Category Archives: speculative realism

humanism as backlash

I just read Scu’s blog post which provides his riff on Harman’s thoughts on the Adrian Johnston interview carried out by Brian Smith and myself. While I completely get where he is coming from, I think it may be a bit much to call the position outlined by Johnston an ‘anthropocentric backlash’ for at least two reasons. First, it’s hardly a new position to privilege the human to some extent, and there is a certain French reliance on Descartes and Rousseau that seems to have never really left (the best contemporary example would be Badiou). Second, it seems like the position of someone like Johnston is far to subtle to be taking for a sort of reactionary humanism, as for him, following someone like Zizek, the point is that through a sort of evolutionary glitch (or fuck-up) humans have been left with a certain capacity for freedom and reflection which is unique to our species. Thus rather than being a ‘traditional’ humanism, it’s a sort of humanism grounded in a thoroughly materialist account of how life and subsequently thought are events which take place after the primacy of matter. After reading some of the excerpts of Meillassoux’s Divine Inexistence in the Harman book, I think his own position (in which humans are ‘the ultimate’) is probably a better target for anyone out to fight the ‘new humanism’.

Cosmos and History

The ‘Real Objects or Material Subjects’ issue of Cosmos and History edited by Dr. Brian Smith and myself is now online here.

We put some work into this and I hope some of you enjoy it, or are at least productively provoked by it.

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

speculations arrives

[i know this announcement has been making the rounds, but one more won’t hurt. of particular interest is austin smidt’s book review, not that i get a nod in it or anything…..but well done Paul and the gang….]

The first volume of Speculations is now online. Speculations is a journal dedicated to research into speculative realism and post-continental philosophy. Our aim is to facilitate discussion about ongoing developments within these emerging movements and related disciplines. The journal is open access and peer-reviewed.

Information about how to access the various formats can be found at our website. The journal is available in a physical print on demand format. As a free PDF. And individual PDFs of the articles can be downloaded at our site.

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!

the REAL future of philosophy: OPP

Recently debates have been raging across the internet. From whence will the new trend come that will save continental philosophy from endless texual analysis? Some have said speculative realism, others are on the OOP bandwagon, but in a comment thread earlier today APS finally shed light on where the real future of philosophy is located:


welcome to the future…bitches.

[also, hip-hop is a way more philosophical than video games. get off the couch and into the streets.]

Review of Prince of Networks in TPM

So I’ve taken most of the summer off from blogging, which I think was a good thing. But with the start of a new term I hope to start posting again on a semi-regular basis.

For now, go read my colleague Brian Smith’s review of Graham Harman’s Prince of Networks over at The Philosophers Magazine.

see you all soon.

Conference Announcement

Well, seeing as his new book is being published as we speak, I figured it was as good a time as any to make a ‘Harman related’ announcement I’ve been holding back for a while.

Although we’re still a ways off, I’d like to give everyone a heads up on a conference we’ll be holding at the University of Dundee next March called:

‘Real Objects, or, Material Subjects? A Conference on Continental Metaphysics’

Which will feature keynote presentations from Graham Harman and Adrian Johnston. I am still working on arranging one more (very good) keynote speaker, but it’s still too uncertain to announce anything. The conference will take place over two days and we’ll soon be putting out a call for papers. It’d be great to have some of those involved in recent ‘interweb’ debates on these matters show up in person and contribute to what will hopefully be a lively and important weekend of philosophical debate. Also, there are early talks on having selected papers from the conference published in a wonderful journal (which will for the time being go un-named).

So, mark your calenders for 27-28 March 2010. It will be great to see Harman and Johnston go ‘head to head’ on these issues, especially as Graham has already come up with the title “I Am Also of the Opinion That Materialism Must Be Destroyed” for his presentation. Should be fun.

just a thought…

Does anyone else notice how (some of) the online scientific-realism contingent is basically becoming the reformed Calvinism of continental philosophy? This may reveal a bit of ‘naivete’, but are we really back at the place where continental philosophers need to take too seriously questions of determinism and eliminitivism? If the determinist are right, then almost all of the work in recent continental philosophy falls out the window, so one should either find one of the sub-groups within contemporary anglo philosophy who rejects free will. And as for eliminitivism, as I understand it, weren’t the Churchlands basically disregarded by the anglo philosophy world years (and years) ago? I confess I wasn’t studying philosophy a decade ago, and am only familiar with bits and piece of the literature, but speaking with people who were around then, and do know the literature, they seem astonished when they find out young Continental philosophers are taking this stuff seriously again.

I’m just not sure what motivates someone to ‘do’ philosophy if theories such as determinism and eliminativism are right? If there is no such thing as a freely existing subject…then shit…count me out.

(sorry for the micro rant)