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Showing posts from 2013

Janne Teller's Pierre Anthon and his object-oriented classmates

In the last day of our last month's exhibition o.o (object-oriented) we had a closing debate about what we had there. The debate was very nice and moved slowly through the patient objects of Francis Ponge (brought up by Gê Orthof) to the allagmatics that make objects acquire the status of stability and the appearance of being in themselves. My friend Luciana finally managed to hear the whole 9 minutes of the recording one hears inside the coffin of the piece by Victor and me, No Object . She came back to the discussion saying that she finally understood what the whole exhibition was about. In No Object, one enters the coffin and hears a nine minutes collection of extracts from Janne Teller's Nothingness . Luciana then said: this exhibition, with all these objects in a gallery, is a true pile of meaning. In fact, this is what an object is, an item in a pile of meanings - outside the pile it makes sense because it is inserted in a context that gives it a sense. In the pile, an ob

On accelerationism

After last Friday live debate, Phil and I are trying to get a focused debate on accelerationism going here . As I say there in my comment, there are three possible responses to the charge that anti-capitalism is conservative: to bite the bullet and defend a conservatism of what is worth preserving, to dissolve the question and denounce it as promoting the idea that we cannot do anything but move forwards or backwards and to accept the challenge and come up with a non-conservative anti-capitalism that could take the form of finding something that erodes institutions faster than capital. I try there to explore the advantages of the third alternative. (See also my post about accelerationism and allagmatics ).

Translation and disconfort

Been to Amanda Casal´s viva. She writes about how Blanchot conceives the translation work in contrast both to the Lévinasians and to Heidegger. The central idea is to have a guiding fidelity to the strangeness felt by thought with respect to the words - in whatever language. Thought is foreign to the word. So translation is already built-in in the process of writting for there is a gap of foreigness where a foreigner can intervene. The idea that translation is grounded on such disconfort enables one to challenge the idea of a home language, of the translator´s fidelity to a growing culture. Translators ought to find ways to betray languages and words in order to be faithful to this gap. It is an important political point - translators are diplomatic agents that are to be placed beyond domestication of a foreign language and beyond strangification of the target language. But it is an interesting ontological point if we think of Latour´s monads in networks. He says somewhere in Irréducti

Substances and being in the parricide tradition

In this last part of my metaphysics course I'm bringing together the features we explored from Plato's Sophist all the way to Simondon and Latour through Aristotle, Leibniz, Kant and Schelling. The idea was to sketch a history of the notion of substance and of its gradual erosion. The first operation that makes this whole history possible - maybe the founding gesture of the way we think of substance - was the parricide. Parmenides' exorcism of nothingness amounts to an exorcism of non-substantial being - something that has no self-sufficient interior that makes it stay what it is (like nothingness) cannot be. If nothing is, there is something nonsubstantial that reaches to existence. The parricide opens the way for a less-than-substantial being, a being that is not independent, is not self-sufficient and has no interior. In fact, Plato's Stranger's move was to address the relationships that make nothingness be - the parricide untangles being and substance. A being c

"Drink with the dead without a revealed God returning to spoil the party (and trouble our intimacy with tombstones)" - anarcheology, immanence and monadology

Meillassoux's boutade (DI, 232, in Harman's appendix) on not welcoming a revealed God in a World of justice has an interesting echo in Jabès thoughts about divine (in)hospitality. I compiled bits of his Livre de l'Hospitalité here . The issue of hospitality brings about, as I pointed out in a recent talk about Jabès , the issue of subversion - God is subversive, but his creation (and faithfulness to it) is not. Hospitality opens up the space of availability. Availability contrasts with achievement - it is not about completeness-to-be neither about completeness-that-was. Jabès and Blanchot seem to be attempting to go ahead with Heidegger's project of understanding Nietzsche's death of God in terms of breaking up with archés. Heidegger is still hostage to the idea that thoughts have an origin, that language can be revealed through etymology. It is as if the notion of Verlassenheit were bounded by a ready-made (original) past,that pre-exists all events and shape them.

Cabrera on biopolitics: how to make people servile to their survival

Cabrera (see info about him in his blog ) has an ethics based on the non-value of life. It has many consequences concerning life and survival - to do with attaching one's life to something else that is not life itself. The idea that life is a value in itself - not a mean but an end - is presented as a way to make people servile to their survival. I attempted to explore this consequence in an article that is just out . It is a biopolitics of making people's survival transcend to their lives (their choices, their ways) and therefore making one's own life alienated.

