escapist response to the madness of post-civilization. The Forest Rebel is rather someone who even within the restrictions of a human society finds freedom in the mere awareness of resistance. In this, the type is strongly related but not identical to another Jünger type, the Anarch. This should not to be confused with ”Anarchist”, who is always someone who needs the host body it claims to revolt against in a misdirected, epiphytic and masochistic love-relationship. The Anarch is as free as can be by claiming no allegiances and no ties on any level. Indifference is perhaps the wrong word here, but Jünger’s key term Désinvolture describes the attitude better. Being aloof, distanced, untainted by the madness and mass psychosis. Non-allegiance is central to this attitude. 
So, what’s the solution to the problem? Well, Jünger states very well what the problem is. But there are no set solutions, simply because this has to do with the Individual turning into a Forest Rebel or possibly an Anarch. 
Realizations about the state of the world, inner and outer, must come from the individual him/herself. The act of formulation itself is a move of powerful resistance. Then action must be taken, even if it only amounts to very subtle forms. There are no requirements, nothing to join, no set programs and no way back once the realization is there.
The unique sources of myth, creativity and imagination play important roles though, albeit individually expressed. ”Any power struggle is preceded by a verification of images and an iconoclasm. This is why we need poets – they initiate the overthrow, even that of titans. Imagination, and with it song, belong to the forest passage."  
A reconnection with the mythic world is essential to this existential adventure. It transcends narrow-minded and (weak) ego-driven pettiness, which, in collective forms, always manifests disaster. Every kind of collectivism is a denial and negation of individual potential. Striving for a glimpse of the eternal, mythic and divine (non-denominational!) in contrast to the dull dross of mechanized contemporary culture elevates the human mind to insights that can be utterly life-changing. When those insights arrive, you’re in the middle of the forest for sure. Free as a human being can be.
Link HERE.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

quote of the day

"The soul is, therefore, not the principle of a person's individuality, but that through which one is raised above all selfhood, whereby one becomes capable of self-sacrifice, of selfless love, and of what is highest, the contemplation and knowledge of the nature of things, and with all of that: art."

- F.W.J. Schelling, "On the Relation of the Fine Arts to Nature"

"Dionysus is a magical god...moderating all things...the one who dampens and controls ferocious fire."
 F.W.J. Schelling, On the Divinities of Samothrace

Monday, December 9, 2019

quote of the day

HERVIER: If I focus on the two utopias of your great novels Heliopolis and Eumeswil- 1949 and 1977 respectively-it seems that your view of the world has definitely grown more somber.

JÜNGER: Yes, but I would like to say that I do not want this to be interpreted as a prophecy about the future. At the moment, there is a portion that involves everything that Nietzsche says about his last man. For me, the last man is, above all, a phantom: man living amid comfort, as depicted in Nietzsche's Zarathustra, is only the before- last, and another will soon emerge. This is the kind of thought that comes to mind at twilight, and that is then pondered. But Eumeswil does not boil down to that. As for the period of "Passage of the Line," [translated as "Across the Line", AF] which, Heidegger says, should have posted the problems differently, I was playing an optimistic game. This doesn't mean that I'm contradicting myself, I am simply revealing facts that contradict one another. This an entirely different matter

- The Details of Time: Conversations with Ernst Junger

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

quote of the day

Ernst Junger (1895-1998)
HERVIER: The image of democracy proposed by Eumeswil is hardly flattering.

JÜNGER: Just what is democracy? People claim to have democracy everywhere, even in countries where it is absolutely non-existent in practice. It's somewhat the same with Truth. Truth is highly praised everywhere: but where do we really encounter it?

- The Details of Time: Conversations with Ernst Junger

Monday, December 2, 2019

Conversations with Ernst Junger: The Details of Time

Junger continues to be of huge importance for me as I finish up current reading projects and move on to new ones.  I've spent quite a bit of time with Hegel and Schelling this past year, branching out into Hegel's Philosophy of Right - and thus political philosophy has yet again entered into the margins of me developing a perspective that would inform my upcoming writing projects.

 I've never been much interested in the political until I began to realize how the political (as such) and ontologies of power are one and the same (this realization thanks not only to Hegel, but also to Nietzsche, Foucault, and Junger). 

I have argued in the past that it is incredibly profitable to triangulate reading of Nietzsche-Foucault-Junger when it comes to ontologies of power and ascertainment of political perspective. Many would assume Deleuze instead of Junger perhaps, which does work albeit from a different perspective. I think Junger works abit better over Deleuze simply because he is more "flexible" or "adaptable" in terms of optical assessment and practice.  With Junger apoliteia is quite valuable in terms of one determining what is what, without being locked into a particular political schism or schema.

