The Pluralism Wars Return: Towards a Diplomatic Ontology of Organism

I was wondering how long the cease fire would last… The pluralism wars flared up again this afternoon over on FaceBook (this link may not work for everyone). Misunderstandings abound, or so it seems to me. My position–which is greatly indebted to thinkers like James and Whitehead, and more recently, Bruno Latour–is that of ontological pluralism. What is finally real…

“Nature is a priori” -Schelling

Thanks to milliern for his commentary on and reflections about an exchange Professor Corey Anton, myself, and others have been having on YouTube. I’m reposting my comment to him below: I wanted to offer a few clarifications of my own position. I don’t normally think of myself as a “Heideggerian,” though I suppose most people…

The Varieties of Materialism: Matter as the Play of Form

Following up on my contribution to the Latour/AIME reading group, I wanted to say a bit more about the confused concept called “matter.” There are many varieties of materialism, but for the sake of time, let’s follow Robert Jackson by dividing them up into two basic categories: 1) that variety of materialism which understands matter…

Ecologies of Space-Time in Organic Ontologies

Adam over at Knowledge-Ecology threw a great post up concerning ethology, ecology, and time. Here is a sneak peek: “The organism is not an entity acting from within space and time; rather, the organism is an active generator of space-time, enfolding both into a complex ecology that flows from organisms and their behavior. The ecosystem,…

Phenomenology and Process Ontology: Evan Thompson, Merleau-Ponty, Whitehead, and the Growing Together of the Flesh of the World

I had a friendly exchange yesterday with the cognitive scientist and philosopher Evan Thompson about his debate earlier this year with another cognitive scientist Owen Flanagan. The two distinguished thinkers disagreed about whether physicalism as currently understood can provide an adequate account of consciousness. I wanted to revisit several of the themes Evan and I…

Panpsychism and Its Emergent Discontents

Several of us got into a discussion on my FaceBook page regarding panpsychism and emergentism. On some accounts, if a philosopher rejects dualism and so desires to ontologically integrate what common folks normally call mental with what natural scientists understand to be material, her only option is to develop either a panpsychist or an emergentist…

Reflections on the Astrality of Materiality

Levi Bryant/Larval Subjects has a few new post up (HERE and HERE) about the contingently constructed concept of “nature” and about his own flavor of monistic materialism. Bryant and I have argued in the past about his materialism and its lack of formal and final causality. I’ve been claiming that ideas and purposes are real,…

The Eternal Form of Philosophy (a response to Archive Fire)

Michael/Archive Fire has just written a gracious and astute response to my recent comment about Whitehead’s reformed Platonism. He has made me aware of the fact that my referring to Whitehead or to Plato in the hopes that they offer some sort of authoritative disambiguation is insufficient to support the arguments I am trying to…

Coleridge and Barfield on Life, Imagination, and Reality

Continuing with Barfield’s (I think masterful) attempt (What Coleridge Thought, 1971) to give the definitive philosophical statement of a thinker who never seems to have gotten around to doing the same for himself, here are a few more reflections… Barfield judges Coleridge a genius. Perhaps so, but the latter said of his own existant philosophical…

Theism/Atheism: Imagination and Ontological Openness

There is no need to oppose one possibility with the other. Speculative philosophy’s task is to overcome the dualistic limitations of sense-understanding (subject v. object, quality v. substance) by way of a schematic renewal of (or participatory intervention into) our habitual way of imaging the world. Speculative philosophy must hold the binary (God/no-God) together to…

Towards an Eco-Ontology

Adam over at Knowledge Ecology has posted about the need for a pluralistic ontology in thinking the differences between nature and culture. I’ve copied my response to him below: ——————————————— Another stimulating post, Adam. I love the thinkers you are bringing into conversation. I have not yet read Carolan’s essay, but I have a few…

Bruno Latour approaching an Object-Oriented Ontology

The following is another exchange with friend and colleague Adam Robbert in response to an essay by Bruno Latour. First, a short excerpt from the article “On Interobjectivity“: Social worlds remain flat at all points, without there being any folding that might permit a passage from the “micro” to the “macro.” For example the traffic control room…