Philosophy PortalJan 13, 2023
The Idea of the University (w/ David McKerracher, Ann Snelgrove of Theory Underground)
In this discussion, David, Ann and I discuss the importance of thinking The Idea of the University in the contemporary neoliberal and digitised political-economic landscape. The Idea of the University is a book by existentialist philosopher Karl Jaspers, and written to serve an educational reconstruction project in post-World War II Germany. Now we discuss this book in our historical context, but with the aim the same: to think the Idea of the University as such.
Theory Underground's new course "The Idea of the University" starts January 14th 2023, learn more and sign up here!: https://theory-underground.com/courses/tiotu
*Bonus: if you are signed up for the Science of Logic course and/or if you want to sign up for the Science of Logic course (starting January 16th 2023) you will get a Tier upgrade if you also attend The Idea of the University (I will be taking the course as well).
Bryan, Ann, and David talking about the course: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNHemcJnLOU&t=3089s
The Idea of the University audiobook: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysRXTmE5FsU
The post about critique, theory, and ideology: https://theory-underground.com/critique-theory-and-ideology/
New Philosophy Portal course focused on Hegel's Science of Logic starts January 16th 2023: https://philosophyportal.online/science-of-logic
Death and World Grounding (w/ Johannes A. Niederhauser)
Johannes A. Niederhauser argues that death is a central notion in Martin Heidegger’s work on the questions being and time, and even takes us to the core of Heidegger's entire thinking path. Thus, Heidegger is not merely approaching death as an existentialist problem, of how to become authentically mortal. Heidegger is suggesting that the abstract concealment and exploitation of death is how the modern project attempts to bring in and enforce a different way of being human, an inhuman way of being human. This is achieved via the exclusive absolutization of technical knowledge, which would perceive everything, even death, as a problem to be solved. In contrast to this view, Niederhauser suggests that we must view death as an "utter non-availability". This involves that we think the relationship between technology and death, and also language and death, in terms of the way death limits the powers of both to "make available". From these ideas, he suggests it may be possible to “dwell in death” (as a cut), and in so doing overcome death's abstract concealment, by confronting the irreducible and singular personal relation to our concrete death, i.e. “that we have to die”. What is to be “won” in this dwelling is potentially a real human ethics that can seriously entertain the question "what does it mean to die well?", thereby transcending epistemic instrumentalization of rationality. What does it mean to become the type of being that, instead of unconsciously desiring to control, manipulate, eradicate or possess death with instrumental rationality, becomes the type of being that can really be, and that can really ground a new world in or as time.
What is the "Phenomenology of Spirit"? (w/ Mika Leinonen, Eric Jobe, Chetan Anand)
G.W.F Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit is often conceived as Hegel's classic work, and one of the most important texts in the history of philosophy. How are we to conceive of this work? This question can be framed in many ways: How are we to understand the procedure or methods by which it was written? What are the main concepts that define this work and how are we to think of these concepts today? Finally, can we say there is an overall project for this work, and if so, does this project still have relevance for self-consciousness in the 21st century world?
Thinking the Commons: Tribe in the Internet Age (w/ Michel Bauwens & Alexander Bard)
The commons is an ancient social structure of allowing for the exchange of value. The act of commoning can be defined as the act of exchanging with the ‘whole’ (i.e. doing something for the self as part of a larger tribe, clan, family, rather than for the self itself). Throughout the history of human civilization more complex structural layers for exchanging value have been built on top of commoning, e.g. including equality matching value (gift economy), distributing value according to social merit (authority rank), and most recently capitalist assignment of value (market pricing). Commoning can be thought of as the foundation of inter-tribal relation of value, where the value-extension structures on top of commoning can be thought of as forms for intra-tribal relation and commodity exchange. In the age of capitalism commodity exchange has overshadowed and eroded the importance of other forms of exchange value (i.e. merit-based rankings, exchanging gifts, and commoning). But with the emergence of digital networks, commoning is re-appearing with a new qualitatively dimension, and a new social importance. This can be seen in many online communities that operate on a peer-to-peer logic, i.e. where individuals can freely connect and communicate, exchange, self-organize and create new ‘value circuits’. If these online communities can take advantage of new technological forms (e.g. blockchain, cryptocurrencies), there is the possibility for commoning to once again take center stage as the foundation for a global economy. This new center would not eliminate other forms of exchanging value (e.g. gift economy, authority rank, market pricing), but could potentially rebalance them in relation to a common tribal relation.
