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Empiricism and the philosophy of thought

Deleuze finds in empiricism a mysticism of the concept (in the opening of Difference et Répétition ). Empiricism claims to be able to see concepts in things – it is as if something else provides thought content for the thinker, the heterological in us, as Derrida says in Violence et Métaphysique . Empiricism holds that experience enjoys some degree of independence from the spontaneity of thought by escaping its spinning. In order to do that, experience needs to be experience as in the sense that its contents have to be available to thought. The long lasting suspicion against empiricism is that the whatever content experience provides is somehow not earnestly earned (it cannot be used in justification, it cannot be self-standing or it smuggles in elements of spontaneity – or our own sovereignty). The content of experience is some sort of (unacceptable) given. The kernel of this kind of criticism is the assumption that there is such thing as a content of the perceptual experience. McDowe

Rhythms, rules, regularities (and Anerkennung)

I feel a tiny bit more confident to go back to the hairy issue of normativity and recognition. I used to favor the idea that an act of recognition was no more than a special case of what Latour, for example, calls alliances. But alliances still sounded as if they involved themselves a degree of recognition - of the alliance being made. I thought maybe we can do better if we think in terms of rhythms, modulations, transmission and reception. In terms of capture, to use the vocabulary of a recent post here . We can start considering our thinking about induction and the quasi-inductive nature of the considerations on rule-following that Wittgenstein inaugurated. Induction is a form of entrainement. It is about creation of expectations that depend on the entrained insertion in a cycle as cycles have built-in expectations. So, we can only think about the whereabouts of the sun tomorrow if we have a sense of rhythm - enough of a sense of rhythm to be sure when tomorrow is. If all our cycle

Seeing qualitons as qualia

Another paper of my collaboration with Eros is out. It is in this interesting Open Journal System. They republished papers from the Kirchberg Wittgenstein Symposium. Seeing qualitons as qualia The paper is a dialogue between Wittgenstein texts and the idea that mental tropes can be seen as qualia and somehow explored in concept-acquisition. See our first paper on tropes and qualia here .

Rhythms

Deleuze's remark towards the end of Le Pli that Whitehead inaugurated a move from clausure to capture is very interesting. Ontologies of clausure have to do with closed individuals - substantialism as in the postulation of closed monads that subsist in time and substatism according to which individuated units are independent of their actual properties. (To be sure, Leibniz held obviously the first but not the second.) Ontologies of capture postulate signals, broadcasts, transmission, modulators, antennas, satellites, connections and all those things that can contaminate each other and display vulnerability to the way they receive and to how they are received. Tarde prefigured this move towards capture in his analysis of societies: social populations are tied together in a way that they are modulated by other individuals of the same kind - like cellular automata. Molecules are highly social, birds are very social, humans are less social because they capture signals from bacteria, t

Anarcheology and the virtual

Been launching our book on anarcheology of Heraclitus` polemos. Our notion of anarcheology is associated to thought without archés - it is connected with freeing philosophy from the facts of its history. Zouzi Chebbi once connected anarcheology to his remark that to the south of the Maghreb there is no distinction between fact and version. The jounalist who interviewed us about the book defined it as a mix between anarchy and archeology. We meant to make a gesture concerning the original Heraclitus in the book: philosophy is not a slave of the genuine, authentic Heraclitus. Aharon Link recently pointed out to me that anarcheology is also understood as the militant study of the absence of archy, of government . In fact, this multiplicity of meanings is welcome, it has to do with the intimate connection between ontology and politics, for instance, in the term arché . But I thought anarcheology, in our sense, can be linked to an understanding of virtual history. Or rather, virtual bibli

Aharon Link on me (version ALPHA)

