Monday, July 27, 2009

Other than philosophy and philosophical texts to determine what needs to be thought

Short-Circuits from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects

What is needed is an ontology that straddles, as Paul Ennis puts it, both nature and culture; but this is accomplished not through treating the natural as a social construction, but rather through treating the cultural as a dimension of the real. If the necessity of this move is needed, simply listen to the sorts of problems eco-theorists, media theorists, technology theorists, feminists, artificial intelligence designers, neurologists, and so on are working with. Note the manner in which they all take meaning, texts, discourses, etc., seriously while also constantly grumbling over the inadequacy of these human centered approaches for their own work.

The chorus of conflicting charges from within philosophy strikes me as a sign that object-oriented ontology is hitting a nerve, while the enthusiasm for object-oriented thought among ecologists, critical animal theorists, artists, media and technology theorists, feminists, queer theorists, AI folk and so on suggests to me that a useful set of tools are being developed that help to navigate the way out of what initially appears to be a dead end. As always, look to those that are working on something other than philosophy and philosophical texts to determine what needs to be thought.

How Did Caesar Cross the Rubicon?
from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects: No doubt I’ve exacerbated the problem because I’ve developed a somewhat abstract vocabulary with mysterious expressions like “there are no differences that do not make a difference”, “there is no transportation without translation”, and “nothing is either reducible or irreducible to anything else”, all situated in terms like “objectiles”, “actors”, “exo-relations”, “endo-relations”, “attractors”, “phase spaces”, “endo-consistency”, and so on. Faced with this infantry of terms and expressions, it’s difficult to determine what I might be getting at. A good deal of this has been my fault as I seldom give very elaborate examples to develop my claims. Hopefully I can rectify some of this today through the question “how did Caesar cross the Rubicon?” [...]

In other words, such an account gives us only a very small portion of what is going on. Moreover, it does not capture the manner in which the horses and soldiers must be fed, the soldiers must maintain their equipment, and so on and so forth. Finally horses, equipment, soldiers, officers, carts, swords, armor, supply lines, and so on are not simply docile bodies that jump to action like a television changes channel when a button is pushed. No. No body is ever a perfectly formed content, but rather there is always an element of friction whenever putting-in-form takes place. It takes quite a bit of work to hold a multiplicity together, as anyone who has ever done administrative work knows all too well.

We might also ask how it is possible for the simple act of crossing the Rubicon to become an event. Presumably Caesar’s army had crossed many rivers, but very few of these crossings were incorporeal transformations in the sense that crossing the Rubicon was an incorporeal transformation. Here, again, we might fall back on discursivity, examining Roman law, its oppositions, its structures, and how these come to be intertwined with a geography, rendering an event in the sense of an incorporeal transformation to become possible. Again, this analysis wouldn’t be mistaken either.

Finally, we have the engineering problem. How does a legion with its supply lines get across the river? Was there a reason the army chose this particular site rather than another? Did the weather conditions on January 10th play a role? What role did the mountainous territory play? In the event of crossing the Rubicon, a whole swarm of differences play a role in the production of the event. We get everything from the biological bodies of the soldiers and horses, the weather conditions, the fitness of the supply lines, the relationship between the foot and a stirrup, the geography of the shores, signs, legal systems, the circulation of orders from Caesar to his officers to the troops, and so on. While some of these differences play a larger role than others, we cannot say that one of these differences makes the event the event that it was. Rather, when we open our blackbox we have to look at how these differences related together, conspired together, to produce the particular event that took place.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Theories and concepts are not reality laid bare, but rather are more like instruments and lenses

anotherheideggerblog Thursday, July 23, 2009 Interview with Levi R. Bryant
Today we interview Levi R. Bryant, author of Difference and Givenness: Deleuze’s Transcendental Empiricism and the Ontology of Immanence and co-editor (along with Graham Harman and Nick Srnicek of the forthcoming The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism. Many of you will also know Levi from his excellent blog Larval Subjects.

Freud, for example, gives all sorts of reasons pertaining to desire as to why people believe in God, but his analysis, in no way, undermines the existence of God. To do that you would need another sort of argument. In other words, it’s entirely possible that everything Freud says about why people are led to belief in God is true, and God nonetheless exists. I think those that practice psychoanalytic critical theory sometimes forget this.