Irreduction, dependencies and hospitality

I often come back to Latour's first proposition in Irréductions . It is puzzling: nothing is by itself reducible nor irreducible to anything else. I wrote an article on horizon and irreducibility years back where I compare this existential limbo Latour seems to put everything in with the image of the horizon that Eudoro de Sousa uses to analyze Anximander and Anaxagoras. But 1.1.1 is still puzzling. It states, in Schaffer's categories, that neither priority monism or pluralism nor priority nihilism holds: no priority, no dependence relation is there by itself among things. They need to be constructed. It is a strong, maybe the strongest of all process-oriented efforts to deconstruct ready-made reality. In the paper I talk about the existential limbo as if it is a pool of things that hold no dependency relation with each other - they are neither dependent nor independent from each other. The pool could be a world prior to any individuation. Things are brought to the fore by ope

The abundance of representations

One way of critiquing the view of knowledge as building an image of something already there is to criticize representations. In fact, the point of view according to which a subject tries to attain an object that pre-exists it is hostage to the Kantian image of a subject that can be fully cut off from the world. The monadological perspective contrasts with that not because it appeals to no representations, but rather because it postulates many of them. They are everywhere - there is no being without a representation attached to it. I believe this is also the case in Simondon's monadology without monads: a collection of relations account for a subject while another collection of relations account for an object. These relations host (and eventually perform) transductions. Information flow is such that the overall representation is no more than the assemblage of all the small representations, each relata does - like a string reflecting what is around it without taking into consideratio

Meillassoux: transcedent contingency sets the stage for (rational) faith

Last week I spoke about Meillassoux's Divine Inexistence to an audience of philosophers of religion. I suspect that to them, transcendent contingency (that is not itself up for grabs and cannot therefore become non-contingent) sounded like a perhaps traditional way to deal with the problem of evil. Of course, once we appeal to contingency, an existing God becomes something difficult to accommodate. Meillassoux offers to concede to the atheist the argument from the existence of evil to the inexistence of God while making the existence of evil the starting point of a hopeful World of justice that is the real object of faith. The existence of evil (in a contingent universe) and the (possible) existence of God (in a contingent universe) are therefore reconciled. It is as if Meillassoux were saying that the Atheist gets her modality wrong: evil doesn't imply the necessary inexistence of God, maybe necessary evil would, but not contingent evil. If contingency is in both sides of the

Allagmatic accelerationism (and the very power of deterritorialization)

I sometimes think the debate around about accelerationism picture the position in an unfair way. It is, as I understand it, about flows and their speed (and yes, about production and registration). Accelerationism is not a defense of capital nor is it a defense of any other flow in particular - it is not about territories but about their dismantling. Accelerationists are not in any sense committed to the recognized revolutionary power of capital, unless in the sense that revolutions should learn something with it - what I take to be very much in line with what Marx and Engels write in about the bourgeoisie in the Manifesto. Capital corroded despots, states, written traditions as empires corroded land-based powers, oral tradition and patriarchs before it. (Corrosion, of course, has never gone to its complete end.) To praise acceleration is to praise dismantling - the kind of action that revolutions often do. Capital itself became an individual - a territorial machine, a code, a somehow

Object-oriented and allagmatics

The erotics of allagmatics is erratic (from my exhibit Two Objects in the Object Oriented Exhibition 2, open until the end of the month in Brasilia, Galeria Espaço Piloto). Individuation. Whatever makes an individual an individual. To give an account of it, one can appeal to primitive individuals (atomism, monism) or to selected substantial individuals (like Aristotle). Aristotle seems to connect individuals to substances - the mutilated, for instance, in Metaphysics, Delta, 27 - and hence some individuation is no more than derivative. Derivative individuation is such that the operation (the alagma, the cost of transport) that produces the individual is made invisible in favor of pre-existing principles of individuation. Substances guide individual from outside the workshop of things - from outside the processes of individuation. They act like form and matter. Simondon wants to shift the attention to the underlying process of individuation that is to be found connected to any indiv

Reference-fixing as an allagmatic operation (Kripke meets Simondon)