So Aharon writes about me... This is a first version of his abstract for the Performance Philosophy conference in Guilford, next April. CROSS QUESTIONING UNKONWNS WITH KNOWING NOTS In this paper, I will use the question of doing philosophy through performative acts for investigating how, through crossing of seemingly un-related elements, new entities of questioning and practices are created. Diogenes was a human that was metaphorically crossed species with canine to become “Diogenes the Dog”. I will argue that such a crossing helped delineate who he is and how the practice of his philosophy is done, and that the way in which Diogenes did philosophy resembles contemporary Performance Art. Instead of being concerned with the performance of language, speech and speaking, we have in Diogenes a performer of actions and activities. It is plausible to imagine a performance artist living inside a bath, wanking in parliament (though perhaps will be arrested), or plucking a chi

Correlations, response-dependence and the metaphysics of subjectivity

The idea of response-dependence was introduced (by Philip Pettit and Mark Johnston back in the 1990s) as an account of secondary qualities. It is a McDowellian idea: we, and our circumstances, have to be apt and ready in order for something to be grasped by us. One way of presenting the idea of response-dependent secondary qualities is to say that those qualities are in such a way that they are fashioned for some beings and for some conditions. They are somehow tuned in some frequency and cannot be captured otherwise. I need to be prepared to grasp smoothness, my environment has to help me so that I meet what it takes to get the signal. It is an issue of transmission - how good the signal is broadcasted and how it is received. A quality - or a bunch of qualities with or without substrata - is a transmission, a message that is sent towards the appropriate antennas. We can think of a correlation between the signal - the object - and its receiver so that it is a matter of fact that both a

In defense of a Heraclitean Aenesidemus

I'm preparing the final version of my text on neopirrhonism and the ontology of doubts. In other words, about the whereabouts of Aenesidemus' thought. I guess there is a way to think about the epistemology of the polemos that makes it somehow less vulnerable to Sextus' charge of dogmatism (in PH 210-12). Such an epistemology of the polemos could start out with a new anarcheological fragment of Heraclitus (in my recent book Heráclito - Exercícios de Anarqueologia, São Paulo, Idéias e Letras, 2012). It reads more or less like this: 131. There is polemos where we don't expect, not only in weapons but also in the surprise produced by polemos itself, in the temptation for polemos and in the knowledge we acquire of it. The message: knowledge of polemos is itself ridden with polemos. It is not that we are contemplating the workings of the doubts from outside, like a dogmatic who holds a conviction as something that stands beyond the waves of doubt. An ontology of doubt infor

Deferring and coupling

Thinking a bit about infinite regresses in justification. My argument in a paper I published recently in this blog (otherwise unpublished and five years old...!) was that when I say I have a good reason (a good justification, a reliable process etc) I am somehow deferring and coupling, that is, deferring to a reason that I endorse and coupling my belief to an existing and accepted chain of reasons. The issue, of course, is whether I can buy the justification of my belief by coupling it to an infinite chain of reasons or by deferring to an infinite process. I don't know. But it is interesting to bite the bullett and claim that there is nothing else to justification than good deferral and good coupling. That is, deferral to a commonly accepted reason and coupling to a commonly accepted (infinite) chain. After all, justification always makes appeal to accepted reasons. These reasons can be out there in chains and processes and to justify could be no more than to accommodate a belief t

Aenesidemus of Knossos and the ontology of doubts

I am in a small conference in honor of Porchat, a Brazilian Neopyrronist. I’m proposing (in my paper today) a reading of Neopyrronism. I maintain that common sense claims (together with some commonly accepted scientific theories or commonly known philosophical disputes) can be accepted by the sceptic only in order to fuel his exercise of doubting. The Neopyrronist takes something like the opposite of a speculative flight. She accepts a basis of science or common sense in order to doubt further. The goal is to maximize doubts. The basis (the Neopyrronist phenomenon) is contingent, it can be anything because any determination can enable further exercises of doubt to take off. Instead of flying towards broader vistas, the Neopyrronist strives to gain further and deeper doubts. She aims to apply her strategies for epokhé further and, in that sense, harbors an atitude where doubts are more worth seeking than belief. She craves to make more use of her weapons that include her doubting mac

