Continental philosophy has entered a new period of ferment. The long deconstructionist era was followed with a period dominated by Deleuze, which has in turn evolved into a new situation still difficult to define. However, one common thread running through the new brand of continental positions is a renewed attention to materialist and realist options in philosophy. Among the leaders of the established generation, this new focus takes numerous forms. It might be hard to find many shared positions in the (...) writings of Badiou, DeLanda, Laruelle, Latour, Stengers, and Žižek, but what is missing from their positions is an obsession with the critique of written texts. All of them elaborate a positive ontology, despite the incompatibility of their results. Meanwhile, the new generation of continental thinkers is pushing these trends still further, as seen in currents ranging from transcendental materialism to the London-based speculative realism movement to new revivals of Derrida. As indicated by the title The Speculative Turn, the new currents of continental philosophy depart from the text-centered hermeneutic models of the past and engage in daring speculations about the nature of reality itself. This anthology assembles authors, of several generations and numerous nationalities, who will be at the centre of debate in continental philosophy for decades to come. (shrink)
Defends and transforms naturalism and materialism to show how culture itself is formed by nature. Bryant endorses a pan-ecological theory of being, arguing that societies are ecosystems that can only be understood by considering nonhuman material agencies such as rivers and mountain ranges alongside signifying agencies such as discourses, narratives and ideologies.
Since Kant, philosophy has been obsessed with epistemological questions pertaining to the relationship between mind and world and human access to objects. In The Democracy of Objects Bryant proposes that we break with this tradition and once again initiate the project of ontology as first philosophy. Drawing on the object-oriented ontology of Graham Harman, as well as the thought Roy Bhaskar, Gilles Deleuze, Niklas Luhman, Aristotle, Jacques Lacan, Bruno Latour and the developmental systems theorists, Bryant develops a realist ontology that (...) he calls “onticology”. This ontology argues that being is composed entirely of objects, properties, and relations such that subjects themselves are a variant of objects. By way of systems theory and cybernetics, Bryant argues that objects are dynamic systems that relate to the world under conditions of operational closure. In this way, he integrates the most vital discoveries of the anti-realists within a realist ontology that does justice to both the material and cultural. Onticology proposes a flat ontology where objects of all sorts and at different scales equally exist without being reducible to other objects and where there are no transcendent entities such as eternal essences outside of dynamic interactions among objects. This work will be of great interest to Continental philosophers, ecologists, cultural theorists, media theorists, and those following recent developments in the thought of speculative realists. (shrink)
From one end of his philosophical work to the other, Gilles Deleuze consistently described his position as a transcendental empiricism. But just what is transcendental about Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism? And how does his position fit with the traditional empiricism articulated by Hume? In Difference and Givenness , Levi Bryant addresses these long-neglected questions so critical to an understanding of Deleuze’s thinking. Through a close examination of Deleuze’s independent work--focusing especially on Difference and Repetition-- as well as his engagement with thinkers (...) such as Kant, Mai;mon, Bergson, and Simondon, Bryant sets out to unearth Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism and to show how it differs from transcendental idealism, absolute idealism, and traditional empiricism. What emerges from these efforts is a metaphysics that strives to articulate the conditions for real existence, capable of accounting for the individual itself without falling into conceptual or essentialist abstraction. In Bryant’s analysis, Deleuze’s metaphysics articulates an account of being as process or creative individuation based on difference, as well as a challenging critique--and explanation--of essentialist substance ontologies. A clear and powerful discussion of how Deleuze’s project relates to two of the most influential strains in the history of philosophy, this book will prove essential to anyone seeking to understand Deleuze’s thought and its specific contribution to metaphysics and epistemology. (shrink)
