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Written up version here:
Toggle Commented Apr 15, 2016 on Notes on a Hoax at Justin Erik Halldór Smith
Badiou’s philosophy as expressed in his books BEING AND EVENT and LOGICS OF WORLD is an impressive work in progress of pluralist philosophy. There are some major points that I disagree with, but the work as a whole is full of inspiring ideas, analyses and arguments. One of Badiou’s strong points is his ability to take philosophies that are very difficult to argue with, notably those of Heidegger and Deleuze, and bring them into an argumentative field by elaborating another philosophy of comparable scope and depth. To discuss Badiou's philosophy you can’t just extract de-conceptualised theses and “argue” about them, or exclaim ruefully that they are not open to argument. On the question of Badiou's "postmodernism": Badiou's thesis is that the pluralism of the postmoderns is no big new final discovery, but constitutes merely a rather evident starting point for new analyses. Badiou has in common with the postmoderns the idea of pluralism. He differs from them with his theory of Truths. Huneman and Barberousse are content to group Badiou with the postmoderns without arguing their point. I think, as on several other points, that this is parallel is only partially true. But to prove their point they would have to analyse Badiou’s theory of Truths. Publishing a parodic imitation in an obscure para-academic journal is certainly not arguing at the right level, but taking the easy way out.
Toggle Commented Apr 14, 2016 on Notes on a Hoax at Justin Erik Halldór Smith
Written up version here:
Toggle Commented Apr 14, 2016 on Notes on a Hoax at Justin Erik Halldór Smith
Like you I think that hoaxes can be a sign of intellectual and social health. In Maoist terms: Let a thousand hoaxes bloom! I would argue further that many philosophers, including Badiou, provide us with unconscious self-hoaxes. Badiou, when he is not at his best, reads like an involuntary parody of his own jargon and theses. Any philosophy can become banalised into mere combinatory playing with its own stereotypes of expression and argument. I have no problem with critiquing such descent into stereotype when it occurs in Badiou or in his disciples. But I don't think it proves much. My problem is with the supposed target of Huneman and Barberousse's hoax. I find they slide rather too easily between three different targets: Badiou himself, his philosophy, his anglophone reception, one particular issue of Badiou Studies. Their target cannot be Badiou's philosophy: this would evolve a lot more work and argument than they have provided. Nor can it be Badiou's anglophone reception in general: here they just talk in terms of vague impressions, and do not consider the many serious Badiou scholars. One issue of Badiou Studies: why single out an insignificant and unrepresentative Badiousian production? Unless by picking on an easy target you can remount the chain and attack Badiou's philosophy without doing the hard interpretative and argumentative work.
Toggle Commented Apr 14, 2016 on Notes on a Hoax at Justin Erik Halldór Smith
Once you know it’s there you can see that “genealogy” is everywhere in Feyerabend. For example in AGAINST METHOD from the considerations on history and complexity in the first chapter to the call for a reform of education in terms of the “historical approach” (his expression for genealogy) in the last. He thematises it a little more in “Realism and the Historicity of Knowledge”, reprinted in CONQUEST OF ABUNDANCE.
We agree more than you may think. For me Latour represents an attempt at a non-positivist account of religion, and as such I defend him against charges of relativism: However I think he goes about it in a way that reproduces the old positivistic bifurcation between science and non-science. I much prefer Feyerabend's take that religious traditions are also cognitive, and not just performative. In his new book, as in REJOICING, Latour does not think that the point of religion is in community, but in a special sort of turning towards what is close, in which non-physical religious beings (God, angels) insist non-referentially. This solution is very attractive, and it is close to Wittgenstein's approach to religion, but I think it is misguided. I have tried to explain my misgivings in this little text: Sorry I didn't reply earlier, but I am on vacation in Paris for Xmas, and I don't have much time, or the same access to a computer, internet, and my own documents. Thank you for your substantive comment, and I hope we can develop this exchange further. Best wishes, Terence.
Toggle Commented Dec 26, 2014 on Latour contra Badiou at Only a Game
1 reply
More extended reply here:
The title is self-explanatory:
Mark I have reblogged your excellent reply here: I hope that's OK. If you want to change or add anything I will edit as you wish. Regards, Terence.
I think this involves a confusion of noetic and perceptual perspecives. Noetically, if I see a dog I see a dog, even if perceptually I do not see his left ear. The "not exhaust" thesis leads into the "withdraw" thesis. So the logical form is if my dog is a Newtonian object for Peter, an Einsteinian object for Paul, an anthropological object for Mary, and a psychological object for Nancy then it is not an object of science at all, and all these are illusions, "pure sham". Talking about objects in terms of perspectival slices is proscribed by Harman's system, it is a form of undermining, and the "non-exhaustion" there is trivially true.. Mark has just analysed the more robust sense of non-exhaustion as involving a conflation of physical and phenomenological predicates, and your reasoning does not address this cross-domain confusion.
