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Category Archives: Science and Metaphysics

Here is Dark Chemistry’s rather generous and no less rigorous reading of my doctoral dissertation The Life Death Drives…

“Myth is the hidden part of every story, the buried part, the region that is still unexplored because there are as yet no words to enable us to get there.”
      – Italo Calvino

“We shall defend the complications of our theory so long as we find that they meet the results of observation, and we shall not abandon our expectations of being led in the end by those very complications to the discovery of a state of affairs which, while simple in itself, can account for all the complications of reality.”
     – Sigmund Freud

“Visibility is a trap.”
     – Michael Foucault

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The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism

Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek and Graham Harman (editors)

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Description

Continental philosophy has entered a new period of ferment. The long deconstructionist era was followed with a period dominated by Deleuze, which has in turn evolved into a new situation still difficult to define. However, one common thread running through the new brand of continental positions is a renewed attention to materialist and realist options in philosophy. Among the current giants of this generation, this new focus takes numerous different and opposed forms. It might be hard to find many shared positions in the writings of Badiou, DeLanda, Laruelle, Latour, Stengers, and Zizek, but what is missing from their positions is an obsession with the critique of written texts. All of them elaborate a positive ontology, despite the incompatibility of their results. Meanwhile, the new generation of continental thinkers is pushing these trends still further, as seen in currents ranging from transcendental materialism to the London-based speculative realism movement to new revivals of Derrida. As indicated by the title The Speculative Turn, the new currents of continental philosophy depart from the text-centered hermeneutic models of the past and engage in daring speculations about the nature of reality itself. This anthology assembles authors, of several generations and numerous nationalities, who will be at the center of debate in continental philosophy for decades to come.

Contents

Essays from:
Alain Badiou
Ray Brassier 
Nathan Brown
Levi Bryant 
Gabriel Catren
Manuel DeLanda 
Iain Hamilton Grant
Martin Hägglund 
Peter Hallward 
Graham Harman
Adrian Johnston
Francois Laruelle
Bruno Latour 
Quentin Meillassoux
Reza Negarestani
John Protevi
Steven Shaviro  
Nick Srnicek
Isabelle Stengers
Alberto Toscano 
Slavoj Žižek

 Authors, editors and contributors

Levi R. Bryant is a Professor of Philosophy at Collin College in Frisco, Texas.  He is the author of Difference and Givenness: Deleuze’s Transcendental Empiricism and the Ontology of Immanence as well as a number of articles on Deleuze, Badiou, and Lacanian psychoanalysis.

Graham Harman is Associate Provost for Research Administration at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. He has published the following books: Tool-Being (2002), Guerrilla Metaphysics (2005), Heidegger Explained (2007), Prince of Networks (2009), Towards Speculative Realism (2010), L’Objet quadruple (2010), and Circus Philosophicus (2010)

Nick Srnicek is a PhD candidate in International Relations at the London School of Economics. He is currently working towards a dissertation on the general dynamics of global political change, specifically focusing on the relations between contentious social movements, civil society organizations and international institutions. He has also published work in Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy and Pli: The Warwick Journal of Philosophy.

Lovecraftian Science/Lovecraftian Nature Today is the start of the Science and Metaphysics blog event organized by Pete Wolfendale, Reid Kotlas and myself. Ben Woodard provides us with the inaugural post, setting the stage for some of the implications of a speculative realism chained to the inexorable logic of science…

Ben Woodard, ‘Lovecraftian Science/Lovecraftian Nature’

One of Lovecraft’s more entertaining literary habits is to totally and irreparably demolish the academic mind. Again and again Lovecraft disappears, kills, or transforms the academic into a babbling madman sent off to grow the population of Arkham Asylum. This is not because he has malicious feelings for thinkers (quite the contrary) but simply because the professor, the researcher, the scientist, the philosopher, test the limits of reality and this, in Lovecraft’s world, is a dreadful and dangerous task.

But this image of the mad-brained academic does not appear in our everyday existence and even the mad thinkers of the most popular fictions are not driven mad by their science but by personal traumas. Mad scientists, overwhelmingly, do not have occupational madness. We will probably not (unfortunately) see scientists ripping out their hair at the LHC at the possible sight of stranglets or even more fantastically a portal to another dimension(maybe hell whether demonological or hyperchaotic). Does Lovecraft merely underestimate the mental fortitude of modern day intelligentsia or is it that nothing Lovecraft imagined has ever, and will never, appear, that nothing fundamentally horrifying in the field of research can tear itself from the mundane and singe the nerve endings of a few eggheads?

This gap, I want to argue, comes from a fundamental chasm in conceptual framing, from the treatment of onto-epistemlogical indistinction (and that this leaps from the fictional to the non-fictional). This indistinction means that what is unknown is both unknown as to whether its unknownness is a result of our epistemological limits (we haven’t seen that type of fungus yet) or ontological limits (we cannot say what kind of entity it is). Taking from an earlier blog entry this appears in horror in the statement ‘What is that?’ which indexes the horror of the weird (or the weirdness of horror) in several dimensions.

