About Ben Woodard

I read books

Caputo on Meillassoux

What follows is an outline of Caputo’s lectures on the future of continental philosophy (both religious and not) that he is currently engaged in at Syracuse University with a few comments of my own. Mostly I want to outline some of the claims he makes and have a discussion about his views on Meillassoux, Brassier, and Laruelle. As of now only the lectures on Meillassoux are online but as Brassier and Laruelle will be coming up soon.

1rst Lecture

Caputo begins by asserting that Meillassoux proceeds like a Descartes sans god, setting forth mediations on correlationism instead  of the cogito. After outlining Leibniz and Descartes’ relation to the Principle of Sufficient Reason, Caputo addresses Kant and the nullification of the ontological proof of God since God, for both Leibniz and Descartes, guaranteed rationalism. Despite Kant’s demolition though Caputo notes that he set aside room for faith in order to allow for moral law, practical reason etc. This formal distinction yet saving of the noumenal forms the basis of weak correlationism.

Given the explosion of doubt we have the Hegelian retort that the noumenal/phenomenal distinction itself gives intuition into the noumenal and hence mind becomes substance, doubt becomes knowledge as Hegel absolutizes the correlation. Hegel’s post critical metaphysics gives the absolute necessity as spirit hence all things must be contingent but the totality must not be. Here Captuo suggests a disagreement between Zizek’s Hegel and Malabou’s. For Caputo, Hegel saves God as non-existent  but infinite womb of all being.

Caputo argues that Meillassoux ignores Kant’s claim that all metaphysics fail because they do not appreciate the limited applicability of the a priori categories.

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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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Badiou on Speculative Realism

Badiou was kind enough to have 30min one-on-one sessions with students who requested them. I decided to conduct a short interview of sorts following from his celebratory comments regarding Speculative Realism and some of the themes presented in the course thus far which has centered on the theme of negation.

Q: In class the other day you positively mentioned what you called the new Speculative Philosophy. How do you see your work in relation to the work of the Speculative Realists (Quentin Meillassoux, Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant and Graham Harman). Meillassoux sees himself as a materialist and not a realist, is this distinction pivotal for the future of metaphysics and affirmation as you see it?

A: The work of Speculative Realists, from the beginning is very interesting for me, and they refer to me sometimes too. The rupture with the idealist tradition in the field of philosophic study is of great necessity today. We return to the question of realism and materialism later. Its a very complex question.  The Speculative Realist position is the position where the point of departure of philosophy is not the relationship between the subject and object or the subject and the world and so on or what Quentin Meillassoux names correlationism. I have known Quentin Meillassoux for a long time I was in his doctoral dissertation and so on and from the very beginning Ive thought this description of correlationism and the critique of correlationism is a very important point. Its not the classical distinction between realism and materialism like in the Marxist tradition like with Althusser and so on. It was something else. It is very interesting to see that the point of departure of Meillassoux is finally the relationship between Hume and Kant. The idea of Quentin Meillassoux is practically that all philosophical tradition is in the space of Kant, the sense that correlationism is the only clear answer to the question of Hume. The idea of Quentin Meillassoux is that there is another possibility. We are not committed to the choice between Kant and Hume.

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Several interesting updates as of late:

Both Graham and Levi have interviews up on Another Heidegger Blog.

Reza has linked together several posts here paying particular attention to narrative-philosophical connections – especially those concerning video games and the possibility of  metaphysics videogame.

As has already been noted Collapse IV is available for download.

Late 2009/2010 promises to be a good one for Speculative Realism and its formless spawn as a slew of books are due to emerge…

Speculative Realism 2.0

Below are my notes from the speculative realist conference in Bristol.  This is not a transcript but what I could manage while still trying to pay attention and enjoy the talks.  The titles are invented and were not given.  My notes on Toscano’s talk are pretty sketchy so if any one wants to submit some I will gladly put them up.

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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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