Philosophy of Lack (#3) (w/ O.G. Rose, Tim Adalin, Alexander Ebert): Excess
There is an excess which repeats most easily when not observed (it does not want to be observed?). This excess is its own knowledge as the center of enjoyment and truth of identity. Of relevance to our on-going discussion, the excess seems to appear most deeply at the site of lack. Being in touch with this experiential knowing seems primal, and brings one to sites or drives of the body, whether oral, genital, anal, nasal, visionary or vocal. Does it make sense to say this excess is the place of "perfect" forms? What is our relation to perfect forms in time? What role do these forms play in our maturation as subjects? How can we be in touch, or in-formed by these forms, while also maintaining separation?
Return to Metaphysics: How to Think Our Being? (w/ Alexander Bard, O.G. Rose, Alexander Elung)
Metaphysics concerns the study of first principles of being (e.g. identity, change, space, time, causality, necessity, possibility). In other words, whereas physics studies the physical world, metaphysics is the study of the fundamental categories we use to make sense of the world in the first place. For example, Isaac Newton structured much of modern physics with his system of categories; Immanuel Kant revolutionized philosophy by attempting to think of these categories as structures of the mind; and Georg Hegel introduced a higher-order dialectical movement to these categories as features of a historical process.
Martin Heidegger, certainly one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, famously attempted to “overcome metaphysics”. Heidegger’s project is marked by “returning to Dasein” (or our being-in-the-world), claiming that all of Western philosophy had “forgotten being” under different “metaphysical regimes”. In our age Heidegger was convinced that metaphysics imposed a “techno-scientific-industrial” character onto our being-in-the-world. However, even Heidegger admitted that we must return to being-in-the-world only in order to be able to “begin anew” (metaphysics). In this discussion we seek such new beginnings, not only an affirmation of our being-in-the-world, but also a return to metaphysics.
Modern Dating and Romantic Relationships (w/ Javier Rivera)
The dating landscape used to be generally regulated by a traditional-normative symbolic structure which organized society towards a more-or-less clear value-form: marriage/pair-bonding. The modern dating landscape has largely lost this symbolic structure, and consequently, it has become extremely complex and confusing: a disorienting digital marketplace of wild drives and images disconnected from long-term value-forms. Javier Rivera and I attempt to philosophize about this complexity and confusion with a psychoanalytic perspective. We discuss the possibility that an internal-intersubjective symbolic structure can be re-organized if we consciously accommodate the real as an impossibility.
Philosophy of Lack (#2.5) (w/ Alexander Ebert): Prelude to Perfection
We feel the lack of an absolute being, and reality itself seems to lack as a split between atom/void. Here we play with the imaginary of the mind which exists in this split between nothing and everything: what would it look like if we could “subtract lack” or “become lack" and “connect to the absolute”? Would we be “fucking everything”? Would we exist in a “giant social orgy”? To start this dialogue, I give the personal example of a psychedelic experience which "connected to the absolute", the feeling of such a state, as well as the after-effects. We then spend the majority of the discourse discussing dialectical dynamics of our relations to the feeling of the absolute under the model of "oscillations and negativity". From this we push towards the idea of a dialectical-historical understanding of the emergence of "perfect form".
Philosophy of Lack (#2) (w/ O.G. Rose, Tim Adalin, Alexander Ebert): Materialism
We started our first discourse on lack in the context of the origin of philosophy in the Parmenidean presupposition of absolute being banishing the void; and its relationship to the emergence of psychoanalysis as a discipline that operates by necessity in the void of subjectivity. In our second discourse, I propose to shift our context to Democritus, and his atomist ontology, which we may say is the spontaneous unofficial metaphysics of scientific materialism (i.e. the universe at base is divided between indivisible somethings and nothing (“the void”). However, the complimentary opposite of atoms, the void, is often left unthought by scientific materialists, leaving open-ended the philosophical consequences of a presence that depends on absence. For Democritus, a presence that depends on absence signifies an important distinction vis-a-vis thinking “the real” (or fundamental reality), namely, that the most essential cannot be either a being (atoms, something), and neither can it be a non-being (void, nothing), but a paradox of the two. He referred to this paradox of the two as a “not-nothing”, or what we might call “Lack”. What does thinking Lack as a fundamental reality mean for scientific materialism?
Absolute Knowledge (w/ O.G. Rose)
Absolute Knowledge is a notoriously difficult and confusing concept in Hegel’s philosophy (and yet represents the name of the last chapter of his masterwork Phenomenology of Spirit). Here I attempt to frame the discourse by discussing the experiences I had in my maturation as an intellect in relation to evolutionary and religious philosophies about “absolute knowing”. Evolutionary thinkers tend to view absolute knowing as an anachronistic and unnecessary concept, a relic of pre-modern thinking before the emergence of the Darwinian universe, where everything is conceived as dynamic and changing (and thus a universe with no absolute). Religious thinkers tend to view absolute knowing as the self’s relation/knowledge of the absolute being (God), and tend to represent this knowing as either an abrupt phase transition or a gradual deepening where the subject feels “one” with a perfect order of being.
