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Charles Wolfe
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what's the basis for claiming Arendt attended some of AK's seminars? If true, I'd like to see a basis for it. I'm not a scholar of either although I was interested in both (esp. Kojève) during some part of my studies. Thanks.
Charles Wolfe Researcher, Philosophy Department Ghent University Ghent, Belgium
Great work John, sorry I didn't see this option to sign earlier Charles Wolfe Research Fellow Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences Ghent University Ghent, Belgium
John, there's a lovely essay by Johannes Fritsche that helps here: Johannes Fritsche, "Genus and To ti en einai (Essence) in Aristotle and Socrates," Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 19/20, no. 2/1 (1997): 163-202. I shared it w. T. Negri at some stage and he was quite excited about it. (There's an analysis of an Aristotle essay/fragment entitled 'On noble birth'...metaphysics and politics.)
Thanks so far to many - all - of the above; regarding the general thread of talking to higher-up people in the institution, I think she feels it may make her situation there worse. In that sense I think Mark's idea is a good one. Will pass on. (She may just read these comments and integrate them into her modus operandi, quietly.)
Not that Jason Read needs my 'plug' but I have to say that after a good 10 years of online readings of often frenzied, enthusiastic bad philosophy about Autonomia and so on, his blog is light years above/beyond anything else I've seen. (Admittedly, I don't know Turkish, and Körotonomedya always seemed like an excellent site.) In a recent short paper on the 'politics of affect', when I was struggling to work out some details of the Lazzarato-type usages of 'affect' and why they were presented as Spinozist, Unemployed Negativity really helped.
I have a friend who is a PhD student in Philosophy at a fairly known but not élite, large American university. She has been experiencing any number of forms of harassment, either from senior male professors more or less coming onto her, or fellow graduate students of a more 'fundamentalist'... Continue reading
Very fine shooting, John (in the initial post). I'm a naturalist who is sad when such colorless, out of date and dogmatic jottings on an envelope are paraded as state of the art naturalism. (Of course, just to be a little dialectical about it, I am sometimes saddened or frustrated too by the knee-jerk anti-naturalism from some trusty members of the continental/historicizing/verstehende/geisteswissenschaftliche side. I've given a talk in Paris and, because I had about 5% of my paper that contained bits of Dennett, Shoemaker, Lycan, the Churchlands, etc., I was told how terribly Anglo-Saxon I'd become. Another time, 10 yrs earlier, the late great Gérard Granel told me, when I said I was interested in materialism and brain and mind relations, "Heidegger and Marx got rid of all that bullshit ages ago.") I guess mutatis mutandis this is a plea (an advertisement?) for the new Meillassoux-Harman world, in which neither of these positions are still in play. I'd still like a bit more naturalism, though.
Sabina Spielrein ? Just a vague recollection. But that does sound right. I mean, that there was a patient with that interest.
I really like this 'critique of holism' one finds in Anti-Oedipus : . . . the Whole itself is a product, produced as nothing more than a part alongside other parts, which it neither unifies nor totalizes, though it has an effect on other parts simply because it establishes aberrant paths of communication between noncommunicating vessels, transverse unities between elements that retain all their differences within their own particular boundaries (Deleuze and Guattari 1973/1977, 42).
(with a wink to Pythagoras) : There are gods, there are men, and there are beings like Chuck Norris.
I love Marc Ribot. I was going to say, I know that name Rootless Cosmopolitans but I think that's where I know it from. I like the idea that skinhead music, Ed Wood films and Mystery Science Theater belong to the same conceptual/taxonomic entity. That said, La Souris Déglinguée was a good band, with a bit of jazzy numbers, and one of them was part or all Vietnamese, and occasionally sang in that language, so... Anyway.
