What is Philosophy?

What is philosophy? There are so many definitions of philosophy. It is not altogether unlikely that the “What is…?” question is not the best way to approach a definition of philosophy. There are many other important questions for defining and describing philosophy. Who are philosophers? What do philosophers do? How does one become a philosopher?Continue reading “What is Philosophy?”

Nine Theses on Fire Politics

In his Theses on Feuerbach, Karl Marx includes eleven statements expanding on the materialist philosophy of Ludwig  Feuerbach. Marx does not mention the material burning within the German name Feuerbach: the elemental materiality of fire (Feuer). More than 150 years later, Jacques Rancière’s Ten Theses on Politics proposed an aesthetic definition of politics as dissensus (not consensus),Continue reading “Nine Theses on Fire Politics”

Is Sloterdijk Conservative?

In terms of his social and political views, Peter Sloterdijk is sometimes described as a conservative thinker. Is that right? Is Sloterdijk a conservative? That question itself depends upon the hermeneutic question: What do you mean by “conservative”? He’s definitely not a neocon or a paleocon. He’s not a Reagan conservative. But he’s not exactlyContinue reading “Is Sloterdijk Conservative?”

Whitehead in the Clouds: Objects and Relations

Graham Harman and other proponents of object-oriented ontology (OOO) follow Whitehead in taking up the task of articulating a speculative metaphysics, which is a relatively untimely task, situated amidst multifarious post-Kantian prohibitions against metaphysics. In particular, OOO follows Whitehead’s “ontological principle,” affirming the irreducibility of actual entities. The relationship between OOO and Whitehead looks mutuallyContinue reading “Whitehead in the Clouds: Objects and Relations”

What is Phenomenology?

The opening of Merleau-Ponty’s Phénoménologie de la perception (1945) still rings true today. “What is phenomenology? It may seem strange that this question has still to be asked half a century after the first works of Husserl. The fact remains that it has by no means been answered.” The only different today is the “half aContinue reading “What is Phenomenology?”

Take Your Turn

What’s with all the philosophical hokey-pokey?  I hear a lot about putting some things in and taking some things out and turning around, so much turning around.  How many turns have there been in the last hundred years?  Remember the linguistic turn in philosophy?  Then Habermas argued for some kind of pragmatic turn.  In the philosophy ofContinue reading “Take Your Turn”

It’s only teaching, but I like it

The last month has been a busy one.  I’ve graded roughly 400 pages of student papers, and I’ve given about 60 hours of lectures.  I haven’t spent much time writing, and I feel good about that.  Well, I suppose I’ve done some writing, if you count lecture notes, syllabi, and emails to students.  To adaptContinue reading “It’s only teaching, but I like it”

Weird Realism: Harman and Lovecraft

I’ve been reading and enjoying Graham Harman’s new book, Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy (Zero Books, 2012).  This is a great book, regardless of whether you already know the general outline of Harman’s philosophy and/or have any interest in Lovecraft.  At the very least, I would recommend the book for Harman’s fun and illuminating usesContinue reading “Weird Realism: Harman and Lovecraft”

(Re)Introducing Aristotle, 4: Degrees of Freedom

Following the previous installment in this series, this episode continues the elaboration of Han Jonas’ updated version of Aristotle in a philosophy that integrates the insights of Whitehead and Heidegger.  In particular, it’s time to talk about degrees of freedom and the uniqueness of humans.  Let’s begin by thinking with Jonas’ philosophical biology. While animalsContinue reading “(Re)Introducing Aristotle, 4: Degrees of Freedom”

Objects: Between Whitehead and Heidegger

One of the exciting things happening in object-oriented philosophy is a synthesis of Whiteheadian and Heideggerian insights, namely, 1) Whitehead’s pan-experientialist concept of feeling or prehension, which deals a severe blow to human exceptionalism, and 2) Heidegger’s concept of the retreat or withdrawal (Entzug) of things. It’s a mutually beneficial synthesis: Whitehead helps avoid theContinue reading “Objects: Between Whitehead and Heidegger”