The Universe is, or may be, infinite.
What does that word, that concept, infinite, mean ?
For Whitehead, philosophy begins in wonder. Wonder is the vague feeling we all have all the time that hovers just beyond the horizon of workaday consciousness—the intuition of being embedded within the grand adventure of a larger universe. Wonder is the all-pervasive (and so largely taken for granted) sense we have of the wholeness and the totality of things which embraces us. Wonder is the sublime feeling of being awash in the value-experience of other living creatures, astonished by the insistence of their existence, the way they press in upon us and demand our care and attention. Philosophy is the attempt to respond to this equal parts erotic and eristic experience of the values of the universe streaming in to us from every direction. Philosophy is the attempt to become faithful to the earth and to the sky, to become responsible for the way our humanity joins in their ancient cosmic procession.
290 registered participants. I thank you kindly for you attention, dear people.
So where was I ? More pertinent, where am I ?
I was trying to find starting points, some foundation, some originating axial truth, or statement that I felt would give me a secure base for what I wanted to say.
The blank white page, the silence. The nothing that precedes any something-ness.
From this emerges a mark, a difference, a sound, a sign, which distinguishes itself against the background, and allows a meaning to emerge. I believe we read the world.
The twinkling star in the dark sky, the footprint in the snow, the dirty thumb print, the drop of blood, the unidentified cry in the night…
The difference that makes a difference.
And I believe all this is story, narration, and that that is all we do. Story-telling primates.
But then I hit the first conundrum, because I only know this notion of primates, via the science story, which is based in time and history, and Darwinian evolution.
And I have the legacy of so many other stories which are constantly impinging and influencing my thinking, second hand stories which arose when no such knowledge was accessible or available, e.g. the stories from Greek philosophy.
Who reads the text ? Who writes the text ?
And I’m searching for a voice, a narrative mode, that can speak in natural language, as a legitimate inhabitant of the surface of the Earth, where the Sun rises and sets, and the Earth does not orbit the Sun, because these are the natural physical conditions I evolved in and share with all other organisms. Not some abstracted knowledge gained by instruments of physics.
(That’s not to be taken as a rejection of science, btw. It’s to do with the quest for a certain stance toward being.)
And I’m searching for a non-anthropocentric voice. How can I speak on behalf of the disenfranchised organisms, the life forms which are always unheard and excluded ?
Do I begin, from ‘here’ ? This moment, in conscious now ? Or when I, as an individual, began, my own origin, in some womb world ? Or speak as ‘us’, ‘we, the people’ the species… or from a God’s eye view, a Martian observer…
This is the problem of time, which I have already explored. The past has vanished. There is nothing there. Only this, now. And stories about what was. And stories are problematic, in so very many ways.
I am content, satisfied, that my analysis, that all is story, holds up, and then I divide all stories into two categories, mythos and logos, which correlates with Gilchrist’s right brain and left brain way of seeing ourselves and our cultures. And I’m happy with transcendental perspectivism, as an approach to all aspects of reality.
But much remains unresolved… Which is as it should be, no ? 🙂
Plunge straight in…
Central to Harman’s philosophy is the idea that real objects are inexhaustible: “A police officer eating a banana reduces this fruit to a present-at-hand profile of its elusive depth, as do a monkey eating the same banana, a parasite infecting it, or a gust of wind blowing it from a tree.
Banana-being is a genuine reality in the world, a reality never exhausted by any relation to it by humans or other entities.” Because of this inexhaustibility, claims Harman, there is a metaphysical problem regarding how two objects can ever interact. His solution to this problem is to introduce the notion of “vicarious causation”, according to which objects can only ever interact on the inside of an “intention” (which is also an object).
