Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Quote of the Day (with Photos: All Photos by After Nature blog)

[The above photos are from various locations during After Nature blog's travels. Photos from Japan, Switzerland, Iceland, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Maine. I thought these photos fit well with the below quote as they might serve as a broad representation of Nature understood to be both consciousness and flesh, "the mother."]

"Do a psychoanalysis of Nature: it is the flesh, the mother." 

 - Maurice-Merleau Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible (pg. 267)

Sunday, July 11, 2021

C.S. Peirce, F.W.J. Schelling, Martin Heidegger: A Panentheistic Metaphysics of Nature

Recently I’ve been prompted to reflect upon my dual specialization in the Continental and American philosophical traditions, e.g. “Euro-American” philosophy, given some research projects I’ve just completed. In that line of thought and given the topics I was researching I came to consider my 2009 dissertation on C.S. Peirce, F.W.J. Schelling, and Martin Heidegger, and how it sent me on a comparative trajectory – specifically in looking at possibility’s concept and mode – as well as possibility’s importance in attaining lines of religious insight as afforded by experiences of beauty within the natural world. 

 When I mention that my dissertation included a comparison of Heidegger and Peirce, usually I am met with puzzled looks. However, if it weren’t for the dissertation written by David Jerimiah Higgins, “Possibility in Peirce and Heidegger: A Propaedeutic for Synthesis” (1969), I don’t think I would have thought to reap the benefits of such a comparison. I certainly wouldn’t have been sent down the road of process-theology or panentheistic philosophy of religion and nature, in particular by way of Schelling, given how important Schelling was for both Heidegger and Peirce. 

 Higgin’s dissertation was such a crucial document for me. At the time, the faculty who I wished to be my dissertation director was more or less “hit or miss,” sometimes in his office and sometimes not – sometimes informative and sometimes not, sometimes helpful and sometimes not, and so on. By chance I had taken a seminar on C.S. Peirce and came to be interested in the Peirce-Schelling connection (German idealism being very much influential for Peirce as well as for American Transcendentalism and pragmatism generally) and thus I came to find a new prospect for my dissertation director. Had I stuck with my original choice for dissertation director I don't think I would have ever finished the Ph.D.

Over twelve years later from time to time I still  contemplate Schelling's massive importance for both C.S. Peirce and Martin Heidegger, and still do believe Schelling is the "key" in comprehensively grasping a panentheistic metaphysics of nature - especially when the aesthetic is taken to be its crowning achievement. 

If you have an interest in Heidegger and have any interest in C.S. Peirce at all (or perhaps even the American pragmatists) then by all means do check out this dissertation. It’s informative and provocative, and like I said – it was of crucial importance for me and my own intellectual development. It contains some supremely excellent insights into a very rare comparison of two first rate philosophers, and may be of some help to something related you may be working on in your own research. Link HERE.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Divine Beauty (Randall Auxier book review)


About three months ago I completed a book review of the massive tome, The Mind of Charles Hartshorne for the American Journal of Theology & Philosophy. In order to complete the review (in particular of such a large book) I took copious notes, which incidentally filled two - yes two - small notebooks.  I "rediscovered" Hartshorne the last year of my Ph.D. and upon completing my dissertation read every single book that Hartshorne wrote in addition to a good number of his articles.

In the below Randall Auxier reviews Dombrowski's excellent Divine Beauty: The Aesthetics of Charles Hartshorne. Even to this day I find Hartshorne's aesthetics extremely compelling.

See the review HERE.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

quotes of the day

"That consciousness is a sort of public spirit among the nerve cells. Man as a community of cells; compound animals and composite plants; society; nature. Feeling implied in Firstness. The triad in theology. Faith requires us to be materialists without flinching."

- C.S. Peirce, Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce I.354

"The community of memory is as infinite as the community of hope."

