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Showing posts from April, 2016

The appeal of the Other and the ontology of a monad

Been in a superficial contact with Løgstrup's The Ethical Demand and relating his ethical claims with Levinas'. Thinking about the space opened by the appeal of the Other (or the demand of the Other) as the source of something like moral perception, the connection between action and reward and even ethical virtues. Løgstrup seems to try to understand some moral attitudes in terms of a demand that makes one open to the Other. The appeal of the Other, importantly, doesn't get its force either from inclinations or from obligations. It is neither a psychological passion nor a duty. It is something else, something that doesn't involve necessities at all and something that displays a vulnerability, the vulnerability of the appeal from a vulnerable Other. The appeal opens up a space of co-existence, where the Same is touched by the Other in such a way that it cannot be a all-assimilating unity. It also makes the Other permeate the Same, in a sort of scission inside being wher

Lucretius and Meillassox vs Leibniz and Whitehead - two theories of the novel

Leibniz is adamant in his criticism of the epicurist notion of clinamen in his Theodicée . His main point is that novelty cannot be explained in terms of the indeterminate, of the casual, by anything random. Leibniz doesn't like the idea that contingency plays a role as such in a determinate world. Partly because he holds that everything is determinate by some monad, by some substantial form, by some agent. The intervention of contingency or indeterminacy on a something otherwise determinate seems to him an undue intervention of something abstract in the concrete course of things. There ought to be a reason in terms of something doing the swerve of the orbit of the atom - there ought to be a concrete actuality somewhere doing the bending of the orbit. Whitehead would endorse not only the criticism - that would follow from his ontological principle that states that there is no reason without actual entities - but also the sort of account of novelty Leibniz puts forward. To him,

Speculation and the fertility of axioms

Whitehead says many times in Modes of Thought that his conception of philosophy is tied to the discussion about the scope and the adequacy of principles. I tried to explain this today resorting to ways we understand axiomatic procedures to expand conclusions (from axioms and inferences thereof). From a point of view that privileges certainty and avoidance of error, a set of axioms has to be appropriate in itself independently of the theorems it yields. To be sure, if axioms cannot be self-evident, at least reasons ought to be given in favor of each of the axioms picked. However, if we say to a mathematician engaged in axiomatization of her field that in case of doubt the axiom of choice shouldn't be assumed and ZF should be preferred to ZFC, she will most certainly complain that without the axiom of choice she cannot prove too many things - it is fertile and that fertility is shown in the field, that is, in the practice of demonstration. If we try and persuade any mathematician to

The vocabulary of agency in epistemology

Davidson's insistence in the complementary powers of the world and one's community; one cannot be under the power of the world without being simultaneously under the power of one's community - knowing it and knowing its norms. It is as if two simultaneous agencements are to take place, two simultaneous sovereign powers that cannot be effective without each other. The fine structure of correlation spelt out by Davidson shows how one cannot be simply under the command of the world - spontaneity of one's community gets on the way. The discussion concerning the Given is therefore about powers - how to be under the command of the world through our senses as opposed to be under the spontaneous command of our own senses that introduce, say, a conceptual modulation that interfere in the orders we get from the world. The vocabulary of spontaneity and command (of arché) is really inconspicuous but present in epistemology: it is always about looking for an authority and making sur

Arché: contingency, agency. (and a note on the an-arché of Spinoza)

I realize a lot of what has worried me recently really revolves around the idea of arché - as commandment and commencement. Absence of arché is a possible understanding of contingency (lack of command, lack of a starting point that starts anything) and a world without agency is arguably a world where chaos reigns - of Meillassouxian hyperchaos. Agency and contingency are two sides of the issue of arché . This is why Leibniz was adamant in exorcizing Epicurean indetermination by random swerves in order to make sure real agents were ubiquitous. This is also why there is no agency in Meillassoux, fragile space for it in Hume (which is dependent, as in Kant, of a duality or realms, a realm of subjective autonomy and a realm of objective anomy) and a limited space for it in a cosmology of swerves - something is slightly out of control because otherwise there is no novelty, which means that the ordinary fabric of being is not laden with novelties. In general, I've been trying to thing