Book Announcement: Object-Oriented Philosophy

I promised an exciting announcement, and here it is. As anyone who has read this blog for a while knows, I have a long history with Object-Oriented Philosophy/Ontology, having criticised it quite extensively on this blog before (see here). I even published an article on it two years ago, titled ‘The Noumenon’s New Clothes’ (see here), which was quite optimistically subtitled ‘Part I’. I’m sure some people have been wondering what happened to Part II. The answer is that it got a bit out of hand, and the two part article grew into a full length book, which is about to be published by Urbanomic as part of their excellent new set of titles.

Of course, this might strike some people as overkill, but I’m quite proud of the book. It is a pretty scathing critique of Harman’s work, but it is more than just this. At the very least, it makes sense of certain metaphysical issues that OOP/O overlooks in its rush to speculate; locates OOP/O in a wider philosophical trend that I name ontological liberalism; and presents an account of the history of philosophy from Kant onwards that explains the evolution of correlationism, while incorporating both analytic and continental traditions. It also has a postscript written by Ray Brassier (‘Speculative Autopsy’), in which he gives us the last word on ‘Speculative Realism’. I thoroughly recommend you all pre-order it now!

P.S. I’ve also written the entries on ‘The Necessity of Contingency’ and ‘Ray Brassier’ in the forthcoming Meillassoux Dictionary

Online Course: Reintroduction to Metaphysics

Good news everyone! The New Centre for Research and Practice has asked me to teach an online course as part of their grand experiment in online pedagogy. In contrast to my more recent online offerings in which I’ve been dealing with issues in philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence, freedom, and beauty, I’m returning to some earlier theme explored on this blog under the heading ‘Reintroduction to Metaphysics’. This is a two part course, each half of which will consist in four weekly two and a half hour seminars, which will be roughly evenly split between lecturing and group discussion over google hangouts. This will be supplemented by structured online discussion over google classroom. There are a limited number of spaces available for those who want to take full part in the course, which includes involvement in the group discussions and essay assessment, but anyone who likes can pay to audit the course in real time or after the fact. For more information on dates, times, prices, and whatnot please consult the new centre page or the facebook page for the course. For more information on the content of the course, see the brief outline below.

I will also have another exciting announcement later this week, with any luck.

Reintroduction to Metaphysics

The end of metaphysics was a dominant theme in early 20th century philosophy. Even though the Western philosophical tradition sundered in two, one of the few things its analytic and continental halves seemed to agree upon was that the age of metaphysics was over, either because physics had finally usurped it or because philosophy had finally rooted out the pathological desires which drove us to speak of the fundamental structure of reality. The resurgence of metaphysics in the second half of the century in both traditions certainly came as a surprise, even if it has taken till the turn of the 21st century to become ingrained in both camps. However, despite it’s increasing popularity, there remains much confusion about precisely what metaphysics is: How does it sit within philosophy as a whole? How does it relate to the sciences (especially physics)? How do we go about doing it?

The purpose of this module is to reintroduce metaphysics by considering these sorts of methodological questions, and to do so by explaining the history of its rise, fall, and rise again. It will be broken into two halves:

Part I: The Speculative Return

We will begin by examining the return of speculative metaphysics, focusing primarily upon the advent of ‘Speculative Realism’ and its ramifications. This will provide us with a way of framing the historical arc of the decline of metaphysics (correlationism) and some purchase upon what has potentially been overlooked in the drive to speculate (the critique of metaphysics). We will address certain issues in contemporary metaphysics, but tour principal aim will be to construct a historical narrative through which to articulate the methodological questions these raise.

Part II: Metaphysics and Method

We will open by consolidating the methodological issues discussed in the first part, and attempt to present an account of what metaphysics is. This will provide answers to the most pressing questions regarding the philosophical role of metaphysics (e.g., its relation to science) and a methodology for orienting ourselves towards specific metaphysical questions (e.g., the problem of universals). We will then address a number of these specific questions, examining classical and contemporary debates on a number of topics from within this new methodological framework.