Catren and Nature

02Apr09

It seems I have already been beaten to the punch by Stellar Cartographies and by Taylor but it is readily apparent that Catren’s work is of phenomenal importance.  While I support the demolishment of Meillassoux’s absolutization of physics, my own concerns lead me to wonder how Catren’s work effects a philosophy of nature.

Creating a minimalist metaphysics of nature begs the question of how much ground should be given to physics?  That is, is the metaphysical kernel of nature merely that of what has not yet been answered by physics or is there always a space (or necessity) for metaphysical support?  Catren claims that whereas physics follows from empirical data, speculative physics inquires into the ‘rational necessity of laws’ (Collapse 5, p. 461).

Furthermore, the rational necessity is the ‘for us’ of physics which implies an epistemological limitation that cannot be simply overcome by transcendence (Collapse 5, p. 464).  The rational necessity of physical laws is determined via its differential theoretical superiority in relation to other laws (Collapse 5, p. 471).

The subject of transcendence, to follow Schelling, must acknowledge the asymetrical relation between generative nature and the subject of rational thought which, articulated in Brassier’s formulation, is the relation between transcendentalism skepticism (freedom) and naturalistic eliminativism (nature).

Catren goes on to say the following: “Science does not progress by trying to found itself on a last self-posited metaphysical or transcendental reason, but rather by trying to absolve itself from any kind of presupposed background” (Collapse 5, p. 469).

Again, the question is whether the process of dissolving backgrounds simultaneously removes all scientific as well as all metaphysical baggage bringing us to an un-objectifible real, the One, sheer probabilty or…what?  A dark vitalism investigates this enigmatic force of forces in an attempt to explain the sucessive manifesations of the cosmos leading towards the end of the universe.  The question is whether such speculation is necessary only to compensate for the epistemic limitations of human beings or whether such a vitalism has ontological weight.

That is, is the force of forces merely the historical development of the eidos – the radiators of an object’s observable phase changes, or is the relation between object’s the force of new prouduction itself – that is, what is the physical necessity or impossibility of the pre-individual given Catren’s objects?

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2 Responses to “Catren and Nature”

  1. I wonder if you could expand on the following:

    “The subject of transcendence, to follow Schelling, must acknowledge the asymetrical relation between generative nature and the subject of rational thought which, articulated in Brassier’s formulation, is the relation between transcendentalism skepticism (freedom) and naturalistic eliminativism (nature).”

    I don’t know Brassier’s work at all short of the bits and pieces I’ve picked up online (basically that he’s a materialist, a reductionist, etc). I guess I want to know how Brassier views the relation of the subject (human being, agent, whatever) to the natural world and how you see this relating to Schelling.

  2. 2 Ben Woodard

    Brassier’s transcendental scepticisim is how his non-materiality functions in a non-decisional way – refusing to idealize matter (as is the case in phenomenology) in a kind of knowing according to the unknown. This scepticism is a suspension of judgement done by the stranger or so called alien subject. Along with this assertion that the real is not philosophizable Brassier supports an eliminativist view of nature which, I think putting the two together leads to a( perhaps harsher) version of Schelling’s a priori grund haunting Kant’s transcendental project as he discusses in his Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature.

    I think the interesting problem is whether a metaphysical ground remains as physical theories move deeper towards the fundamental questions of cosmological genesis.


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