‘What’ is the epistemological dimension of horror or the very questioning of the identity of the creature or thing before the thinking entity subject to horror. Whatness assumes possibly belonging to a taxonomy in that ‘what’ already assumes an ontology, an isness.

‘Is’ is the dimension of ontology proper interrogating the being of the thing and even the very bounds of the thing’s thingness or identifiability once an epistemological schema has been thoroughly employed.

‘That’ speaks to the spatio-temporal location of the thing that is questionably known/unknown, or solid/gelatinous and so forth.

‘What is’ marks an indistinction of thinking and being, not their ontological distinction, but the ontic fuzziness resulting from the mad stacking of countless epochs driven by rabid nature. In other words, unknowability (epistemological limitation) can result from temporal or spatial distance (too old, too new, too close, too far), an underdeveloped schema of knowledge (unclassifiables, unobservables, dark matter, and so on and so forth) resulting from malformed tools or instruments, or the weirdness of grounding/ungrounding activities themselves troubling the very operation of binding, separating and so forth. Or the problems of discernment could be called proximity, the second blindness, and the third forces and mixtures.

For Lovecraft the soft gray matter which humans cherish so deeply cannot stand up to such an assault. Yet asylums have long been closed and the psychiatric wards are not overflowing at the rate he would expect. It is because, in part, that the naturalism of philosophies of science treat nature as an innocuous container or cheery factory of things which the scientist can rearrange accordingly. That is, even if the Promethean attitude towards nature is no longer exploitative, a view of nature as still mechanistic lingers even in ecological thinking.

Even Roy Bhaskar’s Realist Theory of Science, sweeps nature into a rhetorical corner as only a generative mechanism or in Cohen and Stewart’s wonderful Collapse of Chaos, nature is left somewhere in the clutches of real patterns. But there always lingers an epistemological wedge which keeps nature from fleeing into ontological obscurity. Of course we know what nature is and if we do not know we worship it or respect to the limit of our own poetical fancy. This split is what the late Pierre Hadot referred to as the Promethean/Orphic split.

This split covers over a more sinister division, the belief that we are in fact separate from nature as both the Promethean and Orphic attitude pre-suppose that nature is over there somewhere either to be exploited or deified. Our new found unnaturalness does not mean that we are suddenly made of tin and diodes but it reinforces the fact that the world, and particular the world of the scientist (according to philosophy), is one composed of epistemological limits and not ontological or natural curiosities. ‘What is that’ is deprived of all its teeth in the post-Renaissance conceptualization of nature where nature = ineligibility. Against this conceptualization Bhaskar argues:

“Science is not an epiphenomenon of nature, for knowledge possesses a material cause of its own kind. But neither is nature a product of man, for the intelligibility of the scientific activities of perception and experiment presupposes the intransitive and structured character of the objects of knowledge, viz. that they exist and act independently of the operations of men and the patterns of events alike” (185).

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Special commissioned writing by Ben Woodard

A Nature to Pulp the Stoutest Philosopher: Towards a Lovecraftian Philosophy of Nature

The possibility of Lovecraftian philosophy (and a philosophy of nature) is at least a threefold weirdness:

1-Lovecraft’s own philosophical views were bitingly materialist following in the footsteps of Hugh Elliot, Bertrand Russell as well as Nietzsche and Schopenhauer while making dismissive remarks about Bergson, Freud and others. Lovecraft’s enthusiasm for Nietzsche was actually more Schopenhauerian than it appeared as evidenced in his piece Nietzscheism and Realism.[i]

2-Lovecraft’s reception ‘among the philosophers’ has been fairly limited with only a few scattered remarks from Deleuze and Guattari and philosophical-literary treatments by Michel Houellebecq, ST Joshi, and others. Though it seems to have begun to change with Speculative Realism and other connected thinkers – as even Badiou has expressed his appreciation for Lovecraft.[ii]

3-This relationship of Lovecraft to philosophy and philosophy to Lovecraft is coupled with Lovecraft’s habit of mercilessly destroying the philosopher and the figure of the academic more generally in his work, a destruction which is both an epistemological destruction (or sanity breakdown) and an ontological destruction (or unleashing of the corrosive forces of the cosmos). These demolitions are a result of a materialism which border on supernaturalism in Lovecraft’s cosmos, a materialism which operates within an onto-epistemological indistinction. This indistinction, which runs throughout weird fiction on the whole, means not only that being and knowing are indistinct and cannot be pre-determined by thought, but that it is difficult to separate being and thinking formally from one another.

Or, in other words, the horrorific entities and forces of Lovecraft’s fiction (while rigorously materialistic and part of a real nature) simultaneously test the limits of knowing on a small scale – ‘do I know what X is?’ – as well as on a large scale ‘can I know what X is?’ as well as ontological limits, of questioning the very possibilities of is such as in the horrific phrase ‘what is that?.’[iii]

 … Read More

via REAL HORROR

A very interesting conversation between Quentin Meillassoux, Robin McKay and Florian Hecker is available in pdf on the Urbanomic website (where, among other things, an interesting-looking forthcoming book on the philosophy of mathematics is announced).