My new reading of Neopyrronism

Today I presented this paper in honor to professor Oswaldo Porchat, in an event in São Paulo celebrating his 80th birthday. The paper was given in Portuguese. In the next post I kind of summarize the argument in English. O lugar da atitude neopirrônica Dúvida, determinação e ontologia Um dos procedimentos mais comuns para exorcizar a dúvida generalizada é a de insistir que toda dúvida tem pressupostos. A insistência é de que qualquer suspenção de juízo requereria que se assumisse algum ônus de prova. A dúvida, essa seria a ideia, tem também que pagar o custo do transporte – e o pagamento é feito em convicções. Este procedimento aparece de diferentes formas – na forma de indicações das condições de possibilidade do pensamento empírico, na forma de análise dos procedimentos subjacentes à atividade de duvidar, na forma de considerações acerca da presunção de verdade de uma parte considerável de uma massa crítica de crenças inteligíveis. Em todos os casos, o procedimento tenta imp

An old paper on infinitism and Eduardo Barrio's reply

Some five odd years ago I wrote a bit on infinitism comparing infinite sequences of justifications and truth conditions. The paper never got published but Eduardo Barrio presented a response to it in Spanish to the Curitiba meeting of the Brazilian group of Pyrrhonists. I publish both texts below while wondering what to do with all this discussion. Recursive infinite sequences of justifications Infinite sequences of justifications have been often dismissed as a somehow inadequate way to justify beliefs. That justification requires infinite sequences can be argued by an argument (A) around the following lines (from 1-3 to 4): 1. A belief is justified only if a justified belief is a reason for it. 2. There are justified beliefs. 3. The proper ancestral of the reason-relation is irreflexive. 4. There is an infinite sequence of justified beliefs each of which is a reason for its predecessor. Attempts to resist 4 (and A) are motivated by taking 4 to be unacceptable. The argument

Urges and virtuality

The notion of attractor - associated to vector fields - is a central element of the way Delanda presents Deleuze's virtuality. In fact, it is a central element to be considered in a process ontology: actual entities create fields of attraction that would have something to do, I believe, with what Whitehead calls nexus. Attractors guide trajectories - this guiding would entail some sort of instantiation only if the rest of the world is subtracted. Virtuality has to do with the rest of the world - just like any synthetic a posteriori judgment can be taken to be virtual because it depends on the rest of the world. The pattern, of course, is familiar to process philosophers: to bring to ontology what is presented as an epistemological feature. (Contrast this with some kinds of anti-realist move that would do the opposite movement.) Here, modeling can fail to be implemented because it points at the virtual - at attractors - and therefore predictions can fail. Other parts of the world c

Two books out in Brazil

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Flat ontology and plot metaphysics

Thrilling conversation with André Arnaut on the way back from Curitiba. We were considering Viveiros de Castro's claim that ontographies are either antropocentric or antropomorphic. There is, according to the claim, a tertium non datur connecting anthropocentrism and anthropomorphism. To be sure, Brassier's alternative (as well as Meillassoux's factualism) is not easily accommodated in either horn of the dilemma. No matter whether the dilemma holds, it is interesting to consider the paths from one pole to the other and vice-versa. It is the road between correlationism and the metaphysics of subjectivity and back – for instance, between an enchanted nature and a world stripped of all secondary qualities and filled with our (anthropocentric) projections or between a transcendental idealism and a Whiteheadian view where there is no centrality of one form of (anthropomorphic) actual entity. The anthropomorphic pole – favored by Viveiros – sees some element of humanity every

