[The following is a post based on my paper for the German Idealism Workshop (which was just rejected...c'est la vie!) and in many ways foregrounds issues that Iain Grant discussed this past week in Pittsburgh. I will follow this post with a discussion of Grant's lectures]
There is a fairly well known saying that the German Idealists (primarily Fichte, Schelling, Hegel) ran through the door which Kant had only wished to peak through. This means, among other things, that the cautious uncertainty where Kant stood was ‘ruined’ by the German Idealists who wanted to talk more about ‘things in themselves’ or to, in various ways, get rid of the things in themselves all together and expand that shaky ground outwards. Whereas Zizek has argued that Hegel effectively ontologizes that which Kant had recognized without really recognizing (that the subject comes to be substance through a kind of indirect self-recognition) the Pittsburgh Hegelians, insofar as I grasp them, take both Fichte and Hegel’s idealism to be one that grounds the stability of the starting subject position on the efficacy of the normative which is sui generis and separate from what McDowell calls, following Sellars, the logical space of nature.
In essence, the problem of how mind and world (or reason and nature) interact is based upon a self-sustaining space of reasons, where we have learned via linguistic structures to be able to self-test that the world is thus and so in relation to us saying that the world is thus and so. This capacity cannot, following Brandom and McDowell, be anchored in naturalistic processes (to do so would be to fall into the naturalistic fallacy as Sellars called it) because the set of rules governing conceptual behavior are different in kind from those laws which govern the logical space of nature. However, I believe that the way in which the logical space of nature is described immediately fixes the game in a way that any kind of naturalism other than as empirical explanation, cannot but fail to appease the force of second nature (the space of reasons). That is, I believe that Schelling’s naturalism is not a bald naturalism as McDowell would put it, but, given its speculative nature, questions the descriptive ground put in place by the Pittsburgh Hegelians.
Put otherwise, if naturalism is that which fundamentally describes laws and their empirical ambit, this presupposes the efficacy of description, already grounded, as the boundary of the space of nature. Such a formulation outrightly dismisses speculative physics, whether in Hegel, Schelling, or in comtemporary thought, Gabriel Catren. Catren’s speculative physics asserts an a priori (but non-transcendental in the Kantian sense) structure of laws which determine the limitations of the empirical. As Dan Sacilotto has discussed succintly here, Catren’s speculative physics runs against Meillassoux’s assertion that the laws of nature cannot be contingent. In this sense, and as I have argued previously in talks, whereas Meillassoux asserts the necessity of contingency and Hegel the contingency of necessity, Schelling asserts the necessity of necessity however speculatively determined. This means the necessity of nature however (something is impossible if its conditions cannot be given in nature) and not the necessity of necessity removed from nature and placed in the logical space of reasons. Markus Gabriel’s move is to push this logical space of reasons ‘backwards’ and equate it with Schelling’s concept of das unvordenkliche (the un-pre-thinkable). But what this means for the separability of nature and logic in Gabriel appears somewhat uncertain.
Filed under: Hegel, Iain Hamilton Grant, Kant, Meillassoux, nature, ontology, Schelling, Speculative Realism, Zizek | 6 Comments
Tags: Iain Hamilton Grant, nature, Naturphilosophie, Physics, Schelling, speculative physics
At the Speculative Aesthetics conference back in March, Ray Brassier connected ‘the new accelerationism’ (that which functions in a epistemological-political register rather than, in Land, an ontological-political register) to what he dubbed a Prometheanism. This Prometheanism, following in the wake of Lenin and the Cosmists, puts forth the axiom that revolutionary politics requires rigorous post-capitalist planing via technological and more broad scientific exploration and not, we might say, the lightfooted doctrine of neo-liberal development. Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek develop this is their recently posted Accerlerationist Manifesto available here.
The piece is great. McKenzie Wark has written an interesting response here. I have always been a accelerationst sympathesizer but was perhaps never admitted to the ranks for one reason or another (possibly because I am not a political thinker). One on level, I am not sure how to connect my own Schellingian sympathies to such a project as Schelling appears as a reactionary and non-radical character in the literature (though he has a kind of anarchic character in some ways, something I wrote an essay that will come out here.) That is, while there are certainly ties to Schelling via Peirce and Chatelet (in terms of physics, intuition, and systematicity) technology (and esp any kind of technologically infused politics) is a bit of a stretch.