Nonetheless, I do think that psychoanalysis can be of great value in helping philosophers to recognize blind spots in their discourse and philosophical practice. Indeed, Lacan argued that for any discourse to establish itself, it must repress or exclude some element so as to achieve internal consistency. With this repression, of course, there is always a return of the repressed that plagues the discourse in the form of a symptom. Lacan always claimed that philosophy is the discourse of the master, which is to say that it is a discourse that disavows the split in the subject and strives to achieve mastery by unifying the slaves knowledge under a master-signifier transforming it into a smooth conceptual system. We can certainly see this notion of a sovereign and transparent subject without split in Descartes and even Husserl, but I also think this conception of the subject is ubiquitous in the practice of many philosophers. Thus, while the contemporary thinker-- including the psychoanalytically inflected thinker --might give lip service to how the subject is split, going so far as to make it the center-point of their entire system of thought, they nonetheless proceed in practice as if they were sovereign masters. Really this is a variation of the famous Socratic thesis that the source of our tragedy lies in believing that we know when we do not.

Symptoms of this can be detected all over the place. Thus, those who have been influenced by Lacan often approach popular culture, political events, and various cultural artifacts as if they had the interpretive master-key that lays everything bare to the eye that wishes to know. In this way, texts no longer have the capacity to surprise them as readers as they’re already looking for mere exemplifications of their theory. I think, despite all its talk of free play, deconstruction has fallen into a similar cul-de-sac. Calls for a critical stance also strike me as suffering from a similar desire for mastery. They would like to know before they know, determining the conditions under which knowledge, for example, is possible, thereby saving themselves the trouble of going through the process of arriving at knowledge as a result. This can be seen as a defense against the aleatory nature of the world that resists our drive to represent it. Similarly, it is today seen as the height of naivete to actually advocate for a particular position. Rather, one is to be critical of all positions, showing how they are all secretly about something else. In many respects, this resembles the attitude of the obsessional that is perpetually preparing without ever doing anything. In this way, the obsessional is able to disguise his split or incompleteness by never engaging with the world. In my view, philosophical practice can be assisted by becoming more aware of these psychic structures and their role as defences. [...]

At any rate, psychoanalysis taught me that theories and concepts are not reality laid bare, but rather are more like instruments and lenses. In the clinic, psychoanalytic concepts draw your attention to certain things, make you cognizant of certain things that you might otherwise not notice, but they do not lay bare the truth of your patient. That is something that is only revealed-- if at all, it’s the patient that comes to know, not the analyst after all; the analyst is just a midwife --through long engagement. Often clinical experience contradicts these concepts and calls for the entire remaking of analysis. This lesson significantly transformed my attitude towards philosophy and what it is about... Posted by Paul Ennis. Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Properties of a medium really do matter

Media Studies and Realism: A response to Levi Bryant
July 22, 2009 tags: , , ,
In a lengthy comment on my pragmatic speculative realism post, philosopher Levi Bryant asks what issues in technology and media studies prompted my interest in object-oriented ontology... Ian Bogost

Chalk it up to C.P. Snow's two cultures problem if you'd like, but it's undeniable that few successful humanities scholars possess both experience with and interest in matters of science and technology—practical matters that would allow them to theorize smartly about such topics. Even in Science and Technology Studies (STS), it is common to hold the actual science and technology somewhat at arms length in order to focus on the human aspects of its use, and the "policiing" of that practice.

Here again I find myself agreeing with Levi:
Here, I think, the charge of "technological determinism" is rather stupid and reactionary. The point isn't that technology determines particular social phenomena, but that it plays an organizing role.

In an interview with Paul Ennis that appeared the day following Levi's comments, Graham Harman notes that Marshall McLuhan is not taken as seriously as he should be, as a philosopher. Perhaps part of my dissatisfation with cultural studies in general and game studies in particular can be summarized by a simple pointer to McLuhan: the properties of a medium really do matter, and thinking that attending to them amounts to technological determinism is a perverted and backward mistruth.


Science, Culture and Integral Yoga Re: Reinventing the Sacred by Stuart Kauffman (preface)
Rich on Sun 12 Oct 2008 07:27 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

It seems that the objections raised here to Kaufman's book are similar in kind to the ones brought up in Proust was a Neuroscientist. Namely that the 3rd Culture (aka C.P. Snow's 1959 essay on bridging of the humanities and the sciences) thus far has been mostly composed of scientific writers who rather than actually building bridges between disciplines, have ultimately reduced the dialog to a one way street.