Accelerationismusstreit 1

Thinking about Srnicek's sort of defence of accelerationism against the charge of collaboration with neoliberalism. In a sense, he makes a good counterpoint to Ben Noys suspicions about the politics of an accelerationism ontology. Srnicek claims that neoliberalism is in fact a regime of concentration of powers that protects trusts and corporations against the free flow of liquidity. The discourse of free flow coincides with accelerationism only superficially because the effect of the neoliberal gesture was crucially to open way for more concentration of powers as if to create and protect some feudal territories within the space of capitalism. Srnicek praises relative accelerationism as a political weapon to add liquidity in solidified structures - and therefore as a tool for the political left. He is less committal concerning absolute accelerationism, a position like Nick Land's according to which the flows will dismantle everything including humanity itself. He thinks that w

Markus Gabriel and the modally open horizon

Last week in Porto Alegre I talked to Markus Gabriel about his notion of fields of sense. He defines existence as presence in a field of sense. The inspiration is Fregean (and, although not admittedly, the flavour is Meinongian) but he adds an element of pluralism that could be understood in terms of existential pluralism (in the vein of Souriau´s different modes of existence, for example). A field of sense encompasses domains of discourse or thought, perspectives, modes of presentation such that each work of fiction or each folk ontology have a corresponding field. The notion inherites the ambiguities and the vagueness of the notion of "Sinn" in Frege. But Gabriel holds that senses are somehow de re, they are in the world and in that sense he could side with McDowell interpreting Sinne as a way to determine reference (and not necessarily a method, a criterion, or a description and not even an explicit mode of presentation). Strangely, though, he wants to have no room for den

Transcendental Surrealism

Last night for no simple reason to explain I remembered transcendental surrealism. I believe it was because somehow I was toying with the interdiction Noli Me Legere in the way Blanchot deals with it in Après le coup. In any case, in my thesis, years ago, I presented briefly what I understand now as an embrionary form of process philosophy I called transcendental surrealism. Surrealism came from Leplin. He claimed that a scientific surrealism was an alternative way to understand the predictive successes of science - alternative to a realism that posits the approximate correspondence truth of scientfic theories in terms of the denotation of its major terms (and an ontology built accordingly). Leplin´s surrealism held that things are as if theories of mature sciences with predictive successes were true. As if, he claimed, was enough. My transcendental surrealism was about other cognitive devices - that I called other inductive biases. I wrote that each bias had an "as if" assoc

Factual thought, populated thought

Been to the conference on the ontological turn in Porto Alegre organized by Rodrigo Nunes and his MaterialistS friends. Good discussions with Markus Gabriel, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Benjamim Noys, Stephen Shaviro, Eduardo Luft, Caroline Marin and many others. Here is the text of my comment of Shaviro's interesting paper called Uncorrelated Thought. I believe one of the major attraction of Meillassoux's work lies in its diagnostic power. He makes us see the efforts of philosophy in the last centuries as fitting a general, albeit claustrophobic, pattern. Correlationism, with its two poles of inextricable dependence – thinking and being, has exerted its various charms on the efforts to relate to the world in ways that involve thought. His diagnosis is presented in broad terms: no matter how thought is conceived, no matter how being takes place. His diagnosis provokes many effects. Among them, several ways to deny its bite and several ways to wage heroic battles against th

A (Quinean) flat ontology of thought

Last week in my metaphysics classes I was on about physical intentionality and virtuality. I tried to explain the contrast in terms of what is internal and what is external - dispositions being internal and virtuality external. Incidentally, or not quise so, connectedness through dispositions leans towards internal relations and the kind of connectedness of things that Schaffer finds indicative of monism. Dispositions place tendencies (or inclinations) inside things - this is why Molnar´s use of Brentano´s notion of intentionality seems so suitable. Dispositions are properties and, only as such, they can be such that water (to which soluble sugar is disposed) could prefigured inside sugar. It does look like mental intentionality. It points towards the world inside - towards the dark quarters of a monad. Surely, dispositions depend on the rest of the world to be triggered, they can find antidotes, they can never be actualised and something can carry finkish ones for ever in its wake. On