This paper argues that the thought of Lacan and Žižek are to be distinguished at the level of the formal structure of discourse. Although Žižek often situates his own theoretical project in terms of the discourse of the analyst, his work occupies an uneasy place in this position insofar as the discourse of the analyst is directed at the singularity of the subject’s symptom, rather than shared political causes. Drawing on his “Milan Discourse” where Lacan presents the discourse of the (...) capitalist, this paper argues that Žižek discourse inhabits the universe of capitalism, rather than the universe of mastery. Through the development of a modified version of Lacan’s discourse of the capitalist, it is shown that it is possible to derive three additional discourses-- the discourses of biopower, immaterial labor, and critical theory --from the initial discourse of the capitalist. A psychoanalytic approach to these discourses using Lacanian discourse theory goes beyond standard accounts of biopolotical production and immaterial labor by revealing the function of the unconscious and real at work in these discourses, thereby opening new possibilities of engagement. Žižek’s theoretical project is shown to be an important cartography of this new universe of discourse, revealing both how the discourses inhabiting this universe contain certain constitutive deadlocks and devising strategies for engagement where the foe is no longer entirely clear. (shrink)
The context for these interviews was a seminar [Peter Gratton] conducted on speculative realism in the Spring 2010. There has been great interest in speculative realism and one reason Gratton surmise[s] is not just the arguments offered, though [Gratton doesn't] want to take away from them; each of these scholars are vivid writers and great pedagogues, many of whom are in constant contact with their readers via their weblogs. Thus these interviews provided an opportunity to forward student questions about their (...) respective works. Though each were conducted on different occasions, the interviews stand as a collected work, tying together the most classical questions about “realism” to ancillary movements about the non-human in politics, ecology, aesthetics, and video gaming—all to point to future movements in this philosophical area. (shrink)
What can Dungeons & Dragons teach us about the being of beings? This article argues that Dungeons & Dragons introduces us to a world composed of objects or entities, where the being of objects is defined not by their qualities, but rather by their powers, capacities or affects. Drawing on the thought of Spinoza, Deleuze and Molnar, objects are seen to be defined by what they can do or their capacities to act, such that qualities are effects of these acts. (...) Dungeons & Dragons is particularly suited to showing us this insofar as it focuses on the action of entities. (shrink)
This chapter argues that the color black offers a unifying thread for thinking the ecological in contrast to spiritualist visions prominent in green, deep, and other popular ecological discourses. Black has connotations of despair and abandonment, fitting for both the ecological circumstances we find ourselves in today, as well as an ecological vision that abandons comforting spiritualized conceptions of nature as a warm and inviting place outside culture to which hominids can go. Black also draws attention to issues of race, (...) minoritization, and second- and third-world countries, underlining how these groups are often disproportionately affected by climate change. The nonreflective nature of black for things visible in the human color spectrum draws attention to the power of entities to surprise when circumstances change. Finally, the color black raises associations to things like black holes and the mysterious dark matter and energy, which provide nice metaphors for all those things that powerfully contribute to organizing the world in the way we find it while often going unnoticed as if they were invisible. (shrink)
Deleuze's Difference and Repetition is a notoriously difficult work of philosophy. Moreover, it is a work of philosophy that has led to quite divergent interpretations. How are we to account for this phenomenon of generating such distinct interpretations and appropriations? In this article, I apply Deleuze's theory of problems, questions and individuation to Deleuze's text as a way of understanding the stylistic strategy of his writing. Given Deleuze's critique of identity and representation, he would fall into a performative contradiction if (...) his writing were designed to transmit an identical thought from sender to receiver such that the receiver then could be said to represent Deleuze's thought. Rather, I argue, Deleuze aims to write ‘machinic’ or ‘productive’ works that lead to the production of something new through the reader's encounter with the work. Not only does Difference and Repetition theorise the process of creative individuation in the production of beings, I contend, but it also forces the reader to undergo a process of creative individuation, through which they produce a non-identical double of the work in the process of their reading that then takes on a life of its own. It is this phenomenon of the book as a machine for producing difference, I contend, that helps to account for the tremendous creative fecundity it has generated in being appropriated by a wide variety of disciplines and practices. (shrink)
This article argues that Badiou's account of subjects of truth-procedures requires the Lacanian subject in order to be intelligible. Without an account of the Lacanian subject as void and precarious with respect to all identifications, Badiou is unable to explain how the subject of truth procedures is able to throw off its identifications and symbolic roles that characterize its existence as an individual or body in the situation, taking on, instead, fidelity to the truth that follows from an event.