Ahh, "vaste programme" (i mean the debate on that issue)! I don't think his program in the 2nd book has much to do with Spinoza, and as such I agree. The 1st book, which all clever scholars like to score points off of, I think makes a valid, and interesting point (also methodologically): that something called Spinozism was operative in the 18c pan-nationally; that it has little to do with Spinoza's writings (it is a bit of an artifact, a self-organised or constituted theoretical/politica project); and that this is tied to a kind of radicalism. A related point, I'm not sure if he makes or we add to his book, is that other figures (Fichte, Hegel for sure) construct a good deal of their metaphysics in opposition to this, extending the 'impact factor'. This can also be shown a bit earlier in Goclenius and Wolff. Whether Israel is a great historian of philosophy or not, is a different issue. Further, I don't think the issue here is the internal content of Spinoza's philosophy. (Unrelated: I've been meaning to say since I first saw the post and the Dietrich link, that it's a very moving story - yr autobiographical bit. Seriously.)
I didn't notice that, sorry if that's the case (isn't Fichte's reprisal of Kant contra Spinozism done once Kant is dead, or at least cognitively dead?). By 'common', if you mean such things are common, sure, but I am not sure if such a scandalous claim is so often attributed to a 'source' who did not hold it. Of course, the Radical Enlightenment is full of minor examples of this as well, but I think they are in bad faith (incipit Leo Strauss!), e.g. the clandestine manuscripts which trot out Spinozist claims and then say, 'but this is the same as the great Confucius, who the Chinese respect, and who was a respectable figure, ergo we should treat Spinozism as something respectable too!'. (For this example see ch. 25 of Israel, Enlightenment Contested.)
Jon, is the Beatles vs. Stones opposition the same? I can' immediately see the pattern in all the examples you give; I only know I'd go with Cohen rather than Dylan. Just to put in an extra historico-destinal twist, 'Lili Marleen' was covered by a popular (in the subculture sense) French skinhead band of the 80s, La Souris Déglinguée (their name is also an acronym...). They were not a fascist skinhead band, I hasten to add (although they were also not 'Redskins').
Jon: Locke's concept of thinking matter famously got away from him in the 18c, where it became a key feature of radical thought, often attributed to him in ways he wouldn't recognise or accept. Voltaire is a key 'conduit' here. Basically, Locke proposed a deflationary treatment of thought and matter in which, theologically, the idea that God could superadd the former to the latter had nothing problematic about it. He never said, nor (on my view) did he intend to say, that Matter Can Think. This was said in his name by 10 different radical Enlightenment thinkers.
sorry - some of my links (all of them?) are shonky, for some reason it included the right parenthesis as part of the hyperlink. the first one is - the second is and the one below (on embodiment) is ...
OK, and I hope you accept the polémique-amical tone. To use your numbering from the post above, I guess (2) and (3) pose some real problems in my view. I am not sure what to say about (1), except that DST fell pretty massively from the heavens after a few years glory (see Dennett on Van Gelder, and a review by Glymour which may have gone unpublished but circulated widely). After all, it's not clear what the philosophical import of DST is, aside from some "intuitions" (the temporal nature of systems, the role of the observer...) which any tepid bowl of verstehende broth serves up to us. (Full disclosure, as people like to say here: I wrote a graduate paper on the brain and mechanism which was quite enamored of DST at the time.) As to your #2 here (catalyze a becoming...): sure. I find it much easier to take on board Protevi on West-Eberhardt and Deleuze, or 'political physiology', than Naturalizing Phenomenology. Read Petitot's piece again! Varela's! (I find J.-M. Roy's work quite interesting but I suspect he is not linked to that program in a strong way, just as a co-editor of the book.)
my "2 cents" on the problem of embodiment are laid out in this short, critical piece here:, which by no means claims to be an overview of the literature (there is, notably, more by Di Paolo which I'd like to read - I like his concept of 'biochauvinism', and possibly Wayne Christensen has said things I should take account of.
