In his formulation, "plant-thinking" is the non-cognitive, non-ideational, and non-imagistic mode of thinking proper to plants, as much as the process of bringing human thought itself back to its roots and rendering it plantlike.
The present essay formulates a phytocentric alternative to the biocentric and zoocentric critiques of anthropocentrism. Treating phuton—the Greek for “plant,” also meaning “growing being”—as a concrete entry point into the world of phusis , I situate the intersecting trajectories and communities of growth at the center of environmental theory and praxis. I explore the potential of phytocentrism for the “greening” of human consciousness brought back to its vegetal roots, as well as for tackling issues related, among others, to the use (...) of biotechnologies and dietary ethics. (shrink)
Mountain peaks, like all uninhabitable and barely accessible environments, stand in the way of a clear-cut distinction between “place” and “space.” Building on the environmental thought of Aldo Leopold, as well as the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and twentieth-century phenomenology, I draw attention to this obscure in-between region and argue that the conceptual distinction must be subject to careful adumbration, depending on the concrete place where it is employed. Subsequently, mountains are theorized as the sites of friction between earth and (...) world, where sovereign authority and objectivizing thinking are equally suspended. (shrink)
In this article I argue that, the consciousness of climate change will remain wanting, unless it reaches all the way to the level of self-consciousness. Interrelating the meanings of “climate” and “thinking,” I suggest that only an approach that shuns subjective mastery and distance will be adequate to this peculiar non-object.
The goal of “Phenomenology of Distraction“ is to explore the imbrication of attention and distraction within existential spatiality and temporality. First, I juxtapose the Heideggerian dispersion of concern (which includes, among other things, the attentive comportment) in everyday life, conceived as a way to get distracted from one's impending mortality, to Fernando Pessoa's embracing of the inauthentic, superficial, and restless existence, where attention necessarily reverts into distraction. Second, I consider the philosophical confessions of St. Augustine and Jean-Jacques Rousseau as evidence (...) for the proto-phenomenological temporal synthesis that hinges upon distraction and dispersion, despite the confessors' best efforts to pay attention to their inner life and to concentrate it in the eternal present. The paper concludes with an assessment of the ethical effects of mutual distraction, outlining a model of “distracted intersubjectivity.. (shrink)
This brief text offers a critique of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's concept of nomadism. It is shown that ‘nomadism’ functions as a compilation of unresolved contradictions, such as those of movement and rest, anarchy and order, numeric abstraction and concrete placement. I argue that, in the last instance, this concept bears allegiance to its etymological provenance from the Greek nomos and that it veers on the side of an economy, rather than an ecology, of being.
This essay imagines the shape a phenomenology of betrayal would assume at the limits of phenomenology. With Caravaggio’s 1602 painting Cattura di Cristo for an aesthetic backdrop, I consider the paradoxical structure of betrayal with its interwoven strands of a surplus disclosure and a breach of trust. I go on to elaborate the relation of this complex term, at once positive and negative, to time, conceptuality, and truth. Ultimately, I am interested in how betrayal as a limit of phenomenology, where (...) the coherence of intentionality and its correlations or of intuition and its fulfillments break down, underwrites the very possibility of phenomenological endeavor. (shrink)
Despite their conceptual allergy to vegetal life, philosophers have used germination, growth, blossoming, fruition, reproduction, and decay as illustrations of abstract concepts; mentioned plants in passing as the natural backdrops for dialogues, letters, and other compositions; spun elaborate allegories out of flowers, trees, and even grass; and recommended appropriate medicinal, dietary, and aesthetic approaches to select species of plants. In this book, Michael Marder illuminates the vegetal centerpieces and hidden kernels that have powered theoretical discourse for centuries. Choosing twelve botanical (...) specimens that correspond to twelve significant philosophers, he recasts the development of philosophy through the evolution of human and plant relations. A philosophical history for the postmetaphysical age, The Philosopher's Plant reclaims the organic heritage of human thought. With the help of vegetal images, examples, and metaphors, the book clears a path through philosophy's tangled roots and dense undergrowth, opening up the discipline to all readers. (shrink)
By denying to vegetal life the core values of autonomy, individualization, self-identity, originality, and essentiality, traditional philosophy not only marginalizes plants but, inadvertently, confers on them a crucial role in the current transvaluation of metaphysical value systems. From the position of absolute exteriority and heteronomy, vegetation accomplishes a living reversal of metaphysical values and points toward the collapse of hierarchical dualisms.