In December 2010, in Gize, I wrote an entry on this blog on the individuation of camels . There I do mention Kripke and Simondon. In fact, one can see reference-fixing procedures as allagmatic operations - operations that take place in the preparation of an individual. Surely, proper names are introduced by baptism, and name-giving is an individualization operation. But reference-fixing could be for instance, introducing the name Hesperus as the evening star or the name Cat for a (natural) kind of animals (no matter if they end up turning out to be also the morning star or robots instead). Descriptions can be wrong and yet work as reference-fixing. If it is so, a wrong description (or an incomplete one) could work as an allagmatic operation that individuates (cats or stars). Of all things, a description picks up one - or what it takes to be one - and this is enough for something to be individuated, and treated as an individual, that can be further investigated later on. Reference-fix

Object Oriented exhibition in Brasilia

I'll have three works there: No Object, One Object, Two Objects. Photos soon. Opening on the 13th. We'll have round tables with the artists, Carol Marin, André Tonussi, Luiza Günther, Erick Felinto and Marilia Panitz.

Queer ontology and sexual allagmatics

I'm trying to write a paper on queer ontology, putting together elements of Althaus-Reid's indecent theology, (Mortimer-Sandilands') queer ecology and bits and pieces of Sara Ahmed's work on orientation (that she calls queer phenomenology). I thought of including a section on the operations of sexual individuation, on the different sexes (to use Deleuze and Guattari's motto à chacun ses sexes ) that act like singularities individuating each body capable of desire. Sexual identity is only possible through an (erratic) sexual allagmatics. The operations that produce sexual identities involve the way sexual norms are taken but also the devices that create and maintain desires. Psychoanalysis, as well as schizoanalysis as ways to deal with the emergence of structures of desire within bodies, do no more than (fragments of) sexual allagmatics. A structure of desire is always composed by singularities such as contagions, performances, clothes, gestures, emotional links - t

Allagmatics: a proletarian metaphysics

Simondon’s focus on the processes and operations that generate the sunolos with singularities is a way out of a substance ontology. He compares individuation through a principle – either through matter or through form – as the individuation conduced by those who are outside the workshop and only see what comes in and what goes out. To understand individuation in its energy allagmatics one has to leave the command position and get into the workshop (and in fact, he adds, into the particular mold that allegedly is doing no more than fabricating a shaped matter out of brute matter). Individuation, thought in this allagmatic manner, is in a sense to be placed within the genesis of the sunolos and therefore neither in the matter nor in the form. This genesis makes the individual inextrinsically relational: it is not in relation, it is the relation. Now, when Aristotle (which is undoubtedly his point of departure) talks about substance as having (a specific) form and matter and opposes them

Kripke: nested existence, sponsored existence

In the third lecture of Reference and Existence (John Locke Lectures, 1973), Kripke presents details of his account of fictional characters. They do exist, not in a vast weak Meinong-land because there actually have been many novels in the actual world. The existence of these characters are nested in a pretense - Doyle's novel creates a pretense in which Holmes exists. It exists in a pretense, in that nested way - sponsored by something concrete that created it (a performer, a writer, a director, or a phenomenon of light and darkness that can create ghosts). I always thought that fictional characters were partly sponsored by writers and readers (creators and consumers). The sponsoring, however, is not enough to make them plainly existing or real. Sponsoring, here, I use to translate Souriau's instauration (see old posts in this blog). Kripke is saying less than that: they have a different sort of existence, not weaker but dependent on something else concrete. Being fictitious

Il, Ile, Illeité

Been in a Jabès event with the presence of his grand-daughter, Aurèle Crasson. Yesterday I gave a talk in portuguese . Today we were discussing the first lines of Jabès Récit: Il et son féminin Ile Il n’existe pas Il est Ile Seul l’océan existe The question that arises is that of an third person outside the dialogue - outside the I-thou. The il is an island, isolated and away. The only thing that exists is the ocean, the gap between us and the island. This gap is the substance of otherness - of the distance that constitutes otherness. The stranger doesn't exist in itself, only as an island kept apart by the ocean, the ocean that keeps it apart and makes it reachable only by crossing what is strange. Il and île are connected to Lévinas illeité . He writes that " illeité - néologisme formé sur il ou ille - indique une façon de me concerner sans entrer en conjonction avec moi."( Autrement que l'être , 1, 6). The contrast is with Buber's thou: il is n

Rhythms and transductions

Simondon can be described as fulfilling the project Schelling put forward: look at nature as the realm of processes of individuation by focusing on transcendental questions concerning individuals. Those questions lead to the pre-individual - the scope where individuals are being formed. Simondon cherishes two notions that he deems crucial for his (maybe transcendental) endeavor: metastability and transduction. The first one I take to play a role similar to Souriau's unfinished instauration : things are stable because they are made stable by something else - they are not stable in themselves. (Incidentally, Simondon says that the ancients couldn't think beyond stability and instability because they lack the knowledge of the prototypical physical analog of metastability - the process of individuation of crystals. Still, they could have taken rivers (sponsored by their margins), living beings or fire to be metastable.) The second notion is transduction. Transduction has to do with

Bayer and Pritchard on perceptual access (without cognitive access...)