Harman defines real objects as inaccessible and infinitely withdrawn from all relations and then puzzles over how such objects can be accessed or enter into relations: “by definition, there is no direct access to real objects. Real objects are incommensurable with our knowledge, untranslatable into any relational access of any sort, cognitive or otherwise. Objects can only be known indirectly. And this is not just the fate of humans — it’s the fate of everything. Fire burns cotton stupidly …”
Cutting across the phenomenological tradition, and especially its linguistic turn, Harman deploys a brand of metaphysical realism that attempts to extricate objects from their human captivity and metaphorically allude to a strange subterranean world of “vacuum-sealed” objects-in-themselves: “The comet itself, the monkey itself, Coca-Cola itself, resonate in cellars of being where no relation reaches.”
Expressing strong sympathy for panpsychism, Harman proposes a new philosophical discipline called “speculative psychology” dedicated to investigating the “cosmic layers of psyche” and “ferreting out the specific psychic reality of earthworms, dust, armies, chalk, and stone.”
Harman does not, however, unreservedly endorse an all-encompassing panpsychism and instead proposes a sort of polypsychism that nonetheless must “baloon beyond all previous limits, but without quite extending to all entities”.
He continues by stating that “perceiving” and “non-perceiving” are not different kinds of objects, but can be found in the same entity at different times: “The important point is that objects do not perceive insofar as they exist, as panpsychism proclaims. Instead they perceive insofar as they relate.”
Frankly, I’m doubtful about this line of enquiry, concerning ontography, that is, description of beings, their nature and essence.
It’s a feature of Speculative Realism which I am not the only one who finds somewhat baffling.
In the case of my onticology, objects are four-dimensional space-time worms. That is to say, they are processes. In this respect, they are not fixed and abiding entities like atomistic billiard balls, but are rather ongoing events. They develop, they change, they evolve, and some of these processes are irreversible, whereas others are not. Nonetheless, there is an endo-relational structure within these processes– the substantiality of the object –that constitutes the identity and unity of the object over the course of its life. Here, I think, I am not so far from Whitehead’s process ontology.
The problem is that I am trying to get some insights, gain understanding, and what I’m hitting, seems to me, are these career academics, who fit the slots in academia that are allocated in the institutions, where they teach courses to others, some of whom also aspire to filling similar slots.
Now, seems to me, that the skills required by such people have very little to do with making life clear and simple for folk like me. Out in the wild, so to speak, walking the roads…
If that were the case then the ideas could be written in a format that was more readily accessible, rather than opaque.
Mystification and obscurantism seems an art that they develop to a high degree, so that it is impossible to tell if they are learned scholars with advanced intellectual cerebral achievements, or whether they just cobble together phrases at random, to construct an impenetrable defensive wall, rather as African tribesmen surround their villages with hedges of thornbushes to keep out the unwelcome predators.
So all I can do is wield my machete, and hack a way in. Perhaps there’s something there, or perhaps all I get is scratches and wasted time.
I hit patches that seem to make sense to me
The early philosophers enacted a sustained questioning with regard to the meaning and morphe of existence, but, we can only access this questioning through their context of significance. A guiding clue to the emergence of philosophy may come from Patôcka’s Plato and Europe, on the difference between myth and philosophy. The latter is merely seen as the sedimentation of ‘time’, while the latter is conceived as a temporal criticism in the manner of an ‘event’ of questioning. Yet, is he ‘correct’ in his rather sharp distinction or can we trace a genealogy from myth to philosophy in which philosophy is comprehended as arising from out of the poetic and mythological traditions? Can mythology perhaps be philosophical, can philosophy be mythological? Can there be a compromise position in which the mythological context, and the deep structures of myth are preserved in the incipient philosophy, but that the inquiry itself is imbued with the spirit of questioning – of freedom and creative perspective?
In its most general meaning, philosophy, as this strange ‘thinking for oneself’, of the self-interpretation of existence, is a response to the predicament of existence, a response that is characterised by a desire to understand the ‘mystery’ of existence. In order to understand the emergence of philosophy, of tragic thought, we must retrieve the original, radical impetus of questioning, persisting in the awareness of its contextual horizons as these were originally disseminated through mythological poetics.