In the case of Kauffman however emergence has replaced reductionism as a description and metaphor. Although the principles of emergence itself are still somewhat incomplete I do find them somewhat more of promising a paradigm to begin a "cross-cultural" conversation. But it would be certainly interesting to explore other communicative platforms malleable enough to hold an authentic dialog. Reply

Re: Reinventing the Sacred by Stuart Kauffman (preface)
Debashish on Sun 12 Oct 2008 12:55 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Rich, I'm glad you contextualized this discussion within the cultural history of C.P. Snow's 1959 essay on The Two Cultures. It shows the continuing dominance of "Science" as the hegemonic modern discourse. And I agree that here, that being the case, attempts such as Kauffman's could be considered "more promising" as a "paradigm for a cross-cultural conversation." DB Reply

Re: Reinventing the Sacred by Stuart Kauffman (preface)
koantum on Sun 12 Oct 2008 05:49 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Rich, your saying that "the principles of emergence itself are still somewhat incomplete" reminds me of the frequent euphemism "something is not yet completely understood" which does duty for "something is not understood at all." To understand emergence, one has to understand Sri Aurobindo's concepts of involution and evolution. Reply

Re: Reinventing the Sacred by Stuart Kauffman (preface)
Debashish on Sun 12 Oct 2008 12:49 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

I see. Most of these thinkers seem to be blocked by the "necessary and sufficient" criteria of materialism, and thus obliged to come up with descriptions which don't necessitate the assumption or priority of consciousness.

In his chapter on "The Philosophy of Rebirth" and its succeeding chapters in the Life Divine (and in several other places - we are presently going through these chapters in our Skype study, that is why I am reminded of them), Sri Aurobindo takes up a variety of arguments (including ones such as Kauffman's) and ends up with a divine Person and his self-conceptive act of infinite fragmentation and involution that originates and initiates the re-membrance of "evolving emergence" and the flowering of the play of souls in a temporality of progressive consciousness.

By the time he gets to his description, one has a bird's eye view of the entire terrain of possibilities and why they fail to be adequate - neither a "creative Materialism" nor an intelligent Becoming without an independent Conscious Being at its origin, nor even a Conscious Being without Personhood can suffice to explain the emergence of the grades of consciousness in Matter and the reversal in the equation of cosmos and individual implied by the appearance of human will, creativity, consciousness and aesthetic and ethical sense and idealism.

In both, the cosmos and the individual, and in all individuals, the self-exploration of the "infinite Person" proceeds temporally and perpetually towards the enduring vindication of its identity, immortal and integral, yet radically different (in its infinity) in each, at play in a self-conscious universe. DB Reply

Re: Gaston Bachelard: poet/philosopher of the imagination and epistemological rupture
Debashish on Mon 06 Jul 2009 12:09 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Bachelard is among the most influential philosophers of the transition from modern to postmodern Francophone philosophy. His work spans the gamut of modern thought yet retains the quality of an eclectic mystic philosophy predating the age of specialization. Apart from the Philosophy of Science, which has been highlighted in this introduction, what he has left as an even more importanrt legacy, imo, are his wide-ranging writings on the imagination.

Of particular significance here and still replete with untapped fertility, are his works on the Imagination of Matter, which he develops in terms of a psychology of the elements (as excerpted here) - earth, water, air, fire and space/ether. This aspect of his work edges in the direction of the mysticism of the elements touched on by Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo's physics of the elements stretches across the spectrum through material, vital, mental and spiritual potencies of manifestation for each of the same. In both these cases, what these phenomenologies of the elements inaugurate are a new Physis - or a postmodern recovery project of ancient substance-knowledge - where the objectification of Matter is sought to be overcome by the recognition of its place in the ontology of the imaginary, no less real in its practical effects, in fact far more so in its reintegrated subjective-objective wholeness. Such a new Physis challenges the epistemology of modernity. DB Reply

Re: The Resonant Soul: Gaston Bachelard and the Magical Surface of Air by Robert Sardello
Debashish on Tue 07 Jul 2009 02:08 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Here's where the Integral Yoga demands a framework of comparative hermeneutics to extend its perception if it is to arrive at a universal epistemology. A universal epistemology cannot be a monolithic metaphysics but a burgeoning cross-cultural dialog. Bachelard's "reverie" can map interestingly into Sri Arobindo's phenomenology of knowledge. "Aurobindonians" who remain stuck in the vocabulary of Sri Aurobindo too readily dismiss any such alternate formulations as irrelevant, but in the process deny themselves the benefit of a practical approach to certain possibilities of consciousness as well of course of the sheer poetic delight of a mystic enjoyment.

