Gabriel Rockhill’s new book reviewed at NDPR

I have this on order, but in any case it looks to be an excellent book using the link between art and politics to think through a radical historicism:

It specifies the differences between such historicism and what he calls respectively ‘selective’ and ‘reductive’ versions of historicism. These versions are inadequate conceptualisations of the ‘sheer flow of time’ that, on Rockhill’s view, defines history. He likens this sheer flow of time to a ‘universal acid’ that dissolves the supposed stability of cherished categories (37). Selective history ‘postulates the existence of a fixed kernel behind historical change’ (36). It is selective because it exempts this kernel from change. The reductive version ties historical development to specifiable historical determinants (36). According to Rockhill, ‘all of our practices . . . are fundamentally historical, but . . . this does not mean that they are somehow reducible to a unique set of historical determinants’ (36-37). In contrast to such a view, he explains his radical historicism with reference to Foucault’s preference for an ‘analytic’ of how power operates rather than a ‘theory’ of what power is (37): the idea, transposed to Rockhill’s project, is that there is no art or politics in general but ‘immanent practices that are qualified as “artistic” or “political” in variable sociohistorical conjunctures’ (37).

Radical History and the Politics of Art // Reviews // Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // University of Notre Dame.

We’re hiring

The Department of Philosophy at Memorial University of Newfoundland is advertising a tenure track position at the level of Assistant Professor, beginning 1 July, 2015. The Department is seeking to hire a specialist in Feminist Philosophy. The successful candidate must have a strong background in and be working within the history of philosophy. The Department is particularly interested in candidates with expertise in figures and topics within the historical period between the Ancients and the 19th century. The successful candidate will contribute to one or more of the Department’s three research clusters: Metaphysics and its History, Ethics and Social and Political Philosophy, and Kant and Continental Philosophy. The teaching load includes five courses in total per year with the opportunity to teach in our graduate program (MA and PhD) and chances for a course remission, while maintaining an active research agenda and engaging in academic service. The Department of Philosophy at Memorial University of Newfoundland is a vibrant program with an undergraduate Ethics Diploma, a monthly public lecture series, a winter colloquium series, as well as a weekly philosophy-related discussion group, and is committed to service to the local community. For more information on the Department, including members’ research interests, applicants are invited to consult the Department’s website at Memorial University is the largest university in Atlantic Canada. As the province’s only university, Memorial plays an integral role in the education and cultural life of Newfoundland and Labrador.  Offering diverse undergraduate and graduate programs to almost 18,000 students, Memorial provides a distinctive and stimulating environment for learning in St. John’s, a safe friendly city with great historic charm, a vibrant cultural life and easy access to a wide range of outdoor activities. Memorial University is committed to employment equity and encourages applications from qualified women and men, visible minorities, aboriginal people and persons with disabilities. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority. Applicants should submit curriculum vitae, graduate school transcripts, teaching dossier, short writing sample, and three letters of reference to Dr. Arthur Sullivan, Head, Department of Philosophy, A-3069, Arts & Administration Building, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL, A1C 5S7. (Applications sent by email will not be accepted.) The closing date for applications is 28 November 2014. (VPA# PHIL-2014-001)

Speculative Realism: Problems and Prospects now out in the US

This happened more than a week ago, but I just noticed it: Speculative Realism: Problems and Prospects now has the book for sale in the US. For those who can’t stand the very phrase “speculative realism” the book is as much about the Continental turn to realism (Paul Ennis’s phrase) and the new materialisms, and I’m quite delighted (and thankful) for the endorsements, which are not from anyone easily labeled “SR.”

In casual but compelling prose, Gratton’s book brings Speculative Realism into dialogue with various other parts of contemporary philosophy and challenges central aspects of this incipient movement, which includes thinkers like Meillassoux, Brassier and Harman. Both for contextualising Speculative Realism and revealing its temporal fault-lines, Gratton’s book is a must read. Jack Reynolds Associate Professor of Philosophy, Department of Politics, Philosophy and Legal Studies, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

Whatever one thinks of the philosophical merits of speculative realism, there can be no doubt that Peter Gratton’s new book provides an admirably clear and comprehensive guide to its main thinkers and ideas. No mere summary or introduction, Gratton’s book also engages with its subject matter in a genuinely critical and creative fashion, offering its own take on the underlying problems at issue and an intriguing assessment of the prospects for speculative realism and the challenges it must face. For those who want to know more about this philosophical ‘movement’ , there can be no better place to begin. Jeff Malpas, Distinguished Professor at University of Tasmania, Australia.

