Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Twelth Biennial Personalist Seminar: C.S PEIRCE AND ROBERT CORRINGTON JULY 24-28 Western Carolina University


JULY 24-28

Western Carolina University

About 15-25 participants

Program Structure
The program will center around the Ecstatic Naturalism of Robert Corrington and the thought of C.S. Peirce, with separate days devoted to different aspects of their work. The first day will introduce the group to Ecstatic Naturalism and Peirce and the background in their contexts. These discussions will be led by Robert S. Corrington, Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Philosophical Theology at Drew University and Douglas Anderson, Chair of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of North Texas. The remaining days each participant will be responsible for a specific text and/or aspect, or present a paper on Corrington’s thought and/or Pierce and will help lead that part of the discussion.

Submit a title and brief (no more than one page) summary of your interest in the seminar’s subjects.  Accepted projects will receive between 60 and 90 minutes for presentation and discussion of the finished projects. Proposals should be sent to:Dr. James McLachlanjmclachla@email.wcu.edu

Due Date:  June 15

The seminar will be held on the campus of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. Cullowhee is located approximately 50 miles west of Asheville and sits near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Appalachian Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, and several national forests which make up some of the largest wilderness areas in the Eastern United States.

Lodging & Meals
Affordable on-campus accommodations are available in Madison Hall (the site of the meeting). These are standard residence hall rooms, but all have a private bath. Linen packets are included. On-campus stays include breakfasts and lunches Monday through Friday.  Dinner is on your own.

Single Occupancy w/ meals = $308
Double Occupancy w/ meals = $258



Off campus lodging is available in area hotels.

Conference Registration
The conference registration fee is $50 (Paid separately).

For further information, contact Dr. James M. McLachlan, Dept. of Philosophy and Religion, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723. Phone 828-227-3940 or email jmclachla@wcu.edu

For questions about registration or accommodations contact Bobby Hensley, Associate Director of Continuing Education, at 828-227-7397 or email hensley@wcu.edu

How 5,000 Pencil-Size Robots May Solve the Mysteries of the Universe (Space dot com)

Space.com has a decent feed of articles worth looking into from time to time, such as the article below.

How 5,000 Pencil-Size Robots May Solve the Mysteries of the Universe
// Space.com

The little, swiveling robots will look at a new portion of the sky for the invisible force called dark energy that may be causing the accelerating expansion of the universe.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Quote of the day

"In the presence of death reason and philosophy are silent."

- Ambrose Bierce

Friday, February 16, 2018

After Nature new layout and some thoughts about the forthcoming YouTube channel

For those of you who read the blog using a laptop or desktop instead of reading posts through a smartphone or "feed" app (such as Feedly), then you may have noticed the update to After Nature's layout.

Within the past two weeks I've actually tried two new layouts, settling on the second for more practical reasons. It is supposed to be representative of Blogger's new "contemporary" theme-set which is supposed to look more modern and streamlined. I actually prefer the ancient 2007 Blogger themeset because one can actually see more of what they could potentially look at, such as links in the sidebar, and so on. Now one must click the little drop-down box at the upper left hand corner to open up links to other websites, etc.

I've brought back the After Nature mp3 downloads page due to reader requests. So that is in the drop-down menu, in addition to links to other websites.

The older Blogger themes, in my opinion, are much, much better and it is possible that I may revert to one of the those in the future. I do take the design of this blog quite seriously and have put alot of time and effort and deep thinking into what would be the best theme to use, what colors to use, and how to present things in the best possible way.

I also must say that the next theme I put up (if I do, it's tough to say) will be the last because as many of you know, After Nature is transferring to YouTube to go from blog (weblog) to vlog (video weblog). I am still searching for a YouTube channel name though - and so if any readers have thoughts or opinions about whether I should keep the After Nature name or create a new name, that would be helpful.

