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:

https://footnotes2plato.com/2011/03/02/owen-barfield-and-quentin-meillassoux/

https://footnotes2plato.com/2011/10/04/speculative-philosophy-and-incarnationalism-in-whitehead-and-meillassoux/

https://footnotes2plato.com/2012/01/18/tilting-at-windmill-materialism-towards-an-ontology-of-organism-ooo/

https://footnotes2plato.com/2011/05/05/towards-a-christological-realism-thinking-the-correlation-with-teilhard-and-barfield/

4 Replies to “John Caputo on Speculative Realism”

    1. Basically he chastises continental philosophy/phenomenology for its almost blanket dismissal of natural science. Following in Kant’s wake, many phenomenologists felt the need to, as Kant put it, “limit knowledge to make room for faith.” “Faith” need not refer to religious faith, but could also just refer to belief in human freedom. One of the major motivations of Kant’s work was to limit the scope of theoretical science so that it could never infringe upon the presuppositions of human morality. Phenomenology ever since has tended to take a subjectivist stance where the existence of the universe is made to revolve around human consciousness, such that without human thought there to think it, being would have no reality. So for example, Heidegger infamously argued that “science does not think” because its calculative methods ‘enframe’ and so obscure the truth of Being, which is revealed only to the philosopher. Caputo agrees with the more recent critique of continental phenomenology by speculative realism, which raised problems for the subjectivist view of reality like ancestrality and extinction (i.e., there was a time in the past before human consciousness was here to think about reality, just as there will be a time when humans go extinct–it is not as though reality ceases to exist when humans are eliminated from the picture). Caputo goes on to talk about how scientists (especially its popularizers) are more and more beginning to blur the boundaries between theology and physics. Questions that only theologians used to touch are not routinely being cracked at by physicists.
      So I dig what he is saying, even though (and he is clear about this, too) phenomenology remains a really rich, deep tradition that had an important role to play in the 20th century pushing back against more reductionistic understandings of natural science. I don’t think it is the right approach anymore, however. It just can’t help us understand our current situation, where extinction is a real possibility for our species. We need a more realist philosophy that takes non-human physical reality seriously.

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