Benjamim Bayer (in Acta Anal (2012) 27:383–408) tries to put together a (accessibilist) internalism with direct realism in perception. The attempt is daring and therefore caught my eyes. He seems to dwell on Duncan Pritchard's idea that disjuntivists (who take episodes of real perception to be completely different in content from those of deception) do have an access to the real object they perceive and, in Bayer's words, "we might say that the normal subject has perceptual access to real objects, and the deceived subject does not, but that even though neither could discriminate the normal case from the skeptical scenario, discriminability is not a prerequisite for justification ." (my emphasis). Direct realists are often disjuntivists - a natural choice to deal with deception. What is interesting here is that the disjuntivists, according to Pirtchard-Bayer, have access to the real object but cannot discriminate it is real. If this is the case, one can have perceptu

Truth and process

This is an avant-première of something I'm writing on Latour and truth. Comments, criticism and suggestions welcome. Une phrase ne tient pas parce qu'elle est vraie; c'est parce qu'elle tient qu'on la dit vraie. (Latour, Irréductions, 2.4.8) I'm going to do no more than to unpack this epigraph. My unpacking, however, will carry a metaphysical baggage which I will motivate but will be likely to do less than fully defend. The baggage is strongly shaped by a framework provided by process philosophy, inspired by Whitehead, Souriau and Latour himself. This will take me to a substantive account of truth. If the account is plausible, it will place truth (and some parts of logic) outside the places reserved to it by the maneuvers of the linguistic turn in its heyday. Latour's dictum together with the metaphysical baggage will take me towards a very rough attempt to look at truth in terms somehow akin to those we use to think about natural phenomena. It i

Transcendental substances

My computer is dead and some of my data lost in the darkness of organized matter. It is good to know that it is all there. But matter has no simple doors to open. Meanwhile, I´m teaching about substance. My metaphysics course this term is all framed in terms of the adventures of substance from Plato to Simondon. We have now stopped in Kant for few classes, talking about substance as a postulate (note 24 in the Prolegomena) and substantiality as having a normative structure. Kant moves substance out of the in-itself (where Plato and Aristotle placed is). Substance is in the for-X; it is intrinsically relational - something with a Leibnizian inspiration. Substance is a necessary postulate for experience that doesn´t extent father than the realm of experience. Substance is in the sub-sensible, not in what is experienced (or in what is beyond experience shadowing it) but rather in what makes experience possible - how experience is experienced. Such an account of experience paves the way

Leibniz, Aristotle and the unsubstantial sensible

This week, in my metaphysics course, I have been steadily contrasting an Aristotelian and a Leibnizian world. In fact, they could be seen as two answers to the charge Aristotle (Metaphysics, M, 4) makes of Plato (no matter whether it is a fair one) of giving up the impermanent within the realm of the sensible. Plato, as the charge goes, has accepted a Heraclitean view of the sensible that makes it accidental, transient, flowing and harboring no more than contingencies. Aristotle's attempt was to find necessities (and substantialities) within the sensible. (In Kit Fine's taxonomy of necessities, such necessary connections would be metaphysical or natural - and Aristotle is not clear they should all be uncoverable a priori, even though we normally take them to be.) Leibniz's take, on the other hand, was to take substantiality to be a mathesis universalis - substances are no more than their discernible properties and those are no more than what boils down to the substances. In

Objects being singled out: le ballon rouge

Being oriented to objects - to the point of singling out one among all the others. In Le Ballon Rouge (Albert Lamorisse, 1956), a kid pets a balloon and the balloon responds by following the kid - that ends up being known by the balloons as a balloon-protector. The force of singling out is such that the object is ascribed with an integrity - the balloon together with its string composes a body capable to preserve its integrity and to be challenged. The film upgrades balloons to a status of a being that cares for their borders, and who's life could be chosen against all other objects. These objects are brought to the realm of politics because they receive singled out ethical attention. When other kids capture the balloon to destroy it, they attach a second string to it - this string is the string of capture, not part of the balloon's body. It is not animated like the first one - it is external to the body of the balloon and holds it. Ethical attention, like an alliance, determi