We could perhaps contend, with Heidegger, that the early Greek philosophers were themselves attempting to retrieve the original impetus of radical questioning from out of the traditional conventionalism of myth, to think for themselves in an appropriation of the often conflicting aspects of these myths (cf. Chapter Three). While we need not accept this scenario, the latter would still imply that the early Greek thinkers did not reject the old culture, they added to it, with an original attempt to reinterpret it. Philosophy, in this ‘view’, is nothing more than a historically and culturally situated discussion which develops along the lines of the individuals involved in the conversation. The way in which we understand these myriad ‘origins’ has a fundamental impact upon our entire interpretation. We have to ‘deconstruct’ the constructions around us so as to begin to clear a place for a hermeneutic exploration of early philosophy. We must become aware that our very way of looking at the world is based upon received assumptions, presuppositions and prejudices of preceding generations of thinkers. We must also understand that these constructed meanings can be taken apart.
I go from blog to blog to blog, reading these people and their papers and their reviews of each others books and their commentaries on contemporary philosophy… I don’t want to be too unkind, or overly harsh or dismissive… I mean, they call it Speculative Realism, so they do need space to speculate and that must mean ambling up blind alleys and getting lost…
But I too can get lost in my head. I think that is unhealthy, a grave danger, a mistake.
I believe the answer, the remedy, is to get back connected to the sensual physical body, constantly consciously re-connecting, as in yoga, tai chi, qi gong, martial arts, dance…
We should be gardeners, weavers, potters, do-ers. Not to exclude thinking and the intellect, but to augment it and retain sanity and balance, hunting and gathering to fill the requirements of being.
Isn’t this what little children are taught, when they learn ‘the names of things’ in story books ? That this is how ‘the world’ is built, out of ‘things’ ?
Possibly I’m missing something. I mean, we’ve just had 2,500 years of Western philosophy, going back to Heraclitus, Plato and all the rest in between, and so Harman stands on the shoulders of giants, there must be more to it… ?
And indeed, my thought would possibly appear to be addressed in this remark re folk ontology ; although is that offered reply to be taken as convincing ?
I’ve seen a few suggestions in the past six months that the object-oriented model is a kind of “folk ontology,” by analogy with Churchland’s “folk psychology.”
This guy, Agent Swarm, helps me a little…
The computational understanding of Being is the understanding that originates with Descartes and renders possible the various specific computational disciplines that exist today. It is the hegemony of the “count”. This is what de-valorises the sensual qualities to mere secondary status.
So I take this to mean, in my understanding, roughly what I mean by scientism, the left brain, logos, view. That what really matters is what can be measured and counted. It’s the world as seen through the lens of ‘rationality’. Ratios and logic. If you can’t weigh it, it doesn’t really exist. No room for the mysteries of why we laugh or find things beautiful or the biggest one of all, why there is anything at all.
I hope I am not mis-interpreting what he is saying. I’m on shaky ground here. I don’t have time to read these people’s books and get a deep understanding as to how they arrive at their positions. My life is too short to read every book, or even every blog.
So then Agent Swarm says :
Harman’s real objects are not sensible but only intelligible in the sense that they can be objects of our intellection. I have thus argued that they are transcendent abstractions (unknowable and untouchable, says Harman).
and then several paragraphs later :
Harman’s OOO is a school philosophy dealing in generalities and abstractions far from the concrete joys and struggles of real human beings (“The world is filled primarily not with electrons or human praxis, but with ghostly objects withdrawing from all human and inhuman access”, THE THIRD TABLE, p12). Despite its promises, Harman’s OOO does not bring us closer to the richness and complexity of the real world but in fact replaces the multiplicitous and variegated world with a set of bloodless and lifeless abstractions – his unknowable and untouchable, “ghostly”, objects. Not only are objects unknowable, but even whether something is a real object or not is unknowable: “we can never know for sure what is a real object and what isn’t”, states Harman in a reply to Alexander Galloway’s criticisms.
and then :
How can this help us in our lives? It is a doctrine of resignation and passivity: we cannot know the real object, the object we know is unreal, an “utter sham”, we cannot know what is or isn’t a real object.