Speculative Realism: Problems and Prospects has provided the first comprehensive introduction to the lively and fascinating world of speculative realism. Gratton expertly covers a vast swathe of contemporary thinkers in a way that will appeal to newcomers and experts alike. It is certain to shape debates in speculative realism for many years to come. Paul J. Ennis, Founding Editor of ‘Speculations: Journal of Speculative Realism’.

Peter Gratton provides an easily accessible and comprehensive critical overview of the work of several of the philosophers associated with the new “speculative realist” movement. This is the book to read for anyone who wants to understand the merits and also possible pitfalls of this new “direction” in continental philosophy. Paul Livingston, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of New Mexico, USA.

Gratton’s book makes its appearance at just the right time to jolt a largely comatose philosophical establishment into noticing what’s going on amongst the brightest graduate students and (mostly) junior faculty. Just five years into the debate surrounding Speculative Realism, he has managed to place it in a wide philosophical context and cultural-historical perspective. Moreover, he is independent-minded and sharply critical wherever there is a danger of this emergent fashion becoming just that, or turning its back on thinkers and resources from outside its own brief history to date. Altogether a very welcome book that deserves a large readership. Christopher Norris, Distinguished Research Professor in Philosophy, University of Cardiff, Wales, UK.

Peter Gratton’s Speculative Realism is destined to become the authoritative guide to recent turns in Continental philosophy toward realisms, materialisms, and naturalisms. With insight and wit, Gratton offers readers a lively, entertaining, and lucid tour of these contemporary philosophical landscapes; he adeptly situates them in relation both to the history of European philosophy as well as to Anglo-American Analytic figures and orientations. What is more, Gratton herein adds his own extremely important critical interventions to the discussions and debates surrounding speculative realism and related movements, convincingly demonstrating how and why these currents must eventually get to grips with the tricky topic of time in particular. Gratton’s work is an invaluable contribution to the understanding and unfolding of early-twenty-first-century Continental philosophy. Adrian Johnston, Professor of Philosophy, University of New Mexico, USA

Here’s the TOC


Malpas Jockey Today, plus some discussion of Arendt yesterday

We had an excellent discussion at Jeff Malpas’s colloquium for the department (a draft of his paper is here) yesterday about Arendt and the place of thinking, while also mentioning in the background the back-and-forth between Richard Wolin and Seyla Benhabib concerning Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, with the former conflating Arendt’s claims about the banality of evil and any supposed “banality” of the Holocaust. Malpas’s piece interweaves his rereading of Arendt to suggest she is more a topological thinker than her claim that thinking occurs “nowhere” would suggest, while borrowing a bit from Peg Birmingham’s recent work (which in turn influenced my own chapters on Arendt in The State of Sovereignty) on natality. Malpas was focused on The Life of the Mind, though of course the better work to go through in terms of place is The Human Condition and contemporaneous writings, which is where natality appears and where she thinks place (not space) in terms of the polis and the spacing of plurality. But it does bring out a tension between the later work and the earlier, late 50s writings that I don’t think can be resolved.

In any case, for those around St. John’s: Jockey discussion starting at 5pm at the Peter Easton pub, with pizza after, and a reception down at my place afterwards. Here is the paper Jeff will be discussing.

John Protevi’s Blog: The October Statement: No Rankings, Not Now, Not Ever

John Protevi has up The October Statement, which argues for going beyond a previous statement declining to give any service to the PGR while under the control of Brian Leiter. It’s clear the latter shouldn’t run the PGR, for a host of reasons discussed widely lately, though mostly because whatever his knowledge of philosophy or the law, his expertise in statistics is clearly wanting (this has come up in several comments he has made about other rankings, but it’s enough that he seems to give any credence to internet polls [until of course they go against him]). In any case, I don’t see how any ranking system would not reinstitutionalize the vicious regimes in philosophy inimical to women and non-Western philosophies, or those not already widely favored across the North American philosophical landscape. The APA could surely bolster it’s guide to graduate programs, and certainly students should have as much information as possible about where good places to study X, Y, or Z would be. What I envision happening may be that we are not rid of ranking systems, but perhaps have multiple ones, just as within the last year, there are multiple news sites popping up in philosophy to replace the Leiter report as the go-to for philosophical news.

In any case, there are multiple disciplines that somehow have thriving ecologies of graduate programs without these kinds of rankings. Why philosophers–who think their departments to be the home to critical thinking–ever would give credence to ranking programs, as in the Leiter report, within values of a decimal point in a highly quantified fashion (like departments are Olympic gymnasts doing flips before stone faced judges) is still, after all these years, strange to me.