Speculative Philosophy

If you’re looking for a good book to read while enduring the holidays, give this one a try – Donald Phillip Verene, Speculative Philosophy. It is short and crisp. It’s about true speculative philosophy, Hegelian speculative sentence [Satz], but also so much more. Having been rather disappointed by objectological disavowal of speculation (mostly, I think, due to fear of the accusation that it lacks scienticity and seriousness) and the subsequent denial that “speculative realism” describes any real philosophical substance (Bryant’s rather strange proposition that “speculative” in “speculative realism” has as much “speculativeness” as Apple computers have “appleness” – I haven’t checked, but I really hope he erased that post, because it’s just plain wrong to draw this analogy), I turned to Hegel and true speculative philosophy – I’m telling you, dear objectologists, there’s plenty of really exciting philosophical potential in the idea of speculation and “speculative realism” sounds much more philosophically interesting than “object-oriented ontology” – although there is already a conference planned (“inaugural” conference, as Objectologist the Father called it – let the self-aggrandizing begin!) for this “object-oriented ontology” stuff, I think there should be some efforts to revive “speculative realism” now freed from obsessively controlling (and humorless) presence of Father/Son twosome…

Verene’s preface is rather eloquent and makes you want to read the whole thing in one sitting (and you should give it a try) – I’m too lazy to type, so here’s just an image of a couple of paragraphs (click to enlarge): Continue reading

For Reid

Since I have some free time and also since I’m kind of tired of all the yelling (both “ours” and “theirs”), I’d like to address some of Reid’s observations about “speculative realism” made here. I think my major problem is found in the use of so many familiar terms that seems to mean nothing when I put them together, I’m tempted to present my ideas in a very dumb form, so forgive my simple-mindedness here.

1) Non-assimilable remainder that resists conceptualization.

So there is something (matter, for example) that is outside of thought. Agreed. It is independent of thought and cannot be thought. In fact it actively resists conceptualization, by its very nature it cannot be conceptualized. It is necessarily non-conceptual. That is to say, it’s not a problem of us not trying hard enough to conceptualize it, it’s a problem of its very nature. Now let’s push all the obvious epistemological objections aside for a moment (“how can you know that something is necessarily unknowable?” and so on) and look at this carefully:

“…this absolutely independent and unintelligible Real is the condition of possibility for any thought in each case, although in different ways. This is despite the fact that it cannot itself be given in thought or exhausted in conceptualization.”

This non-conceptual remainder is not really a remainder but a condition of possibility for the conceptual. Again, let’s hold our epistemological horses. So we have the non-conceptual condition for the conceptual, that is, somehow that which is not conceptual and therefore cannot be thought conditions/grounds/produces that which is conceptual and can be thought. What conditions the possibility of this very transition from non-conceptual to conceptual? To put it in more traditional philosophical terms, how do things become thoughts? I’d like to hear some new speculative realist reactions to this old question. Continue reading

Stellar Summaries

Since I’m too lazy to post anything really interesting and pertaining to philosophy, I’ve been taking comments out of their threads since the stupid “Reply” button seems to stop working after about 2o or so comments and then everything goes crazy.

Here’s a comment by someone awesomely labeled “Stellar Cartographies” addressed to “us”:

There is a somewhat strange argument that is circulating here by most of you that seems to function like this:

(1) Speculative Realism is boring, so lets just ignore its criticisms.

(2) OK, speculative realism is not boring, but it is ridiculous, so lets ignore its criticism.

(3) Alright…speculative realism is neither boring nor ridiculous, but its criticism are old hat, so lets just ignore them.

This does not seem to be a great model for philosophical exercise. Graham and Levi have reacted childishly to criticisms and perceived slights against their arguments. Furthermore, their fascinations with trolls, vampires, pixies, and other members of some strange mythological zoo is tiresome and, more importantly, useless. But none of that forgives the childish and pathological response from many who are commenting here. Ignore the persons of Levi and Graham. Ignore their childish personality quirks. What is the problem of SR? I will give you a hint: Its not that Graham and Levi sometimes respond childishly…Its not that it has a presence on the web…It is not that it is some sort of secret capitalist conspiracy to distract us from radical potential of the space-time schema.

