Archive for April, 2010

The Harman Debate

Posted in Discussion with tags , , , on April 15, 2010 by deontologistics

I’ve noticed that I’m getting a consistent amount of traffic on those posts that constitute the ongoing debate I’ve been having with Graham Harman about his object-oriented philosophy. However, these posts aren’t indexed in any proper way on the site, so I thought it would be good to provide a complete list of them for those that have caught only part of the back and forth. I’m not including links to Graham’s half of the discussion here, as the relevant posts from his blog are linked at the beginning of each of my posts. Here they are in chronological order:-

Against Experience

Phenomenology, Discourse and their Objects

Once More with Content

Scientific Vs. Metaphysical Realism?

A Quick Response to Graham Harman

Reductionism and Materialism

The Perils of Representation

For those who’re interested in my thoughts on OOO, there is also a much earlier post, written before I’d had too much contact with Graham’s work. As such, it’s not quite right. It doesn’t take proper account of the fact that Graham takes their to be two types of object (real and sensuous). However, I still think it’s interesting, and itt’s probably not that far off the mark on Levi’s position, so here it is:-

Applied Critique: Existence, Pseudo-Existence and OOO

Transcendental Realism Workshop (with Ray Brassier)

Posted in Announcement with tags , , , , , on April 6, 2010 by deontologistics

Finally, here is the official announcement for the Transcendental Realism workshop that’ll be taking place here at Warwick next month. I’ve left this tragically late, but hopefully not too late to discourage most people from coming. Once again, this event will have a number of familiar names from the blogosphere, including Nick Srnicek (Speculative Heresy / The Accursed Share), Reid Kotlas (Planomenology), and Tom O’Shea (Grundlegung), along with myself and James Trafford. We will also have Ray Brassier giving the headline talk, discussing his current interests in Sellars and Kant. All in all, this should be a really interesting event, so I recommend anyone who is interested to come on down to Warwick and join us.

Warwick Transcendental Realism Workshop

Time: Tuesday 11th of May, 12:00pm (registration) – 7:00pm

Location: University of Warwick, LIB2 and S0.11

Organised by Pli: The Warwick Journal of Philosophy, in conjunction with the Research Group in Post-Kantian European Philosophy

The purpose of the workshop is to examine the arguments underlying the increasing push towards realism in parts of modern continental philosophy, along with approaches that bridge the analytic/continental divide, and to assess the possibility of transcendental approaches to realism within this context. Particular themes that we be focused upon include:-

- The arguments of Quentin Meillassoux, and the possibility of transcendental responses to the problems he raises.

- The relation between epistemology and ontology.

- The relation between philosophy and the natural sciences.

The event will be split into two parts. The first part will take place in LIB2 (in the university library building) from 12:30pm to 5:00pm, which will consist in five papers presented by graduate students on matters relevant to the topic, along with discussion. The second part will be the headline talk, given by Ray Brassier, which will take place in S0.11 (in the social studies building) from 5:30pm to 7:30pm, under the auspices of the department’s regular Colloquium in European Philosophy.

Speakers

Ray Brassier (Philosophy, American University of Beirut) – ‘Kant and Sellars: Nominalism, Realism, Naturalism’

James Trafford (Philosophy, Unaffiliated) – ‘Follow the Evidence: Realism, Epistemology, Semantics’

Reid Kotlas (Philosophy Grad Student, Dundee) – ‘From Transcendental to Abstract Realism: Epistemology after Marx’

Nick Srnicek (International Relations PhD Student, LSE) – ‘Extending Cognition: Bridging the Gap between Actor-Network Theory and Scientific Realism’

Tom O’Shea (Philosophy PhD Student, Sheffield) – ‘On the Very Idea of Correlationism’

Pete Wolfendale (Philosophy PhD Student, Warwick) – ‘Objectivity, Reality, and the In-Itself: From Deflationary to Transcendental Realism’

The workshop is free to attend, but please email pete.wolfendale ‘at’ gmail.com to register in advance, or to request any further information.

The Perils of Representation

Posted in Discussion, Theory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2010 by deontologistics

Following up yesterday’s the day before yesterday’s post, I should probably just add a few notes in response to Graham (see here). I’ll try and not let this spiral into a 7 message exchange though. I’ve always wanted one of those epic sounding monikers you have to put in quote marks, and I think Pete “the relentless” is the best suggestion I’ve come across so far (I take everything Graham says in good spirit). Before leaping in though, I should perhaps say a little bit about the way I approach philosophical disputes like this.

Graham does rightly note that I have a habit of trying to point out what I see as confusions or insufficiently precise uses of terminology, and this does reflect a bit of my more analytic background (although I’m sure if you ask those analyticians who know me I’d get accused of being wildly speculative!). This kind of nitpicking can come across as pedantic, or as labelling the other person as ‘confused’, ‘muddled’ or something similar. I’m trying to avoid this, as such things can be quite offensive, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the internet, it’s that it’s much easier to offend people by accident here (there’s so little way of modulating one’s tone that attempts to do so can wildly backfire), so it’s at the very least good practice to be careful with one’s words.

However, I’d like to defend my nitpicking to some extent. It’s all well and good to say that we should just take our (and by this I mean more than just myself and Graham) differences to be disagreements in all cases, and then to try and resolve them directly, but I think that it’s often the case that it’s not entirely clear what exactly we’re disagreeing about. Sometimes you have to do a bit of preparatory work in order to figure out where a given disagreement lies. It can be very frustrating for all involved, but it can pay us back for this frustration tenfold if done right. Of course, perspicuity can devolve into pedantry, and this can lead to obscuring what is genuinely important in a discussion. Perspicuity is a virtue, and as such, the Aristotelian in me strives for a golden mean. I don’t always find it, but I try regardless.

Brevity, on the other hand, isn’t a virtue I have any success with. This post will be quite long (8,000 words or so), largely because it includes the additional material hinted at in the last post, which is quite in depth. To Graham: don’t think I’m forcing you to ratchet up a current account deficit in our discussion. You’re a much busier man than I, and you can feel free to get back to me whenever you like (or not to at all). As our Australian friends say: no worries.

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