Re: The Resonant Soul: Gaston Bachelard and the Magical Surface of Air by Robert Sardello
Tony Clifton on Wed 08 Jul 2009 07:45 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

To dismiss as irrelevant other epistemologies without appreciating the local context they emerge from and the historical gestalt that backgrounds them is a movement of consciousness toward small mindedness. Its also an occasion for spiritual chauvinism when this is accompanied by a smugness in exhorting the superiority of ones own belief system. Profoundly anti-integral this movement of consciousness doxa, ad hoc dismisses other forms of knowing because they do not conform to the categorical structure of the system they have learned or memorized. At its worst this is also a form of epistemological imperialism that obliterates reaching an integral understanding in asserting its mental mapping of spirituality onto the territory of all other ways of knowing. Reply

Re: The Resonant Soul: Gaston Bachelard and the Magical Surface of Air by Robert Sardello
Debashish on Wed 08 Jul 2009 10:47 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Well put. In most such cases a second order mental reality comes to take the place of the phenomenology of consciousness, leading to a metaphysical imprisonment which validates itself in propaganda and fanaticism. Reply

Badiou is no less an idealist than Husserl. Husserl is the first object-oriented idealist followed by Merleau-Ponty

anotherheideggerblog Tuesday, July 21, 2009 Interview with Graham Harman
I probably don't even need to introduce the next interviewee, but I'll give it a bash nonetheless.
Graham Harman is the author of Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects, Heidegger Explained, and Guerrilla Metaphysics: Phenomenology and the Carpentry of Things. Many of you will know him via his (awesome) blog Object Oriented Philosophy, and his association with speculative realism. He is currently Associate Vice Provost for Research and Associate Professor of Philosophy at the American University in Cairo. Paul Ennis

The obvious thinkers who have had a great impact on me are Heidegger, Husserl, Whitehead, and Zubiri. But let me name a few others, in chronological order.

First, José Ortega y Gasset. I was reading Ortega before I was reading Heidegger. He writes brilliantly (he nearly won the Nobel Prize for Literature), and is one of the two major influences on my writing style. I’ve tried to emulate his clarity as well as the light touch with which he includes erudition in his works. I also love Ortega’s commitment to writing newspaper articles and other non-standard genres of philosophy rather than dull, plodding treatises. I’ve also heard him called “the intelligible Heidegger,” so in some ways he may have paved the way for my acceptance of Heidegger a bit later. Finally, if there is one essay by anyone that prefigures all of my philosophical ideas, it is Ortega’s “Essay In Esthetics By Way of a Preface,” found in English in Phenomenology and Art. I discuss that essay in detail in Guerrilla Metaphysics. It’s a masterpiece, though Ortega himself went no further along that trail.

Second, I should mention my old mentor Alphonso Lingis, the most dazzling prose stylist and most interesting human character I’ve ever known. He’s one of the few people who took phenomenology in any sort of realist direction. In American continental philosophy he is left somewhat at the fringes... Sort of an amusing character people tell nice jokes and stories about, and respected to some extent, but nowhere near the center of philosophical debate. And I consider this to be something of an indictment of the scene in America, because when all is said and done, Lingis was one of the few original thinkers to be found in American continental philosophy in the 1970-2000 period. A lot of important translation and commentary was done during that period, but few people were in the same league as Lingis in terms of original ideas, and of course no one remotely equaled him as a writer. If Ortega’s clarity and liveliness was the first thing I tried to emulate as a writer, Lingis’ exoticism and spookiness was the second.

Third, Emmanuel Levinas. The fact that Lingis had translated so much Levinas made me wonder what the appeal was. And Existence and Existents had a major impact on me. No one –I repeat, no one—is a better reader of Heidegger than Levinas. He takes Heidegger so seriously, but without ever lapsing into a pious attitude toward him. It was Levinas who first showed me how to be a Heideggerian and an innovator at the same time, though I think Levinas takes the wrong fork in the road.

Yes! Husserl is badly out of fashion these days, and it often feels that I’m fighting a losing battle in my circles of friends when insisting on his importance. Last summer (2008) I went back and reread the whole of the Logical Investigations, and it was a pleasure, despite the work’s obvious difficulty.

The empiricist doctrine that things of the senses are nothing but bundles of qualities enjoys widespread acceptance even among those who otherwise denounce empiricism. The real greatness of Husserl is to have challenged, and in my view destroyed, the notion of a bundle of qualities.

Everyone wants to dump on Husserl for being an idealist, but many of these same people rush to embrace Badiou, who is no less an idealist than Husserl! While I obviously dislike Husserl’s idealism, he is the first object-oriented idealist, followed in this respect by Merleau-Ponty and very few others. Even if we are trapped in a phenomenal realm, this realm displays a mighty duel between various trees or houses on one side and the wildly shifting profiles or adumbrations through which we grasp them on the other.

