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 →
Since putting the word “speculative” everywhere is the recent fashion, and if you’re not yet on the wagon, hop on because it’s getting crowded here. Nick of Accursed Share wrote a dense summary-reflection on the state of affairs in the newly minted “speculative realism” and, as always, I have enjoyed reading it very much. Partly because it strikes me as peculiar that we are discussing philosophy as if there was never any Kantian issues (or almost), not really overcoming Kant, but simply going back to the pre-critical phrase, which is, of course, totally fine with me as I don’t see why folks should follow any specific rules in their philosophizing but the basic rules of reasonable discourse, partly because I have been recently rereading some discussions form the 17th and early 18th century and I have to say that the tone is very similar. Take, for example, already mentioned Leibniz-Clarke correspondence: both proponents are able to discuss their positions on a number of important issues without having to propose any new philosophical principles (Leibniz, of course, pushes for his “principle of sufficient reason,” but Clarke is willing to accept it without much fighting). They simply make propositions and proceed to evaluate each other’s opinions and positions based on a sort of common philosophical courtesy of being rational.
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”).
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 →
Peter Benson bravely reads a difficult book (by Catherine Malabou) about a difficult philosopher (G.W.F. Hegel).
When a book about the most difficult philosopher of the 19th Century (G.W.F. Hegel) has a preface by the most difficult philosopher of the 20th Century (Jacques Derrida) one knows in advance that it will not be an easy read. In no conceivable way is this an introductory book on Hegel. Only those with some preliminary knowledge of Hegel’s philosophy should attempt to read it. Nevertheless, by the standards of contemporary French philosophy the book is by no means as difficult as it might have been, and it offers brilliant clarifications of some of the more opaque aspects of Hegel’s thought.
Hegel’s system of philosophy is one of the great intellectual achievements of Western culture. It has a solemn majesty and a sparkling multiplicity, a unity in diversity, comparable to a Wagnerian opera or a gothic cathedral. Tourists visiting such a cathedral usually opt for an introductory tour, a brief guide to the building’s principal features. But sometimes an architectural expert might be on hand, to lead us deeper into details. Malabou is just such an expert. Continue reading →