“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

Category: speculative realism

  • Naturphilosophie as Process Philosophy in Schelling and Whitehead

    Naturphilosophie as Process Philosophy in Schelling and Whitehead

    Christopher Satoor and I discussed Schelling, his German Idealist context, and Whitehead’s inheritance of Schellingian ideas about mind and nature.


  • Physicalism and Its Discontents: A Study in Whitehead’s Panexperientialist Alternative [draft]

    Physicalism and Its Discontents: A Study in Whitehead’s Panexperientialist Alternative [draft]

    UPDATE: Here is a PDF of the final draft accepted for publication under the revised title “The Varieties of Physicalist Ontology: A Study in Whitehead’s Process-Relational Alternative.” I’ve just finished drafting this article, which will hopefully be featured in a special issue of the Journal of Philosophy, Theology, and the Sciences focused on panpsychism. It still…


  • Participatory Spirituality in an Evolving Cosmos

    Here’s my talk from the INTERSECT: Science & Spirituality conference in Telluride, CO earlier this summer. It’s titled “Participatory Spirituality in an Evolving Cosmos”


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

    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…


  • Process & Difference in the Pluriverse, an online course at CIIS.edu

    A trailer for my course being offered this Spring at CIIS.edu. PARP 6135 Process and Difference in the Pluriverse will explore the ethical, social, political, and ecological implications of process-relational philosophy. You could call it a course in applied or experimental metaphysics. We will read and discuss texts by radical empiricist William James, revolutionary sociologist WEB…


  • “Retrieving Realism: A Whiteheadian Wager” published in IJTS

    “Retrieving Realism: A Whiteheadian Wager” published in IJTS

    Retrieving Realism: A Whiteheadian Wager (PDF) Published in International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, Volume 36, Issue 1 (2017) Abstract: This essay argues that the organic realism of Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) provides a viable alternative to anti-realist tendencies in modern and postmodern philosophy since Descartes. The metaphysical merits of Whitehead’s philosophy of organism are unpacked in…


  • Toward a Communicative Cosmos: Whitehead and Media Ecology (updated draft)

    Toward a Communicative Cosmos: Whitehead and Media Ecology (updated draft)

    Below is a draft of a paper I’ll offer at the MEA Convention in a few weeks. I share it here in the hopes that my readers may provide feedback that helps me improve it. I have something like 15 minutes to present as part of a panel on “Philosophical Perspectives,” so I’ll only be…


  • Philosophy of Mythology and Revelation (h/t Schelling)

    I meant to post this back in August when Levi Bryant finally started blogging again, but it somehow got stuck in my drafts (a veritable grave yard of unfinished thoughts and undead ideas). The philosophical spirit Bryant expresses in his writing is rather unique in its capacity to inspire me to resist. I am very grateful to him for this.…


  • Beyond Materialism and Idealism, a Philosophy of Organism?

    Levi Bryant offered some ideas about materialism earlier this week over at Larval Subjects. I read and commented on his post while screeching through the BART transbay tube on my commute home from work. My comment, asking about “ontological constructivism,” was rushed and ill formed. Now that I’m moving more slowly, and have a keyboard large enough for all ten of…


  • Speculative Realism, Dead or Alive.

    Steven Shaviro’s new book The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism arrived on my doorstep a few days ago courtesy of the University of Minnesota Press. I’m going to provide a bit of context in this post before diving into a review of the text in subsequent posts. The press release U of M included in…


  • Process, Relationality, and Individuality: Graham Harman and Alfred Norht Whitehead (response to Jonathan Cobb)

    Relevant links to the argument between me, Levi Bryant, and Graham Harman: Levi Bryant Mis-reading Whitehead? Harman’s response to me Whitehead’s Process Atomism (Response to Graham Harman) Object as subject-superject, or why Harman is wrong about Whitehead Occasionalism in Whitehead and Harman Harman’s Crucified Objects and Whitehead’s God: More on Withdrawal    


  • Letters on Cosmology and Theodicy

    Below, I’ve copied an email thread with Dan Dettloff, who blogs at Re(-)petitions. I thought some of our other readers might want to chime in. Actually, I’d really like to hear other people’s responses to Dan’s question. I’ve not arrived at a satisfying answer to it, but I do think getting past “the problem of evil” will require a far…


  • Life in the Pluriverse: Towards a Realistic Pluralism

    Levi Bryant recently called for a cross-blog discussion concerning what he perceives to be the problematic relationship between ethnographic pluralism and ontological realism. His call was instigated by Jeremy Trombley’s post on the so-called “ontological turn” in contemporary anthropology and ethnography. Trombley articulated what might be described as an ontology of the concept, wherein concepts…


  • 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/


  • Unnecessary Mechanism: A Reply to R. Scott Bakker

    “The machinery of the brain does all the work–after all, what else is there? What [Cain] calls ‘thinking of science in normative terms’ is a mechanistic enterprise, something our brains do. Since metacognition is all but blind to the mechanistic nature of the brain, it cognizes cognition otherwise, in nonmechanical, acausal, magical terms. Normative judgements, intentional relations, and so…


  • The Varieties of Naturalistic Philosophy

    If a pushy philosopher were to back me into a corner and force me to choose one or the other, naturalism or supernaturalism, I would choose naturalism. But I’d find myself wanting to ask, as Socrates might, what is meant by “nature”? Physics becomes metaphysics as soon as the word–”nature”–is pronounced. The logos of language…


  • Whitehead’s Process Atomism (response to Graham Harman)

    Graham Harman has jumped in offering his own response to my recent comment directed at Levi Bryant regarding his interpretation of Whitehead. The core issue, for Harman, is whether Whitehead’s position is ultimately reducible to some form of relationism, wherein an actual occasion is no more than the sum of its prehensions, or whether Whitehead’s…


  • Margulis and the Psychedelic Eucharist

    Here is Prof. Corey Anton lecturing on the recently deceased Lynn Margulis’ bio-philosophy. Towards the end of her book (co-authored with Dorian Sagan) What Is Life?, Margulis offers an  analysis of the role of psilocybin in the evolution of mammalian consciousness. She brings up the usage of psychedelic fungi in ancient mystery cults just after sharing Socrates’…


  • Schelling on Nature, Humanity, and God (re-reading Iain Hamilton Grant)

    Last year, some colleagues and I at CIIS participated in a panel discussion on Speculative Realism called “Here Comes Everything.” My lecture drew primarily upon Grant’s text Philosophies of Nature After Schelling (2006). This summer, I’ve been doing research for a comprehensive exam on the recent resurgence of Schellingian philosophy (HERE is my reading list). I…


  • [final draft] Poetic Imagination in the Speculative Philosophies of Plato, Schelling, and Whitehead

    Poetic Imagination in the Speculative Philosophies of Plato, Schelling, Whitehead The Garden of Eden and Expulsion from the Garden by Thomas Cole “I am convinced that the supreme act of reason, because it embraces all ideas, is an aesthetic act; and that only in beauty are truth and goodness akin.–The philosopher must possess as much…


  • In Defense of Wonder: A response to Naught Thought on Whitehead’s Philosophy of Dawn

    I cannot, without much hesitation, identify myself as either a “prickly” or a “gooey” philosopher. It depends on who my interlocutors are. If I am in a philosophical conversation with, say, a professional biochemist with a reductionistic orientation, my attempt to wipe away and retrace the horizons of their world will inevitably come off as vague, pretentious,…