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Showing posts from March, 2012

Verlassenheit and Exigentia Essentiae

The image of nature as akin to abandonment that follows from Heidegger´s analysis of Rilke´s Muzot poem in Wozu Dichter brings to mind the idea that to make something exist is not yet to care for it. Nature is careless, Rilke says, and our Natura is also such that it throws us in risk. Nature is no museum and has no preservatives. Our essences are such that they throw us towards existence and, with no attachment, take no special care of our fate. The centre of all beings are like epicentres, explosive and centrifugal sources. This friction between existence as springing from Natura - an exigentia essentiae - and the Verlassenheit that is hosted in the very dettachment of what makes things happen points at an interia of existence: it survives its sponsors. Not that whatever promotes an instauration cares to keep sponsoring what was brought to the world. It leaves things to their own devices (up for grabs). Nature is no museum, and yet it is another kind of assemblage (of floor made

Process Leibniz and somatism

This week in my Leibniz lectures we were discussing some small texts on existence, including On the radical origin of things. The issue is about existence (and perfection, and exigentia essentiae) and compossibility. I have been insisting that process philosophers (like Latour) embrace a holism with no resource to any kind of internal relation. As such, things are all (externally) related to each other but there is little hint towards monism (pace Schaffer). My student André Arnault, though, is adamant in insisting that process philosophy - especially in the Latourian variety which tends to play down notions like Souriau's surexistence - is not crucially different from the picture Leibniz was putting forward. In other words, the move from internal to external relations is not that much of a big difference in the picture. In fact, if we think in terms of worlds, a move that Schaffer himself makes when considering the whole as a ground, the difference seems to be only whether we'

Looking for ground, reaching the floor

I've been thinking a bit about the connection between what I have once called a metaphysics of landscape - the idea that there is a landscape of things laid out there that could somehow be viewed from a privileged point of view - and the act of contemplation. If we suspect contemplation somehow leads to a tendency to postulate a landscape (because it is not intervening, to think with Hacking, or because it detaches what is viewed from the connections that place it in the world, in Heidegger's sense or for any other reason) we will then look for ways to avoid, trick, shortcut, exorcise or suspect the gestures of contemplation. Heidegger sketched attitudes of being in the world that avoided at least the vivisection that could be associated with contemplation. An interesting attitude is that of looking askance at things, gazing sideways, so that a focus doesn't render the rest oblique. Like looking without staring, attending without contemplating. My friend and colleague Cabre

Leibniz and Meillassoux after finitude

Couturat famously discloses the principle of reason as the kernel of Leibniz's metaphysics. Couturat formulates the principle simply as: all truths are analytic (or rather, in pre-Fregean terms prevalent in Leibniz's time, all truths are such that the predicate is contained in the subject). For Couturat, the principle of reason derives the refusal of external relations and prefigures the appeal to monads as connected while windowless. Monads, taken as perdurantist substances (not fully present at any moment in time), are identical if indiscernible and indiscernible if identical. A mere analysis of their properties is enough to find out what are they ever going to do. But Leibniz, clearly, wanted to make room for contingency. How something (like a true statement) be analytic and not-necessary (i.e. contingent)? If there is any contingent true, this needs to be elucidated. And Leibniz makes use of his usual manoeuvre of resorting to a distinction between the finite and the infini

Monism and grounding

Been somehow thinking about Schaffer's priority monism. I like his stress on the possibility of heterogeneous basic elements of the world - more for the heterogeneous element all the way through than for his stress on the need for basic elements. I'm still unconvinced that gunky worlds are more possible than junky worlds, as Bohn calls a world where everything is a part. I guess my problems lie mostly in what is connected to the acceptance of an ontological foundationalism. Schaffer thinks sometimes in terms of how to build a baseless world - where would one start? He also appeals to the Big Bang as a starting point for an entangled system that would constitute the cosmos. But foundationalism in ontology is far from being the only alternative - as creationism and a single common origin is not the only alternative. I take, rather, that the relation of grounding is ontologically important. I think there is a relevant type-token distinction to be considered in the relation of g

Nature as a board

I've been bumping into an idea about which I have mixed feelings. I'm writing a chapter on the ontology of doubts for my book, provisionally called Being Up for Grabs - On Speculative Anarcheology. There I present the structure of doubts and certainties and make that structure into something that is not ours, but rather natural. Nature does not deal in determinations but rather in a board where doubts require determinations and determinations open the way for doubts - as each doubt needs a ground. Nature appears therefore as a board where the game of doubting (and that of holding fast to some determinations) take place. One can hold fast to some certainties at the cost of doubting what comes on their way and one can hold fast to doubts at the cost of exorcising the appeal of some certainties. Also, I have been working on some interesting ideas in universal logic that make me wonder whether the plurality of logics - the menu of logics, if you want - is itself out there, like a n