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Showing posts from October, 2015

Whitehead and Derrida?

Been thinking whether it is just a coincidence that I'm into Derrida now. Maybe there is something to be found in the connection between Derrida and Whitehead. In a previous post I rehearsed some possible common points if we give a speculative reading of text and deconstruction in Derrida. I just wrote a philpercs post about propositions and perception.

On living agents with head and tail

The other day when we were about to finish a section on my seminar on Derrida's The Beast and the Sovereign we were talking about the ontological turn. Someone then asked me if I had abandoned it and decided to rather go back to text (to writing, to deconstruction, to Derrida). The gist of the question was that prima facie an interest on Derrida's work, unless thoroughly critical, is anathema to a robust commitment to find ways beyond the broadly constructed linguistic turn. I disagreed. First, I tried to explain my growing interest in Derrida (and in Jabès, Blanchot, Nancy) in terms of works like Malabou's where écriture takes a broader scope and is presented explicitly as the opening gate to some sort of ontology (of accident, of plasticity). But then I moved on to rely on the idea that the linguistic turn is not to be just left aside but rather rethought so that its insights can be re-examined in a different framework. This is what I sometimes call "a linguistic t

Without barren tautological absolutes

A main difference between Leibniz's monadology and Whitehead's system that we explored this week in my Leibniz-Whitehead course is that Whitehead's notion of process is presented as an alternative to "the reduction of the universe in a barren tautological absolute, with a dream of life and motion"( Modes of Thought , lecture 6, p. 93). There is always a possibility of invention and this is why we can never predict the future: something entirely other could always intervene. The universe is in construction and all fixity is the product of analogical capacities that make abstractions without being able to envisage their scope. In the following lecture (p. 107), he analysis variables and how they get their reference fixed - a x is any x but it become the same after it is introduced. But then he goes on: "self-identity is never complete in any advance to novelty". No whole and no individual is the same across the advances into novelty. Leibniz, in contrast,

Virtues and virtualities

This is my sketchy contribution to the symposium on Sosa's new book ( Judgment and Agency ). It is more or less like it was presented last July. It is meant to be part of a volume soon. I guess some arguments are vague but still there is something to it. I called it "Incompetent knowledge - virtues and virtualities". 1.A salient and attractive feature of the virtue approach in epistemology is that it is capable to place human knowledge within a realm of genuinely epistemic phenomena in the world. Zagzebski (2003) diagnoses that we are entering an askeptical period where the threat of skepticism is taken as dissolved or innocuous and epistemologists turn their eyes to the connection between knowledge and the rest of the world by seeing knowledge within a more general context of practices with truth and action-guidance. A symptom of this askeptical turn – or at least of the move towards seeing human knowledge within a broader epistemic realm – is the widespread use of e

Process and deconstruction (and their left-overs)

Whitehead makes a surprising move, beyond his position in Process and Reality , in Perspective , Modes of Thought . He holds that eternal objects themselves have perspectives. Everything that affects the sensible has perspectives. The sensible is the realm of concrescences, where things acquire forms, where processes are issued from their original data. In Forms of process , Whitehead presents the limits of process - what is fixed, concerned with space, time and deity. These are the remnants of process, what is kept in a Heraclitean sensible in constant life and motion. Process is non-ending and terminates in no fixity or stability, but it has its left-overs. Whitehead is close to Plato there: there is life and motion and there is a support behind all, except the connection between the two is not one of participation but rather that of fixed points relating to a flux or attractors relating to a transition. The fixed elements, as much as the unstable ones, have perspectives because they

More on contingency as plurality

Been discussing, in my Leibniz & Whitehead course, Leibniz distinction between determination and necessity (or hypothetical necessity and absolute necessity) in the Theodicy . Hypothetical necessity and determination have to do with the possible world chosen - they have to do with compossibility. The world can be determined - so that it is clear that I will buy the bicycle and not get married - but this is not by (absolute) necessity, it is so because the world is the way it is. The world is determined, it is not necessarily so, it could be different because there are many possible worlds, but it is determined because the world is determinately the way it is. I am the one who buys the bicycle but, to be sure, I don't know who I am because I don't know in which world I am (there is another suitably close possible world where my counterpart gets married). Still, my ignorance is not an ignorance of a necessity, it is an ignorance of a contingent matter of fact - this is the wo