There is a lot of interesting material in it: many topics will sound familiar to those well acquainted with Meillassoux’s work, but the conversation format leads the discussion also towards some unexpected terrain. I really just read it very quickly, and I’ll have to come back to it, but there is a section (indeed, the concluding section) which rather pleased me. Here is a selection from it:

When all your signs are meaningful, you are in deconstruction. Now why can’t Derrida’s deconstruction say anything about mathematics, why can’t it deconstruct mathematics? Because Derrida needs a sort of meaningful repetition, a sign that is meaningful that, if you repeat it, you have differential effects, by the repetition itself.

But if you take mathematics, you have signs without meaning, and you just operate on these signs. So if there are signs without any meaning, all deconstruction, all hermeneutics, goes out the window. Because there is a hole of meaning – no meaning at all. If these signs have no meaning at all, they just iterate, and this iteration can create the possibility of what I call a reiteration: one sign, two signs, three, four, etc.

So mathematics for me are the continent of what deconstruction cannot deconstruct, because it is grounded on meaninglessness. It is grounded on a sign without meaning. Now how can a sign without meaning can be infinite, can be it be general, generally the same? Here, there is something that is eternal but not ideal. Idealism thinks that it’s always meaning or essence that is eternal. For me what is eternal is just that any sign is a fact. When you see the facticity before the reality of a fact, then you don’t look at this teapot as an object that is factual, but you look at it as being the support of its facticity; and the support of its facticity as facticity is the same for the teapot as for this cup or this table … So you can iterate infinitely, that’s why you can iterate it.

In fact, for me, the facticity, the object as a  support quelconque of facticity, you can iterate it, without any meaning. And that’s why you can operate with it, you can create a world without deconstruction and hermeneutics. And this is grounded on pure facticity of things, and also of thinking. It is not correlated. After that, you can take some pieces of what you can construct from iteration to construct mathematics, and abstractly apply that to some pieces of world, indifferent to thinking, that’s what I try to demonstrate.

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via Hyper tiling

When the phone rang restlessly, whatever this means, Dr. Lawgiverz was sipping his dry red wine and smoking his hand rolled Havana cigar as if everything in the world was absolutely normal and nothing extraordinary was in progress concerning the workings of the universe. It wasn’t his wife calling out of love to propose reunification, it wasn’t the Japanese scientist calling out of friendship to share his latest invention in the field of astrophysics which might have led to a ground breaking new discovery of an uncharted territory, a new dimension of being even, it wasn’t Genesis calling out of urgency to lay the foundation of their new pattern of action, their new strategy against the forces of evil, it was, rather, a subject we have hitherto neglected to mention due to unncessity, a subject who was capable of radically changing the course of events and open new fields in and through which our uncanny narrative could unfold. “Hello?” said Dr. Lawgiverz with an inquisitive tone of voice, and received an equally inquisitive “hello?” from the other end of the line. It all seemed as though something quite surprising, if not altogether shattering, was about to happen to say the least. Now, we may or may not opt for delaying the soon to be made public conversation between Dr. Lawgiverz and the mysterious character who has just been introduced into our narrative, but as we are aware of the demanding readers, who, even god doesn’t know in which circumstances are reading this book, we will not even consider choosing the negative option, which is that of opting for delaying the truth. Quite the contrary, we shall reveal all in no more than a few sentences. Accordingly, “I’m the president of the United States of the World Platform, and I hope it is Dr. Lawgiverz with whom I’m speaking,” will say and has already done so, the mystery man who has lost all his mysteriousness with these words. “It is indeed,” said Dr. Lawgiverz with a sarcastic and/but somehow even more inquisitive tone, this time reflecting a worry as well on behalf of the speaker. “The reason I’m calling you, doctor, is that we have gathered information which we think might be of interest to you regarding the recent developments in world history, and especially the history of science and philosophy.” “Don’t you consider philosophy to be a science in-itself? Or do you consider it an inferior science, a thing of the past, which should rather be left to extinction in the long forgotten pages of history?” asked Dr. Lawgiverz as if this had any relevance at all to the issue at stake here. “Whether philosophy is a science or not is of no interest to us, sir,” said the voice at the other end of the line and continued, “what’s of interest to us is your relationship, or correlation, as you and the likes of you would put it, to the newly emerging philosophical movement called Speculative Realism, which, no doubt goes beyond a mere interest in new possibilities of philosophizing and touches upon a fundamental and highly sensitive issue concerning the relationship between the meaning of life and the state of world politics today. Now, it would be understandable if you only touched upon this issue, but you go much further than that and recklessly intervene in world economics, manifesting itself in the form of capitalism, the most developed form of economics known to man up until now. As is clear to us, your intentions are much more sinister than they appear to be, to cut a long story short, doctor, we are convinced that your primary objective is to shake the foundations of humanity’s very own mode of being itself. Am I right or am I right?” “No need to get uptight with me mister president. I understand that you have done your homework extremely well, but I wonder if you really have any proof at all to sustain your unjustified accusations.” “I assume you are forgetting with whom you are talking mister doctor. If I had no proof to justify my accusations, as you put it, with what authority do you think I would have the courage, or to put it more bluntly, the guts, to call and accuse you of being the mastermind behind these conspiracies?” “I don’t know about that, sir,” said Dr. Lawgiverz and added, “but if there’s one thing I surely know, it’s that I don’t even know whether you really are the person you say you are, calling me in the middle of the night and speculating endlessly about my intellectual life and the conspiracies behind which I’m the mastermind. Correct me if I’m wrong, but how am I supposed to know that you are not a psychotic reader who has not only just happened to read one or more of my books, but who also happens to think he has solved the riddle just like that?” “Well, you obviously cannot know that, what’s more, you are not supposed to know that anyway. So why don’t you just stop presenting yourself as someone who is supposed to know everything.” “I must admit, I’m having difficulty relating to you.” “Perhaps that’s because you are an anti-correlationist, as you would put it.” “I think there is a grand misunderstanding here. Anti-correlationism has nothing to do with two individuals having difficulty communicating with one another. As a matter of fact, what’s at stake in anti- correlationism is much more profound than that. I don’t know if it’s necessary to get into details, but let me at least say just this: anti-correlationism is not a state of mind, or a state of situation, as Badiou would put it, rather, it is a mode of being and thinking, which is driven by a will to think non-reflectively and non-determinatively, that is, to think objects as they are in themselves, rather than they are for mortal humans. Anti-correlationism proposes that it is possible and necessary to think and speculate on a world independent of human thought and/but engagingly indifferent to the symbolic reality. In short, it is an attempt to traverse the fantasy and touch the Real, as Lacan would have put it if only he was alive, which he did when he was.” “How would a human do that, if I may ask?” “You surely may ask, and the answer you get would be that natural sciences and mathematics have already been doing that for centuries. It is only a matter of finding, or rather, creating a new language that would do(express) the same in and through words, rather than the symbols of mathematics, chemistry and physics.” “I didn’t call you to engage in philosophical and scientific discourse doctor. You are a suspect and my duty is to warn you that if you continue your sinister acts, you will regret being alive and capable of thought. Good bye!” “Good bye, sir.”