- Randall E. Auxier, Time, Will, and Purpose Preface xiii

Monday, June 21, 2021

perhaps a useful tool for those of you returning to teach this coming fall

 I've used the Intelecom Examined Life series for at least a decade of my teaching, going even so far as to create fill-in-the-blank and study question worksheets corresponding with some of my most used episodes, for example "Is Reason the Source of Knowledge?" on rationalism or "Does Knowledge Depend on Experience?" on empiricism. There's a range of subjects covered by various episodes, even episodes on hermeneutics, phenomenology, and existentialism for all of you who may teach those courses or those subjects in a course. But, it's all there: aesthetics, various moral theories, political theory, social philosophy, you name it. Whether you show these in class, or assign them as homework on-campus or online as I have done, they are very, very helpful in allowing students see and hear someone other than you pitch the concepts you are going over and it gives more visual or auditory learners the chance to go over things according to their own personal learning styles.

Despite it being dated now by about 25 years I still use it. Students from time to time complain that it is "so '90s," which is fine with me, but of course if there is some better or more recent series out there like this please absolutely do email me because I would love to know. But for now this is the most comprehensive and best I could find. There are of course newer single episode philosophical videos created, for example I enjoy The School of Life videos on YouTube and Then & Now on YouTube - those are the two which immediately come to mind, but as far as lengthier treatments of these subjects, this is the series you want. 

As regards any philosophy videos on YouTube that you like: be sure to download them immediately to your home archive of teaching materials as you never know when they'll disappear. Don't rely on them remaining on YouTube forever not necessarily due to the whim and fancy of those who've posted them, but because YouTube is ridiculously and at this point stupidly censorious. I found this out when I saw that some of the very good philosophically and historically based philosophy videos on say Heidegger, or even in some cases on Nietzsche, were flagged as requiring sign-in to watch or simply removed for being flagged as "hate."  This is disturbing considering that the videos I am referring to were professionally produced, in two cases by the BBC production company. So we aren't talking home-made videos here. And by the way, I should let you know that some philosophy departments are removing Heidegger, and now Nietzsche too, from their syllabi. You can ask yourself whether you support that.

Ok, back to the point of this post! I would like to tell you that the Intelecom YouTube page has up for free selections from this DVD series which may be helpful for you to use in the teaching of your classes. As the series itself is exorbitantly priced in the thousand dollar plus range (I borrowed the set from my school's library and, um, made sure I would have access to them on my PC with burned DVDs so that I could show them or watch them whenever), having free excerpts up like this might be useful for you if you can't get the DVDs at your own school's library or through inter-library loan. Plus, things like this are just good to have in your teaching arsenal if you need them, I think at least.

The excerpts range from two or three minutes long to ten to twelve minutes long and are on a whole host of subjects, even broader in topical range than the DVDs themselves are organized. So that is extremely helpful if you are like me who actually prefers video clips which are no longer than ten or so minutes as I can't afford to lose too much class time with a video.

So check it out and I hope you are able to use them. Link HERE. (See the episode list HERE.)

Friday, June 18, 2021

environmental justice and ecological metaphysics (a gift to myself and Schelling-Peirce-Plato)

C.S. Peirce is usually read from the two volume The Essential Peirce and usually less so from the eight volume The Writings of Charles Sanders Peirce: A Chronological Edition (of which an eight of a projected ten volumes have been published), both published by Indiana University Press. However, as with anything, there is a gold standard. The four volume (printed as two books in each volume) Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce is that gold standard.

Edited by mainly by Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss who were graduate students at Harvard at the time, it is the manner in which the texts are assembled that renders them both unique and powerful as a presentation of Peirce's ideas. I've always wanted this set, using the electronic version on CD but finding it difficult to navigate and actually read as I would a book.

Being asked to complete a prominently featured essay on Peirce (which I've just completed for publication) and twelve years after the writing of my dissertation on Peirce (and Martin Heidegger and F.W.J. Schelling, being a Schellingean then and now I live by the rule of thirds), I finally treated myself to this glorious collection.

Just something to cherish, reading the ideas of America's most brilliant philosopher, without whom I wouldn't have found my current home in Naturphilosophie. That home includes (for me, at least) of course C.S. Peirce, but also Schelling, Plato, Hegel, Fichte, Deleuze, Merleau-Ponty, as well as Alfred North Whitehead, Charles Hartshorne - and the lesser known philosophers of Justus Buchler, Paul Weiss, William Ernest Hocking, and John William Miller.