One way, of trying to explore a ground here is Schelling’s complex relation to the myth of Prometheus (which I concluded this talk briefly with). While several notions of Prometheus swirl around Schelling (particularly in relation to Goethe’s famous ode) the concept that the Promethean thought as a primordial thought is particularly interesting. For Schelling, the Gods were brought forth in order to move beyond them hence Schelling’s tautegorical concept of myth; the assertion that myth is not fundamentally allegorical but expresses objectivity in more or less clear language. Myth has a kind of redundant utility. Myth becomes myth (rather than say fiction) to the degree which it successfully obfuscates its temporality (myth contains in it the very beginning of time as Cassier discusses). This is related to Schelling’s view of the relation between science and philosophy – that the latter should judge and reconstruct the fictions that guide the practices of the former (and not the practices themselves).
Filed under: art, Brassier, Hegel, Iain Hamilton Grant, Kant, nature, politics, Schelling, Speculative Realism | 4 Comments
Tags: accelerate, accelerationism, alex williams, benedict singleton, ccru, German Idealism, nick srnicek, pete wolfendale
A story at i09 a few days ago was about what’s called the centipede’s dilemma also known as the problem of hyper-reflection. The problem comes from a nursery rhyme written in 1871 in which a centipede, following a questioning toad, thinks too much about how it moves all its legs and then forgets how to move at all. Several decades after the rhyme was initially written the British psychologist George Humphrey popularized the phrase ‘the centipede’s dilemma’ and it is also became known as Humphrey’s Law. The dilemma is a low-level or perhaps more physiological version of analysis paralysis, the problem of over-analyzing to the detriment of decision (Hamlet being the privileged example here). To add to the pantheon of animal dilemmas one can also think of Buridan’s Ass or Aesop’s The Fox and the Cat.
Several other versions of the rhyme have appeared over the years some of which replace the toad with the spider (that great animal of cunning) who manipulates the centipede into thinking too much and tripping over itself. A verse of the rhyme appeared in an article by E. Ray Lankester a British zoologist (one of the two scientists present at Karl Marx’s funeral) who discussing the photography of Eadweard Muybridge wondering what it would be like to apply it to the centipede suggesting, albeit playfulling, that it might cause disastrous results.
Filed under: Brassier, cognitive science, Iain Hamilton Grant, nature, Schelling, Speculative Realism | 2 Comments
Tags: alain berthoz, analysis paralysis, centipede dilemma, cohen and stewart, immanence, laruelle, non-philosophy, simplexity, transcendence
A really interesting interview with Iain Hamilton Grant is available at After Nature here.
At the end of the interview Grant mentions that he is still working on his next text Grounds and Powers which, I believe was previously referred to as Grounds, Powers, and Time. Grant says that he will be testing some of the material at the Duquesne Summer School on Naturphilosophie where Jason Wirth is the other main speaker, which I will be attending and hopefully presenting at the attached conference in August.
Later the same month Grant (along with many others) will descend upon my university for the Second Annual Schelling Society of North America Conference with the theme Futures of Schelling.
I am also currently putting together proposals for two different collections: one is on German Idealism after Zizek and the other is going to be on new realisms and feminism…I’ll post more details once both are a bit more solidified.
A nice Earth Day sentiment here.
Filed under: Hegel, Iain Hamilton Grant, nature, Schelling, Speculative Realism, transcendental materialism, Zizek | Leave a Comment
One of the major themes which has crept into my dissertation (largely due to Reza’s influence) is that of space and, by connection, motion. The obvious reason for this is the fascinating work of geometrical-cognitive theorists (Bailly, Longo, Berthoz, Magnani, etc) which argues for geometrical articulations of deep natural processes whether mental, biological, physical or otherwise. By tying motion and space to such concepts, one is able to construct speculative theories which avoid over-emphasizing the discretizing regime (again, borrowing from Reza) as the fundamental explanatory engine.