Hmm. I feel inclined to agree that this does not help me in my life, so far as I can tell.
Other that it being something to think about, to pass the time.
I retreat to a simpler formulation, which is easier for me to recall and comprehend, that of the map and the territory, dating back to Korzybski
As I see it, the territory is essentially mysterious, raw reality, it is the ‘thing’ which we are immersed in and which created us. We give it many different names.
Then we map this territory, with our minds, our intellects, our language, our culture.
So, I’d then see Harman as maybe having got lost in his map, his model, having become confused over this distinction.
But perhaps I’m wrong about that. And anyway perhaps Korzybski’s conception was not an ultimate truth, or a perfect understanding. I would never insist that it was. My point would be that it is useful in my real life, here in the room, here in the house, here as I think about stuff and seek clarity.
Because then, when I apply that model, that understanding, I can see that ‘objects’, so to speak, have two aspects.
They exist, out there, in some form or manner – I’d be happy to call them assemblages – and they are proceeding through time and space, on their partially experienced, by me, by us, trajectories.
Then they have a second aspect. That is as symbolic, abstracted, conceptualised entities, as ‘things’ that we create as mental artefacts and put, as representations, upon our intellectual mappings.
This understanding, – which, of course, is itself a mapping – works for me, in a practical, pragmatic way.
If, when I read these blogs, by these learned fellows, they bring me some additional insight that I can bolt on, or some functionality that I can use to extend this stuff that I learned from Korzybski, then I’d embrace it. But I’m not finding much that is helpful so far.
These fellows are professionals employed by colleges to read, study, teach, and one might hope they’d come up with something useful from time to time, but my impression is, it’s rather like the guys who spend all night tripped out around a table drinking, smoking dope, and then one gets up and goes out through the door, and the others try to decide which one of them it was, and they can’t. Even after he’s come back and sat down again.
This is why I think that philosophy should be grounded in some practical, physical activity. If you do gardening, you get feedback, that tells you if you are correct, because the plants are happy and flourish, and if you do martial arts you know if you are mistaken because you lose and get hurt, and so on.
But if you are just juggling purely abstract symbolic notions, then any absurdity is possible, and although I am not, in principle, opposed to creative absurdity, as an art form, or as entertainment, or merely as an expression of the human spirit (I am a fan of Alfred Jarry, after all, and supporter of Pataphysics), if we want to be serious, and responsible, and gain attention, trust, from others who are lost and seek guidance, then I think that some sort of quality threshold is quite desirable.
As I see it, the target should be to match the map(s) and the territory, so that there is some clear correspondence. I think the notion of process, becoming, is important.
‘The world’ is not static, the objects are not fixed, it is all a flowing, a flux, some dynamic ongoing dancing thing. Our maps cannot capture that, but they might at least pay it some heed.
Still, I struggle to try and comprehend where these thinkers are at, and look for clues.
There is a recent interview with Ray Brassier over at the After Nature blog, run by Leon Niemoczynski.
It’s not easy for me to name, off the top of my head, two philosophers who I would expect to get along less. Niemoczynski is a a Process philosopher, heavily influenced by Whitehead and Peirce, Hartshorne and Buchler; an advocate of Robert Corrington’s Ecstatic Naturalism, who doesn’t hesitate to speak in panentheistic terms of God and nature.
By contrast, Brassier is openly hostile to such talk, or to any project of “restoring meaning.” To him, Nihilism is not to be recoiled from but to be pushed all the way.
Nihilism is… the unavoidable corollary of the realist conviction that there is a mind-independent reality, which, despite the presumptions of human narcissism, is indifferent to our existence and oblivious to the ‘values’ and ‘meanings’ which we would drape over it in order to make it more hospitable…. Nihilism is not an existential quandary but a speculative opportunity.