As my upcoming reading project takes shape I most likely will post a reading list, but what I have so far is more topical than specifically author-based.  This all also fits with my currently developing YouTube channel (I have 110 +/- subscribers!) where I post both short ten to fifteen-minute-ish videos as well as broadcast lengthier live-streams (an hour plus) covering political philosophy, aesthetics, or sometimes less academic-natured things such as music or chatting with viewers.

That all said, here is a link to a nice little over-view of Ernst Junger's thinking. Hopefully you can see why I think he is so valuable and how he is such a brilliant and fascinating mind.

The Details of Time: Conversations with Ernst Junger (.pdf download, 3MB, HERE).

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Thomas Sheehan on Heidegger's Being and Time (Mp3 audio/video)

Robert Harrison and guest Thomas Sheehan discuss Martin Heidegger and his famous work Being and Time. This is from an episode of Entitled Opinions, a podcast at Stanford University.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Hegel on Architecture and Sculpture

Great discussion on Hegel's aesthetic theory on architecture and sculpture.

Link HERE.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

On the Divinities of Samothrace (Frank Scalambrino, 2019 translation)

F.W.J. Schelling (1775-1854) believed he had found, in the ancient initiation rites performed on the Greek island of Samothrace, the information lost to modernity with which to decode the “the original system of belief” celebrated and preserved in the Sacred Mysteries of the ancient Greeks, that is: the Dionysian, the Eleusinian, the Orphic, and the Samo-Thracian. The Sacred Mysteries revered the cosmos as the revelation of divinities communicating through nature. This origin-al revelation illuminates the mystery of the unified spiritual system of nature in which human reality participates.

“On the Divinities of Samothrace” (1815) was originally an address delivered to the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, and is counted by scholars as the beginning of the final “existential” phase of Schelling’s philosophy. For, the philosophical ground of the sacred teachings is that we exist (ex-sistare) by “standing-out-of” the primal eternally-cyclical nature of the cosmos and into chronological time: a teaching not completely unlike the Amor Fati of Nietzsche’s Eternal Return. Thus, this essay invokes the nature of indeterminate pre-history as more original than rational characterizations of time. And, yet, despite the philosophical depth into which Schelling thinks, his essay is strikingly lucid and concise.

This publication includes a new translation of Schelling’s essay, along with its exposition and discussion, by Frank Scalambrino (2019).

More information HERE. This is a wonderful opportunity for Schelling enthusiasts, scholars in German idealism, or even more generally Continentalists to read some of Schelling's more rare pieces, especially because of price - the original publication of this translation is priced to match its rarity, in fact.  In making this available Scalambrino has accomplished such a service, and I wholeheartedly commend him

As an aside, I met Frank a few years back at a conference about Ecstatic Naturalism. As it turns out, he knows quite a few people that I know from the Duquesne crowd.  One person in particular is a former friend of mine, one who stabbed me in the back, incidentally - the worst form of betrayal in the sense that he wished (rather weakly) to remain my friend while he sought his own fame, power, and glory chasing the - at that time - latest fad.  I sit back and wonder how in the world he could he not see that what he was chasing was a flash in the pan?  If you look at the scene today, it's all gone, Tom. All...gone. No well known or scholarly reputable journals.  No seminars or courses.  Most folks have simply moved on to greener pastures. Heck, it's just one guy who is a pathetic, washed up internet wizard who refuses to realize that his time passed him by.  Still shouting from the sidelines, he is like that old middle-aged quarter-back who thinks he's still part of the game. I am so sorry that you still follow him.  I am even more sorry that you chose him, knowing what he's done, knowing his crimes, over me.  Time has told who was the more virtuous.

In any case, for quite awhile I thought I was alone in refusing to bow to the fad gate-keepers. I thought that the people who hurt me were corrupted and selfish.  But I found out about how these people behave behind closed doors, and I know now that I was right.

Back to Schelling. I'm sure that the pain that I feel because of such a sad outcome with this former friend of mine is similar to at least some of the pain felt by the prince of melancholy, F.W.J. Schelling.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Plato's Threefold City and Soul (NDPR Reviews)

Plato's Threefold City and Soul
Joshua I. Weinstein, Plato's Threefold City and Soul, Cambridge University Press, 2018, 292pp., $99.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781107170162.

