The Place of Life in the Cosmos (draft of 11th International Whitehead Conference paper)

Below is the draft of a paper I'll present at next week's International Whitehead Conference in the Azores. Feedback appreciated! 2017 International Whitehead Conference   Matthew T. Segall   The Place of Life in the Cosmos: Feeling the Origin of Organism   “A philosophic outlook is the very foundation of thought and of life. The …

“What if we talked politics a little?” By Bruno Latour

"If we are to accomplish the impossible feat of (re)composing a group from a multiplicity or, equally impossible, making a plurality obey a common order, it is necessary above all not to start with beings with fixed opinions, firmly established interests, definitive identities and set wills. This would guarantee failure, for any work of composition …

Slavery and Capitalism in America

I'm about halfway through The Half has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (2014) by Edward Baptist. Baptist's book embeds an economic history of post-revolutionary America in the personal stories of slaves. He brings into question the still dominant version of American history, "the half that has ever been told," which argues that slavery …

response to R. Scott Bakker on transcendental phenomenology and BBT

Anyone who posits some form of efficacy or constraint outside the natural order on the basis of some kind of interpretation of ‘experience’ has the same argumentative burden to discharge: How do you know? What justifies such an extraordinary (supernatural) posit?...What makes the question so pressing now is that their instrument, reflection, has finally found …

Eric Smith on the geochemical inevitability of life on earth

For more from Smith, see this co-authored essay "The Origin of Life": "As we see it, the early steps on the way to life are an inevitable, incremental result of the operation of the laws of chemistry and physics operating under the conditions that existed on the early Earth, a result that can be understood …

The Ecology of Ideas: Enacting Worlds Worth Living In

"Every scientific man in order to preserve his reputation has to say he dislikes metaphysics. What he means is he dislikes having his metaphysics criticized." -Alfred North Whitehead Over at Knowledge-Ecology, Adam Robbert has thrown a few fantastic posts up unpacking his vision of the ecology of ideas. Concepts are capacities skillfully enacted in ecological contexts. …