An Interview with Jane Bennett

by Gulshan Khan

Jane Bennett is Professor of Political Theory and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. In 1986 she received her doctorate in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts. In the following year her dissertation was published with New York University Press under the title Unthinking faith and enlightenment: nature and state in a post-Hegelian era. Her subsequent published books include Thoreau’s Nature: Ethics, Politics, and the Wild (Sage Publications, 1994) and The Enchantment of Modern Life: Attachments, Crossings, and Ethics (Princeton University Press, 2001). Her new book, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, is forthcoming from Duke University Press. In 1988 Bennett became an Assistant Professor at Goucher College in Baltimore, where she also became the Elizabeth Todd Professor in the year 2000 until 2004 when she moved to John Hopkins. She has been a visiting fellow at universities in Britain and in Australia. Bennett is on the editorial and advisory board of a number of prestigious journals and book series ranging from Political Theory to Critical Horizons.

Bennett co-edited The Politics of Moralizing (Routledge, 2002) with Michael J. Shapiro and co-edited In the Nature of Things: Language, Politics and the Environment (University of Minnesota Press, 1993) with William Chaloupka. She and William E. Connolly are in the beginning stages of co-writing a political theory textbook, Friends of the Earth: Minor Voices in the History of Political Thought. These encounters have contributed to Bennett’s distinctive notion of ‘vital materiality’. Her intellectual trajectory is also indebted to aspects of the work of Lucretius (1995), Spinoza (1949), Diderot (1996), Nietzsche (1994), Deleuze and Guattari (1987), Henry Thoreau (1968) and Bruno Latour (1993). Her notion of ‘vital materiality’ also builds upon Michel Foucault’s notion of bio-power and Judith Butler’s early notion of ‘bodies that matter’. Conversely, the notion of agency that stems from Bennett’s work makes an important and substantive contribution, away from the politics of performativity associated with Butler and towards a politics of nonhuman matter and agency. She invokes a new and different political imaginary outside the Hegelian and psychoanalytic framework of the subject and object/other. In this sense her work shares a ‘subject matter’ as well an intellectual affinity with Elizabeth Grosz’s (1994) Deleuzian inspired works. Following a long tradition of thinkers who have sought to de-centre ‘the human’ (for example, Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault), Bennett’s emphasis on nonhuman matter challenges the ontological privileging of ‘the human’. However, her approach creatively affirms the necessity of human embodiment, understood as one site of agency within and across a multiplicity of other material bodies and formations. Her notion of agency also seeks to avoid reducing politics to morality, which has implications for the predominant analytical framework that is heavily underpinned by a Kantian conception of moral agency with its emphasis on intuitions, duties and obligations. Bennett’s contribution to political theory with its emphasis on nature, ethics, aesthetics, environmentalism and vitalism is inter-laced with a political interest in the literary writings of Kafka, Coetzee, Thoreau and Kundera, on whom she has published several articles and essays. Her work has clear implications for re-thinking our relations to and engagement with the vitality of nature. 