Reviewed by Roslyn Weiss, Lehigh University

In this astutely written, thoughtful, and stimulating book, Joshua Weinstein makes the case for the indispensability of the third, thumotic (spirited) part of the city and soul to the attainment of political and psychic justice. Offering a rich and deep analysis of (mainly) the human soul and the essential place in it of an element distinct from both reason and appetite, the book tracks this tripartition as it develops through three separate and sequential arguments: the argument from diversity of character, the argument from opposition of motivation, and the argument from sufficiency of function. It further explains how and why the city-soul analogy is vital in advancing the cause of tripartition in the soul. 
The book contains three parts. The first is devoted to the first two arguments for tripartition, namely, the arguments from character and from opposition; the second, to the third tripartition argument, the argument from function; and the third, to a full treatment of the work of thumos. In Part I Weinstein shows that "observational anthropology" (43) yields three basic character-types: the wisdom and knowledge-loving, the victory and honor-loving, and the profit and pleasure-loving. Weinstein then explains why there are not more than three basic types -- in particular, why further division into male and female is not helpful, and why two of the five character-types discussed in Books 8 and 9, namely, the democratic and tyrannic, do not "define specific characters . . . [since] they lack identifiable expressions at the shorter time-scales" (51). Weinstein next turns to the argument from opposition, contending that it is not intended to stand alone but rather relies on the three character-types already identified: "The three oppositions that appear in book four Socrates takes to represent the three main possibilities open to us when we choose how to live our lives: the life of acquisition, the life of ambition and the life of curiosity" (10). He then goes on to discuss the argument from opposition at great length and with much care. 
In Part II Weinstein directs his attention to the three needs that a city must satisfy if it is to be self-sufficient ("autarkic"), namely, sustenance, defense, and guidance. He follows Socrates' imagined city as it proceeds from its initial healthy state to a feverish one and finally to a state of self-sufficiency that exhibits justice (112-13). Justice as conceived on this large scale can then be transferred to the smaller scale, the individual soul: once Socrates constructs a city that addresses its three needs, non-isolated individuals are seen to have the same needs and to require souls designed to address them. In Part III Weinstein focuses on the work thumos performs. In this "rather speculative" part (235) Weinstein looks to Homer to help account for how thumos, whose essential role is that of "preserver," is unified, that is, how it encompasses, as preserver, love of victory (philonikia) and love of honor (philotimia), as well as other phenomena regularly associated with it, such as anger, shame, resentment, and ambition. 
There is much to admire in Weinstein's book. The following are several points meant to encourage further reflection.

Read the rest HERE

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Quote of the day

"The Dasein in the human being is nothing human."

- Heidegger, "On the Question of Being" (1955)

Monday, June 24, 2019

Object Oriented Ontology could probably use the following argument...

"John Locke explains that the idea of substance is how we know things exist outside of our minds. He believed that substance is 'what can exist on it’s own,' not dependent on another”(Philosophical Conversations, Melchert, Chapter 10, page 281). He believed this was a crucial piece to proving that things we experienced actually existed outside of our minds. He spoke to the power of substances, using the example of a magnet attracting iron fillings. If we know that something has a power to change another thing, we know it has substance and exists."

So by virtue of affect we can abduce that the originator of the affect is a.) certainly different from me, an external agent acting upon me in some way; and b.) there must be a power behind the affect that is both of some substance (not a "hanging-on-nothing" sensate quality) and which is capable of expressing or externalizing that power. Thus we have a sensate yet semiotic expression of some different external power, generated by an agent of some kind.

Discerning exactly what that substance is, however, is an entirely different quality. If sensate qualities are all that we can perceive (without possessing in any way entrance into, or observation of, the substance) then we are left with the problem that Hume had concerning qualities and then what stands behind them. Hegel addresses Hume's problem in The Phenomenology of Spirit (the sugar cube example).

It is for this reason that I believe German Idealism was "already beyond this problem" and indeed has already moved beyond any correlationist-appearance nonsense. A close study of Fichte, or Hegel for that matter, clearly proves this beyond a shadow of a doubt.

After Nature world tour -Speaking engagements for this summer

No other way to get your attention I suppose, but I'll be giving some talks this summer spanning the globe in my travels.  The first week of July I'll be in Reykjavík, Iceland (and surrounding areas for sight-seeing) followed by Shanghai, China; Kyoto, Japan; and then back to the U.S. for an environmental philosophy conference in Maine where I'll be giving the keynote. If you are living in or near these locations and want to meet for coffee or talk shop just let me know.

Oh, before I forget, my YouTube channel is now up and operational with my first video uploaded! For the address please get in touch and I'll gladly give it to you. I also upload the videos to BitChute (in fear of YouTube's egregious censorship) in case you want to find me there as well.

Here is some Orplid - fantastic music - if you happen to need something to listen to. Der Heiligen Leben!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Na's visitor yesterday...