Considering the ways in which plants move and shape the places of their growth, this article suggests that performing arts should account for the vegetal model of movement. The implications of including plants in the category of “moving beings” are vast, as they touch upon the dynamic relation between immanence and transcendence, questions of time-scales appropriate to different kinds of beings and their responses to the environment, and phenomenologies of place corresponding to diverse forms of life. I argue that although, (...) for humans, performing vegetal movement is “performing the unperformable,” art grants us a unique access point to experiencing what is entailed in such movement and in the places wherein it unfolds. (shrink)
In this article I begin to explore Friedrich Nietzsche’s and Jacques Derrida’s philosophies of history in terms of the persistence of forgetting within (non-subjective) memory. In section I, I shall outline the totalizing production of history understood as an unsuccessful attempt to erase the indifference of animality and the difference of madness. The following two sections are concerned with the particular kinds of non-subjective memories—memorials—that arise in the aftermath of this erasure and include writing and the archive (section II), as (...) well as the ghostly and genealogical confusions (section III). Throughout these sections I shall argue that each of the externalizations of memory in non-subjective memorials is contaminated by forgetting, both shaping and shaking up the foundations of history. Finally, section IV revisits the memorials and states of forgetting discussed in the previous sections in light of the (im)possibility of justice. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis article is a meditation, developed in dialogue with the thought of twelfth-century German mystic and saint Hildegard of Bingen, on the various senses of the verge. Besides connoting a temporal and spatial edge, the verge unites such apparently disparate things as virginity and virility, vigor and virtue, veracity and viriditas – Hildegard’s original term for the vegetal principle of “greening green,” allowing for the self-reproduction of all finite existence. I show how, in the shadow of vegetality, the verge sparks (...) a series of sudden reversals in which, figured as “the greenest branch,” Virgin Mary is imbued with a greater strength than the Flower-Child she carries, and plant life is endowed with vigor animating the rest of creation. (shrink)
In this paper, I propose an ontological-hermeneutical approach to the question of vegetative life. I argue that, though it is a product of the metaphysical traditionthat from Aristotle to Nietzsche ascribes to the life of plants but a single function, the notion of plant-soul is useful for the formulation of a post-metaphysicalphilosophy of vegetation. Offered as a prolegomenon to such thinking about plants, this paper focuses on the multiplicity of meanings, the obscurity, and thepotentialities inherent in their life.
Este artículo teoriza la transición del régimen global geopolítico (es decir, la política de la tierra) a régimen piropolítico, o la política del fuego. En base a filosofía política de Carl Schmitt, la tesis es que la certidumbre, estabilidad y orden arraigados en la tierra están desplazados por la anomia del fuego, como un símbolo y dominio concreto de lo político hoy.
