“Intersect: Science & Spirituality” – a conference in Telluride, CO

INTERSECT: Science & Spirituality

Join us for a 2-Day Conversational Conference (July 27-29th) for the purpose of Exploring Syngergies between the world of Science and the world of Spirituality.

Topics to include CosmologyEcologySustainability, and Consciousness.

Speakers include: Drew Dellinger, John Hausdoerffer, Matthew Segall and Brian Swimme (via video).

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/intersect-science-spirituality-tickets-4239963846

Lectures on Timothy Morton’s “Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People”

Process and Difference in the Pluriverse
(opening lecture)

My Spring course at CIIS.edu finishes up this week with a set of modules on Timothy Morton’s book Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People (2017). Earlier in the semester, we read works by Plato, William James, Catherine Keller, William Connolly, Bruno Latour, Anne Pomeroy, and Donna Haraway. Below, I am sharing a series of lecture fragments about Morton’s book, as well as a panel discussion formed around the course topics.

Searching for Stars: A Conversation with Alan Lightman

Fall 2018 Online Course: “Mind & Nature in German Idealism”

I’ll be offering this course for the second time in Fall 2018 at CIIS.edu (the semester runs from late August through mid-December). Special students and auditors are welcome to enroll! Email me at msegall@ciis.edu for more information about registration.

PARP 6393 01 Course Flyer (1)

America and Me (for Ginsberg and Whitman)


“America and Me (for Ginsberg and Whitman)”

by Matthew T. Segall

 

America, you’ve given me everything

and now you are nothing.

 

America 21 trillion 114 billion dollars in debt

April 3rd 2018.

 

I no longer own my own mind.

 

America when will we end the

Earth War?

 

In 1956, Allen Ginsberg said

“Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb, America.”

 

In 1856, Walt Whitman still

heard America singing.

Squatters, nurses, train conductors,

carpenters, itinerant lecturers, masons, merchants,

shoemakers, farmers

singing.

He heard mothers

singing to children

and friends and families singing

strong patriotic songs.

He heard enslaved Americans,

souls singing and bodies dancing

on their one night in seven

of fire-lit freedom.

 

Whitman reminds us of the great

“plunges and throes and triumphs and falls of democracy,”

and he reminds us of that Great Family of nations

—the Nation of nations—

the Earth,

and he reminds us of

the greatness of the way

the Earth became what it is.

 

“Do you imagine Earth is stopped at this?,”

Whitman asks.

“Do you imagine its increase abandoned?”

 

Earth absorbs

every atom bomb,

every server farm,

every pipeline and every protest,

every birth and every death of

every being beneath the Sun,

and it weeps glacial tears

for the tragedy of our history.

 

And we Americans,

though less youthful and buoyant now,

still feel special,

believe ourselves exceptional,

defenders of freedom.

 

But what of the Earth Guardians,

what of the Water Protectors,

what of the buffalo and the bumblebee,

the salmon and the sequoia,

are they not Americans, too?

 

I am angry at you, America,

and you’ve gone so mad

only poetry can save you now.

 

America when will you awaken

from your dream?

 

You already stand stark naked before

the weary-eyed world,

all your top secrets leaked,

all your rigging and spying and droning

out in the open.

 

When will you look at yourself

through geostory,

When will you see yourself

though Gaia’s eyes?

 

When will you be worthy

of humankind and the

Earth Community?

 

America why are your cities so proud while

homeless men and women

sleep in tents

on the street

in the shadow of half-empty

high rises?

 

America why are your libraries empty?

America why are your elementary schools like prisons

and your universities like shopping malls?

America will you send your eggs to Palestine?

 

Why did Ginsberg dream of meeting Whitman

in a grocery store

and not a mushroom speckled meadow?

 

America why are all your forests on fire?

Why are your dollar bills green?

 

America where are your poets?

When will poets become

the acknowledged lawmakers of

our nation?

When will poets replace presidents

as our common referees?

Will America ever learn to

chant the Earth’s strophes?

Will we settle for

catastrophe?

 

America after all it is you and I

who must heal this world

and not the green God we pray to

on our trusty money.

 

America your machinery

is too much for my humanity.

 

I read Chomsky and Zinn

in college.

America your history

made me want to renounce

my citizenry

to become a rabbi

wandering in the wilderness of God.

 

There must be some

other way to heal

this wound.

 

Bernie Sanders is still

a Senator,

but the system is

so sinister.

 

We thought Trump was funny on TV

next to Little Marco

and Low Energy Jeb

and Lyin’ Ted,

but now he’s in DC

plotting wars

like business deals.

 

I’m trying to get to the point.

America stop pushing me,

I know what I’m doing.

 

America the plum blossoms are falling.

 

I haven’t read the news

in minutes,

every second

somebody caught lying,

stealing, cheating, shooting,

going on trial

for rape and murder.

 

America I’m addressing you.

 

Don’t let your emotional life

be run by CNN and Fox.

I’m obsessed with the news.

I read it every day.

The scrolling horrors staring back at me

as I flick at my phone screen

on the crowded Millbrae train.

I glance at all the phone screens around me

their numbing glow

obscuring the obscenity

of what they display.

 

America it’s not news

we’re all going to die one day.

 

America why is medicine so expensive?

Why is healthcare not a right?

 

America I feel sentimental

about democratic socialism.

 

America I used to be an anarchist when I was a kid

I’m not sorry.

I sat at my desk for nights on end

staring at the books on the shelf.

 

You should’ve seen me

reading Marx.

 

I smoke cannabis every chance I get.

 

My astrologer thinks I’m perfectly right.

 

I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.