Sorry about the blank post yesterday. This was Na's visitor: a very wet raccoon.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Iphigenia Inquiry

Probably the best self-produced YouTube series in the subject of philosophy that I've seen. Up there with Half Hour Hegel in terms of substance and intellectual quality, most definitely. Sadly under-viewed, don't let its somewhat narrow title of specialization fool you. Excellent material. Link HERE.

Cyclops Journal

Interesting new journal, new as in only a few years old with one or two issues now out - but they are definitely worth checking out.

It seems I might be appearing in their pages soon as they plan to release their next issue on Bataille, which you can find out more about: HERE or HERE.

If all goes well I am thinking of an assessment of Bataille through Nick Land across from Habermas, who critiqued Bataille in his Modernity book. Does Land's Bataille enable or prohibit creaturely inter-being via transgression of power, excess and defect?

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

"To Speculate: On 'Realism'", or Heidegger, Schelling, and Meillassoux

I found section 2.2 on Meillassoux and Heidegger of the below linked chapter particularly interesting as it engages both philosophers through a discussion of the Kantian transcendental. Something hinted at in the chapter which I think is incredibly important and have written about before myself (see HERE) is how Heidegger isn't as actually truly subject to some of the more damning claims made by Meillassoux in After Finitude as many might supposeIn fact, I have continued to maintain, as I do now, that the Heidegger of the '30s evidences that Daseyn isn't necessarily correlationally a "human" subject at all, understood as subject in one pole of the subject-object correlation. It would be a gross misstatement to characterize Daseyn as some kind of required correlational center-piece in the sense that it is a "human-opening" through whose poetic thinking Beyng might appear, and that only through Daseyn-as-human-opening might Beyng appear or be understood. Just as the distinction between Being and Beyng holds in Heidegger to present a thought held in two completely different lights, so does the distinction between Dasein and Daseyn differentiate Heidegger's realism of the '30s from his earlier anthropocentrically conceived Dasein in Being and Time. In the Contributions for example, Heidegger's realism is an idealism of a sort, true, but a realist-idealism that is non-correlational and transcendental.

It is for this reason that I actually prefer the Emad and Maly translation of the Contributions to the Rojcewicz and Vallega-Neu translation. Despite being more cryptic and at times enigmatic it presents Heidegger's project of the '30s in a way more true to its original influence of German idealism and its philosophical trajectory of transcendental realism: as being close to the project, aims, and understanding of Being as Beyng by the master himself, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling. The fact that Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy works (as does his The Event and The History of Beyng) within a register of speculative idealism that is also a transcendental realism, means that the Heidegger of the '30s is often misunderstood as much as it is overlooked. The realist Heidegger of the '30s is certainly under-utilized in discussions concerning speculative philosophy, German idealism, and transcendental realism.

For the above reasons "To Speculate: On 'Realism'" (Chapter 2 of Dearth: Eco-Deconstruction after Speculative Realism, by Phil Lynes, through Fordham University Press) is definitely worth taking a look at. Here is its abstract and then the link.

This chapter turns to an eco-deconstruction of the Kantian questions of finitude, the imagination and reason [Vernunft], both theoretical/speculative and practical, as well as the principle of reason [Satz vom Grund] for which there must be something rather than nothing, as we continue illustrating a realist time-space of extinction from Derrida’s unpublished 1970s seminars on Blanchot and Heidegger. Key to our investigations will be the speculative materialism of Quentin Meillassoux, as well as all these thinkers’ engagements with Kant concerning the thing without us, the temporality of the gift or promise that can be neither known nor thought – but can perhaps be imagined, dreamt or attested – as a transcendental illusion, an antinomy or transgression of pure reason.

Link to paper HERE.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Plato's influence upon Schopenhauer's aesthetics: On the Idea and Nature

Aesthetics Today has a great post up engaging Plato's influence upon Schopenhauer's aesthetics, specifically the role Platonic Ideas play in alleviating suffering of the Will. He writes,
There is something other than what we normally think of as Platonic Ideas as play here. First, we have the notion of "sides of an Idea which rarely appear." Second, we value individualities expressing themselves and their peculiar characteristics, through an "unfolding." Since aesthetic perception of Ideas is perceptual it is a matter of seeing the inward significance...of individual things.
This points to how the Idea in Schopenhauer functions much like the Kantian Ideas, not necessarily as literal Platonic Forms in an ethereal other-world, but as fully natural, functional guides and lures to action. The author of the post remarks this functionality reminds him of Nietzsche (Nietzsche's pragmatic appropriation of the Idea-as-expression-of-Will) and how the expression of individuals proceeds along the lines "as-if" its metaphysical aesthetic were "true" or "real" as it would be in and of itself. In other words, it is not necessarily the "reality status" of the Ideas within the purpose of aesthetics which is important for the organism, but the function of the Ideas and what they enable the organism to achieve.