In my philosophy, this tension between intentional objects and their qualities is one of four great tensions that make up the fabric of the cosmos, all of them involving the tension between an object-pole and a quality-pole. In my recent writings this has become a new fourfold of time, space, essence, and eidos. Without Husserl, despite his idealism, object-oriented philosophy could not exist...

History of the Concept of Time (not to be confused with the very brief The Concept of Time) is a good first thing to read. It contains most of the best content of Being and Time, along with that brilliant 100-page opening about Husserl and his greatest contributions to philosophy. It’s also much better written than Being and Time, since it was a lecture course for undergraduates...

For American students of continental philosophy in particular, it’s also important not to get too sucked into Europhilia. The world is a lot bigger than France and Germany, rich though their intellectual traditions obviously are. It’s a good idea to put one foot in any non-Western tradition, just to make your world larger. And even more simply than this, I would encourage American students to discover the American intellectual tradition as well, which is something we tend not to do. In philosophy there’s William James, who may not be of the magnitude of Heidegger, but can still teach you a lot about how to think and write...

My point is, young North Americans (especially in the USA) working in continental philosophy have a tendency to feel very insecure in relation to Europe, the motherland of most of what we read in our discipline... Posted by Paul Ennis. anotherheideggerblog

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fate of Thinking A Listmania! list by Paul Ashton
1. The Radical Critique of Liberalism: In Memory of a Vision (Anamnesis) by Toula Nicolacopoulos $19.00 Used & New from: $15.81
3. The Mathematics of Novelty: Badiou's Minimalist Metaphysics (Anamnesis) by Sam Gillespie $21.50 Used & New from: $15.97
4. The Spirit of the Age: Hegel and the Fate of Thinking by Paul Ashton $19.00 Used & New from: $16.01
5. The Concept of Model: An Introduction to the Materialist Epistemology of Mathematics (Transmission) by Alain Badiou $18.25 Used & New from: $15.41
6. The Praxis of Alain Badiou by Paul Ashton $21.50 Used & New from: $16.24
7. Fifty Poems of Attar (Anomaly) (Farsi Edition) by Farid, al-Din Attar $17.00 Used & New from: $12.40
8. Black River (Anomaly) by Justin Clemens $13.26 Used & New from: $9.44
9. The Trip: An Odyssey (Anomaly) by George Papaellinas $13.26 Used & New from: $10.15
10. Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials (Anomaly) by Reza Negarestani $15.64 Used & New from: $14.46
11. Reading Hegel: The Introductions (Transmission) by G. W. F. Hegel $21.50 Used & New from: $16.33
12. The Charmed Circle of Ideology: A Critique of Laclau and Mouffe, Butler and Zizek by Geoff Boucher $19.00 Used & New from: $15.97
13. Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics (Anamnesis) by Graham

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Always mediated by our own cultural biases as well as the metaphors and languages

Charles Taylor on Gadamer’s Contributions to Philosophy from Per Caritatem by Cynthia R. Nielsen

Over the past few months, I have become increasingly interested in Charles Taylor’s work. In an essay entitled, “Gadamer on the Human Sciences,”[1] Taylor discusses some of the contributions Gadamer has made to philosophy by providing us an alternative way of understanding texts and events. That is, rather than patten hermeneutics or even our knowledge of the other on the “scientific” model of grasping on object, we approach the text or other as a dialogue partner who can potentially change us as we expand our horizons to understand it or him/her. [...]

In other words, whatever universal human nature we might arrive at is always mediated by our own cultural biases as well as the metaphors and languages we agree upon to express this human nature. For example, consider the way in which race was understood in the West in the 18th and 19th centuries. Certain races were considered inherently inferior to others and even sub-human, whereas the superior race always happened to be the white, European race (which, of course, happened to be the race of most of the advocates of the idea-Kant, Hegel, etc.). Most today would have no reservations saying that surely cultural biases and self-understanding played a significant role in the conclusions of these philosophers on race.

As Taylor notes, here we come to a huge “watershed in our intellectual world.” That is, on the one side are those who want to secure an account of human nature “below the level of culture,” such that any significant cultural variation can be explicated by means of this more fundamental account (129). Examples of this view include certain expressions of sociobiology and accounts of human motivation. These types of accounts relegate cultural variation to a mere epiphenomenal status. On the other side are those who find the first account unsatisfying because it doesn’t take serious enough the function, status and influence of cultural difference. Gadamer, of course, falls within the second group and rejects the model of science as the model for understanding human life.

As we have said, Gadamer chooses a different model, the model of interpersonal understanding, which exhibits three central features: it is bilateral, party-dependent, and involves revising-goals. So how does he answer some of the major objections to his alternative model? For example, how does party-dependence and goal-revising not turn into relativism?

