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In the closing sections of the first chapter Kimhi begins to outline what is Psycho/Logical monism is and why it is an important alternative to emphasizing either dualism or psychologism over logicism or vice versa. The monistic image that Kimhi wishes to defend is not metaphysical (at least not in any recognizable way) but rather has to do with thought as a form of action that is dualistic (or two-way) but only within a monistic structure.

As has already been mentioned, Kimhi levels the difference between consciousness and self-consciousness other than simply stating that the latter is an act of the later: “Consciousness so understood is an act of unity through the self-consciousness of that unity” (53). Kimhi advances using Kant (and self-consciousness as a formal mode of consciousness) against the dualism that he sees in Frege. One consequence of this is that, for Kimhi, why cannot think contradictory statements together because of the active self of self-consciousness in the togetherness of thought. The activity of thought in Kimhi’s view forces us to really think one as true in the sense that we believe one, we give our thought one direction while we still can think the possibility of another option but not in an immediate togetherness or simultaneity. Thus one cannot think something in an active sense and then claim not to believe it (‘it is raining but I do not believe it is raining) as this would break the necessary link between the monistic character of thought and judgments.

Continue reading ‘Kimhi’s Thinking and Being – Chapter 1 (Sections 3 and 4)’

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The first chapter of Kimhi’s book (The Life of P) begins to outline why Kimhi thinks there is a form of thinking logic that is neither purely logical nor purely psychological nor operating between a hard divide between those aspects.

He begins to do this by analyzing how the law or principle of contradiction has typically been thought in two difference ways: ontologically (OPNC) and psychologically (PPNC). In the first case (OPNC) and following Aristotle something cannot both hold good and not hold good of the same thing (25-26). For Aristotle something cannot both exist and not-exist and this is important, Kimhi emphasizes, because it compromises the bottom rung of philosophical generality – a generality which allows philosophy to be the study of being qua being (26-27). This generality, still following Aristotle, means that being is beyond or more than nature and hence philosophy is not a special science but investigates those principles which ground all special sciences (even though those sciences do not  investigate said principles).

[It is worth noting that here Kimhi seems close to Meillassoux in that non-contradiction appears to be the only thing that cannot be thrown out even after a total rejection of metaphysics in its classical or dogmatic sense).]

Continue reading ‘Kimhi’s Thinking and Being – Chapter 1 – (Sections 1 and 2)’


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This will be a first in a series of posts as we read through Kimhi’s book.

I am going to write up some notes while reading through Kimhi’s Thinking and Being. I have written about it generally before here and here. Building off of Paramenides famous philosophical fragment Kimhi wants to (potentially) realign the entire enterprise of analytic philosophy. Central to this is the fact that Kimhi wants to deny that there can be any substantial divide between what is often separated as logical and psychological thinking.

Kimhi argues that the standard reading of Paramenides claim in analytic philosophy is to read the statement that being and thinking are one as an epistemological claim, as a kind of correspondence theory. To say something is is to say that it is the case ie that it is true and thus oneness has nothing to do with existence or with essence and furthermore that it becomes a statement between states of affairs (what is the case) and what is veridical (what is true about what is the case).

Continue reading ‘Kimhi’s Thinking and Being – Introduction’


Faint Cinder

21Mar19

AMC's New Series "Halt And Catch Fire" Los Angeles Premiere - After Party

Halt and Catch and Fire was one of the greatest character dramas made and no one watched it. Maybe its name scared too many away thinking it would be a smart-assed comment on technology, or another meander into 80s and 90s nostalgia. In its funny and passing moments it functioned this way but pushed far beyond. In the end, after 40 episodes over 4 seasons, H&CF was about a sad fact: having an idea is not enough. Whether this was because of the turgid sexism of the tech-industry (to say nothing of the world) or because one is too old, or because one is too damaged, the general lesson of the series is that ideas require a lot of birth pangs, compromises, and self-damage and this often twists them into something else. But if none of this occurred, then the idea was dissipated without notice.

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While this is something familiar in the tech industry (Betamax lost to VHS, the Jaguar was too early, Sony was right on time with the Playstation Sega was too late with Dreamcast) it is something we hear but never really hear about ourselves. It is altogether a different thing to think oneself has arrived too early, or too late, or has become trapped in an idea that is nostalgically fused to the past, or careening drunkily into a future that we actually cannot see.

Cameron’s game Pilgrim was ‘too cerebral’ and arrived during the rise of the first person shooter (Doom soon to be followed by Quake), Donna got pregnant too early, Joe could see the future but only because he couldn’t stop running, Gordon with his nose in the hardware could see the near future but worry stopped him (some of the time) from leaping when he should.

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The show also quiet subtlety showed us how Cameron might become Gordon and Donna could become Joe but neither of them did. In fact, while Cameron was seen as the one who runs it was Joe, in the end, who was the escape artist. And while Donna seemed to become a pusher, torturing her underlings, once she got full control she did not forget what it was like to be at Mutiny.