Abandon the sour grapes and the hurt feelings. Do some philosophy. Offer real critiques of the positions taken by the SR theorists. Stop the psychologizing!

Anyone care to respond? Here’s my take: Continue reading

Kralechkin on Meillassoux

Дмитрий Кралечкин рецензирует Мейясу:

Спекулятивный абсолют и порочный круг философии

[Квентин Мейясу. После конечности. Эссе о необходимости контингентности» Квентина Мейясу // Quentin Meillassoux, Après la finitude : Essai sur la nécessité de la contingence, Seuil, 2006, 178 p.]

«После конечности. Эссе о необходимости контингентности» Квентина Мейясу (Quentin Meillassoux) – несомненно, наиболее значительная работа последних лет на французском языке, из числа относящихся к жанру «чистой философии» (если не брать несколько более ожидаемой «Логики миров» А.Бадью). Выпущенная в 2006 г. издательством Seuil, книга приобрела значение культового произведения для достаточно обширного международного сообщества сравнительно молодых англо- и франкоязычных философов, образующих течение так называемого «спекулятивного реализма» (этот термин отдельно вводится в «После конечности»).

Интересно отметить, что явный нарциссизм Грэма Гармана (не Грэхема, господин Кралечкин – см. Грэм Грин) будет удовлетворен упоминанием его блога: Continue reading

While I Was Napping: More Realism Wars™

Unfortunately for me, I’ve missed a post on Speculative Heresy from some days ago on realism – with some remarks there and on his own blog, Alexei responds to the post as well. I would like to address only a couple of things in the post, things that I believe would be a misunderstanding of my own position on all things realism, if the post in fact addressed them to me, which it does not, so this is just a hypothetical situation. Nick writes: Continue reading

Speculative Realism Strikes Back.

Is it just me or did Graham’s blog slowly become a bit less philosophical and more “this-is-what-I-did-today” kind of blog? I wonder if he needs to open a Twitter account? The next Speculative Realism conference is coming up:

Speculative Materialism / Speculative Realism Conference

UWE Philosophy are pleased to announce that it will host a conference on Speculative Materialism and Speculative Realism on Friday 24th April 2009. This event follows on from the Speculative Realism conference held at Goldsmiths in April 2007 (the proceedings of which were published in Collapse vol. 3 (2007)). This second event will reunite the original four speakers:

  • Ray Brassier (AU Beirut), author of Nihil Unbound.
  • Iain Hamilton Grant (UWE Bristol), author of Philosophies of Nature After Schelling.
  • Graham Harman (AU Cairo), author of Tool-Being and Guerrilla Metaphysics.
  • Quentin Meillassoux (ENS Paris), author of After Finitude.

Click here for directions.

Further details will be posted here in due course.

For further information please contact Iain Grant.

Will someone blog about this? If you don’t have a blog, email me and we can arrange for an exclusive PE appearance.

Metaphysics and Its Ethical Consequences.

UPDATE: While I was writing the post below, Levi posted his own take, I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, so if some issues are already addressed, I apologize.