More on ftonosophy as a Stimmung towards wisdom

My article with Carol about ftonosophy is about to come out. It presents ftonosophy in a script for a screen-dance. Characters involve Novarina, Ftonos, Lacan, Kakia, Maguy Marin, Ben Woodard, Plato and Duchamp. I've been thinking about friendship with wisdom to define the overall Stimmung of what we do. I do like friendship, but closeness to wisdom could yield to pride. Envy - and jealousy - is an antidote to pride. It corrodes pride: I'm nothing, I know nothing. I suppose envy is one of the many faces of friendship. It is a dazzling and unsettling form of love. I would say: beware of what you criticize because criticism opens your gates to whatever comes from the object of your criticism. This makes me think that philosophy should be closer to speculation: it is a form of amor fati - turn your gaze to the unknown. Now, envy doesn't require any intimacy. It is a love at a distance, for what is inaccessible and yet can be somehow seen from afar. It is not about criticizing

Being a foreigner to what there is

I always suspect there is too much between the lines of Plato's Sophist. Severino, for example, sees there the origin of Western Nihilism as the Stranger ends up spousing the idea that being can be other (in fact, non-being) and that it changes (turns into something else, other than what it is). The existence of movement appears as the existence of an other to what there is and therefore as a proof that what there is can be other. If it can be other, it has to be able to not-be (what it is). This is the parricide thesis: it is possible to predicate of an S that is not P that it is P. It is possible to say, of (this yellow) banana, that it is blue. Parmenides claim, on the other hand, appears elusive. The claim seems to entail some sort of necessitism (in the Williamson's sense: whatever exists, exists with necessity). But what does it mean that we cannot say or think (supposedly because it cannot be) that the non-being is? Maybe that appearances are meaningless - to say the fal


Reading Kit Fine's old paper on the varieties of necessity. He claims, with provisos, that there are three kinds of necessity irreducible to any of the other two. Metaphysical necessity, natural necessity and normative necessity. It is interesting that each notion of necessity yields a way to conceive of metaphysics. I'd also add what Fine calls logical necessity in the narrow sense - as opposed to logical necessity in the broad sense that would coincide with metaphysical necessity - necessity associated with identities. In fact, metaphysical necessity is connected to a project like Aristotle's ontology of substances: metaphysics as an a priori necessary endeavor concerning things in themselves and about matters of fact. A logical necessity in the narrow sense would be associated to the idea of metaphysics as logic: an a priori necessary endeavor concerning things in themselves and about matters of reason (a priori knowledge understood either as conventional or as g

Peformance and thought

Been reading Avelina Lésper, a Mexican anti-performance writer. She claims that performances don't add anything to the knowledge, experience, courage and sense of body accumulated by art, science, philosophy and activism. She compares, for example, Marina Abromovic with some Greenpeace actions favoring the latter for the courage of being exposed to a real vulnerability. I think performance deals with the ordinary. It is about bringing stuff to the fore and doing it in the midst of things. I tend to think of it as being crucially stage-less even though Abramovic's (for example) stuff is often protected by the stage-like setting of a gallery. In any case, it has few features that I find interesting. (And, indeed, performances sometimes add nothing to the pile Lésper presents, but surely they're not about adding something to the pile, let alone adding something to any pile in particular.) The features: 1. It starts out with a goal but then gets disturbed by whatever else is a


In a beautiful conference on undoing gender in Natal, Brasil. Full of trans activists and academics with all sort of different takes on hospitality towards each other. I presented something on dermativity, or rather on dermactivity - a phenomenological chapter of speculative dermatology: what is it like to be an enclosed skin. Thinking of skin could be a way of focusing exclusion and recognition - issues to do with allowing or forbidding entrance. But the skin is also about receptivity: about what is about to go in or out and the spaces of hospitality. Things with skin - and the skin of things - are capable of hospitality: they can receive and be received as touching is receiving both in the sense of receiving a signal as in the sense of receiving an impact (including a power, an affect). I wonder whether thinking - capable of hospitality and of exclusion (which I think is, for example, present in what Laruelle diagnoses as philosophical decision) - is just an instance of skin. Maybe t