It is telling that one of the most memorable scenes of the show involves Donna playing Cameron’s Pilgrim as PJ Harvey’s “Rid of Me” plays in the background. The show was about what could have been but never in a bitter sense. Better than any other show Halt and Catch Fire made the pragmatic consequences of the technological optimism of the 90s palpable.  Not in the lazy sense of a plethora of references and visual cues but in the sense that the social was going to bend in ways that were hard to prepare for.


To Alina

05Feb19
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Near Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, 2014

We met at the Performing Arts Forum in 2013. After presenting for some fifteen plus hours you still had questions, many questions, questions about pessimism and nature and Schelling and nihilism and told me about the many shades of darkness. You talked about bringing me to Bucharest which sounded wonderful but far-fetched but I should not have doubted. Barely a year later I was there and we talked about wild dogs, and myths about gold, and you tolerated my bad jokes about vampires. You christened me ‘slime-heart’ and it stuck.

We met again in Berlin where in a sea of rationalism and computation you were flanked by Florin and Irina. You were the twitter spirit and foil of much seriousness and serious people and also everyone else. I remember how loud you said ‘OHH NOOOO’ when you found out how young Matt was while we were sitting by the banks of the Spree. We couldn’t stop laughing.

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HKW in Berlin, 2014

And right after Berlin we were crying-level gin-drunk underneath a baby-grand piano in Stuttgart talking about melodrama (what else?) while Irina was always the sage, the fairy godmother hovering above our puddle of tears. When I said I had not seen Written on the Wind you exclaimed ‘this is not possible!’ For a week we read about forests and philosophy and the art world and seemed to live off of polenta, boxed-tamarind, and cashews bought in bulk. At one point you laughed and said ‘ah, Ben, you are Romanian now…that is not so good for you.’ I have been trying for days to replay your laugh just right in my head, to get the shape of it just so.

It is not easy to rebuild your laugh…it started like a loud crescendoing ‘AHHH’ and then became this staccato of high squeaks and deep breaths that you could hear through at least five stone walls. Sometimes it ended in a small sigh. It fit so well to how you responded to ideas like they were a scandal or a bit of gossip that then immediately were turned into a joke: “There’s no crying in the space of reasons!” But this was just as serious as it was funny, it was the sign of some concept being digested (eternal feeding) – entering a hyper-connective research program, performance machine, and who knows what else hidden in your thin loping shadow.

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Channeling Douglas Sirk in Above the Weather

There was something (paradoxically?) exotic but minimalist about how you thought and what you said and wrote. There was no minimum safe distance between formal creatures and fleshier animals roaming between the dream world and the world dreamed to be real. The dreamer’s walk is purposeless. The purpose and her map lies within the dream. The dream only wants to dream itself.

I remember when you showed up to PAF with a dislocated rib from Danceweb with a ‘X’ shaped giant bandage that made you look like a stuffed animal a child had tried to fix and yet you still moved in your floaty way and were (as always) excited to talk about dance and abstraction and avatars and jaguars and autophagia and predation and being not quite human. We talked lit only by candles (a happy accident) in the foyer the night before you left about lovers and ex-lovers and you said ‘ah, we are closer now!’ which was so funny because it did not need to be said but you said it like it was a surprise and then it became one.

About being human…this is what I keep thinking about reading this, your last text. That in being post-human, inhuman, alien, a jaguar, still so much lies in between these figures as plans or sketches on the page and the small shifts in experience that follow from talk and experiences of thinking about them and not only thinking about them in the ‘acceptable’ quiet way. And this is a peculiar search, one that you were always doing and that we are doing with you but also now for you. We are hunting with you what is tied to our back which is also you and you are telling us about the map with your eyes closed.

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He had bought a large map representing the sea,
   Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
   A map they could all understand.
“What’s the good of Mercator’s North Poles and Equators,
   Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?”
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
   “They are merely conventional signs!
“Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
   But we’ve got our brave Captain to thank
(So the crew would protest) “that he’s bought us the best—
   A perfect and absolute blank!”

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I cannot hope to provide a complete or even thorough review of Reza’s Intelligence and Spirit. S.C. Hickman has provided some reflections here but it would be a tall order for anyone to do a proper review (though I imagine one is forthcoming). This introduction by Robin Mackay is very helpful.

Here I simply want to address some of the issues in Chapter 4 “Some Unsettling Kantian News, as Delivered by Boltzmann” (201-248). The reason for this is mostly that it crosses over with some of my current work on British Idealism as well as ideas in early 20th century philosophies of time. (For good stuff on this type of thing see the work of Emily Thomas here.)