I recently picked up Vaihinger's The Philosophy of 'As If' with the above in mind. For awhile now I've been working through Kant's moral, social, and political philosophy sideline to a more general study of aesthetics (German romanticism and idealism) and naturalism. I've learned to distinguish between a kind of - what I call - "naturism" and the more typical philosophical naturalism, the former being metaphysically pragmatic and fulfilling a social-political community function that more or less elevates the category of "nature" to that of religion. Johann Gottfried Herder's Aesthetics is a representative of this as is, remarkably given his atheism, Schophenhauer. In the case of Schopenhauer it is the effort to temporarily alleviate the Will which paradoxically allows us to affirm what is immanent within a transcendental register. Taking the aesthetic to be of a transcendental register itself is a move made by all of Plato, Kant, and Schopenhauer. Plato and Kant have much, much more in common I think than many suppose, but there are certainly engagements with the two in the thinking of the German romantics and idealists.

Link to the whole post can be found HERE.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Tom Sparrow's Review of 'Speculative Realism: An Introduction'

These two lines in particular had me in stitches: "I noted some instances where patience with one of his interlocutors was wearing thin and his distaste for the views or arguments under discussion became visible. Often, however, this distaste or impatience matches its target in tone and enlivens the prose with a hint of intellectual (if not emotional) investment." No Tom, this is just the usual under-handed passive-aggressive behavior of a man desperately shouting from the sidelines that he is still relevant - long, long after reasonable normal people have moved on. Talk about clutching on to the memories of your former high-school football team glory days. I don't think Tom realizes that this person is washed up and refuses to "leave the office" after the rest of us realized how taking the job was an embarrassment to begin with. And remaining in the office is not a virtue, it's pathetic and the action of a washed-up has-been. The fact that a person takes advantage of a situation while slandering a more capable philosopher in the name of a supposed objective "introduction" is absolutely hilarious as much as it is just, well, pathetic.

I wasn't even going to jot down and post any of this, but the mention of me in Sparrow's review was equally hilarious. There was no "inexplicable" excision, Tom. I perfectly explained that I don't have time to deal with or even talk about charlatans, gate-keepers, or other low-life internet scum who try to pass off their sleazy antics as "philosophy." I mean, there were literally no arguments at all to be found and thus to even talk about. I chose not to even go there out of fear of embarrassment. I never claimed to offer a comprehensive account of SR, a fact that you would have known if you had, you know, actually read my book. Oh, and I love the "you did!"-"no, you did!" moment where Sparrow claims to be confused by the whole how-can-you-talk-about-something-which-doesn't-exist thing by throwing back at me the same line of criticism I leveled at him concerning his "phenomenology is dead or doesn't exist" complaint, the thing he um writes his book about. Again, did you even read what I wrote?

I wasn't going to waste my time writing down these thoughts and even bothering with these people - I saw the review when it came out a few months ago and just chuckled. But a friend of mine mentioned it when mentioning how he liked my write-up on Brassier from the other day, and so I jotted this down as a response to what I thought about the review, if it wasn't obvious already.

Take it for what you will.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Revisiting Brassier's Deleveling of Object-Oriented Ontology: A Problem for Object-Oriented Ontology (that is Not a Problem for Ordinal Naturalism)

"Revisiting Brassier's Deleveling of Object-Oriented Ontology: 
A Problem for Object-oriented Ontology (that is Not a Problem for Ordinal Naturalism)"

Ray Brassier’s critique of object-oriented ontology is devastating. His primary purpose is to re-level the function of raized generality within immanence and hence re-invigorate a naturalized form of transcendence which is independent of perceiving transcendent consciousness and its horizon of apprehension. It is thus a form of scientific realism, pragmatism, and what I am currently referring to as “transcendental naturalism” in my own angle of vision which follows this part of Brassier’s thinking. One might think of this as a vector, an intersection, of Brassier’s work with that of Iain Hamilton Grant as transcendental naturalism is also, simultaneously, a transcendental materialism that admits the reality of the vital negative, that among other organic yet immanent features of the Hegelian and Schellingean systems.

