Friday, September 30, 2011

Pragmatic Theory of Imagination in the Transactions

Finally, I have received word that my article on a new pragmatic theory of imagination has been accepted!  I will shortly lift the veil on my recent work, as I do not blog (much) about my publishable work.

As a teaser, I am describing a theory of imagination from a Peirce-Deweyan basis that hits all the big neoclassical pragmatist points: process metaphysics, is naturalistic (emergentism), plays nice with science, is fully temporal, ..., and is part of my project of pragmatic phenomenology.  It's very, very different from conventional or classical conceptions and also critiques and complements Mark Johnson's work.

Moore on James & Jason on Moore

I have been responding to Crispin Sartwell's post on G.E. Moore on James' pragmatism here.  Basically, Moore appears to misunderstand James in the predictable fashion, e.g., running with a metaphysical notion of truth rather than a practical notion.  Of course James is not saying that believing something makes it true, but when believing makes a difference in the world, there is a sense in which we "make truth."  Moreover, since every case of claiming metaphysical truth is also a "making truth," there is a strong sense in which practical truth is more important in our everyday lives.  But this also means that many natural factors come into play, including the human one of culture, politics, etc.

Sartwell said that Stuhr, McDermott, and Rorty couldn't explain pragmatism to him, and I don't think I could do any better if they failed.  That said, I insist that the position is being misunderstood, especially since corrupted forms of the view have been prevalent for a long time.  Case in point, thinking that "believing makes something true" in the simple sense is a misreading that is still a prevalent one.  I'm astonished that it is even seriously entertained ....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Summer Workshop on Pragmatism at Emory U.



The Emory University Institute for the History of Philosophy will host its
fifth annual summer workshop on June 4–14, 2012 on the topic of “Peirce,
James, and the Origins of Pragmatism.”

Summer Workshops are designed to bring together a group of faculty scholars
specializing in specific areas of the history of philosophy for seminar
style workshop sessions focused on a shared reading list. Ten participants
and the co-directors meet in mornings and afternoons over the course of two
four-day weeks for directed discussions and participant led close readings.
The workshop format eschews the delivery of conference-style papers in favor
of a more open and group-based engagement with the texts at hand. In so
doing, the seeks to foster conversations that will inform future scholarly
work within the greater philosophical community. IHP’s past workshops have
focused on Vico and the Humanist Tradition, the Origins of Modernity,
Nietzsche and Heidegger on the issue of history, and religion and philosophy
in Neoplatonism.  This year’s readings will draw on seminal writings by
Charles S. Peirce and William James. The focus will be on Peirce’s
pragmaticism, semiotics, and logic, and on James’s pragmatism, psychology,
and ethics. The goal will be to situate pragmatism within the history of
philosophy, to understand the similarities and differences between Peirce
and James, to grasp connections between issues in epistemology and ethics,
and to assess the contemporary importance of pragmatic philosophy as it
draws on Peirce, James, or both. The workshop will use critical edition
texts by both Peirce and James.

The Institute is pleased to provide room, board, and travel expenses for all
participants accepted into the workshop. Guests will be housed near Emory’s
campus center, within easy walking distance to the central meeting location
in the Philosophy department.  A number of optional dinner excursions into
various neighborhoods of Atlanta are also planned.

To apply, scholars should send a cover letter addressing the relevance of
Peirce, James, and pragmatism
for their current and/or future scholarly work, and a CV to Professor Stuhr
at the address below by electronic or physical mail. The application
deadline is 13 January 2012 with decisions announced 1 February 2012. The
co-directors for 2012 are:

John J. Stuhr
Department of Philosophy, Emory University
214 Bowden Hall, 561 South Kilgo Circle
Atlanta, GA 30322 USA /

Vincent M. Colapietro
Department of Philosophy, Penn State University
240 Sparks Building
State College, PA 16802 /

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

CFP For Volume on Aesthetics and Embodied Mind

 *Call for Papers for the Edited Volume Aesthetics and the Embodied Mind*

*Deadline for abstract submission:* 15 March 2012

*Notification of acceptance:* 16 May 2012

*Deadline for invited essays:* 14 January 2013

In his work *The Meaning of the Body* philosopher Mark Johnson argues that
aesthetics is not just art theory. Rather, it should be considered to be the
study of everything that goes into the human capacity to make and experience
the bodily pre-linguistic cognitive, emotional and sensory-perceptual
conditions of meaning constitution having its origins in the organic
activities of living creatures and in their organism-environment
transactions. In this way he rejects both the Kantian view of aesthetics
according to which aesthetics is nonconceptual and incapable of giving rise
to knowledge and the mind/body dichotomy that underlies it. Johnson
introduces the embodied mind thesis into aesthetics. The embodied mind
thesis denies a separation of mind and body, sees meaning, reason and
imagination as embodied and ties reason to emotion. In other words,
experience and cognition are bodily mediated and depend on the sensorimotor
capacities of individuals embedded in a biological, psychological and
cultural context that interact with the environment in a relation of

