Month: June 2012

Upcoming Talk…

Before putting the announcement, let me note the link has recordings of other great talks from this seminar series…

The Writing & Society Research Centre and the Philosophy Research Initiative at University of Western Sydney, Australia presents following seminar on Wednesday July 4:

SPEAKER: Peter Gratton (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

TITLE: Spinoza and the Biopolitical Roots of Modernity

TIME: July 4, 3-5pm

PLACE: UWS Bankstown Campus, 3.G.55

Much has been written about bio-political sovereignty in the wake of Giorgio Agamben’s work, which relies, at least in the first volume of Homo Sacer, on Carl Schmitt’s transcendental account of sovereignty. I will argue, however, that Foucault and Arendt rightly identify what Derrida once called the “changing shape and place of sovereignty” in modernity, which for them is horizontal and disseminated within a presupposed nation. For this reason, we will look to the source of modern philosophical immanentism, Spinoza, to show that he is not extrinsic to this modern bio-politics, and demonstrates how the sovereign exception and its nationalized version work hand-in-glove in the era of which he was a part. In this way, we argue that it is Spinoza’s political theology, not Schmitt’s, that is the better pass-key to what Foucault and Arendt identify as biopolitical. By doing so, I put in tension two trends in recent Continental philosophy–philosophical vitalism and the critique of biopolitics–while raising questions about the use of political, if not ontological, forms of immanence.

For the entire 2012 program of the Philosophy seminar series at UWS see this page.

The Philosophers Magazine Needs Female Writers, or Just not these Guys

I don’t mean to be that harsh, but it’s in my RSS feed.

These are just three of the last four posts. I need some rest for an early flight to Hobart, so I’m not digging further:

1. There’s this about how the writer can’t hug women because he’s sexually attracted to them. He then is some ethereal discussion of the ethics of this, which tells you a lot about how abstract certain neo-Kantian ethics are.

2. Then there’s this about the ethics of porn, which handrings over the lost salaries of workers who may lose jobs as porn goes online, complete with a discussion of whether it’s appropriate to copy porn you haven’t paid for. Also, there’s a helpful picture for those who need it.

3. Then, there’s this on so-called “booth babes” (don’t worry, there’s a picture, too!), and the author ends with his worry that business might lose sales because women may be turned off by them.

I couldn’t bring myself to read each post thoroughly, but jeebus–it’s like they found problems (always involving the objectification of women) and managed to ask all the wrong questions.

Really, the ethics of stealing porn? Or should men pay for their porn if the industry is going under? Really?

Speculative Realism and Real Time

I just posted this to the empyre listserv, which has had a wonderful set of discussions about object-oriented ontology (what great timing, since I’m editing a chapter of my book on Speculative Realism on OOO). But one thing came up about the concept of time and OOO.

I am discussing this tomorrow, by the way, at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, where I’ll present some of my work on the need for thinking a real time.

I want to note one thing: for Harman, entities do not emit time. Time is but a “tension in its sensual qualities”–that is, not in the object’s “hidden” reality. See Harman’s diagram (see below) on p. 114 of the Quadruple Object. In his essay “The Road to Objects,” Harman sums up his view:

According to the object-oriented model only the present exists: only objects with their qualities, locked into whatever their duels of the moment might be. In that sense, times seems to be illusory, though not for the usual reason that time is just a fourth spatial dimension always already present from the start. Instead time does not exist simply because only the present ever exists. Nonetheless, time as a lived experience [i.e, within the sensuous—here he follows Husserl to the letter] cannot be denied. We do not encounter a static frame of reality, but seem to feel a passage of time. It is not pure chaos shifting wildly from one second to the next, since there is chance with apparent endurance. Sensual objects endure despite swirling oscillations in their surface adumbrations, and this is precisely what is meant by the experience of time. Time can be defined as the tension between sensual objects and their sensual qualities.[i]

Thus the relation of objects is “apparent” and at the “sensuous” level–not at the level of the real object and its real qualities. And thus things in themselves are forever in the present, which is doubling down on the metaphysics of presence.
This, to say the least, needs to be discussed whenever OOO comes up: since if objects in their reality are forever in the present, then how to explain objects such as music, films, or, as Harman discussed in a recent interview, “The Arab Street.” This is what Husserl realized in his time lectures of 1905-1911: moving beyond the mathematical, he noted that he must think how to adequately explain music, for example–hence his theory of protensions and retentions. And never mind Heidegger, Derrida, Deleuze, etc.
My task in my work is to think a real time, one that can account for different ecologies of time and their cultural measures. This, not correlationism, is the true legacy of the twentieth century thinkers such as Heidegger and Derrida.