Etienne Souriau is the major influence on the later Latour

Souriau’s book coming back into print
from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek
Readers of Prince of Networks will recall my reference to the “later work” of Latour. The later Latour was not later in the biographical sense, but only in terms of order of publication, since he actually began working on his “later” system in 1987...

In any case, the half-forgotten French philosopher Etienne Souriau (1892-1979) is the major influence on the later Latour. If you haven’t heard of him, there’s no need to feel ignorant, since hardly anyone knows of Souriau (though Delueze, with his flawless antennae, mentions Souriau once; or perhaps it was both Deleuze and Guattari in What is Philosophy?; I no longer remember where the reference occurred). He’s remained an exciting figure for people working intensely on aesthetics, but has entered oblivion for specialists in all other fields.

Souriau’s major book of first philosophy is entitled Les différents modes d’existence, and the concept of “modes of existence” is pivotal for the “later Latour.” I don’t quite get the modes yet, I must admit. But the version circulated in Cerisy involved 14 modes of existence (12 specific modes, and 2 overarching modes that the others must all employ). Also, Latour does not treat them as permanent categories of the human mind. They are produced historically, so that their number might be augmented or even diminished, and he makes no claim to the validity of his own list beyond the compass of Western civilization. (I will say no more until his book is eventually published, since there’s no way of knowing what the final version might look like. He really took the feedback in Cerisy seriously.)

But only now do I come to the main point of this post… PUF is re-issuing Souriau’s book, with an introduction jointly authored by Latour and Isabelle Stengers. If anything, Stengers is even more of a Souriau devotee than Latour is; reportedly she’s read everything he ever wrote.

Marx, Durkheim, and Weber integrated Aristotle and Kant; wove together science and ethics

New Book: Aristotle, Kant, and Nineteenth-Century Social Theory
from Continental Philosophy by Farhang Erfani
Dreams in Exile: Rediscovering Science and Ethics in Nineteenth-Century Social Theory
Description: Examines the influence of Aristotle and Kant on the nineteenth-century social theory of Marx, Durkheim, and Weber.

The classical origins of nineteenth-century social theory are illuminated in this sequel to the award-winning Classical Horizons: The Origins of Sociology in Ancient Greece. George E. McCarthy stresses the importance of Aristotle and Kant in the creation of a new type of social science in the nineteenth century that represented a critical reaction to Enlightenment rationality and modern liberalism.

The seminal social theorists Marx, Durkheim, and Weber integrated Aristotle’s theory of moral economy and practical wisdom (phronesis) with Kant’s theory of knowledge and moral autonomy. The resulting social theories, uniquely supported by a view of practical science that wove together science and ethics, proved instrumental to the development of modern sociology and anthropology.

George E. McCarthy is National Endowment for the Humanities Distinguished Teaching Professor of Sociology at Kenyon College. His books include Classical Horizons: The Origins of Sociology in Ancient Greece, also published by SUNY Press; Objectivity and the Silence of Reason: Weber, Habermas, and the Methodological Disputes in German Sociology; Romancing Antiquity: German Critique of the Enlightenment from Weber to Habermas; and Dialectics and Decadence: Echoes of Antiquity in Marx and Nietzsche.

Introducing American Religion
By Charles H. Lippy

Introducing American Religion provides a lively and concise overview of the historical development of religion in the USA. In four parts, Charles Lippy traces the history of American religion from Europe, Native American and African life, through to the age of independence, and on to the late twentieth century up to the present day.

The narrative lays particular stress on the development of diversity and pluralism in American religious life. It explores the African American experience through slavery, Roman Catholic and Jewish immigration, political and economic factors, the impact of Latino culture, and the growth of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as the concept of American civil religion. Introducing American Religion is ideal reading for students wishing to develop a broad understanding of American religious history. Illustrated throughout and featuring quotations from original sources, it includes text boxes, summary charts, study questions, a glossary and lists of further reading and weblinks to aid students with revision.

The accompanying website for this book can be found at Charles Lippy is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, USA.
ISBN: 9780415448581 Published July 17 2009 by Routledge.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Heidegger comes off at times as a pedant and a bully

most admirable *people* in philosophy
March 31, 2009 Object-Oriented Philosophy
That’s a question we don’t often think about… Who were the most admirable people in the history of philosophy.