On the one hand, After Nature, to me, represents a brand of nearly ten years. Sadly though, the brand is often associated with the mess that was/is known as "Speculative Realism," and I despise that fact. On the other hand, After Nature is also known as a blog that reports and offers commentary on the latest happenings in the contemporary Continental philosophy blogosphere, in the world of academic publishing, and in the academy generally. Whether it is posting about the latest "must have" books that are published in the world of Continental philosophy, informing readers about important updates to philosophical resources online such as SEP or IEP, posting links to some of the best but not-so-well-known papers found on academia.edu or other resources online, providing links to interesting music or offering commentary and reflection on music, travel, nature, philosophy, and art, or informing readers about interesting (or even at times humorous) articles and videos available from places such as VICE, McSweeny's, Aeon, or YouTube, so that readers can be up to date with quality information relating to the world of someone who is primarily interested in philosophy, then After Nature has tried with the utmost sincere effort to bring those sorts of things to its blog readership. And so, having a nearly ten year history with this blog, I would hope that the After Nature name, if brought over to YouTube, would take with it its readers/followers. I just wonder if I would lose a percentage of readership if I changed the name of After Nature to something else. Would changing the name be a fresh start or a mistake?

I suppose the final determination would come down to: what do I hope to accomplish with the YouTube vlog? Will I be changing the sorts of things discussed here at After Nature, or, would I be doing something different? What sorts of topics would After Nature reader like to see appear on my YouTube channel? That is the question.

I do know that I was hoping the vlog would be more personal. By that I mean, perhaps not so much reporting what is out there in the world of Continental philosophy, but rather offering reflections on how I see Continental philosophical ideas. What are my perspectives on these things. Other than personal commentary on Continental philosophy - such as offering my perspective on new books, interesting articles, happenings in the world of the academy, I am considering to, from time to time, post some videos just about my life, such as vlogging about the beautiful area in which I live and showing viewers what it looks like, vlogging about my home and aspects of either my home life (such as the perils and joys of home ownership) or professional life or maybe even married life (what is it like to be married as a philosopher or someone who teaches and has a career and yet balances that with a home life), or perhaps even offering responses to other vloggers in the world of those who vlog about what it is like to live in today's world as a philosopher. There are vloggers out there who put out wonderful content that I'd like to respond to: Greg Sadler, Cliff Sargent at Better Than Food Book Reviews, Jordan Peterson, the Weinstein brothers, Owen Benjamin, Roaming Millennial. All are philosophical in their own way - some are outright philosophers in terms of career, others simply enjoy discussing philosophical ideas whether through literature or film, and others discuss politics with heavy philosophical themes behind them. And so that is more of the thing I think I'd like to do with the vlog which is different from what I do with the blog now.

What say you, readers? Feel free to email me and let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Transcendental Philosophy and Naturalism - Call for Papers for Journal and Conference

"Transcendental Philosophy and Naturalism"

