Wednesday, March 4, 2015

quote of the day

"Many philosophers of the present day are convinced that every existing thing and event is logically unconnected with any other and could disappear from the world without necessarily affecting anything else. Such a rubbish-heap view of the world I cannot accept."

- Brand Blanshard, The Paul Carus Lectures

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Many Faces of F.W.J. Schelling (special issue of Analecta Hermeneutica)

HERE, featuring a book review written by me.  Interesting article by Iain Hamilton Grant as well published in the same issue.  Grant's article is called "The Law of Insuperable Environment: What is Exhibited in the Exhibition of the Process of Nature?"

Monday, March 2, 2015

the phenomenology of insect life

Safari from Catherine Chalmers on Vimeo.

Also see THIS program about the philosophy of insects, on The Philosopher's Zone. Jakob von Uexküll HERE or HERE.

"The Phenomenology of Animal Life," article HERE. "A Picture Book of Invisible Worlds: Semblances of Insects and Humans in Jakob von Uexküll's Laboratory," HERE.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Speculative Philosophy and the Philosophy of Nature with Leon Niemoczynski (audio interview with Homebrewed Christianity podcast)

Leon Niemoczynski (2015)
Interview with me on Homebrewed Christianity podcast.  Please spread the word - thanks!
Leon Niemoczynski (Immaculata University) on the Homebrewed Christianity podcast with Tripp Fuller. Audio podcast HERE. (Link to full webpage HERE.)  Topics of discussion include the philosophy of nature, German idealism, philosophical ecology, animal emotions, Schelling, Peirce, Whitehead, speculative realism, process philosophy, ecstatic and sacred naturalisms, bleak theology, the problem of evil, and so much more! 
Leon's forthcoming book is titled Speculative Naturalism: An Ecological Metaphysics.  He is the co-editor/author of Animal Experience: Consciousness and Emotions in the Natural World (Open Humanities Press, 2014) and A Philosophy of Sacred Nature: Prospects for Ecstatic Naturalism (Lexington Books, 2014).  He is also the author of Charles Sanders Peirce and a Religious Metaphysics of Nature (Lexington Books, 2011). 
In 2015 Leon's interview on "The Philosopher's Zone" was nominated for a Voiceless Media Prize, an award recognizing the most accurate and influential reports on animal protection and ethics, exposing animal suffering and informing the public.

Friday, February 13, 2015

"Letting the Finite Vanish: Hegel, Tillich, and Caputo on the Ontological Philosophy of Religion" (paper)


"What is Living in Deep Ecology?" (paper)

Interesting paper on the history of philosophical ecology, HERE.  In the paper you'll find mention of many classics including the journal of ecosophy, The Trumpeter.  For those unaware, The Trumpeter has been around for many years and is a top notch open access journal in the field of "deep ecology." 

Some time back they had twin issues dedicated to Arne Naess HERE and HERE.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"Two Metaphysical Naturalisms: Aristotle and Justus Buchler" (new book)

THIS looks quite interesting.  "Columbia naturalism" is a school not covered as well as it should be.  In this book the author compares and relates the naturalisms of Aristotle and Justus Buchler. 

For those interested I've posted about a unique Aristotle translation HERE.  For more on Buchler see my take on his essay "Probing the Idea of Nature" HERE; or the philospher's profile on Buchler HERE and HERE on After Nature blog.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Petrified Intelligence: Nature in Hegel's Philosophy (NDPR Review with Highlights)

I just picked this up on amazon: Petrified Intelligence: Nature in Hegel's Philosophy, by Allison Stone.  The full NDPR is HERE, and I'll copy some highlights below.  All in all, the review (rightly) points out that this book is "a compelling reconstruction of Hegel as a metaphysician of nature."  Compared to Pinkard's Hegel's Naturalism one ought to prefer Stone's book.

"Stone ties this fashionable line of criticism to an very unfashionable reading of Hegel. Not only does she see him as a metaphysician with a strictly rationalist, a priori theory of nature, but she argues that this reading is essential for articulating his ecological concerns. Hegel approaches the study of nature a priori, by first deducing the order and structure of natural forms given the internal, dialectical logic of the concept [Begriff]. Once this logical grid is in place, Hegel then turns to the empirical sciences to see how well they mesh with his deductive system."