As Brassier correctly points out, the sort of “flat ontology” merely posited by object-oriented ontology fails not only because it is simply posited, but because it lacks what Justus Buchler has articulated as “ontological ordinality.” In Buchler’s famous Metaphysics of Natural Complexes he identifies two necessary pillars required for any ontology that purports to be a naturalism as well. One is “ontological parity” – the idea that no object of nature is more real, nor any less real, than any other object of nature. (This idea sounds remarkably similar to the “ontological flatness” posited by the object-oriented ontologists despite Buchler having articulated it thirty five years earlier.) The other pillar is “ontological ordinality” – the idea that whatever is, is naturally complex. Meaning, there are no metaphysical simples. And further, as such, ordinality means that no object can be entirely unrelated to anything else and still be considered a singular, simple individual (thus it follows that to be is to be related). Thus Buchler provides us with a picture of nature that is more capacious and robust than the “flatness” posited by the object-oriented ontologists as for Buchler nature is “whatever is, in whatever way it is.” Buchler does not reduce any items of nature to assumed grounds independent of the traits which relate hem, nor does he reduce objects simply to the relations among and between objects themselves. This is important because Buchler’s ordinal ontology contains parity, successfully, in a way which object-oriented ontology fails to do. And thus Buchler’s ordinal naturalism and its twin principles of ontological parity and ontological ordinality is immune to the sorts of criticisms leveled against object-oriented ontology and its failure to provide for an adequate rendering of nature.

There are four theses of object-oriented ontology that Brassier identifies which fail (quite miserably) specifically within the scope of ontology, and more generally within speculative and realist metaphysics. They are as follows:

  1. There is no transcendence. No one sort of entity is the origin or ground of explanation of all others.
  2. There is no generality (universality). No one sort of entity (or presumably method or discipline) accounts for (or explains) any possibility of unity or commonness to be had among all others.
  3. There are no internal relations among entities. All relations are external and involve sensuous qualities only.
  4. There is not ontological “dignity.” No entity can be asserted to rank higher or lower within an ontological continuum and thus all entities are ontologically univocal. (All “is.” Nothing is not.)
Aside from the fact that at least two of these are mutually contradictory, it is Brassier’s calling out as fatal one of these theses alone that I find to be relevant here, for even though it but one point of contention Brassier demonstrates quite clearly why the failure of this thesis as posited fails on several fronts at once and collapses the whole project. In a future post I shall double-back to Buchler’s ordinal naturalism avoids these criticisms and thus survives what is rightly a death-blow to a quasi-naturalistic ontology as well as charlatan metaphysics that has no right to claim any kind of systematicity whatsoever (let alone rationalistic rigor).

1. Brassier points out that the denial of transcendence (at least as its denial is posited here) denies forms, species and genera, natural kinds (and thus also natural difference; that is, an internal principle of differentiation), abstracta, and law.

2. He also points out that the second thesis denies the possibility of totality, whether universe or One-All. This would also deny the  Absolute.

3. The third denies subjectivity. This thus denies not only epistemological relevance to any and all objects, but also any re-presentation (repetition) required for any meaningful notion of ontological difference.

4. And finally, the fourth thesis inadvertently denies ontological integrity as it denies ontological “dignity.” The vital negative is lost as is difference sui generis, also by theses one and three.

Following Brassier, I only wish to address one of these theses. It is the same thesis Brassier addresses and then identifies as being fatal for the very ontology operating within “object-oriented” ontology.

As the objects of nature are claimed to be immanent to themselves, the essential nature of (and relevant relations to) objects collapse upon themselves. Correlationism is still present, although it is merely shifted from subject-object relation to object-object relation. As an aside, this move accomplishes nothing other than illegitimately attempting to save essential natures (“quiddity”) and internal relations without calling those relations as such.

As Brassier points out, fatal problems result. As transcendental naturalists believe (as do transcendental materialists), it is impossible to specify the ground or principle of object-individuation. Moreover, if we add the loss of generality (universality) to the loss of transcendence (or the “transcendental,” the conditions for the possibility of x, to follow Kant) then we cannot precisely identify what objects are in general – it becomes vacuously empty – nor can we say what objects are in particular, for we have lost quiddity. Objects cannot enter into relations for there is no internal nature to be related. If there are only sensuous qualities that could interact or be related then those relations proliferate to the extent that they cannot refer (intend) any essence. Brassier writes, “…the immediate consequence of adopting this full-blown object-oriented immanence is that we cannot say what anything really is.”

The pluralism so fondly cherished by the object-oriented ontologists suddenly collapses as well. As it does it finds itself ruthlessly subjected to its own second thesis. No internal principle of difference, no ground of differentiation, no internal relations, and suddenly All is One. Again, Brassier: “…if we cannot specify the essential qualities that distinguish one real object from another how can we be sure that the discrete multiplicity of sensual objects does not mask an underlying continuity…?” Object-oriented ontology has “undermined” (as compared to “over-ming”) itself. Further, without real difference we are left with nominalism. Or better even, psychological nominalism. Bundles of perceptions that cannot be explained without a correlational observer and philosopher of access to impart upon the perceptions a unity. As such there is no rational way to determine the nature of identity. No logical way to render the supposed pluralism found within the univocal sense of being posited. Hegel’s critique of Hume using the sugar cube example in The Phenomenology of Spirit is an excellent illustration of this fatal foundational flaw in the object ontologists metaphysics.