We attempt to discuss how AK — as a type of constant that is both beneath and beyond the dialectical process (and thus non-evolutionary), and as a state governed by negativity (and thus not perfect being) — requires a new thinking about the journey of a subject’s process of self-knowing within common life and institutional contexts. We suggest that the subject necessarily has to leave common life for a journey of self-knowing, or else it will simply remain a raw unmediated subjectivity; but that the subject also has to return to common life, and avoid withdrawal into a domain of static knowledge isolated from others, in order to both complete its own dialectical process, and prevent society at large from dissolving at the unconscious hand of sexual antagonisms and fascist political order.
Philosophy of Lack (#1) (w/ O.G. Rose, Tim Adalin, Alexander Ebert): Foundations
Philosophy is a discipline classically concerned with "Being", or the presence of Something. Why is there Something rather than Nothing? However, after more than a century of psychoanalysis, we may say that the human subject is an entity of Lack, or that Lacks. Thus, the human subject is a Being constituted by a contradictory identity, constantly attempting to fill in the persistent feeling that there is "Something missing". In this conversation series, we seek to enquire deeper about the experience and the philosophy of Lack, and ultimately, what such a philosophy might say about our contemporary culture. Why is there Nothing rather than Something?
Sex, Masculinity, God (1.5): Masculinity & Masculine Movements
The second discourse on masculinity and masculine movements shifts exploration from the red pill community and the connection between masculinity and religion, towards an ethics of action, or general principles, that would possibly help ground real masculine movements in the 21st century. We speculate that a key to these ethics and principles can be found in the coincidence between men who have transcended pathological attachment to feminine identity, asserting themselves with a purpose and mission “beyond” the feminine; and at the same time men who are capable of integrating the feminine other by helping them to achieve their own true potential beyond their traditional constraints, without sacrificing authentic masculine drive.
Sex, Masculinity, God (1.4): Gender Theory/Trouble
In the second trialogue on gender trouble/theory we attempt to shift focus from alternatives to binary classification schemes (i.e. triadic, quadratic, or complexified categorization schemes) to the impossibility or the problem at the core of gender itself (i.e. that no categorization scheme "works", as it were, to solve the human relation to sexuality). Thus, an idea is explored that what we call gender is in fact a historical-navigation tool or construct that we use to ultimately transcend sexuality.
Sex, Masculinity, God (1.3): Evolutionary versus Religious Worldviews
In the second trialogue on the evolutionary versus religious worldview we attempt to build on our original notions that a synthesis between evolutionary and religious worldviews can be found in the fact that religions themselves evolve. In order to build on this notion we explore the possibility that not only do religions evolve, but that religions lead to their own form of transcendental evolution in and through becoming its own emergent location of virtual causation.
Buy the book: https://sexmasculinitygod.com
Pathological Evolution (#2) (w/ Raven Connolly): Biological Reproduction and Religious Belief
The most advanced pre-modern civilizations (historical societies) were built on metaphysical presuppositions that we call “religious”. Modern secular society questioned these presuppositions on scientific (and often evolutionary) grounds. The main difference between the religious and scientific presupposition is the belief that a higher power regulates moral behaviour, and that such regulation is necessary for society to function. The religious subject presupposes that God is a historical necessity for morality; whereas the secular subject presupposes that the individual can determine its own morality.
This difference has concrete effects on (what Raven and I are calling) “pathological evolution”. Namely, common wisdom, as well as data, can be made to suggest that religious groups reproduce at a higher rate than do secular, atheist, agnostic or non-religious people in general. This presents us with a quite funny paradox: religious groups appear to be more evolutionarily “fit” then non-religious groups (or “individualized society”) when it comes to biological reproduction. In other words, while some evolutionary scientists argue that religion does not make sense in relation to the discovery of evolution, the very social evolution of religion seems to contradict this argument.
The purpose of this discourse is to dive deeper into this contradiction and attempt to unpack what it means. Is widespread religious belief in a higher power necessary for the continuation of biological reproduction? Or alternatively, does the absence of religious belief lead to an individual meaning crisis which ultimately de-couples sexual pleasure from its normative moral mandate (i.e. reproduction, child-rearing, family and community formation)?
Tribal Singularity (#2) (w/ Alexander Bard & Elung): Digging into Transcendental Emergentism
In this conversation I host Alexander Bard and Alexander Elung to discuss the philosophy of "transcendental emergentism" and its relation to the future of philosophy, science and community. Transcendental emergentism is a notion that attempts to escape both simplistic reductions to scientific materialism, and also overly-naive holistic interpretations of supernatural ideality. This is possible because what is "transcendent" (beyond or above normal human experience) is something that "emerges" from our very historical process. Thus, we seek to see the way in which this philosophy can have relevance to, among other things, the notion of "tribal singularity" (i.e. the collective process of transcending what we today consider to be the human being).
