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articles
1. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 4
Niels Wilde Wormholes in Hyper-Chaos: Nietzsche and Speculative Realism
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In this article, I examine the possible link between Nietzsche’s philosophy of the will to power and the new movement in continental philosophy known as speculative realism. Nietzsche is never invoked as a possible (re)source in the war against anti-realism, nor is he identified as a leading officer behind enemy lines but remains in the neutral zone. Although Meillassoux does seem to place Nietzsche in the camp of anti-realists, he is not the main target but only mentioned in a passing remark. In this article, I interpret Nietzsche into the framework of speculative realism and argue that he can be said to occupy a position in-between Graham Harman’s object-oriented ontology and Meillassoux’s speculative materialism.
2. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 4
Drew M. Dalton The Metaphysics of Speculative Materialism: Reckoning with the Fact of Entropy
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Much has been made of the so-called “empirical turn” of “speculative materialism” with thinkers like Quentin Meillassoux championing the material sciences as a new route to absolute reality. According to Meillassoux, the material sciences “provide philosophers access once again to the great outdoors, the absolute outside,” of reality in-itself. One might expect from such encomia the attempt to engage with the products of contemporary science in order to develop a new metaphysics; but, Meillassoux spends almost no time in this way, focusing instead on the form and methods of the material sciences over their actual accomplishments. As a result, his praise rings hollow and his metaphysics remains undeveloped. This paper examines what would happen if we were to take seriously his claims that a new metaphysics be developed from a scientific accounting of material reality by surveying the conclusions of contemporary physics. The paper ends by contrasting such a new speculative and materialistic metaphysics with the speculative nihilism of Ray Brassier.
3. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 4
Donald Mark C. Ude The Sense of Interconnectedness in African Thought-Patterns: In Search of a More Useful Philosophical Idiom
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The sense of interconnectedness is perhaps one of the most celebrated features of African thought. It has been theorized under different philosophical idioms among African philosophers. It has appeared variously as African metaphysics, ontology, socialism and even religion—all in a bid to underline the basic idea that aspects of reality are inextricably interconnected and mutually impact one another in a seemingly universal web of interaction. While each of the idioms used to express this idea has some merits, the article privileges the epistemic idiom. To support this move, I make two mutually reinforcing arguments. First, it is appropriate to describe the sense of interconnectedness in epistemic terms because it is primarily a mode of knowing/perceiving the world. Second, and more importantly, the epistemic idiom is useful for the formulation of emancipatory demands and formation of epistemic alliances against the subjugation of African and non-Western knowledges by mechanisms of coloniality.
4. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 4
Sarah E. Vitale Marx and the Anticipation of Postwork Futures
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Work defines the lives of most people. Many people work overtime, work second jobs, or bring work home with them. It is often difficult to know when work stops and the rest of life begins. In a culture where work is central to our identities, good work is increasingly difficult to find. This article argues that one of the impediments to imagining a future beyond work is the productivist logic that predominates today, which determines labor and production to be key activities and values. To sketch a path beyond work, the author turns to Marx, arguing that Marx provides an important critique of productivism and gestures toward a postwork future in his own writings. To do so, the author defends Marx against critiques of productivism.
5. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 4
Kyle Novak Thinking as Folding: Deleuze’s Leibnizian Nomadology as a Non-ontological Approach to Posthumanist Subjectivity
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Rosi Braidotti has recently argued that the emerging scholarship on posthumanism should employ what she calls nomadic thinking. Braidotti identifies Gilles Deleuze’s work on Spinoza as the genesis of posthumanist ontology, yet Deleuze’s claims about nomadic thinking or nomadology come from his work on Leibniz. I argue that for posthumanist thought to theorize subjectivity beyond the human, it must use nomadology to overcome ontology itself. To make my argument, I demonstrate that while Braidotti is correct about Spinoza’s influence on Deleuze, his work on Leibniz is necessary to adequately conceptualize nomadology. I employ Deleuze and Guattari’s figure of the Thought-brain as a model for conceptualizing posthumanist subjectivity that they claim goes beyond the subject itself.
6. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 4
Massimiliano Simons Gatekeepers and Gated Communities: The Role of Technology in Our Shifting Reciprocities
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In his 2018 essay Down to Earth, the French philosopher Bruno Latour proposes a hypothesis that connects a number of contemporary issues, ranging from climate denialism to deregulation and growing inequality. While his hypothesis, namely that the elites act as if they live in another world and are leaving the rest of the world behind, might seem like a conspiracy theory, I will argue that there is a way to make sense of it. To do so, I will turn to two other authors, Timothy Mitchell and Shoshana Zuboff, to highlight the kind of logic that Latour seems to have in mind. In the final section, I will propose to capture the commonalities of these authors through the concept of shifting reciprocities and will return to Latour’s political plea to define one’s territories, reinterpreted as reciprocities.
7. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 4
József Kollár, Dávid Kollár Le style c'est l'homme même?: Style and Exaptive Authenticity
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In our article, we argue, following Nelson Goodman and Arthur Danto, that in contrast to the essentialist conception of authenticity, it is more fertile to consider authentic patterns not as the inner core of the person, but as a case of metaphorical exemplification. According to our approach, if we accept that authentic style is a metaphorical exemplification, then, based on Richard Rorty’s concepts of language and metaphor, style can be seen as an exaptation or reuse of symbols previously adapted through cultural selection to other specific functions. To support this approach, we proceed as follows. First, using Goodman’s and Danto’s model, we argue that authentic style can best be grasped through metaphorical exemplification. We then show that the metaphorical use of linguistic, pictorial, and other symbols is the result of exaptation. According to our results, the authentic style is the exaptation of symbols previously adapted to culturally selected functions. We then separate authenticity from creativity through the concepts of style and manner—borrowed from Danto—and we point out that whether a particular symbol is authentic or not is not affected by whether creative or mechanical mental processes are responsible for its creation. Finally, we examine the relationship between authenticity and autonomy, and we show that in an environment that promotes autonomous decisions and authentic style, agents that originally generated inauthentic symbols may be able to produce authentic ones.
8. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 4
Andrew Song Love without Desire: amo: volo ut sis in Hannah Arendt’s “Willing”
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This article advances a close reading of Hannah Arendt’s use of the phrase amo: volo ut sis in her posthumously published lecture “Willing.” Through this close reading, the essay argues that this affirmation of love, which Arendt translates as “I love you, I want you to be,” describes an enduring activity by which we unite our minds to the world. This argument is analyzed formally and practically: the formal aspect addresses love as an activity which has its end in itself and the practical aspect enumerates the binding character of love. To clarify these aspects, the article will focus on the sections on Augustine and Duns Scotus, requiring, also, a closer look at Arendt’s theological methodology.
9. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 4
Madeleine Shield Can We Force Someone to Feel Shame?
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For many philosophers, there is a tension inherent to shame as an inward-looking, yet intersubjective, emotion: that between the role of the ashamed self and the part of the shaming Other in pronouncing the judgement of shame. Simply put, the issue is this: either the perspective of the ashamed self takes precedence in autonomously choosing to feel shame, and the necessary role of the audience is overlooked, or else the view of the shaming Other prevails in heteronomously casting the shame, and the ashamed individual’s agency becomes problematically understated. I argue that this debate is fundamentally misguided insofar as it assumes that shame must be exclusively contingent upon either the perspective of the self or that of the Other, when it is in fact dependent upon both at once. This is the “double movement” of shame: an appraisal of the self that is at once social and private.
the sheehan-faye debate, continued
10. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 4
Peg Birmingham, Ian Alexander Moore Editors' Note
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11. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 4
Emmanuel Faye, Aengus Daly Thomas Sheehan: The Introduction of Insults into the Heidegger Debate
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Thomas Sheehan’s attack on my book Heidegger, l’introduction du nazisme dans la philosophie, addressed neither the book’s topic nor its arguments. He instead highlighted a few isolated details in a sophistic and biased fashion. Moreover, his exposition was interspersed with ad personam insults not typically found in philosophical or scientific discussions. Although I had hitherto resolved not to respond to personal attacks, I owe it to the memory of Johannes Fritsche, who was also attacked by Sheehan, to take my turn to speak and to thereby pay intellectual tribute to Professor Fritsche. The article returns to the interpretation of Being and Time and analyzes the meaning and connotations of Heidegger’s use of the German term Bodenlosigkeit. The key methodological issue concerns the need to study the semantic, historical, and political context of concepts instead of hiding these issues by reducing everything to a battle between dogmatic positions.
book reviews
12. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 4
Barnaby Norman Jean-Hugues Barthélémy, Manifeste pour l’écologie humaine (A Manifesto for Human Ecology)
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13. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 4
Rafael Vizcaíno Fanny Söderbäck, Revolutionary Time
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14. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 4
Yuhui Li Don Beith, The Birth of Sense: Generative Passivity in Merleau-Ponty’s Philosophy
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15. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 3
Florence Burgat, Elisabeth Lyman, Holly James Will Symbolic Sacrifice Triumph Over Real Sacrifice?: A Structuralist Hypothesis on the Role of Meat and Milk Substitutes
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Can humanity abandon its meat-based diet, and is it willing to? This diet is unique in that it institutes an endlessly bloody relationship to animals. Highlighted time and again in analyses of the sacrificial system, the possibility of substituting a plant-based offering (or an object) for one that requires killing, replacing the latter with the former and eventually achieving equivalence between the two, could prove unexpectedly fruitful in contemporary discussions of substitutes for meat (both plant-based meats, which imitate animal meat but do not contain it, and cultured animal muscle tissue, commonly referred to as in-vitro meat). This is the guiding question and the answer, in the form of a structuralist hypothesis, that this article proposes to clarify and develop.
16. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 3
Matteo J. Stettler, Matthew Sharpe Of Cartesianism and Spiritual Exercises: Reading Descartes through Hadot, and Hadot through Descartes
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This article challenges the recurrent critique that Pierre Hadot’s identification of ancient philosophy with the practice of spiritual exercises introduces a non- or irrational dimension into metaphilosophy. The occasion to do this is provided by Kerem Eksen’s recent reading of Descartes’s Meditations as consisting of solely intellectual, rather than spiritual, exercises—since the latter, Eksen claims, involve extrarational means and ends. Part 2 presents an alternative account of the role of cognition in the ancient meditatio at issue in understanding Descartes’s antecedents. This account is indebted to Michel Foucault’s characterization of ancient meditation as involving two cognitive mechanisms: an appropriation of thought, and an experiment in identification. Part 3 argues that attempts such as Eksen’s to depict spiritual exercises as wholly noncognitive themselves are the product of an “unexamined Cartesianism” that is fundamentally at odds with the monistic psychology of ancient Stoics like Marcus Aurelius as discussed in Hadot’s studies.
17. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 3
James Hill Does the World Exist?: Markus Gabriel and Absolute Generality
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Markus Gabriel’s metaphysical nihilism—elaborated and defended most completely in his book Fields of Sense—contends that there is no legitimate ontological sense or reference attached to the words “the world.” In this paper, I present a detailed case for concluding that this project, at least in its current form, is unsuccessful. I argue, in particular, that Gabriel has at best shown that an absolutely unrestricted extensional domain cannot exist, but that his attempt to parlay this into a general rejection of metaphysics is unsuccessful and indeed incoherent. Finally, I offer a speculative diagnosis of how Gabriel ended up in this predicament.
18. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 3
Eliran Bar-El The (Voided) Origin of Social Relations
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This article positions relational social theories against theories of non-relation. Relational social theories consider relations to be primary as opposed to objects. In contrast, two theoretical positions—psychoanalysis and Marxism—hold non-relation (or void) as the origin of any social relations. Not coincidentally, psychoanalysis and Marxism also hold the position of the subject, which relational social theories abolish as yet another object. What makes the link between non-relation and subject possible for psychoanalysis and Marxism, is the affirmation of a constitutive negativity embodied in-and-through social antagonisms of sexuality and class-struggle. The article shows, therefore, that by precluding this constitutive negativity, relational social theories lose sight of these two critical sites.
19. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 3
Natan Elgabsi Reading the Inscriptions of Our Lifeworld: Transgenerational Existence and the Metaphysics of the Grave
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This existential phenomenological exploration concerns how writing is not the mere tool for communication and commemoration, or the supplementary image of a memory, but is closely connected to the phenomenon of the grave. The exploration aims to show a transgenerational mode of human existence and moral life, by considering how the becoming of a historical, which is to say a transgenerational subject through the features that writing and the grave together lets us capture, is also importantly bound to the becoming of a moral subject, or an “I,” in relation to the passed away other.
20. Philosophy Today: Volume > 66 > Issue: 3
Timothy Stock Poetry and Survival: Lévinas, Valéry, Heidegger, Doty
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I propose a critique of Heidegger’s poetics, and show that poetic critique of Heidegger is also philosophical critique on Lévinasian lines. I identify an obsessional erasure of absence in Heidegger’s poetics, a neglect of the immemorial other. Lévinas frames this critique through Valéry’s Eupalinos, a dialogue of an immemorial Socrates, in Limbo after his own death, praising architecture over his own, lost, philosophy. Separating poetics from ontology, Lévinas’s immemorial acknowledges irrecuperable traces, murmurs, or echoes of alterity; poetry, as commemoration, marks the distance between loss and absence. This contrasts with Heidegger’s eulogy of Max Scheler and its echo in the Gedachtes, metaphysical (“metontological”) and poetic monuments that seek an incompletable divorce from sensation and persons. I present Mark Doty’s elegy Atlantis as an illustration of Lévinas’s central philosophical critique of Heidegger’s thinking of death and persons. Atlantis embodies the immemorial; architecture alive with sound, an impossible city populated by absence.