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Showing posts from May, 2013


Discussing substantiality in several groups. Aristotle, in book Z of the Metaphysics, takes substance to mean essence, or universal, or genre, or substratum (hypokeimenon). Antirealism about substantiality, I take, is a roughly nominalistically inspired position that could reject substance in these four meanings. I think it amounts basically and more typically to the denial either of ousia in the sense of what persists with the change of qualities within time (what travels in time, say, to the next moment in the future) or hypokeimenon in the sense of what persists with the change of qualities within possible worlds (what travels to other possible worlds). In the first sense, we have, for instance, actual entities, as in Whitehead, entities devoid of substantiality that, therefore, become something else at each moment while nothing perseveres. The second case, we have, for instance, counterparts, as in David Lewis, where whatever exists persists only within a world (much as in Leibniz&

Pyrronism and the ontology of doubts

I'm in the IV International Meeting on Skepticism here in Curitiba where I learned that Pyrrho could have been more of an ontologist of doubt than Sextus' texts hint. I hope to learn more on all that tomorrow by presenting the paper that I transcribe here: Heraclitus meeting Aenesidemus centuries later: The ontology of doubts and the ontological grounds of skepticism Hilan Bensusan 1. Doubting I would like to start out with the very phenomenon of doubting. In particular, I would like to focus less on how doubts appear and more on what their occurrence reveal. Sextus Empiricus, along with most of the Neopyrrhonist tradition, took the exercise of doubting to be a reliable guide to life, in particular to what should one refrain from believing. Dismantling dogmatic arguments by showing that they are not impermeable to doubt makes the skeptic confident that tranquility is not to be attained by reaching a stable class of beliefs. Doubting – and the subsequent recommended s


Last week I performed a talked on nanomanias at the University of Brasilia. It was part of the program for a week of struggles against psychiatric confinement. I started walking around the refectory and then I moved to a classroom to carry on .

The ontological status of the plane of haecceities

The relation between objects and properties can be also compared to that between descriptions in fiction (or theatre, see posts above) and real characters. Characters in fiction have no more than bundle identity: they are aggregate descriptions (general terms). Analogously, properties according to bundle theory act on concreta only because objects ought to satisfy them. The appeal to substrata is the appeal to the identity of objects (or events, or states of affairs) that is immanent to whatever else exists. Accounts of the substrata that appeal to indexicals (demonstratives like haecceitas or proper names) make use of tracking mechanisms within concreta. The previous post closed with the idea that concreta A-series time. In fact, concrete objects can track concrete objects. I think this is somehow because they are not immune to whatever else is concrete, concrete is what responds to what is concrete. The response can be understood in terms of capture, in Leibnizian terms: concrete obj

Hypokeimenon and the concreta

Thinking about hypokeimenon in Aristotle and the need for something that hooks whatever exists to something concrete (a material aitia). Substance - as opposed to, say, actual entities - is not enough to hook anything to concreta as abstract things can be substantial (as they are for Aristotle) and mere permanence under variations in time is not enough to make anything a proper concrete object (Leibniz had substances without proper concrete objects). In fact, I believe hypokeimenon should be thought of as something that breaks the Leibniz's law. It should in fact enable indiscernibles to be different. I would venture that a conception of substrata that is compatible with Leibniz's law (specifically with the identity of indiscernibles) is not doing justice to what substrata should be. The appeal to matter as an hypokeimenon (mentioned by Aristotle himself in the Book Alpha) is an attempt to appeal directly to what is concrete. If properly understood, it enables indiscernible to

An old paper still popular in

Heterosexuais, heteroraciais, heteroculturais: as colonizações das mulheres negras Hilan Bensusan Universidade de Brasília Anche le donne hanno perso la guerra. Curzio Malaparte A colonização é uma transação que se faz com a moeda das identidades. È um negócio que começa com a pergunta quem é quem. É um assunto que necessita credenciais apresentadas e credenciais distribuídas. (Por exemplo, em Lourenço Marques do início dos anos 70, uma faixa na frente da administração colonial informava: “Moçambique só é Moçambique porque é Portugal”). A colonização, que é freqüentemente associada ao silenciamento, à visibilidade relativa e à apropriação, é para nós ocidentais subalternos às voltas com o espólio das colonizações passadas e com a sombra das colonizações continuadas, é nossa metáfora mais corrente do assujeitamento. A colonização é nossa imagem mais ao alcance da mão para a situação em que uma identidade, um ego, uma fonte de vontade se expande ocupando um espaço de

A manifesto for a Nonexistent School

Last Wednesday we finally launched a version of the Brasilia School Manisfesto: Manifesto da Escola de Brasília À uma escola que não há Falta uma citação de Nicolas Behr A Escola de Brasília não existe. Nem pretende existir. E, não obstante, ela pensa, perambula, mostra os dentes, gargareja. Ela é menos que uma semi-existência lusco-fusca, mas que fica à sombra de um estado de coisas em que a filosofia é tomada como produto importado defunto. A Escola de Brasília não opina que a filosofia seja um produto (se bem que ela tenha produtos) e menos ainda que ela seja importada – ela cresce no mato – e muito menos ainda que ela seja defunta – ela germina, ainda que suas primeiras folhas as vezes pareçam folhas de plástico.  A Escola de Brasília, não-existência, é uma resistência. (E também uma insistência e uma abertura para a desistência). Ela não esquece que a filosofia

Fate and transcendence

Deleuze contrasts determinism with fate. Fate is some sort of protected determinism where things are immune to whatever happens elsewhere. Fated things are not in the open - they rather get some special protection from the world, they are not at risk, they are not put at risk. Fate flirts with transcendence. It is similar to fiction - characters that respond not to what is around but rather to what is written or scripted for them (see recent post above ). Fictional characters are not up for grabs, they are somehow governed from outside. In my novel Southern Pacific , the island where what is written (and said and thought) takes place is both the land of the fictional characters and an island with the geography of the Southern Pacific. There, Cynthia, lives off fish and goes around entertained by all the fictional characters of the world. She doesn't interact with them. They are immune to her. They are not exposed to the elements of the island, they are not in the open. But she live


I somehow went slightly back to the topics of my book Excesses and Exceptions in the last few days. There I put forward ideas related to how direct reference that makes no appeal to description could be a way out of the Lévinas' challenge: to find ways to avoid the violence that thought does to what is being thought. Lévinas, in Autrement que l'être , talks about il-eté , something that could be translated as he-ity. Notice the indexical (he) - Lévinas thinks that the other is not someone I relate and know, not someone I'm engaged with but rather someone I make some sort of contact short of the type of contact that would enable me to present a description. The other, in his terms, is an indexical other - someone who is connected to a place, there, and not to a plot or to a landscape. The other is someone I bump into, not someone I prefigure in my thought or predict from my concepts. The indexical is elusive and surrounded by sameness around, but it is not (yet) concept. Co