"Stone believes that Hegel's a priori metaphysical approach has two advantages that give it enduring relevance, two things to offer that contemporary science does not. First, she argues that Hegel's procedure is uniquely able to capture our pre-scientific experience of nature; and second she shows that Hegel captures a sense of nature's intrinsic value in a way that our current scientific paradigm does not."

"[O]ur senses must have some privileged proximity to what is occurring in nature, because they themselves are natural...She writes: "because we have emerged from nature, the system of our senses arises as a recapitulation of preexisting patterns that objectively structure various natural forms" (p. 131). Thus, there must be something correct about our sensuous grasp of nature..."

The review fits hand in hand with a Zizek talk I once saw, "The Reflection of Life in Hege" (see video HERE).  Close to the ideas of biophilosopher Lynn Margulis (HERE).

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

another telling review through NDPR: The Allure of Things: Process and Object in Contemporary Philosophy

This time in a review of The Allure of Things: Process and Object in Contemporary Philosophy, HERE.

Colapietro (Penn State) gives a fair review, and it's telling.  Political ties and the fact of writing about a faddish topic in no way shields the text in question from Colapietro identifying and reporting this book's obvious shortcomings.  Such was the case with Sparrow's book reviewed on NDPR which I comment upon HERE.

I didn't bother to obtain this book (or ask for it for our library) simply because, once again, I knew well in advance the politicized agenda of the editors.  Sadly this is becoming more of the rule rather than the exception in the publication of texts covering Speculative Realism.  Again, Speculative ®ealism™ takes hold.  True, the conference happened before the whole "process versus object" debate happened online, yet nevertheless in retrospect the book could have corrected obvious loopholes within its edited essays before its publication which took over five years.  

Sometimes Faber has things right, see HERE for example.  Other times not.

In strong agreement with Vincent Colapietro I cannot recommend this book.  As a scholar of process philosophy I must admit that the book's approach is simply unimaginative.  Rightly he calls out the "superficial engagement" present in the book.  A "lack of engagement" is putting it nicely.  Agent Swarm blog can tell us all about withdrawal.  Because there is no real engagement beyond the confines of the Speculative ®ealism™ inner circle, a sort of scholasticism is taking place.  Other process philosophers out there are light years beyond what this book seems to be putting out there, but because of agendas the conversation simply won't happen.  The result is a generation of younger philosophers or young graduate students who miss the boat entirely.

In short, to cite Colapietro, "[A] respectful yet critical exchange between champions of process metaphysics and those of 'speculative realism' mostly failed to occur."  Delete mostly and this review hits the nail on the head.

We're still here...writing and advancing and developing process metaphysics from within Speculative Realism.  That's been happening for years.  Yet where is the other side?  Writing essays directed to the inner circle of approved "friends" who aren't even in the same volume?  It's sad.  Just, sad.

"Harmony or Intensity? Process Philosophy and Suffering" (recommended blog post)

HERE by Jesse Turi.  I post a response from the "bleak" theological perspective, in the comments section.  Jesse follows up in the vein of radical theology, HERE.

It's an interesting exchange I think.  His radical theology post goes in some interesting directions.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

information on 5th Bonn summer school in German philosophy: “The ‘idealism’ in German Idealism” (July 20-31, 2015)

Catherine Malabou will be there.  Forster and Gabriel organizing/leading the event.

It's strange because recently I have been sharpening my take on Fichte.  Admittedly, I haven't really studied Fichte as well as I could have when first encountering German idealism as an undergraduate and then returning to Kant/Hegel/German idealism in graduate school.  Other than taking three seminars in texts by Kant (the three critiques) and a year-long seminar in The Phenomenology of Spirit, my training in Schelling, as well as the German romantics happened on the side through independent readings and then dissertation.  Fichte was always someone whom, other than the Vocation of Man and Critique at All Revelation, was just barely visible in the background.  So recently I began Hegel's Difference essay in order to wade into Fichte on my own (on the difference between Fichte and Schelling's philosophy - Hegel's first publication even before the Phenomenology - and it is remarkably clear, his clearest no doubt).

Bernstein said reading Fichte is like going into a swamp.  He's lost students in there. They've never come out.

The goal of course is to read the Wissenschaftslere. However there seems to be so many versions of the "Science of Knowledge" - some with various introductions, some with a "new method," that it is quite confusing to figure out where to begin.

