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Showing posts from May, 2015

Silvia Federici against accelerationism

In the opening lines of her "Caliban and the Witch" (Autonomedia, 2004) Federici writes: "Capitalism was the response of the feudal lords, the patrician merchants, the bishops and popes, to a centuries-long social conflict that, in the end, shook their power, and truly gave 'all the world a big jolt'. Capitalism was the counter-revolution that destroyed the possibilities that had emerged from the anti-feudal struggle - possibilities which, if realized, might have spared us of the immense destruction of lives and the natural environment that has marked he advance of capitalist relations worldwide." She argues that capitalism was a reactionary development that didn't represent any progress and didn't perform any revolution - the emergence of the bourgeois power was accepted by the established elites in order to keep some of their privileges going. Now, this remark challenges the very basis of accelerationism - which is, I take, the claim that capitalis

Panpsychism, physicalism and supernaturalism

If there is no real interiority and no more than physical interiority - consciousness is any kind of physical black box - then there could be physical interiority everywhere. If there is no non-physical interference making sure humans are the only existents capable of interiority, no physics can do the job. Physicalism itself paves the way for panpsychism. If we go for a reductive or eliminative form of physicalism, this takes the form of understanding consciousness or its ingredients in physical terms. In this case, it can arise everywhere. Such take is what I used to call supernaturalism while discussing Descola's Par delà nature et culture last year. Supernaturalism has that nature can explain away interiority. There is ultimately no proper room for culture in the naturalist disposition - it is either an epiphenomenon or a façon de parler . No matter the plausibility of supernaturalism, it entails open doors to panpsychism. Galen Strawson's argument in " Realistic Mo

Gaia, human-earthbound war and animism as deconstructors of the political theology of the moderns

The Gaia hypothesis has the merit of taking us out of the simple dichotomy between shallow and deep ecology - although Lovelock flirts with Hardin's ideas that the human species is pollution and opens room for Ward's ideas that humans can constitute a cybernetic system capable to be coupled with Gaia to regulate it for our benefit. To be sure, to see the planet as a cybernetic system gives agency to everything - yet agency is thought within a regulatory system and as therefore roughly as a function, like that of an organ within a body. The non-human doesn´t appeal as such - as another - but as part of a regulatory mechanism. Humans are understood as part of the regulatory system and therefore as playing a role together with the non-human, both parts of a cybernetic system. Nature and humanity, the beacons of the political theology of the Moderns, are placed together as sources of agency, even though there is no non-human agency beyond its functionality. Something similar can

The frictioning 'we's

In the last talk I saw at the Hegel-McDowell conference in Belo Horizonte, Jack Samuel took up Crispin Wright's communitarianism and the private language argument read together in consonance with section 185 of the Wittgenstein's Investigations . Wright bites the bullet that if there is a private language problem there is a public language problem too. Yet the latter problem signals the limits to any notion of correction: norms cannot be considered correct (or incorrect) beyond the pale of a public language. The thrust of communitarism is that correction (and normativity) springs from a friction between a merely private content and an independent stance of judgment. Samuel criticizes Wright's position for its limited resources to criticize the burn of the itches, say. Friction can be the key here too: there is no outer, independent stance to assess what is correct in the case, and therefore what seems correct is correct. But there is a sense where there is such a stance - t

My talk tomorrow at the Hegel-McDowell conference

* This talk can be described like this: what would happen to McDowell´s account of perception if it is wedded to Whitehead´s philosophy of organism instead of flirting with Hegel´s ideas. The muteness of intuitions: asking ontological questions about what senses deliver 1. Kant motivated a way of thinking about sensible intuitions – the deliverances of the sense – according to which they can only inform about how things are in the world if they were unrelated to our spontaneous conceptual exercises. If the senses cannot provide any external verdict on our thoughts, we are somehow shut off from how things are – although we could still attain (some sort of) universality and necessity. Bringing together the exercises of spontaneity and verdicts of the senses taint sensory information with conceptuality and therefore leaves the footsteps of those who manage to set up the tribunal using what the senses deliver. This way of thinking about intuitions posits that only a separation bet

Lovelock's philosophy of organism

In my course on geophilosophies and the end of the world we are now discussing the early work of Lovelock. He considers living organisms on Earth as part of a self-regulatory endeavour that keeps some global features of planet stable (ocean salinity, presence of nitrogen, level of oxigen, overall temperature). It is a kind of a meta-stability, regulated by the aggregate population of the planet - no organism is stable in itself, there is no stability but that of an assemblage. Gaia, on the other hand, as a hyperobject, is not an organism unless the assembly of regulating organisms is itself an organism. Inside and outside matter less than the (genetic, prehension-based) capture of an organism in front of another. I have been suspecting that Whitehead had something very similar in mind when he coined the term "philosophy of organism". In fact, Whitehead says (in Process and Reality , 214-215) that "[t]he community of actual things is an organism; but it is not a static