With the purpose of evaluating, exploring and putting into focus the impact
of the embodied mind thesis on aesthetics as well as its breadth and
relevance for the field we are creating an edited volume with the
title *Aesthetics
and the Embodied Mind. *

We seek contributions which are firmly based on the embodied mind thesis and
use it as a framework for investigating the role of aesthetics in the study
of how humans make and experience meaning. Papers from literary aesthetics,
pragmatist aesthetics, evolutionary aesthetics, neuroaesthetics, empirical
aesthetics, computational aesthetics, psychology of aesthetics are welcome.
Both theoretical and empirical contributions will be taken into

The language of the proposed publication is English. Prospective
contributors are invited to send their initial proposals (500 words
abstract) by *March 15, 2012 *to the following email address: The invited essays (7500 words) are to be
submitted by *January 14, 2013*.


Dr. phil. Alfonsina Scarinzi

Lehrstuhl Prof. Dr. Gerhard Lauer

Faculty of Philosophy

Department of German Studies

Georg-August Universität Göttingen (Germany)

*Deadline for abstract submission:* 15 March 2012

*Notification of acceptance:* 16 May 2012

*Deadline for invited essays:* 14 January 2013

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Can Pragmatism Split the Difference between Reductive Epiphenomenalism and Panpsychism?

Matt at Footnotes2plato proposes here, inspired by Shaviro's talk at OOOIII, that we might integrate mental "eliminativism" (reductive epiphenomenalism) with panpsychism.  Here, I respond and give a third view that might accomplish parts of both.

On a pragmatic view, "mind" is something radically different from what it is traditionally taken to be.  Perhaps from that viewpoint there can be a reconciliation of eliminatism and panpsychism.  The primary function of mind on the pragmatic view is to project a temporal horizon of anticipated activity such that we may experience the possible future as present and thereby alter present activities.  What is already underway--even in the present--has already occurred by the time mind is aware of it such that mind is not the origin of agency in the traditional sense.  Hence, the eliminativists are right in that aspect.  However, mind opens the possibility of agency in the sense that it dialate the temporal horizon of possibilities (and potentialities); more possible actions are presented to us.

My work for the last year has been on this subject, as these are the grittier details of a pragmatic phenomenology.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tim Morton Talk at SIU

(Southern Illinois is my alma mater.)
Wayne Leys Memorial Lecture

Southern Illinois University by invitation of the Philosophy Department on November 4 or 5 (date tbc):

“Ecological Ethics after the End of the World”

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Anti-Monadology

I am responding to Levi Bryant's Latest on "Wilderness Ontology."

My Americanist (Peirce-Deweyan) take, rather than the self-reflexive analysis of the referent of analytic or continental, is to ask about how the thing is continuous with and constitutive of mind.  Mind is the late stage of a natural process that eventually becomes human, but was the rock, the earth, and the air before that.

Hence, the observed "sees" the human observer first, and we mistakenly reverse that order. But the observed can do that not because it is a "self-enclosed monad," but precisely for the opposite reason.  It is itself by virtue of what it is not.  If one can think this thought without reducing relationality to symmetry and efficient causality--I am not claiming that Levi does this--then they may begin to understand emergence or creativity as basic to nature.  Such creativity is not a monadic concept.

Is the rock anti-realist with respect to me?  No, its relations to me are as real as any other.  In fact, its relations with me are just as real as mine with it, and together we create my consciousness of it.  Moreover, the rock values me as I value it; it has its tendencies as much as I have mine, although my valuing has a notably different temporality.

Am I post-human?  Not really on my radar, but there's no less wilderness here.  Perhaps more, since I cannot shut it out.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Question for Object Oriented Ontology

What is your stance on the reality of universals?

This is motivated by the thought that if all that exists are objects, then there are various classes of things that are not objects.  E.g., numbers.  If they are objects, they must be objects in a very difference sense.

