New Journal: Thinking Nature

Through the fine folks at open humanities I’ve set up a new journal called Thinking Nature. The journal is not meant to be a mouth piece for Grantian Speculative Realism or my own Dark Vitalism but is meant to explore the relationships between philosophy, science, and nature – nature as a concept, set of processes, and as a series of empircal and metaphysical entities.

My sense is that given the dominance of ‘green’ thinking, programs, and activities in the age of ecological crisis, nature could use a good amount of ideological cleansing and intellectual clarification.

I would ask if anyone is willing and able to design a header image for the journal website it would be much appreciated. The first CFP will be out soon.

Oken, District 9, and Lovecraft

The following is my contribution to the cross blog event as well an excerpt from the final chapter of the forthcoming Slime Dynamics.

The question becomes what of ethics – a concern which too often than not is the center of contemporary philosophy at the cost of analytical or speculative breadth and depth. An ethics which must take the productivity and product being of nature seriously.

In “Being and Slime” Grant points out that, following Oken, an ethics without a philosophy of nature is a contradiction, a non-thing (Collapse 4, 287-289). The fundamental challenge of Kantian ethics and of subsequent post-modern ethics (following from thinkers such as Emanuel Levinas) is that they set themselves as groundless, as not following from any sort of nature or material substance. This groundlessness is only half -hearted however, as the dominant form of ethics bases itself on an unacknowledged (or celebrated) positing of the importance of human beings.

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Speculative Anxiety

In the closing pages of The Mathematics of Novelty Sam Gillespie turns to the subject of anxiety to relate Lacan to Badiou. Anxiety for Lacan, as Gillespie points out, centers on the lack of lack – the empty ground of being (p. 118). In terms of other philosophers’ concept of anxiety it is the “confrontation with possibility” – moral obligation for Kierkegaard and freedom in the world (Heidegger) (p. 119). Via Gillespie’s association of ontological anxiety with the objet a (for Lacan) and with the Event (Badiou) however, there is a certain formal (whether mathematizable or not) shell denying ontological anxiety from connecting to everyday objects.

While, on the one hand, I support a rather old fashioned distinction between the ontic and the ontological and cringe at a quotidianization of the ontological – it would seem that the formalization of the object denies the metaphysical everyday (as opposed to the muted metaphysical as the everyday). Or, in other words, the question becomes what is the depth or ontological reach of so called ordinary objects.

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Some Brief Notes on Naturephilosophy

It’s truly a shame that Iain Hamilton Grant’s book Philosophies of Nature after Schelling is only available at the moment in a ridiculously priced hardcover (although a relatively better priced paperback is due out this fall). Undoubtedly the price of his main work has hindered his reception and made him the least known and commented on of the speculative realists, but if the first chapter of his book is any indication, that will definitely change once his work becomes more readily available. (As an aside, that’s part of the aim of this very blog – to overcome some of the hindrances involved in spreading this research, in order to help it become a significant voice in contemporary philosophy.)

The initial chapter of Philosophies of Nature after Schelling spans topics ranging from a direct attack on the Kantian critical turn, a subtle critique of Badiou’s distinction between number and animal, some promissory comments on the epistemological turn inaugurated by Kant, a full-fledged discussion of vitalism (something too often taken as an undefined insult), and an argument for the significance of Schelling to contemporary philosophy. A handful to cover in 20 pages to be sure, but Grant is adept in bringing it all together.

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