January 15, 2013
This sounds interesting: the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin is organizing an event called ‘The Anthropocene Project’ which takes as its core statement the ‘Anthropocene thesis, announcing a paradigm shift in the natural sciences as well as providing new thought models for culture, politics and everyday life [..] The basis for the Anthropocene as our current geological epoch rests on the claim that humankind is the driving power behind planetary transformation’.
Speakers include artists, theoreticians etc. such as Rem Koolhaas, Lorraine Daston and John Law.
More on the event here.
December 28, 2012
Today I came across Peter Osborne’s brave review of Slavoj Zizek’s heavy-weight magnus-opus Less Than Nothing in Radical Philosophy. The review reads like a true ‘Everything you were always uncomfortable about in Zizek (but were afraid to proclaim)’ with numerous passages like the following:
‘That said, Less Than Nothing is carefully, if somewhat gauchely structured, as the story of a seduction. It begins with ‘The Drink Before’ (Part I): some emblematic, fast-forward philosophical prehistory -Plato, Christianity, Fichte. It progresses to ‘The Thing Itself, in two parts: Hegel and Lacan. And it ends with ‘The Cigarette After’ (Part IV), during which smoke is puffed in the faces of some competing philosophical positions: Badiou, Heidegger and ‘The Ontology of Quantum Physics”.
‘The Conclusion – presumably ‘A Quick Exit’, before things get complicated – is a restatement of Žižek’s own version of Lacanian politics (‘The Political Suspension of the Ethical’) with various other bits and pieces thrown in along the way’.
November 4, 2012
Misses this one…Click here for more info and to read the book online!
“This book is the first monograph on the theme of “new materialism,” an emerging trend in 21st century thought that has already left its mark in such fields as philosophy, cultural theory, feminism, science studies, and the arts. The first part of the book contains elaborate interviews with some of the most prominent new materialist scholars of today: Rosi Braidotti, Manuel DeLanda, Karen Barad, and Quentin Meillassoux. The second part situates the new materialist tradition in contemporary thought by singling out its transversal methodology, its position on sexual differing, and by developing the ethical and political consequences of new materialism.
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October 7, 2012
In chapter IV of Part Two of his Being and Nothingness J.P. Sartre gives a, surprisingly, clear description of some themes related to the question of the being of the possible – or the being of possibilities. The notion of the possible has, of course, been programmatically criticized by Deleuze who – following Bergson’s Creative Evolution - sees in the ‘possible’ a false problem; one that (i) reduces to an ‘either..or’ dichotomy something that must be seen of admitting of degrees (‘more or less’) and/or (ii) confuses the ‘more’ with the ‘less by thinking that in reverses hierarchies (‘the real is ‘more real’ than the possible etc.; ‘the real’ = the possible + existence). Deleuze proposes an alternative dual notion – that of the actual and the virtual, where the virtual is fully real but only actualized. In effect, Sartre’s passage could be understood as a beautiful example of looking for a certain mode of existence in the wrong place; he tries to retrieve something from ‘the possible’ that, perhaps, was never part of it. Yet, somewhat (!) similar to Deleuze he holds that a ground (e.g. of the possible) does not resemble that what it grounds. For Sartre, therefore, the possible is grounded in what it is not – a ‘lack’, as he would call it. Unlike Deleuze, this lack belongs wholly to the for-itself, in so far as it is consciousness that always already ‘makes itself’.