Sketching a speculative dermatology

Hume’s attack on necessary connections (and powers, causes, forces) starts out with the remark that while distinct things can be perceived by our senses, the connection between them is always unclear and seemingly unavailable to unaided sensible intuition. We can use the lever of Hume’s remarks concerning necessary connection and extend his attack to substrata and substances – the permanence of things over time and over changes in the quality space. If we then point out that there is less to the content of sensorial experience than distinct things that remain, we can postulate that our senses give us no more that the joints. Joints that could be borders between things or articulations of parts of things. These joints are the differences between things, not substances but rather the sunekes between substances (the contact between them). They are arguably what is directly sensed (if one accepts the Humean idea that the content of sensorial experience has a fixed form). In fact, we sens

The Millnong project and descriptions with no author

Kripke's take on fictional characters is in line with the idea that those characters are description-dependent. They don't have in themselves the modal open horizon of life. They have no world other than the one fixed by their defining descriptions (if they live in a world at all). They are like monads: worldly beings. On this account, there is a clear difference between fictional and non-fictional characters. To be sure, there are many ways to be in-between - one of them is when we don't know whether the character is fictional, in which case there is a sheer (maybe incorrigible) ignorance about the character. Another intermediary case would be characters around whom there are many legends. I guess then one can say: what is true of the legendary character could be untrue of the real one. If we insist in the principle of indiscernibility of the identicals, they would be two different entities. Proceeding like this, one could maybe always determine the crucial question concer

The necessary a posteriori and the synthetic a priori

In the last meeting of my course on (introduction to) metaphysics, I found myself lecturing on two different ways to unbind factual necessity from what it has been usually connected: the analytic and the a priori. These two ways to unbind the necessary correspond to two ways to reinvent metaphysics - the Kantian and the Kripkean. In other words, given a Humean critique of the availability of necessary connections known a priori about the world (there are no accessible necessary a priori judgements about the world), we can either give up that they must be about the world or give up that they must be accessible on a purely a priori basis. Kant reinvents necessity as something to do with our obligations as subjects of experience while Kripke insists that it can be found in whatever truth is found about an otherwise fixed denoting term. In both cases, necessity stops being attached to analyticity - either because it is more closely linked to the a priori or because it is more closely linke

Some remarks on Aristotle's Metaphysics, book M

1. Aristotle introduces his intensional account of universals in Z, 10 (to be extended to dunamis in book H, and to mathematical entities in M, 3). In book M he compares his take to the Pythagorean one - that numbers (or other mathematical entities) are parts of sensible things and therefore themselves to be counted among sensible things - and the Platonic one - that numbers (as ideas and mathematical entities) are separate from sensible things. Aristotle proposes that mathematical entities are, like universals, aspects of things - in fact aspects of substances and, as such, enjoy a mode of being ( tropon ) which depend on what is substantial. Aristotle held that ousia protai to onton (substance has priority over other modes of being). Aspects are associated to his intensional turn in ontology, so to speak. He's explicit about that in M, 3: mathematical entities are aspects of sensible things just as, for geometry, it is an accident that a circle is white but not that it is circula

Laws of nature as immovable animators

Discussing Book Lambda in my course on Aristotle's metaphysics. A central element of the book is the idea of an immovable substance and the associated notion of pure act ( en-ergeia gar ). In chapter 6 he says that without something which is capable of doing things but that it is not actually doing anything, then movement would not happen as nothing in act would putting things to work, making things active, in activity ( am Werk ). The immovable mover introduces movement into things that would be otherwise inanimate. Movement ( kinesis ) and also change in general ( metabole ) - movement is one of the three types of change according to Book Kappa, 11 - has to start somewhere, if it doesn't the universe would be no more than potentiality resting asleep (something akin to merely finkish dispositions). There should be a starting point (to avoid the infinite regresses that Aristotle dreads) and this cannot be something potential but has to be an act, a pure act, with no dunamis a

A hinge of the ontological turn

Finishing up my lectures on Naming and Necessity (that we read together with my novel Southern Pacific - A general theory of reference). It became clearer to me how Kripke is a crucial hinge or a crucial fold in the ontological turn of the last 40 years or so. Maybe he started it all, as some people say. We can think roughly in terms of three poles: a term, its denotation and a description. To be sure, fixing a reference is often done by means of a description (Hesperus is the evening star, Cats are animals, Gold is a yellow metal etc). This far Kripke is surely in a descriptivist territory. The Russell-Frege theorists would add that when we fix a reference by means of a description, the denotation is necessary tied to it. There is a necessary connection between the description that fixes the reference and the denotation. This cannot be anything other than a conventional connection, one that establishes a relation of synonymity or definition. It is not a necessity in the world but rath