To conclude, I find it extremely interesting, but also perplexing, frankly, the object-oriented ontology finds Deleuze or Manuel De Landa to be an influence. They appear to mimic the commitment to individuals yet in throwing out the ground of difference at all cost deny the functional components required for any object to be an individual from the start. Thus the ultimate failure of object-ontology is not just a failure of transcendence, it is one of immanence as well.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Quote of the day

"The idea that unites all is the idea of beauty, taking the world in a higher, Platonic sense. I am now convinced that the highest act of reason, that in which reason contains all ideas, is an aesthetic act, and that truth and goodness are only united in beauty. Indeed, the philosopher must possess as much aesthetic power as the poet. The philosophy of spirit is [fundamentally] an aesthetic philosophy."

- "The Oldest Programme for a System of German Idealism" (1795-97)

[Authorship attributed to Schelling, Hegel, and Hoelderlin, jointly]

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Some new Schelling texts, including the 1811 'Ages of the World'

It is well known that Schelling drafted three distinct versions of his Ages of the World (Weltater) in the years 1811, 1813, and 1814/15. Until now, the last two had been published under the same name by SUNY and the 1813 version was published as The Abyss of Freedom. Now, many years later we finally find the 1811 version (the first version) of Ages of the World published by SUNY. This is truly a landmark event in Schelling scholarship.

Interestingly, a smaller publishing house has published the 1841-42 lecture “Philosophy and Revelation” as On the Doorstep of the Absolute. This was the same house that published Schelling’s 1804 Philosophy and Religion back in 2009. I remember that I had made some very good use out of that when I was working on my dissertation, so it is interesting to see a related lecture published all of these years later as I have circled back around to German idealism and romanticism.

Finally, we find Schelling’s Statement on the True Relationship of the Philosophy of Nature to the Revised Fichtean Doctrine published this year, which consists of his scathing reviews of Fichte. I've just come off of a fairly intensive year-long study of Fichte so the timing for me is impeccable. Other than Fichte and Schelling I have been working with Kant and Hegel quite abit.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

9th International Bonn Summer School in German Philosophy - Call for Applications

From the Bonn University website, please see the call for applications below. This year's topic is the tradition of hermeneutics in German philosophy.

Course Description 
This year's summer school will focus on the tradition of hermeneutics that stretches from Herder and Schleiermacher to Heidegger and Gadamer. In particular, we will look at their various conceptions of what exactly it takes to understand others and ourselves, paying special attention to their theories of the interpretation of texts. 
In the first week, we will examine what has been called "romantic hermeneutics": the approaches developed by Herder, Schleiermacher, and Friedrich Schlegel that sought to enable discovery of an assumed original meaning. These approaches rested on two important breaks with assumptions commonly made by the Enlightenment: a rejection of the Enlightenment's conviction in the universality of mental characteristics in favor of a conception of radical mental differences; and a rejection of the Enlightenment's dualistic conception of the relation between language and thought/concept in favor of doctrines that assert the intimate interdependence, or even identity, of the two sides. Schleiermacher's approach is the best known of the three and will accordingly receive especially close attention, but the contributions of Herder and Schlegel are of at least equal intrinsic importance, and will therefore be considered carefully as well. 
In the second week, we will look at Heidegger's and Gadamer's conception of hermeneutics as a foundational discipline and its potential relevance for contemporary debates. Our focus will be on issues pertaining to the relation between self-consciousness and understanding; phenomenology and meaning-holism; and the relation between understanding different kinds of utterances (ranging from ordinary conversations to what Gadamer calls "the eminent text") and the question of the objectivity of meaning. In this context, we will assess Heidegger's and Gadamer's meta-philosophical approach (hermeneutics as first philosophy) in light of various prominent criticisms of it (in particular, ones that come from so-called "critical theory").
Please send the following by April 1st, 2019 to: 
  • CV of no more than 2 pages
  • Statement of intent of no more than 1 page. Please mention in your statement whether you are interested in attending and participating in several seminars on the topic in German, which will be offered should demand warrant.
  • Writing sample of no more than 2,000 words in either English, French or German.
  • All students must in addition have at least one degree in philosophy.
  • All texts and discussions will be in English.
  • The course will be open to a maximum of 40 participants.
For more information please see their website HERE.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

A quick sketch of Schelling

Corrington has put up on his new blog a nice post discussing Schelling HERE where he sketches a few of Schelling's main ideas and then relates those ideas to his own perspective of "ecstatic naturalism."  For as brief a writing that it is, it is nevertheless remarkably elucidating.

