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Showing posts from June, 2012

Simpler metaphysics or simpler epistemology (Short comment on the previous post)

An interesting feature that became apparent in my debate with Andrès is that often the postulation of a complex epistemology is motivated by the assumption of an underlying simpler metaphysics. This is the case with some anti-realism, including the one that Andrès is keen to spouse, an anti-realism about inconsistencies. His metaphysics is simpler: the world cannot itself harbour inconsistencies (it is somehow free of contrarieties and contradictions, maybe because it is a blobject, or even because there is no metaphysics other than a metaphysics of the us, a transcendental philosophy). On the other hand, if we conceive of a more complex metaphysics – a world composed of, say, doubts, incoherent assemblages, negative facts, negative objects, plots involving different constituting fragments (for instance, different varieties of negation or different logics) – then we can afford a simpler epistemology. I think this trade-off is an interesting one especially to tackle the question myself

Metaphysics vs transcendental philosophy

Ray Brassier, just after my talk here in Beirut on Monday (see below in the blog) expressed some discomfort towards my attempt to enlist Hume as the source of what I was calling a metaphysics of contingency. Rather than a source, I take Hume's criticisms of necessary connection to be (a possible) starting point for a concern with the nature of contingency. Ray thinks that Hume wouldn't be happy with any metaphysical endeavour - not even one that exorcises the appeal to any sort of necessity. My response was that one could read Hume's criticisms as leading both in a sceptical vein that will make all metaphysics hopeless (Kant's is a variation of this line) or as a leading towards an image of the world where there is no room for necessary connections (or maybe for modality in general). The second option is taken by those who attribute atomism or distinctness to Hume. In any case, the issue is really how a Humean sceptic would react to the idea of an endeavour such as the

Wittgenstein: strong correlationist?

Last week I was following the debates on Wittgenstein's middle period triggered by a forthcoming book by Mauro Engelmann ( Wittgenstein's Philosophical Development ). I couldn't avoid having in mind Meillassoux charge of strong correlationism addressed to Wittgenstein (and Heidegger). It seems like Wittgenstein, in the middle of a very interesting sequence of philosophical moves, was progressively recoiling towards a philosophy confined to correlations. It is however unclear whether his is a case of strong correlationism or rather one of what Meillassoux calls metaphysics of subjectivity. Indeed, few years back I lectured a course on Hegel and Wittgenstein where we examined the Investigations together with the Phenomenology under the light of not only Brandom's work (it was before the Spirit of Trust ) and McDowell's hints but also the pioneer book by David Lamb from 1980 ( Language and Perception in Hegel and Wittgenstein ). At the time I was convinced that the s

Being up for grabs – On the elusive nature of contingency

This is what I´ll be presenting in Beirut, AUB ( Up for grabs When Hume exorcised necessary connections from the prevalent images of the world, the message most people drew was that there would no longer be any business for metaphysics. What is left for metaphysics if nothing is necessary? Indeed, Kant´s response was that the whole idea of metaphysics would need a complete revamp. If we cannot find necessary connections in the world, we ought to look for them someplace else. But another avenue was laid open by Hume´s attacks on (physical and metaphysical) necessity. How would the world be, goes this alternative avenue, if there is no necessary connections between any of each elements? And, further, how would the world be if there is no necessity keeping each element what it is - that is, no necessity holding together a substance while its attributes change over time or over different possible worlds? The absence of

Tension and flat ontology

DeLanda describes the realm of Humean sensory qualities (that ground his neutral monism) as the space of in tens ities. It is indeed a Deleuzian idea that much is made of differences of intensity. What is in tens e contrasts with what is ex tens e - for example, the extensive continuum , comparable with the plan d´égalité that Tristan Garcia talks about in his Forme et Objet . The plane is equivalent to the n´importe quoi that he ascribes to anything. The extensive continuum, as the Deleuzian plan d´immanence , the crossoroad of existences in Souriau or, in some sense, Kit Fine´s über-reality (see post below in are elements for what DeLanda labels flat ontology . Garcia emphasizes the idea of importance saying that valoriser une chose c´est transformer le charactère strictement extensif de toute chose en une intensité (p. 40). We are indeed close to Whitehead: a world of things of all kinds, and a space

Difference and erogenesis

I always thought sexual politics is a good place to reflect about differences. Been working on a text with Luanna Barbosa about the different sexual counteridentities (Andalzúa´s term) and the absence of a unique matrix of identities. We considered the case of the Aravanis (Hijras) in India and that of the Muxes in Juchitan de Zaragoza, Mexico. Even though they counter a compulsory binarism, these identities don´t match those of the standart sexual identity alphabet (LGBTTTIQA). In India they use LGBTKQJH (for lesbians, gays, bis, transexuals, kotis, queers, jogins and hijras). An approximate translation would associate kotis with effeminates, jogins with (religious) cross-dressers and hijras with something between castrati, transvestites and transsexuals. But the difficulties in translation is telling: they carve different joints. If any traduttore is a tradittore, there should be no privileged pole to use as a bedrock. Viveiros de Castro insists that it is a better policy to translat

Process, connection and aerial-subjectivity

The thought of connectedness in the world brings up the issue of who is the agent of a connection. Monadologies offer interesting insights into the issue. Monads are infinite in number - and thus irrepetible as infinity hosts difference - and unique. Still, in Leibniz´s monadology, the harmony is there between monads. Tarde´s has a more definite structure - one that he describes in terms of belief and desire. Such a structure is central for various types of process philosophy: Whitehead´s actual entities with prehensions, objectifications etc or Latour´s entelechias capable of crafting alliances and bringing about networks. The structure is what is repeated everywhere and it is where monadology meets recaptulation: no more than the same, repeated elsewhere. Then, the units are units of connection. It is a world of cables (it is as if the mythical serpent that shapes everything, like the Aboriginal rainbow serpent or the Desane anaconda, was no more than a cable with some internal struc