I'll be revisited the Schelling-Peirce-Plato axis in more research to come, focusing on recognizing the rich insights of this triad available for contributing to environmental philosophy. This with an especial eye toward attaining an ideal form of ecological justice which would be inclusive of non-human animals and other sentient forms of life.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Ian Hamilton Grant (two abstracts)

 Two rather interesting abstracts by Ian Hamilton Grant. 

"Maximal Ontogenesis: On the Speculative Satisfaction of Naturphilosophie" 

 The naturalistic claim that nature is all there is, becomes contentious only once a second claim is added, i.e. the claim that the natural sciences be accorded, on the grounds of the proper regulation of their methods, exclusive priority in stipulating what is. For in the first case, that “nature is all there is” offers no finality of form to this Proteus, while in the second, nature is finally determined as the issuance of the natural sciences. In consequence, a naturalism capable of thinking scientific must forge a philosophy of nature capable of creation, whatever its source. What is philosophically interesting here is that these facts reveal two philosophical alternatives. The first of these consists in the elimination of philosophy’s substantive contribution to any question of what nature is, as the means for the validation of philosophy as a dependent, critical science, less a court than a review board before which all our claims to knowledge must henceforward be submitted. The second, contrastively, consists in taking the question “what is nature” as involving answers that no special science is equipped to provide, and therefore rejects the reduction of ontology to beings sanctioned only insofar as they are accorded ongoing scientific scrutiny, and takes nature to be a set correspondingly unsatisfied by any specific ontic content and neither seeks to eliminate nor isolate those ontic contents in accordance with any special science, be it physics or myth, according to Quine’s famous account of science in ‘The Two Dogmas of Empiricism’ (1963: 44). I call this naturalism ‘post-naturalistic’ in a twofold sense. First, it rejects the anti-Aristotelian rejection of ontology as distinct from the special sciences but does not sit critically as judge or review panel over the contributions of those sciences. Instead, it embraces all and is thus additional to it. It thus renews ontology neither on the basis of, nor as opposed to, the content or methods of the special sciences, but as cosmically oriented, i.e. as maximally inclusive. The operation of this cosmical attractor in ontology may therefore be called the first or cosmical precept of post-naturalistic naturalism. Second, it is post-naturalism because it has so to speak two dimensions, a past and a future, both of which according to the cosmical precept are nature, such that nature can never consist in any given totality of entities but must embrace what no longer is (e.g. a primal nature) and what is not yet (a nature consequent yet autonomous, which must obtain just if nature is ontogenetic).

"How nature came to be thought: Schelling’s paradox and the problem of location" 

How nature came to be thought: Schelling’s paradox and the problem of location In his Predication and Genesis, Wolfram Hogrebe reconstructs Schelling’s Ages of the World along the lines of a theory of predication, while asking, with Schelling, how it is that predication or judgment comes about. In one sense, therefore, the work asks, ‘how does reasoning arise in nature?’ In another, it affirms that “the world lies caught in the nets of reason; but the question is: how did it come to be in these nets?”4 A philosophy of nature, in that it seeks precisely to embrace nature in reason or affirms that nature cannot – since “nature is incognizable” is a cognition – be considered a priori insusceptible to all cognitive strategies without begging the question, can neither avoid therefore the problem of the identity of nature in thought with nature before thought. While the first question posits that reasoning is contained in nature and the second, conversely, that nature is contained in reasoning, and since the two contradict one another, one can only be true if the other is false.With Schelling, however, I will argue first, that both are true and second, that it is because reasoning occurs in nature that nature comes to be contained in reason and that it is the reverse of this order that is importantly false. Otherwise, either reasoning, if it occurred in a world, could not reason about nature or it could only catch nature in its nets if that reasoning were other than the world in which it occurs. 

Grant, I. H. (2020). "Maximal Ontogenesis: On the Speculative Satisfaction of Naturphilosophie." August 3rd – 7th, 2020. 2020 International Winter School, Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies. Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Tübingen. 