But John, there's a fundamental incompatibility between the Naturalizing Phenomenology (in which I translated Barbaras' piece on MP !) and Deleuze. If you take either of these philosophical programs seriously, you must see that intentionality, the subject, the transcendental ego, the ambition (in my opinion mad, but it's just an opinion) to refound all of the sciences on the basis of a new eidetic science (articulated in Husserl's Ideas notably), can't possibly be taken on board by Deleuze, who (a) is one of the least foundationalist thinkers ever ("la pensée est comme l'herbe, elle pousse par le milieu") and (b) when he relates to the sciences does not have the hubris to think the philosopher should re-think them and direct them, but instead views them as laboratories of concepts much like art and other domains. Similarly, Deleuze and Guattari have none of that anti-Scientific Revolution obsession that permeates the post-Husserlian literature on science (see Natalie Depraz, and in a different, more nuanced way Evan Thompson). After all, they are not defending the authenticity of what a phenomenological subject 'grasps' in her acts of perception! Lastly (and this might seem cheap, but it's a favourite of mine in this context, see my short paper on brain and self online at, consider what Deleuze and Guattari have to say about Merleau-Ponty's mysticism in Qu'est-ce que la philosophie ? They are quite blunt! And the passage they point is (a) pretty strong in its usage of Catholic overtones, and (b) characteristic of much phenomenology of embodiment (as we discussed in a nice workshop on embodiment in Pittsburgh, see a foundational subjectivity, an insistence that the flesh is categorically different from the world of body overall (using a dualistic distinction from Husserl, between Leib and Körper). This isn't to say Deleuze is gold and Naturalizing Phenomenology (and its attendant works) is lead; I'm a bit put off by the neo-Platonic overtones of "L'immanence, une vie" and so on. But I just wish people would see the incompatibilities more clearly. (I'm not sure what Massumi or De Landa have to add to the discussions on DST. Notice that DST makes relatively little usage of the "dynamic systems" talk popular in the 90s with van Gelder; I think that saves it from overcommitting to temporary trends, like complexity, like Prigogine-Stengers chaos theory, etc.). For what it's worth, I agree that this fits in 'overcoming the analytic-continental divide'. But I'm not sure why that is in itself a concern. Much of what we do, or some of what we do in my case (like my attempt to reconstruct a concept of social brain from Spinoza to Negri via Vygotski) is a rejection of that distinction, but it just happens by doing!
An elegant piece by the great historian Mark Mazower in the NYT :
bloody awful. Eloquently put by a good philosopher.
After some (slightly circular?) debates here on methodology in/and the history of philosophy, here's an interesting review essay (in the language of Molière) on the collection of essays by Alexandre Matheron, one of France's greatest historians of philosophy of the 20th century. Continue reading
Nice points. One quick thing as to (1): I am not saying, 'oh goodness! how can one reiterate something said in the 1930s! we must be absolutely modern [as Rimbaud might have said]!'. Kristeller is old and good; even Cassirer has brilliant insights and suggestions (although his Enlightenment book is quite dated and full of useless claims); Momigliano for those who work on those things, ditto. Etc. But Pagel from what I remember is seriously dated methodologically for a practicioner of the history of science today; amongst other reasons for his internalism. Granted, neither you nor I are embedded historians of material culture and science (whether Dastonian-Harvard history of science style, or more techie as in elsewhere). But the historian of philosophy working with medical materials had best be careful not to rely on the most idealist historians, or else s/he will end up in a kind of ... circular trap. For an example of what I think is successful work in this vein, see e.g. Métraux's piece in Science in Context in the 90s on 'Impure Epistemology and the Nervous Agent' or several of John Sutton's papers including the one in 'The Soft Underbelly of Reason' (nice volume title!).
After some solitary notes on empiricism here a little while back ... another interesting episode in the Internationale of early modern medicine and natural philosophy: new blog posts here by Benny Goldberg (Pitt HPS) on William Harvey as 'medical Aristotelian'. While I think the Aristotelian reading is overdone (and it's... Continue reading