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Showing posts from February, 2012

Tomboy's Jeanne vs the adults (or, on decrepitude)

Under the spell of beautiful Tomboy by Céline Sciamma. The kids, specially Jeanne, the sister, negotiate sexual identities in a thoroughly simple way – it is mostly about how you present yourself. Gradually, this realm of appearances is conquered by the world of adults and their registered identities. Identities compose the basic layer of a regime of truth – a framework whereby predications (say, judgments about people and their emotional states) can be grasped because they are capable of being true or false. The regime of appearances – or make belief – is replaced by a hidden order that commands them (je suis obligée, says Jeane and Mikael (Laure)'s mother to explain her making Mikael dress like a girl to see his girlfriend). The empire of adulthood is the empire of a rule who transcends all standing rulers – ultimately, the transcendence of truth, which is, if truth transcends all possible truth-maker, the rule of determination over determiners. In any case, Mikael is stopped by

Naturphilosophie, logic and Quine

Cesar Schirmer took the end of my post as suggesting that universal logic could evolve in a direction that would make it into a general study of contingency that sort of pre-empts any effort towards a renewed Naturphilosophie. I'm convinced by Hamilton Grant that some kind of Naturphilosophie is in order. The issue is: what makes contingency possible. There are two kinds of answer, one that says things are just contingent and necessity is rather what needs to be explained and another that has that contingency is to be explained (and maybe necessity too). Among the second kind of answer, there is the thesis that contingency is ignorance. Typically, our ignorance. I take a Naturphilosophie à la Hamilton Grant is not far from this thesis. But it makes ignorance less ours. (Or not only ours.) Contingency is intrinsically natural, but this, contrary to the first kind of answer, is not an unexplainable fact but rather something that calls for philosophy, it calls for Naturphilosophie (th

Logic: the study of nature

Hamilton Grant has that to say that actual things (actual objects, actual events etc) are contingent - that they could be otherwise - is to say that they are natural. Contingency is not the mark of our ignorance nor is it a limit to the principle of sufficient reason but rather it is the mark of nature. The idea would amount simply to take seriously the idea that the a posteriori is (typically) contingent while the necessary a posteriori happens in special cases where we need pegs between us and nature - typically when the issue of measurement is at stake (the metre in Sèvres, Paris etc). To take the idea seriously by understanding that nature itself is the house of contingency, because it is the house of possibilities or virtualities - of potentia. The empirical - the a posteriori - is the natural. What grounds a natural event is the fire of possibilities in nature - a vulcanism about grounding, as nature is the underlying tectonics of the actual. Contingency is grounded in nature -

Material re-enchantment of nature

Consider a mountain: the thinking of this mountain entails (a) that there is already a mountain to be thought, whatever its nature; and (b) that the causes of the existence of the mountain must also be involved in the thinking of the mountain. Hamilton Grant, Does Nature Stay What-it-is?: Dynamics and the Antecendence Criterion, p. 82 Interesting spelling out and proposed solution to the problem of ground in (one of) Hamilton Grant's contribution to The Speculative Turn. The problem is that ground seems to point both at logical connections (or, broadly, moves within the space of reasons) and material connections (something typically like causes and effects). But, as Kit Fine says (in his Some puzzles of ground, Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 51 (1):97-118, 2010), ground is a notion that seems logically faulty but is invaluable enough to be nevertheless embraced and not discarded. The Fichtean solution, as Hamilton Grant presents, is to locate ground in action and action sole

Holistic contact

Been writing a bit for my paper with Manuel on Holistic Knowledge. We are trying to defend the idea that knowledge ought to be holistic, and maybe any claim of knowledge about anything specific is bound to be no more than contrastive. Here is the bit on our take on Davidson's argument: We believe Davidson has pointed towards an account of intelligibility according to which it is a necessary condition for a sufficiently large class of thoughts to be intelligible that it responds to the world.1 His argument arises from considerations concerning the holistic character of thoughts: they are intelligible only in critical masses. This amounts to say that only within a critical mass of thoughts we can say that a thought becomes interpretable and testable – it is in a critical mass that it acquires meaning and turns into something that can be true or false. Thoughts are only not self-standing units like atoms, but rather they depend on the whole where they belong – that is, they depend o

This paper is looking for a home

Beyond bedrock hauntology, or politics and ontology meet on fire it depends whether our passions reach fever heat and influence our whole life or not.  No one knows to what he may be driven by circumstances, pity, or indignation; he does not know the degree of his own inflammability Nietzsche, Human All Too Human, 72 Abstract: A prevalent image of ontology takes it to be the ground for politics. A tradition of criticisms of this image has developed a taste for politics with minimal ontological commitments. The current revival of interest in ontology invite for a more thorough consideration of the possible relations between ontology and politics. This essay departs from the rejection of a bedrock model – where ontology provides a firm ground for politics – to develop an alternative image, one based on fire. Inspired by Heraclitus ontology of the polemos, where fire has a crucial role, I consider different ways in which ontology and politics can meet on fire based on contempo

Matter and actants

Jane Bennett talks quite precisely about actants in a federation. It contrasts with the image of a hierarchy of command and obedience where there is a final layer of items capable of nothing beyond following orders (normally laws). As a consequence, there is no emperor of action capable to overcome in its power all and each of the actants that contribute to the outcome. No decision is sovereign like that - it has to negotiate with whatever is available to implement it. Bennett then refers to the surprise in outcome associated to each action, as remarked by Latour. There is always a messy interplay between the human and the non-human, otherwise there is no action. Intention is never more than one actant among many and it can itself be cracked into many. Of course the usual reply is that some items in the world simply obey laws. Often meaning that (non-human) actants are somehow lawlike while (human) agents are autonomous. This can be said because we choose some margins of error exclud

185 and anarcheology

Been in a blitz visit to Granada featuring a participation in Manuel and Neftali's course on rule-following and the politics of the emergence of normativity. They were discussing, at the point of my visit, how acceptable is the reading made by Kripke of sections 185 to 242 of Wittgenstein’s Investigations. A recurrent issue in the conversation over lunch under the beautiful winter sun was whether one could have content without normativity – without genuine rule-following. I insisted that behavior (or natural expression of sensation, to use Wittgenstein's vocabulary later in 257) is geared towards a specific content. In fact, it ought to be so in order for it to fulfill its role in the acquisition of public language that surely could not take off without screaming and groaming being, in a given context, taken to be a natural expression of, say, a toothache. Normativity ought to be embedded in those natural expressions. Surely, however, that is not enough to ground normativity o