Heidegger is clearly ruled out, not just for Nazism, but because he comes off at times as a pedant and a bully. Descartes and Leibniz are both sometimes referred to as incurable sneaks, etc.
I just received Cameron’s vote for Spinoza, Bergson, and Husserl. Not a bad list: all apparently good people. But Kant would be another frequent vote-getter. And I can’t imagine Aquinas was a bad guy.
The ancient Greeks should probably be ruled ineligible, just because they are so old that a patina of legend has grown up around them all.
But, oh yes… Plotinus was widely respected for his character, considered so scrupulously honest that many orphans were willed to his care by dying parents who knew him.

Or we could try it from another angle and ask about the least admirable human characters among the great philosophers. Heidegger must be near the top of the list. Schopenhauer was another worse-than-prickly sort, such as when he threw his maid down the steps for making too much noise.
Oh yes, Francis Bacon… Said to have performed tortures for the government during interrogations, and also said to have kept a 12-year-old boy toy close by his side much of the time. (Bacon’s mother reportedly “worried” about her son’s dealings with this boy.) I also heard a few other nasty stories about Bacon.
As for Giordano Bruno, he would have been loads of fun at a dinner party, but he must have been difficult. And as far as I know, no other philosopher was ever accused of murder. (Not that I think he did it, but still.)


A judgment for India Karan Singh Tags : Indian Penal Code, sec 377 : IE » Story Thursday, Jul 16, 2009

It is often forgotten that some of the greatest artists and musicians, rulers and conquerors, philosophers and poets in history have been gay or bisexual. Same-sex love was one of the bases of the ancient Greek civilisation that produced such great thinkers as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle who laid the philosophical foundations of Western civilisation.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Profound influence of the Jewish tradition on Derrida

(title unknown) from Continental Philosophy by Farhang Erfani
Call for papers: Derrida Today
Special issue on: “Traces of Judaism in Derrida”

“For you have understood me well: when I say ‘the most jewish (la plus juive),’ I also mean ‘more than jewish (plus que juive).’ Others would perhaps say: ‘otherwise jewish (autrement juive),’ even ‘other than jewish (autre que juive).’”
- Jacques Derrida: Abraham, the Other

Faced with numerous references to themes from Jewish thought, Jewish thinkers, and biblical narratives throughout Derrida’s writings, one finds it impossible to disregard the profound influence of the Jewish tradition on his work. Although it is widely known that Derrida was born in Algeria into a Sephardic Jewish family and suffered from anti-Semitic violence during his childhood, there has yet been no satisfactory inquiry into the structural connections between this aspect of his autobiography and his philosophical work. Often pushed to the margins of the literature on Derrida, these topics need to be fully explored, elaborated and, if possible, made intelligible. This special issue of Derrida Today therefore welcomes papers that try to illuminate all aspects of Derrida’s thought from the perspective of its indebtedness to the Jewish tradition.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Turiya state must be held throughout all the other three states

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Buddhists were not only aware of the Upanishadic t...": I'm not so sure that it can accurately be called a "game", if that is meant in the sense of differing spiritual traditions and their efforts to protect their own teachings and expose others.

In the Kashmir Shaivism system, Turiya is somewhat similar to the other three states, in that the actual experience of it comes and goes. We experiences wakefulness for some hours and then go to sleep. We dream for some hours and then go into dreamless sleep. Sometimes in meditation we enter into the Turiya state and then go into one of the other three states again. The system explains that the Turiya state must be held throughout all the other three states.

The Siva Sutras teach this. So it is to maintain that witnessing awareness, that subjective consciousness, throughout the other three states and in the midst of Turiya itself. Turiyatita is generally explained as nothing but this - Turiya successfully held or attained in such a way that one's experience of it never fades. This seems to have a direct synonomous relationship with nirvikalpa or sahaja samadhi. Posted by Anonymous to Feel Philosophy at 1:33 AM, July 11, 2009

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Bhartrhari, Dignāga, Dharmakīrti, and Abhinavagupta

Bhartṛhari and the Buddhists: an essay in the development of fifth ... - Google Books Result
by Radhika Herzberger - 1986 - Philosophy - 252 pages... exposition of Bhartrhari. By restoring the historical resonances between ... These various implications that Dignaga draws can be traced to ...

Dignāga on the interpretation of signs - Google Books Result
by Richard P. Hayes, Dignāga - 1988 - Philosophy - 363 pages... indebtedness to Bhartrhari, these two scholars still did little more on ... it is her contention that "in the debate between Bhartrhari and Dignaga, ...

Dignāga on the interpretation of signs - Google Books Result
by Richard P. Hayes, Dignāga - 1988 - Philosophy - 363 pages... by Katyayana.7" Not only does Herzberger correct for the oversight of those scholars preceding her who had neglected the importance of Bhartrhari as a ...

