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Showing posts from February, 2011

Out of correlationism

In the last two meetings of my course in Chennai, we examined three possible ways out of correlationism: 1. Generalized correlationism: correlations are everywhere, the ontology of black boxes, cubist objects, desiring machines, intentionality is the mark of the dispositional, you name it. In this case, the world itself is made of correlations. This could seem like making the correlation not a contingency, but something like a necessary component of the world. I would resist the strength of such a necessity but to a Whiteheadian comment of the sort, our correlation is an example of the kind, the correlationist who cares about the contingency of the correlation could reply: I cannot step outside (my) correlation to check out whether this correlation (my correlation) is no more than an example. 2. Davidsonian bootstrap: the claim that our image of the world could be completely non-absolute (i.e. all false) is meaningless, as we need some truths (i.e. something absolute) in order to consi

My talk tomorrow at the University of Madras

Towards a Tantric Ontology Hilan Bensusan I would like to begin by bringing up three stories; in fact three short stories. One by the Czech writer Milan Kundera. Another by Lima Barrreto, a Brazilian writer. The third one by the Jewish-American writer Nathan Englander. I will recall the bits that will be relevant for my purposes and no doubt I will distort the plots and the characters. Surely, stories were made to be retold. The Kundera short story is called “The Golden Apple of Eternal Desire” and it revolves around two male characters who go after women in the streets. They approach them and try to find a way to seduce them and to then proceed to create an erotic atmosphere. It doesn't matter how they manage to do it and Kundera's text itself is not particularly dedicated to convey the environment of comfort and curiosity that they would have to concoct. But they do connect with the women and after some time they feel that they managed to make them feel attracted by them. At

Shall we strive for a Brahadishwara in the Temple Mount, Jerusalem?

Yesterday, wondering around the Brahadishwara temple in Thanjavur after being very impressed with smaller temples as collections of shrines but also very much by the temples in Tiruvannamalai and Chirambadam I thought of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. There is three very different pieces of background to my thinking that I will mention. First, as a Jewish teenager, I used to dream of the third temple, and in fact with the second and the first. I didn't quite realise that those temples in India (in Tamil Nadu) were somehow sneaking in those dreams. The one in Thanjavur was almost literally what I imagined a temple should look like - not only the sheer position of gardens and shrines, but also the whole atmospheric architecture inside it. A peaceful and inspiring place. Second, I tend very much to side with Said when he claims that the solution to the Israeli problem is to establish a binational (preferably multinational to make room for the druze etc) in the place, maybe by converti

Insights and blindspots of Meillassoux argument in After Finitude

Still thinking a lot about Meillassoux's position and his route to get there in the book. I think it is a great book full of inspiring ideas. Indeed very much routed in what I take to be Badiou's ideas. Today I thought of listing its bright and its shady points. I start with the insights: 1. The idea that correlationism is followed and yet betrayed when the correlation is made absolute (or there is an attempt to build a metaphysics out of correlation). The important element of the idea, to me, is that correlationism carries a considerable measure of contingency. This is lost if the correlation is thought of as a necessary starting point for our relation with the world - the relation ceases to be factual, becomes absolute. I think this is a powerful idea and it is debatable whether it carries its force when we consider that there are not one but many correlations. I guess when one thinks of correlations as absolute, the second requirement of correlationism (the facticity of corr

Contingent dispositions

This week in my lectures at Madras we got to examine the question of whether an image of multiple correlations, based not only on humans (but also on all kinds of living creatures, or desiring machines, or dispositions, or black boxes) is still correlationist. Meillassoux, it seems to me, thinks that as long as we don't have an absolute, we're still within the realm of correlationism. This is not clearly so. In any case, it becomes clear that when we establish a (speculative) absolute - say, of contingency - nothing prevents us to conceive correlations throughout, for instance through physical intentionality. In particular, and interestingly, I don't think that a (maybe Humean) thesis of general contingency entails (Humean) actualism. Clearly, even though we normally don't think this way, dispositions could be as contingent as actual objects, properties and events. Talking about dispositions, today I discovered the debate between Dharmakirti and Udayana. It is very much

My lectures on Gora philosophy at the University of Madras

Unbelievable? St Thomas died quite here in Chennai. On the 21st of February, I'll deliver my open talk here in Madras called Towards a Tantric Ontology. It's going to be about urges and my take on what I call the underlying tectonics of the events. Meanwhile, they asked me to deliver some general lectures about contemporary Western philosophy. As I'm thinking a lot about the saga of correlationism, this is what I decided to do: a course on the tension between correlationism and the metaphysical endeavour. This is the programme for the 7 lectures - the first one was this morning: 1.Hume and the content of perceptual experience. Powers, generalization and habit. Hume´s actualism. Kant and the synthetic a priori. The Copernican revolution. The transcendental distinction. Correlationism. 2.Hegel and the absolute. Absolute correlation and the return of a reason-based jigsaw picture of the world. Intuitions bound to concepts. Correlation made necessary. Determinate negation and d