It should go without saying that anyone coming into Intelligence and Spirit assuming it will follow Cyclonpedia or secretly be the Mortiloquist is in for some hard conceptual whiplash. But we can at least analogously say that if Cyclonopedia refused the theory/fiction divide, I & S refuses the analytic/continental divide in a similarly constructive manner. Because of the book’s broadly Hegelian stance, it essentially refuses the division between philosophy of mind and pragmatism which plays into refusing the difference between natural and artificial intelligences (at least at the level of constitution or any ontological branding). By suspending certain metaphysical and ontological stakes the book can ask how it is that we can construct piecemeal an idea of intelligence that could come from a being whose intelligence occurred in a similar but not equally tractable fashion. This leads to a pragmatically tethered form of speculation in terms of the creation of toy universes or toy models (123-124) which are explicit metatheories meant to be tested and broken in the real world (one such theory being the view of ‘ourselves’ as rational thinking entities capable of making these models). This is no simple matter however as it requires a rational skepticism that attempts to always find the ‘more neutral’ view from nowhere not to escape scrutiny but to avoid anchoring the view of ourselves in delusions, fantasies, or wrong-headed theories.

Continue reading ‘Time Melted Toy Brain’


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I am going to start writing on this blog again since I no longer have an immediate philosophy community and it’s at least one way to not go completely insane.

What is occupying my time these days is trying to work through the analytic/continental divide (instead of merely talking about it as a problem to be eventually overcome or that is hopeless). I have talked about the divide before but now for the last 2+ years I have been writing a book on the British Idealist F.H. Bradley. I have written a bit on him (here and here) but not so much on why I think he is important for the split.

The age-old split between the many and the one is a huge conceptual part of the break that Moore and Russell made against Bradley, Bosanquet, Green and the other ‘mystical’ British Idealists. The problem is is that the pluralism of the analytics is often not stated outright and instead emerges sideways through the use of terms like common-sense. In a similar fashion, the notion that there is something like self-evident or common sensical plurality for the early analytic thinkers is totally anathema to the British Idealists – since it seems to be a posit that denies that it is a mental activity.

This notion of mental activity is derived in part from Kant and from Hegel and will of course be rejected by much of the phenomenological tradition (the tension being marked by the myth of the given) with the strange consequence being that far too many analytic philosophers see continental philosophy as almost equatable with phenomenology and hence philosophers of mind can see their own unacknowledged assumptions as simply a matter of course, a methodological necessity.

But of course the very break away from continental philosophy (in its British Idealist form) was not merely the adoption of a new method and a renewed connection to the physical sciences but more a scientific (or really logic-like) stance. But because this stance became so popularized and associated with positivism far too many continental philosophers associate analytic philosophy as such with a defense of positivistic sciences.

This asymmetrical misrecognition (between phenomenology and positivism) is the tempting shape of the argument to trace partially because it is tractable in terms of the ‘big’ debates (Cassier-Carnap-Heidegger or Searle-Derrida or Ayer-Bataille-Merleau-Ponty) or in terms of the opposition of explanation (logical) and description (experiental).

Post-Speculative Realism many people have pointed out how the return to metaphysics in the 1980s and 90s culminated in both traditions in the early 2000s. Speculative Realism and the ontological turn on the continental side and the explosion of neo-Quinean approaches on the analytic side point to more and more adventures into metaphysics and ontology. But even this apparent similarity is muddled by the different approaches to history in both traditions. The very discussion of returns or turns in the continental tradition notes its more constructive relation to its own history whereas in the analytic tradition it is a discourse of problems that is largely ahistorical other than as very basic terminology borrowing.

I think that in the background a more closely knit relation can be made within the discourse of logic and the social dimension of thought. The analytic returns to German idealism (especially Hegel in the work of Brandom for instance) in a sense makes a historical return to a time before the split. This return carries the threat of a de-metaphysicalization of Hegel (see critiques from figures such as Brady Bowman) in the name of a kind of collective pragmatism.

The stakes of the metaphysical in relation to the pragmatic index a strand of thought that has long been abandoned and has not been properly reactivated in the approach of the analytic and the continental. Thinkers such as C.I. Lewis, Peirce, Bosanquet, and Royce saw idealism and pragmatism as necessarily connected and saw how idealism could be the underlying structure for a logic or system of signification that was neither a transcendental nor a modern logic in any strict sense. This strand brings to light not only questions of ethics in relation to the logical (something that Royce was especially interested in) but also the importance of logic which is not indifferent to its content (which in turn has import regarding the question of existence, the ‘x’ of ‘there is x).

The question of the status of logic, the question of what really the line is between the analytic and the speculative (as James Bradley renames the analytic/continental divide) is perhaps what has come to a head with the work of Irad Kimhi. It is difficult not to look at the response to Kimhi and his work as not mirroring (but in a way different respective to the split) the reception of Meillassoux. Both thinkers in short texts grapple with the capacity of thought to either escape the bounds of the subject or to reestablish that the metaphysical cannot leave the psychological. The fact that the former is a continental thinker and the later an analytic one is perhaps one of the more hopeful cross-overs of the divide.