I agree with you on the incoherence of the seemingly plausible intuitive picture evoked by Harman's refrains on "exhaustion". I also think that the very notion of knowledge as "access" is incoherent. Harman's method is intellectual intuition, he has nothing else. Here is a very short post you may like:
My answer is simple, Harman's metaphysics is incoherent. In fact he has several different metaphysics confounded together in his presentations. The prime metaphysics is based on real withdrawn objects. "Objects withdraw from relation", declares Harman's SR/OOO Tutorial: There is no room for the "fourfold" in such a metaphysics, and it constitutes a second metaphysics blithely conflated with the first. Next, various epicycles are needed to get round various rather evident problems, and "vicarious causation" is one such epicycle, having no motivation other than to resolve the initial incoherence. "Objects withdraw from relation" is often conflated with a quite different thesis "objects withdraw from each other", as the notion of absolute withdrawal is deeply incoherent, but even approached superficially it is too inflexible. Worries may arise that "withdrawal" itself is a relation, so a notion of weak or partial withdrawal needs to be developped. I have written quite a lot on these coherences, much of which is collected here:
I think that Mark has put Jon before not so much a difficult question as a difficult task. In the name of the diversity of OOO, Jon has emphasised that he disagrees with Harman on the notion of withdrawal, and on his equation of regional ontologies with illusion. These are not merely divergences of detail, as if one could reasonably hold the hypothesis of absolute withdrawal, but that the known facts don't bear it out. Cogburn must be arguing the logical case here, holding that absolute withdrawal is incoherent. He is in fact in agreement with Wolfendale in at least some of his critiques. This means that there is a conflict of loyalties, a conflict between Jon's loyalty to Harman and his loyalty to argument. In this context it may be reasonable for Jon to foreground his differences with Wolfendale to compensate for the later agreement he may have to express. This use of tone as framing device is quite common. In Jon's case we may gloss:" I may agree with Pete on some points, but we are really miles apart". So the rational core of Mark's plea against tone may be rather than totally eliminating tone we should try to ensure that the tone is preparatory to a sincere and explicit exploration of the arguments. Some tone while superficially expressing closure may be announcing deeper openness. Of course, there will always be the guy whose tone expresses closure all the way down, but he will make no real contribution to the discussion. I do not think this is Jon's case.
Since I first read Derrida in the late 70s I have always thought that his work was epistemological and ontological in scope. This is why I always preferred Feyerabend and Deleuze over Derrida, who seemed to me to embody a half-way house between a correlationist epistemology and ontology and the realist pluralism of Feyerabend and Deleuze. One of the reasons I left Sydney for Paris in 1980 was that a "Derridian" reading of Lacan, Althusser, and Foucault was gaining popularity, a reading that amounted to a new form of textual idealism. His critique of structuralism mobilised various themes of difference, non-foundationalism, semiotic turn, and deconstruction of dualism that seemed to promise liberation from monist metaphysical constraints, but that ultimately left us imprisoned. His half-hearted critique of psychoanalysis (compared to that of Deleuze and Guattari), his Heideggerian conceptual background, his avoidance of the questioning of the sciences, all led me to regard him more as a repressor of thought than as proposing an approach favouring conceptual creation, even if he was constantly creating concepts. So in the article you cite I find I am in agreement with Patrice Maniglier (whom I met at the final AIME conference in Paris 10 weeks ago). In the first quote the article gives from Manigilier he says "Just as there is an uninhibited Right, there exists today a new uninhibited metaphysics, which refuses the critical posture and wants to return to forms of affirmation, by claiming for example the influence of Bruno Latour or of Alain Badiou ... This is why Derrida functions as a sort of foil for young people who aspire to tell the truth echoing a form of political radicality. Derrida taught us to reflect, to slow down, he made the scrupulous, even inhibited, guy into a philosophical attitude, and that is very beautiful. But today many young people want to act". Maniglier reiterates here what was already Deleuze's and Lyotard"s critique of Derridean deconstruction 40 years ago: that it inhibits more than it creates. There is an unresolved duality at the heart of Derrida's work. I take this to be what Bernard Stiegler is referring to when he declares that there is something still "undeconstructed" inside deconstruction. This is also what Laruelle means when he opposes textual deconstruction to "quantum" deconstruction, meaning deconstruction in the real. This series of oppositions between a disappointing Derrida and a more philosophically satisfying alternative is itself deconstructed by Maniglier, as he suggests that the more uninhibited speculative pluralist thought is already present in Derrida's text, waiting to inspire us anew: "The tired Derrida is the sententious Derrida, always in mourning, the Derrida of justice and pardon ... We need a Derrida in boots and spurs, a rock 'n'rolll Derrida. Against today's neorealist philosophy, which thinks it can separate out the real from reflection, this other Derrida teaches us that thinking is dangerous, that we do not know where the limit between thought and reality lies. For example, to rework with Derrida the concept of animal, is to begin to live in a world where we can no longer perceive meat in the same way. There is no more meat, there is only murdered flesh". I think this typology of the slow tired Derrida (forever talking about death and mourning) and the plastic pluralist Derrida nicely captures a distinction that was visible for many already in the 70s. There is an ontological struggle going on inside Derrida's texts and to inherit from Derrida means to perceive more clearly the inhibitions he installed and the free play of speculation that he practiced and encouraged.