Grant, I. H. (2013). "How nature came to be thought: Schelling’s paradox and the problem of location." Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 44(1), 24-43

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

forthcoming from Urbanomic, "Abducting the Outside"


Abducting the Outside
by Reza Negarestani

A comprehensive collection of Reza Negarestani’s writings from 2003–2018, Abducting the Outside begins with texts in which horror, decay, cruelty, and barbarism assail the solidity of thought. It goes on to chart the sustained development of a ‘geophilosophical realism’ in which the Nietzschean / DeleuzoGuattarian inquiry into human thought’s relation to its contingent material origins is pushed beyond the localist obsession with the planet. Allowing the reader to experience this original and unique trajectory in one collection, Abducting the Outside presents an encyclopaedic view of what it means to depart from the human, to descend into the abyss, and to see thinking as an infinite drift outside of our established habitats and perspectives.

Certainly looks interesting. Link HERE.

Monday, May 3, 2021

The spectacular originality of Coleridge’s theory of ideas (Aeon Essays)

Coleridge's "Aides to Reflection" was said by John Dewey to be his "bible." Interesting but somewhat long article on the transcendental naturalist philosophy of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.


speaking of updates, one from Pete Wolfendale

 Another gentleman with whom I haven't had contact in quite some time yet who is, to my mind at least, from what I can tell from his blog posts such as the one I am about to link privy to the travails of battles with physical health similar to ways with which I myself am familiar, is one Pete Wolfendale. Pete's philosophical acumen, graciousness, and givingness is bar none. It's nice that he authored such a personally forthcoming and brutally honest post detailing his life as of late. (See HERE.)

As he writes, "last year saw another entry added to the list of ways in which my body is trying to sabotage me"... that line in particular struck home, for sure.

You know, I often don't reflect on this, but it has almost been ten years since my TIA, leaving a tenure track position out in the midwest, two years of physical therapy, coming nearly close to never teaching full time again, and just that whole situation I went through 2011-2013.  There were attempts by online thugs on my career, my own body had turned against me, I was afflicted by chronic pain, I was in a commuter marriage flying back and forth between Iowa/Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Definitely trying times, but I came through. As many After Nature readers know, not only did I come through, I wound up receiving (and for other reasons regretfully having to decline) another tenure track offer for a college up in Boston and then accepting a permanent-rolling Visiting position with my current institution, where I've been for six going on seven years now. It's tough to look back and think how far I've come this past decade, everything I've gone through, the sheer loss and pain. But I survived. Yes, I survived and came back to re-establish my career and go further than I ever have before.

I wish Pete nothing but strength and health in his current battles. Keep fighting, Pete. You'll triumph and overcome.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Ray Brassier - The Human: From Subversion to Compulsion

 Found this from an online workshop featuring Ray Brassier, run a few months ago. I'll link and post below.

The Human: From Subversion to Compulsion 
 In the contemporary ‘critical’ humanities, the privileging of the human has become as suspect as every other sort of privilege. Far from being the uncircumventable horizon for emancipatory politics, humanism is denounced as integral to a logic of domination that proceeds from the subjugation of nature to the enslavement of all those deemed less than human. It is easy to retort that this indictment of humanism follows from conflating the restrictive specification of the human (as white, male, heterosexual, European etc.) with its generic de-specification – the human as what Alain Badiou calls ‘the voided animal’, an exception that includes the unspecified part of everything: neither white nor black, neither male nor female, neither heterosexual nor homosexual, etc. But the suggestion that universalization proceeds not by generalizing specific predicates but by subtracting them tends to fall on deaf ears in a theoretical context where the Nietzschean equation of universalization with domination continues to hold sway. Once the inference from exception to exclusion is made, an all-inclusive post-humanism supplants exclusionary humanism as the politically ‘progressive’ optic consonant with the liberal ideal of inclusiveness that has become the humanities’ critical lodestone. This ideal stipulates a formal equivalence of human and non-human that is the ontological ratification of capitalism’s personification of things and reification of people. But it is not enough to expose the conservative kernel underlying post-humanism’s radical veneer, or to abstractly oppose the generic de-specification of the human to its restrictive specification. What must be grasped rather is how both this specification and de-specification are conjoined in capitalism as a historically specific mode of social production. Doing so reveals that the human is neither a metaphysical subject nor an anthropological attribute. It is the name for a mutability that is sui generis but no longer synonymous with self-consciousness; a displacement compelled by the twin pulses of social reproduction and libidinal repetition. 
Page Link:


a great post from Speculum Criticum Traditionis


"An Argument for Esotericism," HERE.  It's been awhile since I've been in touch with Bryan but when I do visit his blog from time to time I'm not disappointed.  When it comes to the political - academic or otherwise - I've always appreciated his thoughtfulness when it comes to slow and careful reasoned reflective analysis.  I appreciate in this post which I'm linking the Plato reference, as that is something I'd more than likely start off with as well! 