For myself, space and motion discussed in these ways gives better tools for explaining Schelling’s meontological concept of nature (neither strictly being nor strictly becoming) as a asymmetrical dialectic of the churning of space-time. More specifically, since Schelling is always ungrounding and removing the purported ‘necessary’ conditions of any given thing, thinking in terms of space-time as evolution and involution, as a tension between creation and inhibition, allows one operational (or we might say skeptically epistemological) ways of talking about possible grounds.
Filed under: art, cognitive science, nature, Schelling, Speculative Realism | 5 Comments
Tags: cognitive science, dance, Metzinger, paf, Schelling, vestibular system, xavier le roy
PAF was more than an amazing experience as it forced me to really push myself mentally in numerous ways (as only 15+ hours of presenting your thinking in front of a diverse room of intelligent people can do). This was particularly useful as I am going into my focused dissertation writing stage and I am struggling to outline what exactly I think it is Schelling does and what I think that he can in turn do for contemporary philosophy.
On the third day I tried to outline what I think Schelling’s project is all about which, essentially, outlines the central concerns of my dissertation:
/1/ – Schelling’s Thought
-For Schelling, Nature is skeptically constructed as a dynamics, an activity that produces the apparently inactive through its own self inhibition. Or, in other words, for Schelling philosophy cannot rely on simple being or becoming.
-This self inhibition of Nature occurs because productivity, as such, cannot be a pure productivity or else it would diffuse into nothing.
-This self-inhibition of nature, can also not be absolute and therefore nothing would happen.
-Nature then is an oscillation between inhibition and production and this oscillation we experience as the world of products.
-Our experience with these things suggests to us that they are active (because we can interact with them at all) and therefore we must always look to their activity or beyond the illusion (or schein) of their apparent inactivity.
-This knowledge, or form of experience which itself is active (as productive intuition) leads us to further deaden the object to the extent that I can then extrapolate its potential dynamic activity as well as investigate its potential effects on me.
-Formally, we can say that Nature is the continuous action of the spatial and temporal; a imperfect synthesis (or perhaps asymetrical dialectic)
-This spatio-temporal tension, as discussed yesterday and the day before, is grappled by us as a kind of flux between ground and unground always revealed both through the discovery, intentionaly and unintentionally, of the grounds and ungrounds beneath us.
Filed under: Deleuze, Iain Hamilton Grant, Kant, Schelling, Speculative Realism | Leave a Comment
Now that I’ve made it through my PhD comprehensive exams I will be able to update the blog more regularly though it will most likely take the form of working out some of the issues I will be dealing with in my dissertation. On an Ungrounded Earth is in the last stages of proofing and hopefully will be available shortly!
But for now here is an update post of talking commitments:
1-I’ll be in Dublin March 1-3 presenting at “Weaponizing Speculations” organized by D.U.S.T. My talk is on the importance of spatiality in regards to Naturphilosophie as it is articulated by Longo and Bailly, while also dipping a bit into sheaf theory. Speaking of sheaf theory there is a great post on it in relation to continental thought here.
2-Right after Dublin I’ll be hopping over to London to present at the Speculative Aesthetics Roundtable organized by James Trafford. The other presenters are Ray Brassier, Mark Fisher, Robin Mackay, Reza Negerastani, Benedict Singleton, Nick Srnicek. James Trafford, Alex Williams, and Amanda Beech. My presentation is on the difficulty of having a useful aesthetics in relation to ecology as it’s currently dominated by either eco-disaster sublime-ness or cute-animal ‘practices.’ Yes, I’m going to ramble about the evils of cuteness.
3-In early April I’ll be giving a three day seminar for the Performing Arts Forum in northern France. Tristan Garcia and Denise Ferreira are also presenting. The poster will the details is below:
Filed under: Brassier, Deleuze, Hegel, Iain Hamilton Grant, nature, ontology, Schelling, Speculative Realism, transcendental materialism, video games | 2 Comments
Tags: Brassier, mark fisher, On an ungrounded earth, reza negarestani, Slime Dynamics, Speculative Aesthetics, Tristan Garcia