I do not have access to this article, as it is for subscribers only.
I have looked in my spam folder, and elsewhere, and can find no trace of any comments by you, though I do think I approved a link or two to your blog. Typepad has made me lose some of my comments too, so I suggest you comment on my blog with another account.
I will have a look at the Derrida piece and try to respond.
My twitter spats do not give an adequate idea of the degree of conceptual and argumentative engagement that I have brought to analysing the relations between Continental Philosophy and pluralism. For that one must look to my two blogs (Agent Swarm and Xeno Swarm, and my two tumblrs Agent Swarm and Laruelle Quotes). I have done some sequences of tweets that I am proud of, and I have regretfully come to the conclusion that in my case twitter is more suited to a monologic form of high intensity exploration. On the question of me "craving" dialogue with exemplary philosophical figures, this corresponds to about the first two years of my blogging experience, from August 2010 to end 2012. I progressively gave up on that desire, as far as a widening circle of academics is concerned. I cannot speak for Wolfendale, but I hold no grudge where he is concerned, and I will be reviewing his book (in fact I have already begun on the preface: By now anyone who cares about this philosophical microcosm should be aware that I say what I think, independent of party lines. A good example of this is that my "spat" with Pete came about because I spoke up in favour of Robert Jackson, who has consistently denigrated my work as "streams of vicious nonsense". So I should have let him crumple. However I found Pete's critiqu unjustified and argued in defence of Jackson's idea. The affective field here was quite complex and the end result in the short term was bad feeling between me and Pete, and Robert extracting a triumphantly demeaning story involving me, that he promptly storified. My ethical leap in response to all that has been my new tumblr: and my decision to review Pete's book. A preliminary Laruellian generic mea culpa can be found here:
I think we can separate two strands in Jon's reponse to the Preface. The first is the estimation of the state of "vitality" (rather than the existence) of a philosophical movement. Opinions may differ here, and interesting arguments may be developped on both sides. One danger is giving primacy to the insider's view, whether it be that of the faithful insider or of the dissident. A second strand is what I have been calling tonal criticism. Jon's remarks on the unprofessional and hyperbolic tone of the preface have provoked a lot of responses, positive and negative. A problem with this is that most people are relatively unaware of their own tone, and even less aware of the epistemic and psychological sources of that tone. A second problem with tonal criticism is not so much that it is usually a form of psychologism, but that the pyschology deployed is incredibly rudimentary. The psychological toolkit of such tonal critics very often is made up of the accusation of "ego", something that is trivially true for everyone involved in a substantial philosophical discussion, and an auxiliary concept such as "resentment". The adverse side has only to reply in kind, and nothing is illuminated.
A related spat is recounted here:
Jackson seems to think I "crave" engagement with someone in whose name he can speak. I have no idea who he is referring to. I must thank him for recalling my STORIFY pieces, which may be relevant here. In particular I can append my version of the twitter exchange that I had with him, and that he storified rather tendentiously:
I have started a facebook page to group together the various blog posts and to make discussion easier: All contributions to substantive philosophical discussion are welcome.
I think that Alan Watts is far better preparation for studying Deleuze or Lyotard or Serres than reading Freud and Lacan. Inused to think that he was a useful supplement to Quine, too. He is part of the reason why I could never completely buy into the TEL QUEL crowd of Kristeva, Sollers, Barthes, and Derrida. I think that the first thing I ever published was in 1976 in a "counter-cultural" magazine, where I compared Watts and Althusser on the ideological construction of the subject. In contemporary Continental philosophy I see him as a precursor to Laruelle's elaboration of "non-standard" philosophy. It-s true that his popular style can lead to corniness that makes us wince, but he did a lot to free Eastern type philosophy from its dogmatic shell. He was in many ways an early adopter of trends that are only now beginning to play themselves out in full.