Ray Brassier is the guy who said this, which I think is crisp, neat, eloquent, and well worth mulling over. The sort of thing philosophers should do, take the Unthought Known and make it into thought, and write it down… articulate and communicate difficult abstruse areas that are beyond the reach of most of us, extend the periphery…
“To think is to connect and disconnect concepts according to proprieties of inference. Meanings are rule-governed functions supervening on the pattern-conforming behaviour of language-using animals. This distinction between semantic rules and physical regularities is dialectical, not metaphysical. To evoke it is to commit oneself to a qualified version of anthropocentrism, which I’m quite prepared to defend.’’
Can our brains tell is what is real ?
As I write these lines, an unknown choreography organizes the firing of millions of neurons in my brain; thoughts emerge and are expressed as words, typed on my laptop by a detailed coordination of eye and hand muscles. Something is in charge, an entity we loosely call our “mind.”
My perception of the world around me, as modern cognitive neuroscience teaches us, is synthesized within different regions of my brain. What I call reality results from the integrated sum of countless stimuli collected through my five senses, brought from the outside into my head via my nervous system. Cognition, the awareness of being here now, is a fabrication of countless chemical reactions flowing through myriad synaptic connections between my neurons.
I am, and you are, a self-sustaining electrochemical network enacted across a web of biological cells. And yet, we are much more.
I am me and you are you and we are different, even if made of the same stuff. Modern science has removed the age-old Cartesian dualism of matter and soul in favor of a strict materialism: the theater of the self happens in the brain and the brain is an assembly of interacting neurons firing nonstop like a Christmas tree.
Of course, we still have no clue as to how exactly this neuronal choreography engenders us with a sense of being. We go on with our everyday activities convinced that we can separate ourselves from our surroundings and construct an objective view of reality.
I know that I am not you and I know that I am not the chair that I am sitting on. I can walk away from you and the chair but I can’t walk away from my own body. However, our perception of reality, upon which we base our sense of self, is severely incomplete.
Our senses only capture a sliver of what truly goes on around us. Trillions of neutrinos racing all the way from the heart of the Sun zip across our bodies each second; electromagnetic waves of all sorts, microwaves, radio waves, infrared, carry information we don’t capture with our eyes; sounds beyond the range of our ears go unheard; dust and bacteria go unseen. Our instruments and tools greatly extend our view, whether of the very small or of the very large.
Still, any technology has limits, even if these limits change in time. As a consequence, large portions of the world will always remain unseen. What we know depends on what we can measure and detect. Who, then, can legitimately claim to have a true sense of reality? The individual who perceives reality only through his/her senses? Or the one who amplifies his/her perception through the use of instrumentation? Clearly, they “see” different things and will conclude that the world is very different. Who is right?
So that’s more or less the standard materialist, mechanistic, consensus mainstream viewpoint, as agreed by scientists and the Anglo-American analytical school of philosophical thought, as far as I can tell. It’s shared by most educated middle class people who form public opinion in the media and shape the way we see ourselves and ‘the world’. That’s my impression in Britain, anyway.
There’s no soul, or spirit or anything ‘otherworldy’, in there, just something ‘loosely called mind’. Boring.
Of course, there’s another large and significant faction of the population who will adhere to various accounts of ‘God’ or some variation of the story that features some more mystical aspects, and most blogs and forums will have representatives of sub-groups who dispute the validity of their opponents arguments.
As I see it, these are stories that we tell ourselves, and that we share and exchange with one another.
For the hard line atheists and materialists, modern science and the story they tell, has eliminated any need for any ‘divine reality’ or anything resembling the holy, the sacred, the numinous, the transcendent. The Universe is seen to be meaningless, non-teleological, it has no purpose.
However finely tuned and remarkable it may appear that it could not exist if the mathematical constants varied ever so slightly, this is purely accidental. It’s all entropy, randomness and dead mechanical forces, moving toward an inevitable final heat death.