Moreover, if all that exists, exists in an object, then there is more to being itself than objects.  For example, per Levi Bryant, objects would have powers that are not independent of objects.  Avoiding the fallacy of simple location, we need not say that a power is strictly in a single object--if I understand Levi right that is his view--but there is something more basic to objective being than objects.  What then is the reality of each?  Does a flat ontology, for those among OO who insist upon it, mean that there is only one modality of reality, i.e., substance qua object?  In Levi's case, that doesn't seem true.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Permanence is an Event

Permanence is an event.  This is the conclusion of my prior work on this blog, wherein I split the difference between internal and external relations.  All the significant, local relations to an actual event are "internal" insomuch as they constitute the persistence of the event, all not all relations are significant for that.  Yet the new possibilities and potentialities that emerge from the actual event remain at one remove from those prior "internal" relations.  There is a sense in which they are "external" to those "internal" relations.  The difference?  The "dynamic system" of a nexus of powers that is the subsistence of the actual event may flux wildly, need only be self-similar or idempotent, and the emergent phenomena are undisturbed.  In consequence, whatever constitutes the persistence of the actual event may change without significantly altering the emergent phenomena that come from it.  Is this not what we mean by "external" relations?

If we can agree this far, why not call the "actual event" an "object" and call me an object-oriented philosopher?  They seem to insist on the externality of object-object relations that process folks do not.  From my perspective, an "object" risks being an analytical distinction, neither a real nor formal distinction.  I expect to find it in Levi Bryant's writing any minute as I pour my eyes over it, but if an "object" is a "dynamic system," then its objectness would constitute is its relative systemic equilibrium, no?  But then, we might as well have an "actual event," as the words become synonymous, no?  Perhaps the difference is in temporality or the composability of event-natures.

Pour Pour Pour.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pragmatic Process Metaphysics and Emergent Teleology

This is a semi-autonomous post on the themes on my prior posts.

Emergent teleology may seem either antiquated or incoherent to someone who sees the word "teleology" and interprets it per its classical denotations.  What the classical views have in common is the notion that a telos is an essential purpose or final state of a substance (essence) to be achieved through the activities afforded by its potentialities.  Hence, the telos of an acorn is the oak tree, the fulfillment of its telos through its own growth that may be foiled only by material or efficient causal conditions.  There can be no defect in its telos, because it is essentially fixed.  This view of teleology has almost nothing to do with Deweyan emergent teleology, which is a branch of American naturalism (Colombia school, e.g., Woodbridge).

Teleogy becomes temporal, which is not the same as historical.  A telos becomes the anticipated future of a present that will be achieved unless something alters or prevents the present issuance. Its assurity resides in the persistence of the past that secures its present.  Hence, a telos is what may be.

Teleology becomes emergent.  That is, in the creative genesis of the emergence of an actual event (~conscresence), new real possibilities are created in part because new teloi become possible.  Although there is much to say on the subject, and I've discussed it much in prior posts.  I wish to focus on activity or force and its teleology.  My prior posts demonstrate the importance of force as a component of potency.

Emergent teleology becomes interesting when discussing activity or force.  I have previously discussed activity or force as a triadic potentiality of 1) capacity (dunamis), 2) activity (kinesis) and 3) realization unto actuality (entelechy or "telos of an activity").  The emergent telos of an activity is the anticipated future of the present, in regards to the activity that strives to realize it.  Previously I have discussed the composability of entelechies and that activity is always striving and is not to be thought as a property of a substance.  I will say a little more on this now.

Activity or force is understood as a Peircean dyad.  Force depends on contest, contact, transaction, and is not an activity of a substance per its potency.  This differs from some classical views in that it is no longer understood as originating from substance, but from two contesting existences, and thus Aristotle's unmoved mover becomes impossible as self-reference is monadic or a degenerate dyad.  There is no force there, no auto-erotic movement that turns all the heavens for want of it.  Force and existence are equiprimordial, since one cannot be without the other.  (I omit a defense of the dyadic nature of existence; I will cite Peirce on the subject.)

In closing, there are a few significant points to remember about emergent teleology.  First, a telos is not fixed in some substance; it is the end of an activity that is always striving to acheive it.  Hence, things do not strive to be some fulfilled identity, to be their telos as understood in the Aristotelian way, but rather a force is doing and will do something and that something is its telos.  Second, teloi are composable; a nexus or dynamic system of transactive forces produce new systems of forces, teloi, and both the actuality and possibility of events.  While this may create hierarchies, there is no metaphysical necessity to this, no Great Chain of Being, although there is development and evolution.

There are more points to be made, but let us begin here.  For those who are curious where I go with this in my own work, this is the metaphysical side of a pragmatic, realist theory of "representation" in the philosophy of mind--or to say this  "in continental," a process phenomenology.  I write "representation" out of convention, as the view is non-representational in a Peircean manner.