Noopolitik (#1) (w/ Daniel Fraga & Owen Cox): Mental Warfare in the Global Economy
In this trialogue we attempt to introduce the notion of "Noopolitik" or "politics of the noosphere". In the 20th century, the birth of our global world was mediated by two mega powers and their economic methods (i.e. United States and capitalism (first world); Soviet Union and communism (second world)). The rest of the world was merely a battleground for these two major powers (third world). Today, after the fall of the second world and the establishment of capitalist hegemony (neoliberalism), we are entering a new phase that is difficult to define or comprehend. This new phase is not structured by one major country (United States), but the realm of international capital as embodied in new mega-informational-creatures that are not easy to classify or categorize as public or private bodies (e.g. Facebook, YouTube, Google, Amazon, Apple, etc.). Here, paradoxically, the entire human population is something like the "third world", and our own (libidinal) body-minds (qua attention) are the battleground. How to think this emerging global order and our role in its development?
Emancipation After Hegel (w/ Todd McGowan)
In this discussion we are going to be diving into the notion of freedom after the introduction of Hegelian philosophy. We will be probing into the consequence of Hegel's philosophy for contradiction, motion, identity, and religion. This discourse will be based on and inspired by McGowan's own philosophical text "Emancipation After Hegel" which seeks to revive the relevance of Hegel's philosophy of the 21st century.
Sex, Masculinity, God (1.2): Historical Emergence of Traditional Archetypes
In the second trialogue on the Historical Emergence of Traditional Archetypes we shift attention from the historical conditions for the emergence of archetypes, and move more towards attempting to understand the source of the virtual potential that could shape other identities in new historical conditions. From this focus on virtual potential we theorize the possibility for future identities that our contemporary consciousness would relate to as alien otherness.
Sex, Masculinity, God (the book): https://sexmasculinitygod.com
Tribal Singularity (#1) (w/ Alexander Bard): Mapping Patriarchy and Matriarchy in the Internet Age
The "map is not the territory" is a common mantra in the deconstructive post-modern age. However, without maps, we lose all our capacity to orient and organize our social lives. For example, the traditional world had clear maps of man, woman and their possible relations, which allowed for the development of civilization. However, these maps were increasingly seen as oppressive and constraining in the 20th century world; out of touch with the present moment of our experience. What would be needed to think again the nature of our social relations and the possible expressions of identity that are actually in touch with the present moment of our experience? In short, is it possible to map sexual difference in the Global Brain, and how would this mapping project differ from our conventional notions of identity?
Pathological Evolution (#1) (w/ Raven Connolly): Unconscious Desire, Social Tensions
The idea of evolution transformed science (Darwin); the idea of pathos transformed psychology (Freud). Discussing "pathological evolution" is necessary today because our global society is changing faster than ever, and this change is going to involve a deep confrontation with our self: what do we really want? What do we see in the "pathos" of modern global society? Can we analyze this "evolving pathos" as a complex "hyper-object" (entities that escape traditional temporal-spatial reasonings)? How does pathos involve and underlie important dimensions of contemporary gendered, class-based and racial tensions?
Last and Guner (#1): Why Microdose?
In this episode (originally streamed in the 21-Day Meditation Challenge Facebook group), we set the foundation covering the concept of psychedelics in history and present day. There is a new emerging bio-science that uses psychedelics in sub-perceptible doses to improve basic cognitive functioning. Here we outline how we want to do our part to become mature and responsible participants in this new psychedelic revolution.
The Enlightenment Gap (#2) (w/ Gregg Henriques): Modern Philosophy of Psychology
This conversation is attempting to build on our notion of an "Enlightenment Gap" emergent in the scientific universe between matter/mind (i.e. mind/body problem), science/society (i.e. social construction). Here we attempt to dive deeper into the foundations of modern philosophy as it relates to psychology and psychoanalysis.
Sex, Masculinity, God (1.1): The Reality of Sexual Difference
In the second trialogue on sexual difference we focus on its nature as that which precedes the emergence of the different sexes (“a difference which precedes a difference”). In this affirmation pre-identity different we attempt to understand its consequence for the way we construct and relate in historical reality (specifically the flaw in the ideology of “two becomes one”).
Sex, Masculinity, God (the book): https://sexmasculinitygod.com
The Enlightenment Gap (#1) (w/ Gregg Henriques): Identifying the Problem
This conversation is introducing the idea of the "Enlightenment Gap" as a problem emergent to the scientific universe. Here we define the problem as the still unresolved relation between matter and mind, and between science and society. In short, when we enter the scientific universe the nature of mental phenomena, and the nature of social knowledge, are brought into antagonism with the nature of material phenomena, and the nature of scientific knowledge. Today, these antagonisms are often represented in the problem of mind/body and the problem of social construction.