Dark Vitalism II
Kvond and Michael at Complete Lies have both written on Dark Vitalism which has become the formal name for half of my (and possibly others’) speculative realist naturephilosophie (the other half being a darkening of Lacan, Henry and Zizek). One point that Kevin makes is that vitalism assumes a living substance and not a particular articulation of life or a life force or force on life.
As Merleau-Ponty argues in Nature in regards to Whitehead, Bergson and Schelling, vitalism is attacked because it assumes a transspatial substance (passed from organism to organism). In another questioning of vitalism in relation to death, Kevin points out that:
“an ontology of Death Drive, at least from a Freudian foundation, is one that already assumes a non-vital basis for Substance (or totality), for if Substance itself is living, a return to it would not be a death.”
Furthermore, Michael questions what it is about ‘dark’ that modifies vitalism – the answer to this and what rallies against the substantial reading of vitalism is temporality. The ‘dark’ of vitalism is vitalistically mechanistic in that the depth of erst nature, of the dark past, cannot be accessed and that the long chain of events leading up to and penetrating our existence is always partially beyond access. Temporality as the vital force in taken partially in response to Schelling’s statement in Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature that life-force is a self-contradictory concept because a force must be opposed or in relative equilibrium or in perpetual conflict.
Schelling goes on to say that a third, something outside the reach of empirical science. He then suggests that the mind may function as this thirdness. This is not to say that Schelling separates the mind from nature (such a separation would make nature a dead object) nor, as Merleau-Ponty suggests does it mean that man and nature are unified. That is humanity’s unity with nature is a non-separation but unified (but only ever ideal). In this sense Schelling’s relation of human and nature seems distinctly Laruelleian (as identity without unity).
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Tags: dark vitalism, vitalism