 

America I still haven’t told you

what you did to my grandpa

after he came back

from fighting in

Germany and Japan.

 

America we’ve got a mission

but we’re missing the boat.

 

America I don’t pledge allegiance

to your flag.

 

America your star-spangled

and blood-spattered banner

deserves to unravel.

 

If we be patriots of some nation,

may it be the Earth Nation,

one nation under Sun, Moon, and Stars,

One People made of many,

all species called to congress.

 

America you’ve given me everything

and now I am nothing.

 

America give the Earth its freedom back.

Compost the Constitution.

Let democracy become creaturely.

America this is quite serious.

America this is the impression I get

after looking up from my screen.

America is this correct?

 

America the oceans

that once sheltered you

from waves of war

are rising.

 

As your empire evaporates,

take no hope in isolation.

Become an open home

of equal daughters, equal sons,

All, all alike endear’d,

grown, ungrown, young or old,

Become strong, ample, fair,

enduring, capable, rich,

Perennial with the Earth,

with Freedom, Law, and Love,

Become a grand, sane,

towering, seated Mother,

Chair’d in the adamant of Time.

Pre-Defense Dissertation Draft Completed

My dissertation defense is on Monday morning. I’ve just finished the “pre-defense” draft. I have until April 11th to finalize the published version. Below are the abstract, table of contents, and acknowledgements. 

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  • Jacob Sherman, PhD, Chair
    Associate Professor, Philosophy and Religion Department, California Institute of Integral Studies

 

  • Sean Kelly, PhD
    Professor, Philosophy and Religion Department, California Institute of Integral Studies

 

 

  • Frederick Amrine, PhD
    Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, German Department, University of Michigan

 

COSMOTHEANTHROPIC IMAGINATION IN THE POST-KANTIAN PROCESS PHILOSOPHY OF SCHELLING AND WHITEHEAD

Abstract

In this dissertation, I lure the process philosophies of F.W.J Schelling and A.N. Whitehead into orbit together around the transcendental philosophy of Immanuel Kant. I argue that Schelling and Whitehead’s descendental aesthetic ontology provides a way across the epistemological chasm that Kant’s critiques opened up between experience and reality. While Kant’s problematic scission between phenomena and the thing-in-itself remains an essential phase in the maturation of the human mind, it need not be the full realization of mind’s potential in relation to Nature. I contrast Schelling and Whitehead’s descendental philosophy with Kant’s transcendentalism by showing how their inverted method bridges the chasm—not by resolving the structure of reality into clear and distinct concepts—but by replanting cognition in the aesthetic processes from which it arises. Hidden at the generative root of our seemingly separate human capacities for corporeal sensation and intellectual reflection is the same universally distributed creative power underlying star formation and blooming flowers. Human consciousness is not an anomaly but is a product of the Earth and wider universe, as natural as leaves on a tree. Through a creative interweaving of their process-relational orientations, I show how the power of imagination so evident in Schelling and Whitehead’s thought can provide philosophy with genuine experiential insight into cosmos, theos, and anthropos in the aftermath of the Kantian revolution. The two—anthropos and cosmos—are perceived as one by a common sense described in this dissertation as etheric imagination. This etheric sense puts us in touch with the divine life of Nature, which the ancients personified as the ψυχὴ του κόσμου or anima mundi.

Table of Contents

Abstract iv
Acknowledgements vii
Prologue — Imagining Cosmos, Theos, and Anthropos in Post-Kantian Process Philosophy 2
Chapter 1 — Kant as Guardian of the Threshold of Imagination 9
1.1 Whitehead, Schelling, and the Aftermath of Kant 16
1.2 The Kantian Mode of Thought 24
1.2.1 Thinking 27
1.2.2 Desiring 38
1.2.3 Feeling 42
Chapter 2 — Descendental Philosophy and Aesthetic Ontology: Reimagining the Kantian Mode of Thought 55
2.1 Aesthetic Ontology and Nietzsche’s Confrontation with Nihilism 70
2.2 Aesthetic Ontology in Sallis’ Elemental Phenomenology 95
2.3 Aesthetic Ontology in Deleuze’s Transcendental Empiricism 99
Chiasmus — Schelling and Whitehead’s Descendental Aesthetic: Crossing the Kantian Threshold 111
Chapter 3 — The Inversion of Kant: From a Mechanistic to an Organic Cosmology 132
3.1 The Refutation of Kant’s “Refutation of Idealism”: From Subject-Substance Correlation to Process-Relational Creativity 150
3.2 From Geometric Conditions of Possibility to Genetic Conditions of Actuality 167
Chapter 4 — Etheric Imagination in Naturphilosophie: Toward a Physics of the World-Soul 177
4.1 Traces of the Ether in Kant’s Opus Postumum 181
4.2 Etheric Imagination in Schelling and Whitehead 192
4.3 Nature Philosophy as “Spiritual Sensation” 201
4.4 Etheric Imagination and Vegetal Metaphysics 209
Epilogue — Incarnational Process Philosophy in the Worldly Religion of Schelling, Whitehead, and Deleuze 230
References 254

Acknowledgements

Without the intellectual encouragement and personal friendships of Jake Sherman, Sean Kelly, Fred Amrine, Brian Swimme, Robert McDermott, Eric Weiss, Elizabeth Allison, and Rick Tarnas, this dissertation could not have been written. Thanks to each of them, and also to the entire community of students in the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness Program for sharing their philosophical passion and for the conversations that helped spark many of the ideas expressed in what follows. Thank you, finally, to my fiancée Becca for her inspiring imagination, for her encouragement, and for her patience as I labored over drafts of this text for so many consecutive weeks.