Adrian Johnston talk: “On Deep History and the Brain”

Adrian Johnston gave a talk at the University of Guelph last Friday and I thought the audio might be of interest to some here. The talk is entitled “On Deep History and the Brain” and in it Adrian draws upon Daniel Smail’s book “On Deep History and the Brain”  to critique a certain side of Lacan that denies any inquiry into that which lies beyond the epistemic limitations of our symbolic structures (e.g. Lacan’s ontology of ‘parle-être’, “In the beginning was the Word,” “The Word is the murder of the Thing,” etc.). Adrian links this impetus to bracket the pre-linguistic to a Judeo-Christian “short chronology/sacred history.” In its place, Adrian endorses a “deep history” as the necessary condition for a secularized materialism. I’ll let the audio explain what exactly this entails.

The Q&A might also be of interest to some, as Adrian talks a bit about his interest in revitalizing Hegel’s philosophy of nature, his preference for the Zizekian approach of adopting the form of Christianity in order to displace its basis rather than smuggling Judeo-Christian content into an atheistic outlook, and shares some objections he has to certain tenets of Speculative Realism.

The abstract is here (pdf), the talk here, and the Q&A here.

Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing book sale

I thought it might be of interest to any readers who are following the Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing book event but do not yet own the book that there’s a big sale going on at Columbia University Press and they’re selling the hardcover for $20, half off the cover price and a whole $12 cheaper than at Amazon. Check it out: http://www.cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-14524-4/plasticity-at-the-dusk-of-writing

Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing Response: The Absent Presence of Lacan

My question is where is Lacan amongst the many faces Malabou lists in §2? Why is he not listed with the other “transformational masks”? Admittedly, this question is not entirely fair. For, while Lacan is not cited in Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing, What Should We Do With Our Brain?, or The Future of Hegel, I believe that Les nouveaux blessés (a book I have not read) is where she devotes herself to the question of psychoanalysis. And, furthermore, I imagine her forthcoming book with Adrian Johnston will assess directly what possible intersections there are to be found between Lacanian thought and recent neurobiological research. That said, in reading Malabou’s interpretation of the end of history, the last moment of Hegel’s Absolute Spirit, as an opening, I could not help but draw certain parallels with Žižek’s Lacanian reading of Hegel’s Absolute Knowledge as “the “All” itself which is non-All, inconsistent, marked by an irreducible contingency” (Parallax View, 79). Read the rest of this entry »

Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing §§9-10

§9. The Fantastic and Philosophy in Hegel

Malabou opens this section up with a question: How might we conceive of formal schemes, which were earlier defended as moving, transforming, and changing, apart from static categorization? The answer is to understand the image as a scheme. As she stated in the previous section, “There can be no metamorphosis…without a new visibility of these metamorphoses” (30), no change without its presented image; and, likewise, nothing is presented without being changed. Presence cannot be understood apart from its image-generating movement, its imagination, its modification. Thus, we can speak of an imagination that produces metaphysical presence. But, Heidegger claims, in the move that allows the scheme to continue to imagine itself, to give itself to itself (i.e., ontological self-containment), we have the end of metaphysics and the inauguration of ultrametaphysical thought.

But ultrametaphysical thought is not without its own image (i.e., it does not escape all formal presentation). Malabou already identified this constitutive image, this motor scheme of Heideggerian thought, as the triad of change: W,W,V (§8). Malabou offers a corrective to Heidegger’s conception of schematism as self-containment: “Neither visible nor invisible…schemes of thought are truly imaginary and are in fact fantastic.”(32) In order to explain what she means by the philosophical fantastic, how it disrupts the interpretation of the idea of the motor scheme as nothing but ontological narcissism, she turns to its two main theorists: Hegel and Levinas. Read the rest of this entry »

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