Riera review of Meillassoux

I missed Gabriel Riera’s review of Meillassoux’s After Finitude in the NDPR a couple of weeks back. Riera sums up and contextualizes Meillassoux’s argument succinctly. Here’s his assessment, more allusive than concrete, but certainly accurate:

The book’s meticulous argumentation is not for the logically faint of heart. There are passages of logical exasperation that at times may work against its own objectives, thus reinforcing a reactive skepticism. In spite of the absence of resolution to the absolutization of mathematics, the book succeeds in articulating the problematic and in mapping a new field of inquiry. For this reason, After Finitude will certainly play a central role in ongoing debates on the status of philosophy, on questions pertaining to epistemology and, above all, to ontology. It will not only be an unavoidable point of reference for those working on the question of finitude, but also for those whose work deals with political theology, and the status of the religious turn of philosophy. After Finitude will certainly become an ideal corrosive against too rigid assumptions and will shake entrenched positions.

Although the book is written with clarity and consistency, it presupposes a familiarity not only with dogmatic metaphysics, post-Kantian critical philosophy, phenomenology and post-Heideggerian philosophy, but also and above all with Alain Badiou’s materialist ontology, and more specifically, with his ontological re-formulation of post-Cantorean set theory, as well as his conception of the event as what exceeds the grasp of an ontology of being qua being. Contingency, Meillassoux’s crucial concept, is inextricably linked to Badiou’s conception of the event.

I guess I’m not logically faint of heart because I don’t remember being too exasperated when I read it, but really sometimes logical exasperation is better than dealing with the endless equivocation of many of those deconstructionists, though such logical exasperation often results from reading some of Plato’s dialogues, at least according to my students.

Read the full review here

Virilio in [Obama’s] America

More musings on the economic state of things–this time from the perspective of Virilio.  In a sort of (maybe) interesting article –with the inexplicable title “City of Transformation: Virilio in Obama’s America”– Arthur and Marilouise Kroker ask if “we are beyond Speed and Politics:”

Economists are quoted as saying the financial crisis effects “everyone on earth.” Is this Virilio’s “global accident?” Quite certainly it is panic finance: that moment when the credit mechanisms necessary for capitalist liquidity slam shut, a time made to measure for Virilio’s brilliant theory of bunker archeology, with each bank its own toxic bunker of junk assets, each banker a born again socialist. For example, always vigilant automatic circuit breakers working in the darkness of night recently prevented a global plunge of the futures market. Allan Greenspan throws up his hands, exclaiming “I’m in shocked disbelief.” Continue reading

The Devil and George Bush: New Opera

This is kind of cool:

PORTSMOUTH — A new opera now making its appearance on the Internet, “The Devil and George Bush,” is racking up a number of firsts.

It is the first opera composed expressly for the Internet and intended for download to an MP3 player or mobile phone. It is also the first opera ever written about a sitting President. It is also the first opera to include Presidential candidates (Obama and McCain).

The opera is the brainchild of composer Roger Rudenstein of Portsmouth, who conceived, wrote, composed and directed it.

The new opera is currently being offered free at http://www.DevilandGeorgeBush.com before it is sold on iTunes, Amazon and other web download sites.

Kant’s Radical Evil Revisited.

With the looming end of the election “coverage” that I have allowed myself on this blog, I am slowly getting back to reading and thinking about all things philosophical – well, not really, but one must think of a good transition to the “regular” broadcast schedule. What better place to start than good old Kant? Another important “traditional” aspect of this blog is expressing annoyance with things. So I give you – expressing annoyance with general lack of engagement with Kant’s discussion of “radical evil”! Or so it seems.

I have always been somewhat confused why Kant’s discussion of “radical evil” in Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason is hailed as some sort of a prophetic vision of the future crime of humanity – in fact, I think Kant’s “radical evil” has much more to do with the discussion of the obligatory force of the (moral) law and I am yet to see a good engagement vis-a-vis this “force of law” and, say, Derrida’s discussion of the similar topics in “Force of Law” – disclaimer: “I am yet to see” in this case means exactly what it means, I am sure there must be essays and maybe even books on this issue out there, I’m a yet to see them though. Continue reading

American Democracy: Eric Foner Inverview.

Interesting interview with Eric Foner:

While the presidential campaign is coming to an end, Eric Foner, one of the most prominent American historians, analyses the changes of American democracy and explains why this election could mark a shift in the history of American politics. Barack Obama’s campaign could be an important step toward a society where race would no longer be a powerful dividing line.


Now, it may be that this presidential campaign does reflect a shift : people are looking more to action by government. We will see, that does seem to be a greater engagement, we will see what the voter turnout is, everyone is expecting a higher number of people voting this time. Obama has certainly tried to mobilize large numbers of younger voters and others who don’t vote, generally speaking. It would be nice to have a President to people could feel respect for, we haven’t have had that for a long time.

True Love Waits, Grows Impatient, Does It Anyway

Interesting piece in the upcoming New Yorker on why evangelical teen-agers are getting pregnant:

The gulf between sexual belief and sexual behavior becomes apparent, too, when you look at the outcomes of abstinence-pledge movements. Nationwide, according to a 2001 estimate, some two and a half million people have taken a pledge to remain celibate until marriage. Usually, they do so under the auspices of movements such as True Love Waits or the Silver Ring Thing. Sometimes, they make their vows at big rallies featuring Christian pop stars and laser light shows, or at purity balls, where girls in frothy dresses exchange rings with their fathers, who vow to help them remain virgins until the day they marry. More than half of those who take such pledges—which, unlike abstinence-only classes in public schools, are explicitly Christian—end up having sex before marriage, and not usually with their future spouse.

So True Love Waits but apparently not very long. As someone who has a very short attention span (very short indeed), I can totally see how that happened: a moving speech by a pastor about how bad sex really is, a pledge to please parents, a sexual urge, and there we go…

As the Reverend Rick Marks, a Southern Baptist minister, recently pointed out in a Florida newspaper, “Evangelicals are fighting gay marriage, saying it will break down traditional marriage, when divorce has already broken it down.” Conservatives may need to start talking as much about saving marriages as they do about, say, saving oneself for marriage.

This point is so obvious I am not sure why it is not all over the conservative websites? Where I come from, conservative Protestant Christians are excommunicated if they even consider divorce, but they are, of course, in the religious minority…

Stevens Convicted, I Am Still Confused.

Not that I followed the trial at all, but I saw it pop up here and there, so now I am reading NYT and this is what I see

Despite being a convicted felon, he is not required to drop out of the race or resign from the Senate. If he wins re-election, he can continue to hold his seat because there is no rule barring felons from serving in Congress. The Senate could vote to expel Stevens on a two-thirds vote.

“Put this down: That will never happen — ever, OK?” Stevens said in the weeks leading up to his trial. “I am not stepping down. I’m going to run through and I’m going to win this election.

Admittedly, Stevens has said this thing about not dropping out “in the weeks leading up to his trial,” but surely now that he is convicted and can go to jail, he will resign, right? How is this possible that a convicted felon would be prevented from voting in most states, but if you’re running for office, it is ok to be elected and even to stay elected, unless expelled by the Senate?

Anger Management Help: Xenophobic Edition

Almost everyone these days has a video or a quote from some angry angry McCain supporter yelling something mean and racist – are they stupid? do they just what to be on TV? do they not realize that they racism isn’t cool anymore? – I feel so bad for them as I know that the best anger management technique is to repress all the anger. I hope this helps deal with it, dear McCain/Palin comrade: