Category Archives: hallward

Real Objects/Material Subjects Journal Issue (finally.)

So I’ve let this blog wither away into nothingness….but would like to try to insert a spark of being into it again by posting the table of contents for an upcoming issue of Cosmos and History edited by Brian Smith and myself. It features papers that are based on presentations given at the ‘Real Objects or Material Subjects?’ conference which took place at the University of Dundee in March, 2010. As C&H is open access, the issue will be available for everyone. I’ll post again once it’s online. Until then, here is what you can expect:

Real Objects or Material Subjects?

The Future of Continental Metaphysics

Table of Contents

Editors Introduction

Michael O’Neill Burns & Brian Anthony Smith

The Problem with Metzinger

Graham Harman

The Transcendental Core of Correlationism

Paul Ennis

Critical Idealism and Transcendental Materialism: A Speculative Analysis of the Second Paralogism

Michael Olson

Objects in manifold times: Deleuze and the speculative philosophy of objects as processes

James Williams

Becoming L’Homme Imaginaire: The Role of the Imagination in Overcoming Circularity in Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason

Austin Smidt

Beyond Objects, Beyond Subjects: Giorgio Agamben on Animality, Particularity and the End of Onto-theology

Colby Dickinson

Fanon and Political Will

Peter Hallward

The Necessity of Contingency or Contingent Necessity: Meillassoux, Hegel, and the Subject

John Van Houdt

Aufhebung and Negativity

Ryan Krahn

Lacanian Materialism and the Question of the Real

Tom Eyers

Materialism, Subjectivity and the Outcome of French Philosophy

Interview with Adrian Johnston

Real Objects/Material Subjects: Audio

I know these are long overdue (apologies to all) but posted below is the audio from the keynote presentations from ‘Real Objects or Material Subjects’, a philosophy conference hosted by the postgraduate students at the University of Dundee.

James Williams: Contemplating Pebbles


Graham Harman: I Am Also of the Opinion that Materialism Must be Destroyed


Adrian Johnston: Naturalism or anti-naturalism?  No, thanks–both are worse!’:  Science, Materialism, and Slavoj Zizek


Peter Hallward: Self-Emancipation between Hegel and Marx



Real Objects or Material Subjects: Additions…

So many have seen the announcement for the ‘Real Objects or Material Subjects‘ conference being held in March, 2010 in Dundee. Wanted to let everyone know about some additions we’ve made.

First, Peter Hallward will be joining us as well, giving a presentation on the socio-political stakes of the debate. This will be an amazing addition, as Peter’s work stakes an interesting position in context of the contemporary debates, and it will be interesting to hear more about his recent work on will and self-determination. (presuming he talks about this some)

Also, James Williams (Dundee) will also be giving a presentation. No more details on this yet, but James is a leading scholar on Deleuze and contemporary French philosophy, and will be another amazing addition to the line-up.

This conference is sure to be a great event, so plan your trip up to Dundee this march and join us!

Will of the people: notes

So, to hopefully push forward the discussion which started during the last post, I’m going to post some rough notes/thoughts on Hallward’s ‘The will of the people’.

I’ll begin with Hallward’s definition of ‘will of the people’, which for him is “[…] a deliberate, emancipatory and inclusive process of collective self-determination.”

For me the crucial question is in regards to the use of the term ‘self’ in this description, and more importantly, the question of anthropology, which resides under this discussion. At this point, Hallward has not developed any sort of an anthropology of this wiling self, or, free human. Although it may be coming in a more full scale work, I think any project of this sort needs to start with some simple questions on the nature of the human as such, and the subsequent capacity for this human to act as both an individual and as a unit of a collective project. A failure to theorize the human in this way is what seems to lead to the accusations of this project being either ‘vitalist’ or ‘folk-psychological’ (criticisms he anticipates in this piece).

Another interesting point in the piece is when Hallward claims:

“It’s no accident that, like Agamben and Zizek, when Badiou looks to the Christian tradition for a point of anticipation he turns not to Matthew (with his prescriptions of how to act in the world: spurn the rich, affirm the poor, ‘sell all thou hast’…) but to Paul (with his contempt for the weakness of human will and his valorization of the abrupt and infinite transcendence of grace).”

Two thoughts here. First, this brings up the generally interesting question about why recent political philosophers using Christianity for material have focused so much on Paul, for whom man is ultimately nothing without divine grace (theologians, correct me if I’m reading him wrong), and thus, using Paul seems to hold on to some sense of divine transcendence (whether this be the divine/god/void/nothingness). Hallward’s point here seems to once again focus on what could be called (in light of Badiou) pre-evental man. Whereas Badiou’s pauline subject comes into existence with the event, it seems as if Hallward is attempting to theorize the human as that which can will to act on its own accord, and subsequently use this individual will to reinforce and support collective will. Rather than drawing on some ‘outside’, Hallward here seems to want to emphasize the inherent potential (potentia) of humanity to act politically. Once again, this issue seems to reside on the question of anthropology, and a theorization of this pre-evental human. The risk here, from my perspective, would be theorizing the individual human in such a way as to not lapse back into a tired brand of liberal individualism, and instead theorize the individual as that which is dialectically related to the group at all times. The tension seems to be, how to keep the willing individual, without losing the group subject.

A bit further on in the piece, he quotes S’bu Zikode, who is the chairperson of the Durban shack dwellers movement Abahali baseMjondolo as calling for a ‘living communism’ which asserts the ‘humanity of every human being.’ Hallward seems to openly affirm this call, which brings up the question of the place of both life (living communism) and humanity once again. I know I must be sounding redundant at this point, but I must again ask, what do these terms (life/humanity) mean in this context, and how does a theory of the living human ground this theory of dialectical voluntarism as a whole?

I’ll stop my notes here (about half way through the article) to keep it short, and will hopefully post more later. But as can be seen, my main issue at this point is one of anthropology. What does it mean to be human for Hallward? And equally, what does it mean to be a living human? My concern revolves around who this human is that is able to freely will and organize in collectives. It may seem nit-picky, but for me these issues are crucial when one wants to theorize from the individual to the group in a way which thoroughly accounts for each.

Would love to hear some other thoughts on this.