Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kant and speculative realism

You don't necessarily often find comments about Kant's philosophy in an article on horror fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft.

But Brian Kim Stefans Let’s Get Weird: On Graham Harman’s H.P. Lovecraft Los Angeles Review of Books 04/06/2013:

Few movements in recent philosophy have had as startling a rise as that of the writers loosely grouped under the heading "Speculative Realists." Attention to this movement, which includes Harman, Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, Levi Bryant, and Quentin Meillassoux — sidestepping the controversy of whether it in fact is a “movement,” and, if it is, whether “speculative realism” accurately describes their program — is growing exponentially, not just in universities but also among the unaffiliated continental philosophy junkies who troll the blogosphere. The one principle that is inarguably shared by these philosophers is quite simple: they wish to retrieve philosophy from a tendency initiated, or at least made unavoidable, by the work of Immanuel Kant. Kant believed that the subject (meaning a human being) can ever know anything about the external world due to the very fact of subjectivity. For him, reality is always mediated by cognition, and the thinkable has a basic handicap: it is just thought. Nothing comes from outside into the mind, in other words, that is not turned into thought; the radical epistemologist argues that all we can know lies in the firm foundations of what is available to the senses, while the radical idealist argues that nothing remains in this thinking of whatever it was that spawned the thought, leaving one at the impasse of believing that all of reality is virtual, a bunch of mental actions. The result, according to the speculative realists, is that philosophy since Kant has been stuck with making this very mind→object relationship the locus and subject of philosophy, thus shutting down the project of metaphysics, the search for absolute laws beyond what can be established by experimental science.
That's also the first time I recall seeing the phrase "philosophy junkies."

I also have no particular opinion on whether Speculative Realism "in fact is a 'movement'."

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