The goal of this article is to outline a triangular nexus between life, death, and attention. Not only does the act of attending animate or enliven consciousness in the passage from inactional and indeterminate potentiality to the actional determination of a noema but it also coincides with intentionality, itself the form of life proper to consciousness. Upon outlining the “enlivening” element in attention and the overlap between attention and psychic life as such, I will discuss its deadening aspects understood both (...) in terms of the petrifaction resulting from a fixed, attentive, captivated gaze and, more positively, in terms of the potentiality of the inactional mode, in which consciousness lies dormant. (shrink)
Do we face a new rule of lawlessness? On the high seas, in matters of international law and human rights, and even in domestic prosecutorial practices, any grounds to place one's trust in the lawfulness of order seem increasingly elusive. The New World Order appears to be no order at all; the century of secular universalisms leaves us in the state of a general and all-encompassing nihilism. Still, rather than signaling a dead end rife with global despair, the collapse of (...) everything that went under the name of the New World Order could be a harbinger of ample opportunities for…. (shrink)
ExcerptThis issue of Telos explores the contours of politics after metaphysics as the horizon for an appropriate response to today's unabating politico-economic crisis. Profound challenges to core institutions of modernity—free-market economy, political liberalism, and parliamentary democracy—have emerged: the expansion of the state into civil society, the subordination of rights to security, and the growth of executive authority. Critical Theory developed, historically, in response to what Max Horkheimer labeled the “authoritarian state,” which has now overflowed the limits of the national polity (...) and permeated the fabric of transnational financial and political institutions. That is where we ought to seek the common…. (shrink)
In contrast to the legal, metaphysically laden, and epistemological paradigms, the ontological interpretation of respect concerns not only the relation between the “subject” and the “object” but also the being of the respected and the respecting. This paper develops an ontology of respect with regard to the human treatment of plants and teases out the meanings of vegetal life that germinate in this relation. What is at stake, I claim, is not so much an objective ontology as the phenomenological disclosure (...) of the meanings of human and vegetal lives, construed “from within,” i.e., both in the context of the interactions between them and from the unique standpoint proper to each kind of being. Far from an ethical supplement to a theoretical description of vegetal beings, respect is the prism through which we may first gain access to plant ontology. (shrink)
Disentangling Complexio OppositorumCarl Schmitt's Roman Catholicism and Political Form (1923) features a term, the importance of which political philosophy has yet to fathom. This notion is complexio oppositorum, describing Catholicism as “a complex of opposites”: “There appears to be no antithesis it [Roman Catholicism] does not embrace. It has long and proudly claimed to have united within itself all forms of state and government.…But this complexio oppositorum also holds sway over everything theological.”1 The striking depth and breadth of the complex (...) are already evident in this brief passage. Broadly speaking, its elastic form—and more needs to be said on…. (shrink)
“From the concept of the political to the event of politics”: as always, the title is a promise and a contract. In keeping with this titular undertaking, which outlines a certain itinerary or trajectory, the reader might expect to be guided from the abstract sterility of the concept to the concrete level of political events as they unfold in history, from a higher to a lower level of analysis, from the general to the singular, from the speculative (in the Hegelian (...) sense) to the positively demonstrable.1 Right from the outset, let us be clear on the terms of the contract…. (shrink)
ExcerptIt is only fitting that the readers of Telos should be introduced to the thought of contemporary Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo at a certain “end” marked by the last lesson he gave on the occasion of his retirement from the University of Turin on October 14, 2008. Announced here is the coming to a close of a lecture course and of a long and illustrious university career, though not the end of an active theoretical and political engagement. (As far as (...) the latter is concerned, Vattimo was reelected, after a brief hiatus, as a deputy to the European Parliament in…. (shrink)
Two fires are kindled at the threshold of the metaphysical era, and both are extinguished, almost simultaneously, as soon as metaphysics exhausts itself in its final Nietzschean inversion. The political reality of the twenty-first century is, as a whole, a comet tail of these ancient blazes that, until recently, seemed to be older than time itself, gave the impression of being eternal, undying, inextinguishable. How to find one's bearings among the cinders and ashes of what the flames consumed? How to (...) make sense—if make sense we must—of the burnt and smoldering remains,…. (shrink)
This paper proceeds from a schematic analysis of Heidegger’s notion of ‘possibility’ to consider the methodological significance of Heidegger’s conception of what is essential in phenomenology as inhering not “in its actuality as a philosophical ‘movement’”, but in the understanding of phenomenology “as a possibility”. In conclusion, the paper points to the efficacy of possibility and its mode of fulfilment as radically different from the actualization of latent potentiality.
