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 Cosmology, Ecology, Sustainability, and Consciousness.
Process and Difference in the Pluriverse
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about registration.
“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
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,
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—
and he reminds us of
the greatness of the way
the Earth became what it is.
“Do you imagine Earth is stopped at this?,”
“Do you imagine its increase abandoned?”
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
When will you see yourself
though Gaia’s eyes?
When will you be worthy
of humankind and the
America why are your cities so proud while
homeless men and women
sleep in tents
on the street
in the shadow of half-empty
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
When will poets replace presidents
as our common referees?
Will America ever learn to
chant the Earth’s strophes?
Will we settle for
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
America your history
made me want to renounce
to become a rabbi
wandering in the wilderness of God.
There must be some
other way to heal
Bernie Sanders is still
but the system is
We thought Trump was funny on TV
next to Little Marco
and Low Energy Jeb
and Lyin’ Ted,
but now he’s in DC
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
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
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
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.
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.
- 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
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
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
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.