Hope all is well Bryan. He and I co-authored an entry on Justus Buchler for my "Philosopher Profile" posts here at After Nature some years ago (see HERE and HERE); even just recently I've been contracted to write a chapter on Buchler for a forthcoming volume on his work. So working with Bryan has been helpful even many years later.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Exophilosophy: Aliens, Evolution, and Ethics

The ctenophore’s brain suggests that, if evolution began again, intelligence would re-emerge because nature repeats itself. See the article, "Aliens in our midst" HERE

 The discovery of independent life beyond Earth would have deep philosophical implications for us, and our ideas of morality. "The Ethics of ET" HERE.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Wolves and Winter Worship

Music by Ulver, from the "Kveldssanger" album (1996) Location: Delaware Water Gap National Forest, Pennsylvania

Location: Lakota Wolf Preserve, Columbia, New Jersey

Music by Sturmpercht, from the album "Geister im Waldgebirg" (2006) Location: Cherry Valley Nature Preserve, Pennsylvania

Thursday, January 28, 2021

quote of the day

“Freedom, however, does not dwell in emptiness, but rather dwells in the disordered and the unseparated, in those areas which are organable but not to be part of the organization. Let us call them the wilderness; it is the space from which man not only can lead the struggle, but from which he can also hope to win. This is no longer a romantic wilderness, of course. It is the primal cause of its existence.” 

- Ernst Junger, Across the Line (1951)

 “They forged the new, terrible yoke for the masses. Technology supported them in a way that surpassed even the wildest dreams of the old tyrants. The old means returned with new names – torture, serfdom, slavery. Disappointment and despair spread, a deep disgust at all the phrases and twists of politics. This was the point at which the Spirit turned back to the cults, where the sects flourished and in small circles and elites they devoted themselves to the fine arts, tradition, and pleasures.” 

- Ernst Junger, Heliopolis (1977)

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Nick Land says it best..."the People's Democratic Antifascist Security State"

 I love it. As aptly put, and it was so off-handedly put so that shows you his absolute brilliance right there, - "The People's Democratic Antifascist Security State." You can't get more descriptively correct than that. Nail on the head, people. That's what we are living it. Social Totalitarian Democracy

It's time to "flee to the forest." Read Ernst Junger's The Forest Passage (1951) , or his 1951 essay "Across the Line." Even Junger's Eumeswil (1977) is a conceptual road-map as to how to navigate this sinking ship; the corpse of Leviathan is about to beach. Get ready.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Schelling's commentary on Plato's Timaeus (1793-95)

 Schelling's attempt to explain creation in terms of nature's "ground" and "existence" is a seminal moment in his thinking. It is by no means surprising that he would turn to Plato's Timaeus to develop that distinction in a type of philosophy of organism or "organicism," which Plato himself had developed implicitly in the Republic and rather explicitly in the Timaeus. Schelling, modeling his own philosophy of organism upon this, makes the most concrete statement of his position in this commentary.

As an aside, for awhile now I've been considering how Schelling and Plato both inform each other's metaphysics in light of what I call an "ecological metaphysics," something extremely valuable in contemporary Continental environmental philosophy, whether through environmental aesthetics, environmental hermeneutics, or semiotic phenomenology - the key being the disclosure, experience of, and interpretation of natural signs and sign processes in the natural world, e.g. Jasperian "cyphers" in light of holistic and inter-related context. 

Continental environmental philosophy hasn't had current meaningful developments since Erazim Kohak's Green Halo and The Embers and the Stars. While much has been done with Merleau-Ponty, or Merleau-Ponty and Schelling together - a task which has by now become rote and shopworn - I think the time is ripe for a fresh perspective, perhaps with the development of this "ecological metaphysics" directly using Plato and Schelling.

Just food for thought.

Link to Schelling's commentary on the Timaeus HERE.