 GULSHAN KHAN: Jane, thanks for agreeing to this interview. I would like to begin by exploring some of the themes you are currently working on in your new book and issues raised by your paper presented at the ‘Stem Cell Identities, Governance and Ethics’ conference at Nottingham University in 2007.1  I will then move onto questions about your theory about the enchantment of modernity, nature and agency.

You are currently working on a book entitled Vibrant Matter: The Political Ecology of Things (2010), and I find myself drawn to your version of post-structuralism, which does not reduce life or matter to the play of language. Instead, you outline a layered notion of reality and in particular you delineate a conception of matter as a lively force present in all things. You seem to want to challenge our received notions of the distinction between nature and culture. For example, in your article ‘The force of things’ (2004) you confront Theodor Adorno’s (1990) point that we cannot make any positive claims about the ‘non-identity’ between the concept and the thing. By way of contrast, you offer an affirmative account of this non-identity understood as the play of lively animate forces. Can I press you to explain your notion of ‘things’ or ‘vital materiality’ and how it differs from contending versions?

JANE BENNETT: I’m trying to take ‘things’ more seriously than political theorists had been taking them. By ‘things’ I mean the materialities usually figured as inanimate objects, passive utilities, occasional interruptions or background context – figured, that is, in ways that give all the active, creative power to humans. I focus on five exemplary ‘things’ in the book: stem cells, fish oils, electricity, metal and trash. Our habit of parsing the world into passive matter (it) and vibrant life (us) is what Jacques Rancière (in another context) called a ‘partition of the sensible’. In other words, it limits what we are able to sense; it places below the threshold of note the active powers of material formations, such as the way landfills are, as we speak, generating lively streams of chemicals and volatile winds of methane, or the way omega-3 fatty acids can transform brain chemistry and mood, or the way the differential rates of cooling organize the unpredictable patterns of granite.

My experiment is this: What would the world look and feel like were the life/matter binary to fall into disuse, were it to be translated into differences in degree rather than kind? And how, in particular, would our political analyses of events change were they to acknowledge an elemental, material agency distributed across bodies, human and nonhuman? Who or what would count as a ‘stakeholder’? How would a ‘public’ be constituted? Would politics become less centred around the punitive project of finding individual human agents responsible for the public problems of, say, an electricity blackout or an epidemic of obesity, and more concerned with identifying how the complex human–nonhuman assemblage that’s churning out the negative effect holds itself together – how it endures or feeds itself? Until we do that, political attempts to remedy the problem are likely to be ineffective.

An ‘assemblage’ is an ad hoc grouping of an ontologically diverse range of actants, of vital materialities of various sorts. It is a vibrant, throbbing collective with an uneven topography: some of the points at which its diverse affects and bodies cross paths are more heavily trafficked than others, and thus power is not distributed equally across its surface. An assemblage has no sovereignty in the classical sense, for it is not governed by a central head: no one materiality or type of material has sufficient competence to determine consistently its trajectory or impact. The effects generated by an assemblage are, rather, emergent properties, emergent in that their ability to make something happen (a blackout, a hurricane, a war on terror) is distinct from the sum of the force of each materiality considered alone. An assemblage thus has both a distinctive history of formation and a finite life span.

To be clear: the agency of assemblages of which I speak is not the strong kind of agency traditionally attributed to humans or God. My contention, rather, is that if one looks closely enough, the productive impetus of change is always a congregation. As my friend Ben Corson helped me to see, not only is human agency always already distributed to ‘our’ tools, microbes, minerals and sounds. It only emerges as agentic via its distribution into the ‘foreign’ materialities we are all too eager to figure as mere objects.

It is, I think, the ‘responsibility’ of humans to pay attention to the effects of the assemblages in which we find ourselves participating, and then to work experimentally to alter the machine so as to minimize or compensate for the suffering it manufactures. Sometimes it may be necessary to try to extricate your body from that assemblage, to refuse to contribute more energy to it, and sometimes to work to tilt the existing assemblage in a different direction. In a world where agency is always distributed, a hesitant attitude towards assigning moral blame becomes a virtue. Outrage should not disappear completely, but a politics devoted too exclusively to moral condemnation and not enough to a cultivated discernment of the web of agentic capacities can do little good. A moralized politics of good and evil, of singular agents who must be made to pay for their sins – be they Osama bin Laden or George W. Bush – becomes immoral to the degree that it legitimates vengeance and elevates violence to the tool of first resort. A distributive understanding of agency, then, re-invokes the need to detach ethics from moralism… Read More

via Para_Doxa

Cover of "The Time Machine"

Cover of The Time Machine

 