Is love when you don’t give a name to things’ identity? The Passion According to G.H., like much of Clarice Lispector’s writing, hovers on the razor-thin and fragile edge between description and the ineffable, between existence and nonexistence, between the world and its disappearance, between losing and finding oneself. It is no wonder, then, that a plethora of contradictions explode from the very first lines of the narrative that passionately wishes to share an obscure experience, of which the narrator herself (...) is not certain—“I am not sure I even believe in what happened to me,” she says (p. 3)1—and which she is unable to organize into clearly delineated forms or molds, without losing its singularly .. (shrink)
Le présent article interprète la lecture heideggerienne de la phénoménologie de l'esprit de Hegel comme une critique voilée de la phénoménologie de la conscience de Husserl. Je défends l'idée qu'en dernier ressort, Heidegger affirme l'insuffisance des deux phénoménologies, exclusivement préoccupées par l'être ou les étants, et montre la voie pour une troisième phénoménologie, celle de la différence ontico-ontologique.
Carl Schmitt’s Roman Catholicism and Political Form (1923) features a term, the importance of which political philosophy is yet to fathom. This notion is complexio oppositorum, describing Catholicism as “a complex of opposites”. Upon theorizing the complex as a non-dialectical, non-synthetical unity, I will graft its structure onto the concept of culture and its recent political incarnation, multiculturalism. I will argue that in order to remain a viable political concept, multiculturalism has to preserve an antagonistic composition, which will allow for (...) 1) a concretion of the Schmittian understanding of culture as a plurality and 2) a non-consensusbased process of negotiating cultural co-existence. (shrink)
Drawing on the texts of Martin Heidegger, at times interpreted against the grain, I tackle the relation between ecology and economy in our era of rampant economism. I begin by outlining the ecological and economic variations on ethics and politics, with the view to the logos and nomos of dwelling. Thereafter, I consider the rise of a worldless, homeless world from the undue emphasis placed on nomos, which is but the active dimension of logos. This lopsidedness, I argue, coincides with (...) and is reinforced by the deterioration of ontological rank to valuation and, ultimately, to numeric orderability. Further, I focus on the excesses of a purely economist comportment that, emboldened by the inflation of nomos, devastates “economy” itself from within by converting the elemental fold for dwelling first into a manageable territory and finally into an empire. I conclude with the thesis that things, sharply contrasted to objects, maintain the possibility of an ecological existence, recalling us to the lost dwelling. (shrink)
Michael Marder: Could you summarize the main contributions of your new book, Hermeneutic Communism: From Heidegger to Marx , co-authored with Gianni Vattimo, to contemporary political philosophy?Santiago Zabala: Well, as the subtitle indicates, we do not demand a return to Marx, as so many philosophers do today, but rather the retrieval of his thought through Heidegger, or, better, through hermeneutics. The problem with contemporary political philosophy is bound to the prejudice people hold toward Heidegger's, Nietzsche's, and Gadamer's political sympathies and (...) choices. While one of them clearly made an error, the others were quite conservative and in…. (shrink)
In this article I begin to explore Friedrich Nietzsche’s and Jacques Derrida’s philosophies of history in terms of the persistence of forgetting within memory. In section I, I shall outline the totalizing production of history understood as an unsuccessful attempt to erase the indifference of animality and the difference of madness. The following two sections are concerned with the particular kinds of non-subjective memories—memorials—that arise in the aftermath of this erasure and include writing and the archive, as well as the (...) ghostly and genealogical confusions. Throughout these sections I shall argue that each of the externalizations of memory in non-subjective memorials is contaminated by forgetting, both shaping and shaking up the foundations of history. Finally, section IV revisits the memorials and states of forgetting discussed in the previous sections in light of the possibility of justice. (shrink)
In this text, I suggest that we approach the theme of “the event” through vegetal processes, concepts, and metaphors. Mediated through plant life, the event unfolds along three axes: 1) that of excrescence, or the out-growth, which is how plants appear in the world; 2) that of expectation, or the out-look, waiting for germination and ultimately for fruition; and 3) that of the exception, or the out-take, which extracts the seed from the closed circuit of potentiality and actuality, committing it (...) to chance. The nascent model I propose sheds light on our animalist prejudices hidden in ostensibly abstract thought and offers a fresh starting point for postmetaphysical ontology. (shrink)