Introduction to Abhinavagupta and the Synthesis of Indian Culture
7) Bhartrhari's notion of Tradition (āgama) is raised to a fundamental ... 2) Dignāga (480-540) rejects language altogether and accounts for the hierarchy ... Triangular relation between Bhartrhari, Dharmakīrti and Abhinava ... (anādivāsanā) and essential nature (svabhāva) that had been rejected by Dignāga, ... Introduction to Abhinavagupta and the Synthesis of Indian Culture

A history of Buddhist philosophy: continuities and discontinuities - Google Books Result
by David J. Kalupahana - 1992 - History - 304 pages... like Bhartrhari, who would insist that a single utterance of a word embodies an object qualified by all its qualifiers simultaneously.14 For Dignaga, ...

Phenomenology East and West Journal Dignaga and Berkely
It is interesting that both Bhartrhari and Dignaga claimed as a point of departure .... Dignaga must have been fully aware of this problem in Bhartrhari's ...

Indian Logic and Ontology. Bibliography: More advanced readings
The second part comprises an annotated translation of a previously untranslated passage from Dignaga's principal work." Herzberger Hans Georg, "Bhartrhari's ...

Recognizing reality: Dharmakīrti's philosophy and its Tibetan ... - Google Books Result
by Georges B. J. Dreyfus - 1997 - Philosophy - 622 pages A similar view is found in Bhartrhari, who asserts that the primary locus of linguistic meaning is the sentence, ... which was criticized by Dignaga and ...

Online Journal of Indology Argument and Reason in Indian Logic
I shall also address the additional problem of whether a grammatical quotation in Dignaga's Pramana-samuccaya can reasonably be ascribed to Bhartrhari's ...

Indian philosophy: an introduction to Hindu and Buddhist thought - Google Books Result
by Richard King - 1999 - Philosophy - 263 pages Bhartrhari has clearly influenced the Buddhist Dignaga and is cited respectfully by him on a number of occasions. As a proponent of the Buddhist philosophy ...

Life and thought of Śaṅkarācārya - Google Books Result
by Govind Chandra Pande - 1994 - Religion - 384 pages Bhartrhari is believed in some Advaitic traditions to have been the son of ... and even Dignaga seem to have known Bhartrhari, which places him not later ...

The sociology of philosophies: a global theory of intellectual change - Google Books Result
by Randall Collins - 2000 - Social Science - 1098 pages The Buddhist logician Dignaga defeated a Brahman at Nalanda, and both the emperor Harsha and the ... Dignaga and Dharmakirti (and many others before them, ... Weberian sociological theory - Google Books Result
by Randall Collins - 1986 - Social Science - 356 pages... Vasubandhu, Asanga, Dignaga, Dharmakirti, among others, names as important in Oriental philosophy as Aristotle and Kant in the West. ...

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Laclau, Latour et al

Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics
by Graham Harman

This book is the first treatment of Bruno Latour specifically as a philosopher. Part One covers four key works in Latour’s career in metaphysics: Irreductions, Science in Action, We Have Never Been Modern, and Pandora’s Hope. In Part Two, the author identifies Latour’s key contributions to ontology, while criticizing his focus on the relational character of actors at the expense of their autonomous reality.
The Charmed Circle of Ideology: A Critique of Laclau and Mouffe, Butler and Zizek
by Geoff Boucher

Set against the collapse of social theory into a theory of ideological discourse, Geoff Boucher sets to work a rigorous mapping of the contemporary field, targeting the relativist implications of this new form of philosophical idealism. Offering a detailed and immanent critique Boucher concentrates his critical attention on the ‘postmarxism’ of Laclau and Mouffe, Butler and Žižek. Combining close reading and careful exposition with polemical intent, Boucher links the relativism exemplified in these contemporary theoretical trends to unresolved philosophical problems of modernity. In conclusion Boucher points to ‘intersubjectivity’ as an exit from postmarxist theory’s charmed circle of ideology.

Reading Hegel: The Introductions
by G.W.F. Hegel (edited and introduced by Aakash Singh and Rimina Mohapatra)

Hegel’s brilliant Introductions, provided all together here, offer a panoramic overview of his grand system. The Introductions are the most accessible of Hegel’s writings, concisely and clearly laying out the Hegelian project. Although each Introduction deals with the distinct theme of the text which it introduces, ultimately they are all inextricably linked together: the natural result of Hegel’s systematic method. As the Editors’ Introduction demonstrates, Hegel’s thought comes across as a system where all particulars take their respective places along the ‘circle’ of knowledge. Thus, each chapter in the book presents an element of this edifice.