In any case, my decision to sharpen my take on Fichte must have had some subconscious or subliminal connection to this year's summer school!  Fichte makes a major appearance, and it just seems timely.  In any case,

here are the course descriptions for the Bonn Summer School in German Philosophy.

5th International Summer School in German Philosophy:
“The ‘idealism’ in German Idealism”
(July 20-31)

Course description:
  • The first week (July 20-24) with Prof. Forster will mainly focus on Kant’s “transcendental idealism”. We will discuss the emergence of, and the original philosophical motivations for, such a position in Kant’s precritical writings, and above all his arguments for it in the Critique of Pure Reason (1781/7), where special attention will be paid to the Transcendental Aesthetic, the Transcendental Deduction, the Principles, and the Antinomies. We will also consider, though more briefly, the historical fate of, and the philosophical prospects for, such a position after Kant. 
  • The second week (July 27-31) with Prof. Gabriel will mainly focus on idealism in Fichte and Hegel. On some very problematic straw-man readings, Fichte and Hegel aim at developing a Kantianism without things in themselves by simply dropping the very idea of a thing in itself and thereby claiming that we must contend ourselves with Kantian appearances all the way down. Against such straw-man readings – made prominent by figures as different as Heidegger and Russell – the second week of the course with Prof. Gabriel will be dedicated to Fichte’s and Hegel’s early understanding and criticism of transcendental idealism as proposed by Kant. In particular, we will read passages from Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre 1794 and Hegel’s Faith and Knowledge (1802). The leading question will be how Fichte and Hegel are able to incorporate an improved variety of the Kantian distinction of theory-orders separating transcendental idealism from empirical realism. Arguably, this early stage of what was later dubbed “German Idealism” is actually concerned with spelling out the structure of the metaphysics and epistemology needed in order to make sense of both the very existence of a first-order realist theory layer and the overall intelligibility of the facts obtaining and the objects existing within the domain posited on the higher-order level of idealistic theorizing. Thus, surprisingly, German Idealism might come to be seen as providing a deflationary meta-theory for Kant’s enterprise. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Tristan Garcia and Patrice Maniglier on The New Existentialism

HERE.  The argument is that speculation invokes an act of freedom akin to the Sartrean assertion of a "pillar of freedom" that is immune from being affected by, or tied to, immanent conditions. The New Existentialism appears to be a form of agentialism that returns to the "vital negative" present in existentialism minus its humanist or anthropocentric trappings.  In other words, if it is possible, try to imagine existentialism as a philosophy where "the human" being has disappeared into an ontological darkness.  Pretty interesting.

On a side note I was underwhelmed by Garcia's philosophical ability real-time.  His boyish appropriation of a language obviously picked up from reading philosophy exclusively online is quite visible.  He latches on to the language of branding by leaning on concepts such as "withdrawal" etc. etc. as well as ideas that come directly from blogs and blogs alone. (It's alright to start on blogs in order to gain a sense of direction or trajectory or to put one's finger on a pulse, but nothing can replace working through the texts in question themselves.  *Dwelling* on online concepts and discussions - especially while at a conference or presentation - without moving on to the arguments and texts in question themselves immediately challenges your credibility.)  I hardly had a sense that he is trained or even able as a philosopher.  As sad as it is to say, in the end he just came off as an online groupie.

As a "young" scholar who is being peddled as the next greatest-French superstar (mainly in order to shill a book series by the person pushing him as the flavor of the month) his appearance speaks for itself: he is visibly aging and is outclassed in appearance but also in ability by Maniglier.  Harsh I know, but I must speak the truth.  Do not be misled.

pleasure to make the acquaintance of...

Jonathan Beever of the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State. Jonathan's work was mentioned HERE at After Nature (relating to his excellent dissertation The Semiotic Foundation of an Ecological Ethic, Purdue 2012), in addition to some of the other very exciting projects Jonathan was/is working on.  He contacted me with a kind note of thanks for the mention, which in turn prompted us to trade emails about our work!  Excellent!

Jesse Turri, fellow Northeasterner and Pennsylvanian philosopher got in touch as well through the Homebrewed Christianity podcast.  It was great to receive his note and I am glad to make the acquaintance of another After Nature reader.  Thanks for the support Jesse!