Consciousness Between Science and Philosophy (response to Steve Ramirez)

Almost three years ago, Steve Ramirez (neuroscience grad student at MIT) and I exchanged a few videos and blog posts about the scientific study of consciousness (see HERE for a run down). Ramirez began and ended our brief electronic debate convinced that I, like most other philosophers he's encountered, have developed a profound misunderstanding of [...]

Alf Hornborg on Ecology, Economy, and Technology

A few excerpts from professor of human ecology Alf Hornborg's book The Power of the Machine: Global Inequalities of Economy, Technology, and Environment (2001). "We seem to have difficulties understanding exactly in which sense human ideas and social relations intervene in the material realities of the biosphere. Rather than continuing to appraoch 'knowledge' from the Cartesian [...]

Alex Honnold’s free solo of Half Dome in Yosemite – Nobody knows what a body can do.

Deleuze writes of Spinoza's epochal realization that we do not know what a body can do: Spinoza will engender all the passions, in their details, on the basis of these two fundamental affects: joy as an increase in the power of acting, sadness as a diminution or destruction of the power of acting. This comes [...]

Robert Rosen and Friedrich Schelling on Mechanism and Organism

I've been reading some of the theoretical biologist Robert Rosen's essays on the relationship between biology and physics and can't help but compare him to Friedrich Schelling. Rosen writes: [Contemporary physics embodies] a mechanistic approach to biological phenomena, whose only alternative seems to be a discredited, mystical, unscientific vitalism. [It] supposes biology to be a [...]

“Deleuze, Guattari, and the ‘Politics of Sorcery'” by Joshua Delpech-Ramey

Find the article in SubStance HERE. "Deleuze and Guattari’s mode of immanent critique is linked to the possibility of founding identities and collectivities which, because inherently relational and constantly in a state of becoming, can not be the subject of straightforward representation, whether in ontological or political discourse. I will argue that sorcery is an important reference [...]

Imagining Nature with Schelling and Whitehead

Schelling and Whitehead were speculative philosophers. This appellative, like that of metaphysician or theologian, may carry with it certain baggage that those of a skeptical or positivist bent are wont to do without. But aside from those epochal moments when thinkers are suddenly inspired by speculative imagination, or by the break through of concept creation, [...]

Phenomenology and Process Ontology: Evan Thompson, Merleau-Ponty, Whitehead, and the Growing Together of the Flesh of the World

I had a friendly exchange yesterday with the cognitive scientist and philosopher Evan Thompson about his debate earlier this year with another cognitive scientist Owen Flanagan. The two distinguished thinkers disagreed about whether physicalism as currently understood can provide an adequate account of consciousness. I wanted to revisit several of the themes Evan and I [...]

Is Physicalism Enough? Can Consciousness be Naturalized? – Owen Flanagan in dialogue with Evan Thompson

Check out the video from their exchange at Northwestern earlier this year. Below are some of my notes and reflections after watching... Owen Flanagan argues that physicalism is the only feasible view. Naturalism is the inference to the best explanation. Conscious states are brain states. At some point in evolutionary history, somehow dead matter came to [...]

Jeremy Johnson on the 2013 Integral Theory Conference and the Ecology of Ideas

"Everything that Rises…" Or Synthetic Thought, Florilegium and the Networked Age: ITC 2013. My friend Jeremy is the official blogger for ITC 2013 here in San Francisco. I'm completely with him in his call for a move away from integral theory as an assimilation of other ideas to a more decentralized and rhizomatic network-logic where [...]

John Caputo on Speculative Realism

Thanks to Adam/Knowledge-Ecology for pointing me to this one. I really dig what he says about physics and science... These posts are relevant to some of what Caputo has to say about correlationism, the philosophy of religion, and physical reality:

On the need for mediating concepts…

I posted this on FaceBook in a thread about humanities departments needing to get over Aristotle's biology and was told to stop spamming, so I suppose I'd better just post it here instead. ................. If contemporary biology is going to throw out "purpose" and "essence" as concepts, it needs to throw out correlate concepts like [...]

Tribute to Wittgenstein

There was a period of about 3 months back in college when Wittgenstein was all I could read (this essay emerged out of that period). His genius had infected me. I was sure his solutions had dissolved all my philosophical problems (indeed, I thought he'd cured me of philosophy). Of course, back in college, I [...]