Towards a Rehabilitation of Nature Philosophy
There are many enemies of Nature Philosophy among them mysticism, romanticism, and the countless gnarled roots of anthropic and theologic thought creeping out from the noetic morass of first causes. Quantum physics for instance can (following Michio Kaku) over-ride the problems of first causes in that there does not need to be a primary mover – that atoms can begin to bounce with no external action (yet many such theories presuppose multi-verses and/or extra dimensions).
Along such lines of thought Schelling, in his early period, focuses on forces and powers (which incidentally is the title of Iain Hamilton Grant’s next text). One cannot feel a little stunned when Schelling describes the creation of the universe as a series of explosions in the First Outline. As several critiques and tributes of/to Schelling show, it is his empirical inaccuracies (due to the time period mostly) and his later articulation of freedom which dominates and over writes the very possibility of nature philosophy.
In Deleuze and Guattari’s What is Philosophy? the mostly disappointing section on geophilosophy contains one interesting titbit on Schelling – that where the Greeks performed philosophy in nature and mystified the mind, modern thinkers have obscured nature from the position of the mind (correlationism mayble?).
The central issue for nature philosophy becomes the tension between eliminativism and materialism (in the Zizekian/Badiouian/Lacanian sense) – between to what degree nature should be grounded without relying on a concept or structure which undermines the discoveries of contemporary science nor supports a anthropic view. I think more and more I see myself in the theoretical Grant wing as Graham puts it though minus the Deleuze bent due to his incessant championing of positivity.
This leads us back to the festering clump of roots threatening nature philosophy taking romanticism and mysticism as particularly nefarious. It because of the haunt of these schemas that the literature of dark romanticism is particularly useful in discerning a postitive-nihilism or constructively destructive comportment. The dark romantics, of whom Melville and Poe are exemplary, share their sunny brothers fascination with nature but employ a pessimistic or realist attitude towards it.
To draw a parallel and to note upon the resistance to speculative realism I’ve encountered face to face, it seems that those who have reacted most strongly against speculative realism or just realism in general are feel-good live-in -the -moment types who use epistemological barriers as excuses to behave badly.
But to return to nature philosophy – it seems that the process of realist eliminativism runs into the issue of emergence at some point and, with that conflict, the problem of freedom is re-inserted into thought.
Filed under: Harman, Iain Hamilton Grant, Schelling, Speculative Realism, transcendental materialism | 5 Comments