While clarifying what Kantian ethics is really about is a noble task, I would like to point out some things that might have been unclear from my initial post on realism’s possible ethical stance as i cited Kant’s third Critique (§76). I think that Levi’s questions concerning the connection between metaphysics and ethics are legitimate, but are directly addressed in Kant’s corpus – I would even say that Kant is extremely concerned with ethical outcome of any sort of metaphysical exercise and this concern is found throughout his writings. In §76 Kant is basically imagining a different kind of human cognition, the one that lacks the distinction between intuition and understanding/reason, a kind of cognition that would have an immediate knowledge of the actual (things-in-themselves), if I am reading it correctly. Kant’s argument is simple, I think, and consists of very simple steps: human cognition distinguishes between appearance and things-in-themselves as it has knowledge of the former and only posits the latter, if we imagine a cognition that distinguishes between the two yet knows both, the very distinction is then shown to be unnecessary, now we are talking about a thought experiment, only God’s cognition would fit a hypothetical scenario, yet if we take realism and its claim that there is a world out there and (important “and” I think) we have a direct access to it and can know it as it is in itself, then we know things-in-themselves via a sort of “intellectual intuition,” i.e. Kant’s point about heterogeneity of intuition and understanding can be disregarded. I then go on to ask a question: what would the world of things-in-themselves look like if indeed we have direct knowledge of it? Kant states, and again we may or may not agree with his argument, that in such a world things would simply be, simply exists – I thought of such a world as a sort of a nightmare precisely because without space/time (form of intuition, of course) and without potential/actual distinction (being a form of causality, causality being part of mind’s work, not something found in things themselves) life would be a nightmare.

Ok, let’s throw all that Kantian jargon and Kantian arguments out of the window – there’s a lot, I know, so I’m going to give you some time… Continue reading

Rebels Without A Cause A Pause.

Graham Harman presents his own (semi-serious, I hope) interpretation of the origins of “speculative realism”:

I would argue that Ray [Brassier]’s phrase “speculative realism,” which he now likes much less than I do, performs a similar function. There were lots of frustrated ex-continental types out there, bothered and annoyed by something, but they didn’t quite know what it was. But just give them the chance to say “hey, I’m a speculative realist! Now I know what I’ve been all this time!” then you hold up a candle in the darkness for those who feel like outcasts. And there is really no more generous service that one can perform than that. Continue reading

Speculative Realism: Quit While You’re Behind (Sort Of)

I will open with a personal note: I never really understood what most of the philosophical schools and their names stood for, I suppose I was educated to read texts and discuss ideas, not necessarily to come up with cool names that somehow encapsulate a whole school – maybe it’s the lack of analytical philosophy tradition in Russia, or rather the lack of zeal that it is characterized by in the West, you know, all that militant language and all. For example, when I read Steven Shaviro’s observation about speculative realism and Kant, I agree with it wholeheartedly and not only on some sort of an intellectual level: Continue reading

Announcements, Texts & a little Academic Pretension

Or rather: 1. Announcement 2. A Response to a Little Academic Pretension 3. Some “Speculative” Texts.   Anyway, this announcement has been floating around at various sites, but I thought I’d throw it up here anyway.  It’s an interesting new series that may just be able to break the monotony of academic pageantry (I’m quite optimistic this evening, it would seem, but the proposal does specifically ask for “gamblers”).

New Metaphysics

Series editors: Graham Harman and Bruno Latour

The world is due for a resurgence of original speculative metaphysics. The New Metaphysics series aims to provide a safe house for such thinking amidst the demoralizing caution and prudence of professional academic philosophy. We do not aim to bridge the analytic-continental divide, since we are equally impatient with nail-filing analytic critique and the continental reverence for dusty textual monuments. We favor instead the spirit of the intellectual gambler, and wish to discover and promote authors who meet this description. Like an emergent recording company, what we seek are traces of a new metaphysical “sound” from any nation of the world. The editors are open to translations of neglected metaphysical classics, and will consider secondary works of special force and daring. But our main interest is to stimulate the birth of disturbing masterpieces of twenty-first century philosophy. Please send project descriptions (not full manuscripts) to Graham Harman, graham@rinzai.com.

Open Humanities Press is an international Open Access publishing collective. OHP was formed by scholars to overcome the current crisis in publishing that threatens intellectual freedom and academic rigor worldwide. All OHP publications are peer-reviewed, published under open access licenses, and freely and immediately available online through www.openhumanitiespress.org. Continue reading