The Time Machine

The Time Machine

by H. G. Wells

The book’s protagonist is an amateur inventor or scientist living in London who is never named; he is identified simply as The Time Traveller. Having demonstrated to friends using a miniature model that time…

 

 


 

News from Nowhere

News from Nowhere

by William Morris

News from Nowhere (1890) is a classic work combining utopian socialism and soft science fiction written by the artist, designer and socialist pioneer William Morris. In the book, the narrator, William Guest,…

 

 


 

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

by Mark Twain

This is the tale of a 19th-century citizen of Hartford, Connecticut who awakens to find himself inexplicably transported back in time to early medieval England at the time of the legendary King Arthur in AD…

 

 


 

The Panchronicon

The Panchronicon

by Harold Steele MacKaye

A novel about time travel. Excerpt: “Don’t have to keep count,” he replied. “See that indicator?” he continued, pointing to a dial in the ceiling which had not been noticed before. “That reads May 3, 1898, now,…

 

 


 

Police Operation

Police Operation

by Henry Beam Piper

Hunting down the beast, under the best of circumstances, was dangerous. But in this little police operation, the conditions required the use of inadequate means!

 

 


 

Last Enemy

Last Enemy

by Henry Beam Piper

The last enemy was the toughest of all–and conquering him was in itself almost as dangerous as not conquering. For a strange pattern of beliefs can make assassination an honorable profession!

 

 


 

He Walked Around the Horses

 

 


 

Genesis

Genesis

by Henry Beam Piper

Was this ill-fated expedition the end of a proud, old race–or the beginning of a new one? There are strange gaps in our records of the past. We find traces of man-like things–but, suddenly, man appears, far…

 

 


 

Time and Time Again

Time and Time Again

by Henry Beam Piper

To upset the stable, mighty stream of time would probably take an enormous concentration of energy. And it’s not to be expected that a man would get a second chance at life. But an atomic might accomplish both–…

 

 


 

Key out of Time

Key out of Time

by Andre Alice Norton

Ashe Gordon and Ross Murdock, angry about the loss of their fellow agent Travis Fox on the planet Topaz, have travelled to the planet Hawaikan, a warm ocean planet, where they intend to set up a time gate. The…

 

 


 

The Time Traders

The Time Traders

by Andre Alice Norton

Intelligence agents have uncovered something beyond belief, but the evidence is incontrovertible: the USA’s greatest adversary is sending its own agents back through time! And someone (or something) is presenting…

 

 


 

The Chronic Argonauts

The Chronic Argonauts

by H. G. Wells

This brief story begins with a third-person account of the arrival of a mysterious inventor to the peaceful Welsh town of Llyddwdd. Dr. Nebogipfel takes up residence in a house sorely neglected after the deaths…

 

 


 

Golf in the Year 2000, or, What we are coming to

Golf in the Year 2000, or, What we are coming to

by J. McCullough

Written by a mysterious 19th-century Scottish golfer named J. (or Jay) McCullough, using the pseudonym “J.A.C.K.,” it also predicted the advent of golf carts, golf professionals and international golf competitions….

 

 


 

A Dream of John Ball

A Dream of John Ball

by William Morris

A Dream of John Ball (1888) is a novel by English author William Morris about the English peasants’ revolt of 1381 and the rebel John Ball. Like the novels close contemporary – A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s…

 

 


 

Project Mastodon

 

 


 

The Sleeper Awakes

The Sleeper Awakes

by H. G. Wells

The Sleeper Awakes is H. G. Wells’s wildly imaginative story of London in the twenty-second century and the man who by accident becomes owner and master of the world. In 1897 a Victorian gentleman falls into…

 

 


 

Looking Backward

Looking Backward

by Edward Bellamy

Set in Boston on December 26, 2000, but written before the turn of the nineteenth century, this classic Utopian novel is more significant and relevant than ever with its reappearance this millennium. Addressing…

 

 


 

Seven Out of Time

Seven Out of Time

by Arthur Leo Zagat

The novel concerns scientists from the future who pull seven people out of time in order to study emotion which has been lost to the human race.

 

 


 

Time Crime

Time Crime

by Henry Beam Piper

The Paratime Police had a real headache this time! Tracing one man in a population of millions is easy–compared to finding one gang hiding out on one of billions of probability lines!

 

 


 

The Time Axis

The Time Axis

by Henry Kuttner

Called to the end of time by a being known as The Face of Ea, four adventurers face a power that not even the science of that era could meet — the nekron, negative matter, negative force, ultimate desctruction…

 

 


 

Temple Trouble

Temple Trouble

by Henry Beam Piper

Miracles to order was a fine way for the paratimers to get mining concessions–but Nature can sometimes pull counter-miracles. And so can men, for that matter….