I also found on Corrington's blog an interesting series of posts titled, "What is Living and Dead in Whitehead's Metaphysics." Having glanced at the first part I plan to read the rest as time permits. For those interested I shall link the parts here (Part ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE).

Back in the golden age of blogging - the "glory days" so to speak - I remember that Matthew David Segall used to write quite abit about both Schelling and Whitehead, exploring the connections between those two philosophers as well as their utility for contemporary philosophy (in particular, philosophical cosmology and environmental philosophy).  During the writing of my dissertation and for a few years after, I, too, had researched and written about rather extensively the connection between Schelling and process philosophy, whether that of Whitehead or Hartshorne.

It's interesting because whenever I happen to come across  Schelling in the literature, but most especially as of late, I am reminded of just how important understanding his perspective truly is.  This has just happened as I had finished working with Hegel and moved back into Fichte with some current things I am working on. This prompted me to purchase The Philosophical Rupture between Fichte and Schelling in addition to some Fichte texts that I hope to discuss in a future post, again time permitting. But the point is that no matter where one goes in the philosophy of nature, Schelling is never far behind. Even with giants such as Hegel or side-roads involving Fichte, Schelling's profound insights are ever-present and his importance never fades.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Thinking twice about Kant and correlationism

In my recent readings of Kant, in particular the lectures on anthropology as well as his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, I came across a well known passage toward the end of the text where Kant discusses the possibility of extra-terrestrial life and its role in understanding human nature.
The highest concept of species may be that of a terrestrial rational being, but we will not be able to describe its characteristics because we do not know of a nonterrestrial rational being which would enable us to refer to its properties and consequently classify that terrestrial being as rational. It seems, therefore, that the problem of giving an account of the character of the human species is quite insoluble, because the problem could only be solved by comparing two species of rational beings on the basis of experience, but experience has not offered us a comparison between two species of rational beings.
He then goes on to develop the distinction between (non-human) animals that are rational, and rational beings. 

It struck me how the age-old (by now) charge of correlationism and anthropocentrism against Kant may be misguided if we take the above into account.  As Heidegger during the '30s for example formulated Daseyn as a "more than human" although encompassing-of-the-human prototype, I see in Kant something similar as he struggles to define the nature of so-called "rational beings."  A sort of transcendending- the-anthropos toward a true non-human rational form of universality which nevertheless encompasses the human but is also beyond the human is in order, according to his project. Perhaps more clearly put, he is struggling to wrestle with a metaphysical ecology of the cosmos and its "Others" vis-a-vis the human yet simultaneously beyond the human.  And so while quite a few today bash Kant in the name of correlationism, his focusing upon the "human-all-too-human" (Nietzsche said Kant did not go far enough) is a paradox as it is none other than Kant who went furthest in speculating upon the Descolian Ecology of Others.

In order to "sketch the character of the species" in its truly universal form, an extra-species or non-human rational being species is desirable to compare, said Kant.  And thus we are forced to move toward a "cosmopolitics" or exo-political notion of what non-human rationality means for rational beings as such.  It is the "as such" part which forces us beyond the terrestrial landscape, for Kant is seeking the truly universal character of what it means to be a "reasoning being" sui generis.

This is quite interesting, I think. For as much as Kant is taken to be a correlationist par excellance' given his categories of the mind and so on, it is nevertheless his drive for universality that seeks to include the content and form of a species of rational beings within experience. This experience, paradoxically, opens up and extends beyond the merely human in its scope.

THIS article had an interesting take on what this might mean for Kant's ethics.  Kant himself had an idea when he speculated of how there may be a race of beings who are unable to think and express a thought unless the thought is spoken verbally.  That is, unless it is outwardly uttered the thought cannot be formed.  This would make lying impossible.  He then uses this speculation as a way to claim that as we human beings are morally perfectable, we ought to struggle toward that perfection and do good (which includes not telling lies, etc.)

As an aside, I thought of extra-terrestrial beings who may be telepathic.  If there is no private I or thoughts which are private, telling a lie would be impossible if these beings are able to remain aware of the contents of anothers' thoughts. Further, I wonder how these beings would regard brutal honesty? Having "heard" it all in the minds of others I am wondering if there is anything which would shock them or cause them dismay. Without anything being hidden there is only brutal honesty.

Regardless, THIS 90-page document was interesting, "Kant's Aliens: The Anthropology and its Others."