Naturalism has been described as the dominant worldview of contemporary philosophy. It is variously defined as the rejection of supernatural entities, as the view that the method of philosophy does not (or must not) differ from the method of natural science, and as the epistemological claim that science offers all the knowledge that is humanly possible. Despite its wide acceptance, in recent years a loose chorus of critics of naturalism has emerged. Many of them associate theirwork with the tradition of transcendental philosophy, i.e., the manner of philosophizing inaugurated by Immanuel Kant and recast creatively by a variety of leading philosophers of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Critics of naturalism from the transcendental philosophical camp broadly construed typically claim that normativity cannot be reduced to natural causality, that consciousness as condition of access to the world is not a natural fact in the world, that the validity of knowledge rests on a priori truths, i.e., truths that are not empirical in nature. Yet some philosophers identifying themselves with the transcendental tradition have expressed sympathy to naturalistic views. Early on thinkers such as Fries, Herbart, Bona Mayer, Helmholtz, and Riehl tried to connect Kantian claims about a priori knowledge with considerations about human psychology and with the deliverances of natural science. Similarly, early-day pragmatists, such as C. S. Peirce, held Kant’s philosophy in great esteem but advocated a fundamentally naturalistic view on the relationship between philosophy and science. Among the largely anti-naturalistic Neo-Kantians, members of the so-called Marburg school (Cohen, Natorp, Cassirer) held that, while there is a difference between philosophy and science, there is a thoroughgoing continuity between both. Nowadays, the landscape is even more diverse. While it is customary to associate naturalism with analytic and antinaturalism with Continental philosophy, despite the intrinsic vagueness of these labels, one can find naturalistically-minded thinkers, such as Evan Thompson, within the ranks of phenomenology (which founder Edmund Husserl unambiguously declared a form of transcendental philosophy hostile to naturalism),and anti-naturalists, such as Thomas Nagel, among the ranks of analytically trained philosophers. Hence, the relationship between transcendental philosophy and naturalism is still a contentious issue, both historically and systematically.
The conference will also serve to launch a new philosophical journal, called Journal of Transcendental Philosophy (De Gruyter, 2019, edited by Andrea Staiti, Sebastian Luft, and Konstantin Pollok) whose first issue will host a selection of papers from the conference.

Please, send an abstract (max. 500 words) or a full-blown paper (max. 3,000 words) for sessions of 30 minutes presentation plus 15 minutes Q&A no later than February, 15th 2018 (by midnight). The language of the conference will be English. parma.transcendental@gmail.com

HERE. A full .pdf file of the call for papers is HERE. The conference is May 18th, 2018.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Gilles Deleuze (SEP entry update)

SEP entry updated on Deleuze. Link and description below.
Gilles Deleuze
// Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Gilles Deleuze (January 18, 1925 - November 4, 1995) was one of the most influential and prolific French philosophers of the second half of the twentieth century. Deleuze conceived of philosophy as the production of concepts, and he characterized himself as a "pure metaphysician."

Sunday, February 11, 2018

On Neorationalism (Deontologistics)

Wolfendale on neorationalism, below. 

On Neorationalism
// Deontologistics

So, the word 'neorationalism' is not one I coined, but it's consistently been used to describe the work of Ray Brassier, Reza Negarestani, and myself, along with numerous fellow travellers. It's nothing something we've ever defined as such, precisely because it's not a moniker we ever consciously picked. However, today I'm reminded of the implicit commitment that might be taken to distinguish neorationalism from its opponents, if it can be said to be anything like a consistent philosophical program. It's this:
To reject all rational intuition in the name of reason, to insist that not only is there no intuitive faculty of rational knowledge, but that there is no intuitive purchase on reason's own structure, possibilities, and limits. Reason is not what you think it is. Reason is not rationalisation. Reason is not reasonable.
What distinguishes neorationalists isn't just this principled commitment, but our practical response to it. Our main departure from the classical rationalism of Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza, is a fidelity to the computational turn begun at the beginning of the 20th century, and whose consequences we are still working out; consequences which land blow after blow on our intuitive conception of what thinking is, breaking our ways of rationalising what we are, and shattering our illusions regarding what it's reasonable to believe.
Reasoning is something that is done, and it's something that can be done by processes other than us, processes that can and have been studied using reason, with the unforgiving precision of mathematical proof. Russell's paradox and Gödel's theorems lie at the beginning of an ongoing process through which we demonstrate reason's own limits, and then, following Turing, use these limits as purchase to pull it out of our hominid skulls and realise it in new and stranger forms. We haven't yet created artificial rational agents, only fragments thereof, but the humanist hubris that refuses to see these processes as fragments of things like us, looks increasingly desperate, increasing willing to rationalise away the advance of mathematical logic, the progress of artificial intelligence, and the encroach of computational neuroscience.
If you think that you can't be studied as an information processing system, and that this allows you to wall off your intuitive conceptions of not just the human condition but what is good in this condition, then I'm afraid there's an oncoming wave that will crest those walls and drown your parochial ambitions. The promise made by neorationalism isn't that this wave is empirical science come to show you the horrors or your neuronal substrate, but that it's mathematical science come to show you the wonders of your computational soul. We are non-terminating processes interacting with our environment and with one another, exploring the mathematical and empirical realms together, playing games of proof and refutation, and building systems and models that are beginning to encompass ourselves. We are beautiful. We are free. Computational self-consciousness will only enhance this, even if it changes our understanding of what it means.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Umwelt (Aeon video)

Aeon video rendering the ideas of Jakob von Uexküll through the film technique of Yoshiyuki Katayama.