 

 


 

The Man Who Came Early

The Man Who Came Early

by Poul William Anderson

How rarely science-fiction writers succeed in creating a wholly alien culture may be judged from any adequate study of an earthly culture of a time or place which does not form part of our direct heritage. S.F’s…

 

 


 

The Day of the Boomer Dukes

The Day of the Boomer Dukes

by Frederik Pohl

Just as medicine is not a science, but rather an art–a device, practised in a scientific manner, in its best manifestations–time-travel stories are not science fiction. Time-travel, however, has become acceptable…

 

 


 

Doctor Who: Nightshade

Doctor Who: Nightshade

by Mark Gatiss

Monsters of the mind kill all in their path.

 

 


 

Doctor Who and the Empire of Glass

 

 


 

Doctor Who: Human Nature

Doctor Who: Human Nature

by Paul Cornell

“On the eve of the First World War, John Smith teaches at an English public school. But is he all that he seems?”

 

 


 

Doctor Who: The Sands of Time

Doctor Who: The Sands of Time

by Justin Richards

An ancient Egyptian god is reborn through Nyssa.

 

 


 

Doctor Who and the Scales of Injustice

Doctor Who and the Scales of Injustice

by Gary Russell

The Silurians come up against a sinister government department.

 

 


 

Chronalgia

 

 


 

The Man Who Saw the Future

The Man Who Saw the Future

by Edmond Moore Hamilton

Excerpt: Jean de Marselait read calmly on from the parchment. “It is stated by many witnesses that for long that part of Paris, called Nanley by some, has been troubled by works of the devil. Ever and anon great…

 

 


 

Benefactor

Benefactor

by George H. Smith

We can anticipate that robots will be fiercely resented, at first, in a society that will see them as the latest—and an indestructible—widespread threat to the workers whom they will replace. The men who…


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Word from Urbanomic that Volume III of Collapse has sold out and is now available for free online. It includes the much-cited original Speculative Realism conference. Find it here.

via Speculative Heresy

Collapse III contains explorations of the work of Gilles Deleuze by pioneering thinkers in the fields of philosophy, aesthetics, music and architecture. In addition, we publish in this volume two previously untranslated texts by Deleuze himself, along with a fascinating piece of vintage science fiction from one of his more obscure influences. Finally, as an annex to Collapse Volume II, we also include a full transcription of the conference on ‘Speculative Realism’ held in London in 2007.

The contributors to this volume aim to clarify, from a variety of perspectives, Deleuze’s contribution to philosophy: in what does his philosophical originality lie; what does he appropriate from other philosophers and how does he transform it? And how can the apparently disparate threads of his work to be ‘integrated’ – what is the precise nature of the constellation of the aesthetic, the conceptual and the political proposed by Gilles Deleuze, and what are the overarching problems in which the numerous philosophical concepts ‘signed Deleuze’ converge?

Contents

ROBIN MACKAY
Editorial Introduction [PDF]
THOMAS DUZER
In Memoriam: Gilles Deleuze 1925-1995 [PDF]
GILLES DELEUZE
Responses to a Series of Questions [PDF]
ARNAUD VILLANI
“I Feel I Am A Pure Metaphysician”: The Consequences of Deleuze’s Remark [PDF]
QUENTIN MEILLASSOUX
Subtraction and Contraction: Deleuze, Immanence and Matter and Memory [PDF]
HASWELL & HECKER
Blackest Ever Black [PDF]
GILLES DELEUZE
Mathesis, Science and Philosophy [PDF]
INCOGNITUM
Malfatti's Decade [[PDF]
JOHN SELLARS
Chronos and Aion: Deleuze and the Stoic Theory of Time [PDF]
ÉRIC ALLIEZ & JEAN-CLAUDE BONNE
Matisse-Thought and the Strict Ordering of Fauvism [PDF]
MEHRDAD IRAVANIAN
Unknown Deleuze [PDF]
J.-H. ROSNY THE ELDER
Another World [PDF]
RAY BRASSIER, IAIN HAMILTON GRANT, GRAHAM HARMAN, QUENTIN MEILLASSOUX
Speculative Realism [PDF]

As I’m finishing up this book, I think the biggest mystery in Meillassoux (not the point I disagree with most, which is his defense of the strength of the correlationist argument) is why he has any concept of laws at all. Hyper-chaos, of course, means that anything can happen at any time without reason. The downfall of the principle of sufficient reason should mean that everything is autonomous and disconnected, not linked in any way with anythin

anything else that happens.But that’s not what Meillassoux says. It is only laws that have no sufficient reason. It is at the level of worlds that the transfinite considerations of Cantor make it impossible to call things probable or improbable.

