The paper I am currently working on is putting me in a foul mood. I went with a technique I would not recommend to others – pick some books you’ve wanted to read for awhile, read them, find some connecting thread, exploit! For me this took the form of a bit of Schelling, Merleau-Ponty, Henry, Solovyev, and Bulgakov. I’ve read seven books so far and have about ten left to go. Some of these are relatively short (anywhere from 80-350 pages) so that isn’t as insane as it sounds. Still, I had enough familiarity with these thinkers to know what I would like to write about – invariant vitalism. I’m pretty sure I’ve coined that term and I think it is pretty accurate description of what is underlying these thinkers. In varying degrees of hostility each has a critique of scientism and rationalism and, despite their critiques, sympathies with socialism and Marxism. But, what is most interesting to me, is that all of this comes down to a commitment to nature. Nature is all for these thinkers, but an all somehow incomplete. This is a really interesting notion and, I think, has quite a bit to add to philosophical vitalism. For one it isn’t a rejection of materialism at all. For each thinker the material is necessary (though in Henry this is somewhat obscured by his phenomenological notion of material) just as the spiritual is necessary. It is a strange thing to meet people who are shocked that when you open the skull you simply find a piece of meat, as if meat was something low. These thinkers challenge the very idea that material is degraded.
Part of the desire to write this paper is reactionary. Reading Ray Brassier’s latest piece in Collapse brought a lot of problems I have with current Continental philosophy to the surface. It’s a very interesting article, but it ties itself so securely to science that it seems to forget that science itself is nothing pure in its search for truth. In other words, there is a queen of the sciences and it is capital.
This concludes a very boring post.