This story, can be traced back through history, we know the authors, Thales, Bacon, Descartes, Newton, Georges Lemaître.
However, science is always provisional and open ended, and may be revised at any time in the light of new insights and evidence, and the rate of new revelations in astro physics and quantum physics means the picture keeps changing.
So to cling to this story as a fixed or static ‘ultimate truth’, is a mistake. It’s to misunderstand the quality of what science is, as a project, as a methodology.
If we want, of feel the need for, a story to cling to, we need some different approach.
I do think that there is a radically different story that can be told, of life on Earth as a co-operative collaboration, The Semiosphere, Timothy Morton’s Mesh, Lynn Margulis, Guenther Witzany, etc, etc, a whole bundle of stuff that I want to get to, but every time I make an attempt, I find all this other stuff laying across my path, so I have to deal with it, one way or another… but we’ll get there, eventually… I hope 🙂
Unfortunately, the major popular alternatives on offer, the rival stories, featuring the Abrahamic mythology, in its many variations, are not compatible with the findings of science, and their historical record and legacy is so appalling that it difficult for me to give them positive space here. However, in the interests of balance I make a small effort for seeking common ground.
As I see it, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, are institutions that require a person to sign up to join and subscribe to certain dogmatic assertions. This is comparable to joining a political party. I have an insurmountable problem there.
I’m well able to acknowledge certain statements of a religious nature and to agree with them, whole heartedly. But that has nothing whatsoever to joining a club, a corporate body, that defines and distinguishes itself by contrasting its doctrines against those of another similar group.
As I see it, a bunch of people who all agree on a particular version of a story tells me nothing about ‘God’. I don’t view ‘God’ as a ‘thing’ or a ‘belief’.
That does not mean that I am saying that I am an atheist. What I’d be trying to indicate is that there is ‘an experience of the divine’, so to speak, which people can have. But that’s an experience, not a belief. It’s not faith.
It’s not an idea, although you can have an idea about it, and these words I am writing are ideas about it. But the actually experience is not something that can be captured and conveyed as an idea, or as a doctrine or a dogma or even verbally at all.
I’d say that there is nothing which is not God, but to know that, you need to experience it, as reality, as the world being holy, being sacred, and for that to happen you need to be in a state of grace, and for that to happen you need to attend to yourself, what you are, how you are, and there are practices that you can do which help.
Drugs, meditation, qi gong, many different things have shown me different facets of what this means to me personally. But when it comes right down to it, you don’t need anything. You have everything. It’s not a story. It’s nothing special. Nothing exotic. No magic. Just completely ordinary and normal. Just be. The supreme miracle. Effortless.
Also, quite obviously, this is a different conception as to what the term ‘God’ means to that held by many other people. But that is always a problem with all English words, because of the ambiguity and fuzziness inherent in language and our cognitive processing. Perhaps it corresponds to what Metzinger calls here, ‘Non-pathological oceanic boundary loss’ hahahahaha….
Being No One: Consciousness, The Phenomenal Self, and First-Person Perspective with Thomas Metzinger
Sylvia Plath, self portrait, 1951.
So below are various links that may be helpful to anyone who is interested. I have not added any commentary, you need to be fairly dedicated to plough through anyway, none of it is easy, they are just here to save you some surfing time.
Can We Think Democratically? Laruelle and the ‘Arrogance’ of Non-Philosophy
‘Due to this necessary mutation, we must first change the very concept of thought, in its relations to philosophy and to other forms of knowledge. This is an inversion that concerns a reversal of old hierarchies, but through a formulation of a new type of primacy without relationships of domination; without relations in general.’
Fabio Gironi, Science cum Metaphysics
Considering the renewed interest, in continental circles, towards metaphysical speculation and new kinds of realism, a clarification of the relationship between science and metaphysics is one of the most theoretically urgent issues which philosophy faces today. If we understand philosophy as a social enterprise, inextricably involved with the world, simple intellectual honesty requires us to come to grips with what we think is worth exploring, and to clarify how such an exploration should proceed. I don’t think any satisfactory answer can yet be given. Here I can only present a fragmented exposition of my own unresolved concerns.