[i] “The Road to Objects,” 176, my emphases.

On Greece…

A really good post on theSociety and Spaceopen site:

From the dawn of the democratic era then, Exarcheia found itself holding something of an exceptional status. In the years and decades that followed the small Athenian neighbourhood would play host to unrest of all different shapes and sizes: commemorative/ritualistic riots on anniversaries of the uprising; at times weekly (perhaps even more regular) skirmishes between youth and the police that came hand-in hand with the growing of a counter-culture also partly tracing back to the 1973 uprising. Last but not least, the revolt of December 2008 would break out from the heart of the neighbourhood.

Antonis Vradis reads Exarcheia in terms of the etymology of the neighborhood (outside of the arche–the principle or rule) and in terms of its unique place in recent events.

Road Tripping…

The last two weeks, I’ve spoken at the University of New South Wales and La Trobe University on speculative realism, basically discussing Meillassoux’s project as well as his discussion of time (in terms of UNSW–my thanks especially to Joanne Faulker, whose work on the notion of innocence of children is next up for me) and community (at La Trobe–my thanks especially to Jack Reynolds, who is also working on the notion of time and just published Chronopathologies, which I need to get my hands on). The graduate students at La Trobe especially are doing a lot of work with SR, and there’s great faculty at both place to hash out ideas on how I’m going to get to the end of the speculative realism volume I’m working on.

Next week, I’m off to Hobart in Tasmania to discuss my work on ecologies of time, which should be fun. Hobart is a beautiful little city, and my trip to Tasmania four years ago was one of my favorites. The air at this time of year is crisp and fresh, so I look forward to that. The week after that, on July 4th, I’ll be at the University of West Sydney discussing biopolitics and immanentism through Spinoza, which is not part of my The State of Sovereignty book (I promise–less expensive paperback coming soon!), but takes up a point I made in the introduction, namely that the passkey to modernity is not the political theology of Schmitt, but that of Spinoza.

Jim Bradley’s Last Published Piece

Until a collection of his work that Sean McGrath and others are putting together comes out. The CSCP was kind enough (thanks Iain and Marie-Eve for the quick work) to post it open access:

James Bradley, longtime professor of philosophy at Memorial University of Newfoundland, passed away on May 17, 2012. His last publication had just appeared in Symposium, vol. 16, no. 1. As a tribute to Professor Bradley’s remarkable academic career, the CSCP would like to offer this publication to members and friends of the Society. It may be downloaded here.

I can hear Jim’s voice and wit and wisdom as I read it. You get the basics of his work: the fact that, abductively, given the success of trinitarian thinking in the history of the West, we can grant the hypothesis that any metaphysics works best in trinitarian terms; that Continental Philosophy and Analytic Philosophy are both avowed enemies of speculative philosophy (for those interested in speculative realism, Jim provides the speculative background you need); and his discussion of processes of actualization.

And, course, there’s his sharp opening: There is no Continental philosophy, only “‘Pseudo-Continentalism,’ [which is] no more than a highly selective rendering of Western European Philosophy.” Which he published, of course, in the leading journal in Canada for Continental philosophy.

Scu on Flat Ethics

Here. I particularly like two things:

1. The rejection of the conatus as centering ethics. I think Hasana Sharp’s work on this is impecable and should be read by the many, way-too-many philosophers who don’t get Spinoza (and those who do), but I can never get around the fact that it’s defined specifically by Spinoza as perseverance and later Deleuze uses it to talk of a “pure life,” which in Spinoza thus leads to his politics of fear. Here Arendt’s critique of that modern legacy is crucial.

2. Secondly, Scu’s discussion about getting rid of the idea of the innocent of life follows from this. It is, by definition, a fully juridical concept–one that means someone is making that divide between what is and what isn’t so “innocent.” (In animality, it’s the cute vs. the shark–I say tongue only a bit in cheek.)

Finally, can we call a time-out in philosophy about the “innocent child”? It appears in Deleuze’s book on Life, Meillassoux’s work on the future God, and even in some discussions of Agamben. I always wonder what childhood these guys (and it’s always guys) had, since this is always matched with descriptions of unmatched joy, etc. After Freud, one would think we need not follow psychoanalysis, but at least we wouldn’t have to read such things as a pivot central in these works.