// Aeon

A term introduced by the Baltic German biologist Jakob von Uexküll in 1909, Umwelt refers to an organism's internal and limited perceptual experience of the external world. This stunning experimental exploration of the concept from the Japanese artist Yoshiyuki Katayama contrasts flowers blooming at time-lapse speeds with insects and spiders atop them, captured in real time. As these two organisms move at what appear to be similar speeds, the viewer is reminded of the disparate timescales on which they usually operate, and the very different evolutionary goals that they pursue even as they interact with one another.

By Aeon Video
Watch at Aeon


Thursday, February 1, 2018

A possible theory of art inspired by Plato's Ion (Aesthetics Today)

Interesting post on Plato's aesthetics.

A possible theory of art inspired by Plato's Ion
// Aesthetics Today

Could Plato have been suggesting the following theory of art in his Ion?  What follows is a possible theory of art inspired by Plato, although not necessarily his own.

For something to be art (in, for example, the Kantian sense of "fine art" which is to say, art of genius) it must be:

1.  Inspired. 
2.  Contain something god-like as the source of inspiration.  [The source of inspiration might not be an actual god but rather some person or thing, for example other art, that takes one out of oneself, that causes ecstasy.  This thing may be god-like not only in this but in that it has created a world.]
3.  The artist must be taken out of himself, must create in ecstasy.
4.  The artist enters into a fictional world (as Ion, a rhapsode, enters into the world of Homer) and, for example, feels emotions appropriate to that world. [This is part of what is meant by being out of one's senses.]
5.  The artist, in entering into another world, sees our world (or aspects of it) in a transformed way:  i.e. he/she takes elements from our world and gives them heightened significance (for example, the poet sees water as milk and honey).  In this way or sense the artist him or herself is "holy," i.e. god-like. 
6.   The artist breaks down the gap between human existence and the natural world in some way.  For example in seeing the creek as milk and honey the artist humanizes it, i.e. makes it more intimate.
7.  The artist recognizes the limitations of his/her self knowledge:  i.e. achieves a kind of Socratic wisdom.  This would involve recognition of those realms in which he or she does not have expertise, for example being a charioteer.  [This condition is not stated or even implied by Socrates.  Socrates, as a character makes a very strict distinction between knowledge based art and the arts of inspiration.  But Plato as the writer of this drama may be suggesting this in the end.]
8.   The artist does have a field of expertise.  For example Ion is able to imitate characters in Homer and knows how to influence audiences just as a doctor is able to influence a patient. [Socrates probably would not have subscribed to this.  But it makes sense.  Surely Plato was not unaware of this possibility, much as he disapproved of the actual influence of artists.]

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Reza, Brassier, and naturalism stripped bare

Reza Negarestani has a new blog called Toy Philosophy, HERE. I like how it seems like it will be an open work-space of sorts and that he is open to exchange and influence of ideas. Ideally how blogging should be, in other words.

Already, even from his initial post, alot of what he is saying seems quite compelling and has inspired me with a few thoughts of my own. I can't say that I agree with him, that is - his identification of a "greedy naturalism" - just in the same way I don't agree with some of the specifics in Brassier's naturalism (compelling in its own right, but for different reasons). But both Brassier and Reza have "stripped-bare naturalisms'" that are lean enough to accommodate structural conceptual integrity. And that is key.

More soon.