“With the possible [..] there is the greatest difficulty in understanding its being, for it is given as prior to the being of which it is the pure possibility; and yet qua possible, at least, it necessarily must have being. [..] Since Leibniz the term “possible” is usually applied to an event which it is not engaged in an existing causal series such that the event can be surely determined and which involves no contradiction either with itself or with the system under consideration. Thus defined the possible is possible only with regard to knowledge since we are not in a position either to affirm or to deny the possible confronted. Hence we may take two attitudes in the face of the possible: We can consider, as Spinoza did, that possibilities exist only in connection with our ignorance and that they disappear when our ignorance disappears. In this case the possible is only a subjective state on the road to perfect knowledge; it has only the reality of a psychic mode; as confused or curtailed thought it has a concrete being but not as a property of the world. But it is also permissible, as Leibniz does, to make of the infinity of the possibles objects of thought for the divine understanding and so confer on them a mode of absolute reality [..] This [e.g.] means only that there exists by virtue of the thought of the divine understanding another system of co-possibles such that Adam figures there as having not eaten the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. But is this conception so different from that of Spinoza? Actually the reality of the possible is uniquely that of the divine thought! This means that it has being as thought which has not been realized. [..] [Now] to give possibles a tendency toward being means either that the possible is already in full being and that it has the same type of being [..] or else that the possible in the bosom of the divine understanding is already an idea-force and that the maximum of idea-forces organized in a system automatically releases the divine will. But in the latter case we do not get out of the subjective. If then we define possible as non-contradictory, it can have being only as the thought of a being prior to the real world or prior to the pure consciousness of the world such as it is. In either case the possible loses its nature as possible and is reabsorbed in the subjective being of representation. But this represented-being of the possible can not account for its nature; on the contrary it destroys its nature [..] To comprehend possibility qua possibility or to be its own possible is one and the same necessity for the being such that in its being, its being is in question. But to be its own possibility – that is, to be defined by it – is precisely to be defined by that part of itself which it is not, is to be defined as an escape-from-itself towards -. (p. 96-97).
September 12, 2012
Perhaps long overdue, but I just found out about Graham Harman’s lengthy discussion of a new ‘rising star’ in the movement, event or adventure of French philosophy; Tristan Garcia. Harman critically introduces and summarizes Garcia’s recent Forme et Objet: Un Traité des Choses - an object-oriented, Badiouian/Meillassouxian/’Frankfurter Schülean’ work consisting of several formal meditations on the kinds of objects in the world. As Harman concludes, the book is an ‘intricate piece of work by an emerging philosopher who is now a force to reckon with [..] For those who read French [it] is worth significant reading time during the months to come [..] Tristan Garcia is most likely a name that we will all be pronouncing hundreds or thousands of times in the decades to come’.
It is well worth mentioning the journal in which this article has appeared. Continent is a new (?) on-line, open source and peer-reviewed journal publishing scholarly articles, poetry, fiction, sound etc. You can login and register as either a reader, author and/or reviewer here.
August 26, 2012
A strikingly beautiful book in which Catherine Malabou (Kingston University London) tries to think (what she
calls) the ‘powers of plasticity’ in order to disrupt the constant reinforcement and ‘permanence of identity’ – i.e.
to articulate a ‘new deformed form, a deviation in being as a form of being’ as John Caputo writes on the back
July 16, 2012
While visting dOCUMENTA in Kassel, Germany this weekend I came across this beautifully published essay by Karen Barad – author of Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. The essay is entitled ‘What is the measure of nothingness? Infinity, Virtuality, Justice’ and consists of an attempt to emphasize and conceptualize the importance of (the Copenhagen interpretation of) quantum theory – related to notions such as measurements as ‘intra-actions’, indeterminacy, vacuum fluctuations, Bohr’s principle of complementarity – for a speculative philosophy that, interestingly, positions itself somewhere between OOO and SR. Being concerned with ‘the very nature of nature’ (p. 6) Barad defines objects or phenomena as ‘contingent configurations of mattering’ (p. 7) – which indicates that she is concerned with developing an ontology of becoming, or one that makes the insight that ‘there are no pre-existing individual objects with determinate boundaries that precede some interaction’ (p. 6) into its primordial commitment.
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July 8, 2012
+ Translations of several recent online seminars by Bernard Stiegler – e.g. on individuation and neuropolitics – can be found here and here (via Agent Swarm).