In what follows, I hope to offer a sketch of non-philosophy that will introduce some of its key concepts. Non-philosophy relies upon a highly technical, abstract, and counter-intuitive vocabulary, whose terms are almost always defined in relation to one another. This makes it nearly impossible for the uninitiated to get the hang of it, barring total dedication and immersion. This problem is further complicated by the current lack of translated texts by Francois Laruelle, the founder of non-philosophy, and the other members of the Non-philosophy Collective. The few that are available are highly forbidding.
History of Non-Philosophy
I’d like to close these—tentative and incomplete—openings with some remarks. As human beings, when faced with two sound arguments, we invariably make a theoretical choice on the basis of some sort of personal preference. All of us involved or interested in ‘speculative realism’ are for some specific set of reasons, historical and biographical. The very fact that there is this online community, coming from different backgrounds and yet sharing an interest in a revision of ‘philosophies of human access’ is a proof of that. So I see the silhouette of a paradox: even if we break the correlationist circle and we get out (with Meillassoux) of the pesky argument ‘we think X to be independent of thought but we still think it to be independent of thought so it is actually dependent on thought’ and/or delineate a realist ontology of independently existing objects (with Harman), I believe another issue emerges. Say that we have proven that we can think the existence of X as independent of thought. Say that we have proven that ethics cannot be legitimately extended in its authority to this realm of thought-independent stuff. How can we also rule out that our very enterprise of overcoming correlationism/anthropocentrism had nothing to do with ethical (loosely intended to include ethical normativity and its more riotous offspring, political ideology) considerations in the first place? This sounds like lame constructivism, but I believe it is not. We are talking about a philosophical movement which explicitly presents itself as a revolution (or counter-revolution) against the way philosophy was made in the West after the criminal of Königsberg laid out his project. I am not claiming ‘anti-correlationism is self-refuting’. I want simply to claim that even if anti-correlationism is well-guided, the contributions which pushed the history of philosophy to reach these new, disobedient positions cannot but be (partially) ethical ones. So here is the paradox: how do we commence a process in which ethics is involved (no matter in what infinitesimal part) and end up with a net result which is completely nonporous to ethical considerations?
Radical theory has always been beset by the question of ontology, albeit to varying degrees and under differing conditions. In recent years, in particular, political metaphysics has returned with force: the rise of Deleuze-influenced “new materialisms,” along with post-/non-Deleuzian Speculative Realism (SR) and Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO), all bear testament to this. In this same period, anarchism has returned as a major influence on social movements and critical scholarship alike. What, then, are some of the potential resonances between these currents, particularly given that anarchism has so often been understood/misunderstood as a fundamentally idealist philosophy? This special issue of ADCS considers these questions in dialogue with the new materialisms, Speculative Realism, and Object-Oriented Ontology, in order to seek new points of departure.
Actor Network Theory
Lexicon of Onticology
Katerina Kolozova “Solidarity in Suffering with the Non-Human”
Building Butler’s politics of grief and Haraway’s post-humanist discourse of universality, I will argue that “identification with suffering itself” could constitute a form of political solidarity which is established independently from and at an instance beyond or anterior to language. If we identify with the “suffering itself” we are identifying with the purely “evental,” i.e., with the sheer experience (of subjection to pain) which is a pre-linguistic category. The “suffering itself” is but a taking-place of pain and/or of trauma. Put in Laruellian parlance, it is the “lived” par-excellence. Thus pain is the real in the Laruellian as well as in the Lacanian sense of the word. The figures of Christ in Donna Haraway and Oedipus in Sophocles’ tragedies will be discussed as non-humanist models of political universalism.
Catherine Malabou – What is a Psychic Event? Freud and Contemporary Neurology on Trauma
Ray Brassier interview
What is Revolution ?