In the intra-worldly sphere, laws do exist. It is true that these laws can change at any moment for no reason, but they are laws nonetheless, however transient and unreliable. If I pull my keys from my pocket and they turn into a dove and fly from the room, this is certainly possible for Meillassoux. But the more I look at his writings, this sort of ‘chaotic’ event can’t happen directly. What must happen is that the laws of nature governing such things must change– which can happen, of course… Read More

via Object-Oriented Philosophy

Fractal Art

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Fractals and Time, PART III: Unfolding, Timeless Time, and Holography What follows is Part III of a series on Fractals and Time. Part I is here, and Part II is here. Unfolding. Building on the work of Laurent Nottale, Susie Vrobel, and Roger Penrose, theorist Keri Welch has recently proposed a fractal model of time which integrates a wide series of sources to produce a unified account of how “time emerges from timelessness.” The hypotheses which follow build upon what has just been presented to describe, explain, a … Read More

via Networkologies

New theory suggests that dark matter might gather in the center of the sun…

By Smaranda Biliuti, News Editor 

 

Dr Stephen West from the Department of Physics at Royal Holloway, University of London, launched an interesting theory about what is happening in the center of the sun. He believes that dark matter is somehow trapped at the sun’s center and it is cooling down its core.

A study carried out by Dr West analyzes the possible effects of dark matter particles on the sun’s properties, if they ever get trapped in the middle. Theory says that dark matter forms a halo around our galaxy. As the sun moves around the galaxy, there is a possibility that it crosses a current of dark matter, of which some might be captured by its gravity. If such thing happens, then dark matter particles would be caught at the center of the sun.

Dr West says that “dark matter makes up more than 80 per cent of the total mass of the universe. We know that dark matter exists but to date it has never been produced in a laboratory or directly observed in any experiment, as a result we have very little information about what it actually is. It is important that we examine all possible ways of probing the nature of dark matter and the sun could provide us with an unexpected laboratory in which to do this.”

Researchers managed to simulate the effect of dark matter gatherings and found out that this phenomenon would reduce the temperature of the sun’s core. As dark matter particles are believed to absorb energy, part of the core’s heat would be transferred to the surface of the sun. If the sun’s core gets cooler, the number of neutrinos coming from its nuclear reactions would be affected. Dr West hopes that by examining these neutrinos, he could find out more about the temperature of the sun’s core and also whether dark matter is important or not in solar physics. All this would also provide information about the mass of individual dark matter particles and about their interactions with elements from the sun.

Dr Stephen West reveals that “the next step in the work is to look more closely at the change in the predicted number of neutrinos produced in the sun as a result of dark matter collecting at the core and to examine the sensitivity of existing neutrino experiments to this change. In addition, an investigation of the possibility of probing this type of dark matter at the Large Hadron Collider is planned. The LHC could provide complimentary information about the properties of dark matter which along with the information from the sun may lead to a clearer picture of one of the more puzzling issues in physics.”

Copyright (c) 2001-2010 Softpedia.

 

Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) mit Studenten. Lit...

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As mentioned a while ago, John Caputo has been running a new course on continental philosophy of religion featuring After the Postsecular and the Postmodern: New Essays in Continental Philosophy of Religion (Amazon: US, UK) as well as a number of speculative realist thinkers. As the course goes on, lectures are being posted up at this site and are certainly worth checking out: 

Index of Caputo Fall 2010

 In other news, the journal Speculations has released a CFP for its second issue:

Speculations, a journal for speculative realist thought, invites submissions for its second issue. Given the intrinsically open and unconstrained nature of the arena for speculative thought which Speculations aims at embodying—and in view of the favorable reception of the inaugural issue—our aim is to broaden the range and ambition of the Journal. In accordance with speculative realism’s mandate to open philosophy to the richness of reality, we particularly encourage scholars to engage with speculative realism from disciplinary perspectives beyond philosophy. We therefore welcome papers discussing speculative realism’s renewed philosophical concern with the non-human world from a wide array of disciplines.

Speculations is an open-access and peer-reviewed journal that hopes to provide a forum for the exploration of speculative realism and ‘post-continental’ philosophy. Our aim is to facilitate discussion about ongoing developments within and around speculative realism. We accept short position papers, full length articles and book reviews.

Potential authors should make sure to go through the ‘Submission Checklist’ before submitting. Articles should be no longer than 8,000 words and follow the Chicago Manual of Style (http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html).

The deadline for submission is the 8th of January 2011.

Submissions can be sent to speculationsjournal@gmail.com

via Speculative Heresy

Institute of Geosciences of the Universidade F...

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The Science and Metaphysics Event has just kicked off over at Speculative Heresy, with Ben Woodard giving us a post on Lovecraftian Science/Lovecraftian Nature. I’ve just finished my piece, which will go up at some point over the next week I’m sure, so stay tuned. It didn’t turn out quite as I intended, but I’m sure some people will find it interesting. … Read More

via Deontologistics

Science, Metaphysics and the A Priori / A Posteriori Distinction by Pete Wolfendale
Posted on September 21, 2010 by Nick Srnicek @ Speculative Heresy
Today’s contribution to the blog event comes from Pete Wolfendale of the always interesting Deontologistics blog.

The question that we have been posed is that of the relation between metaphysics and the natural sciences. In particular, we are tasked with squaring the relative autonomy of metaphysics in relation to natural science with the fact that they in some sense share the same object – the world as it is in-itself. This is a difficult task, and it cannot be satisfactorily completed here. However, it is possible to sketch an answer to the question, and to defend it against a few important objections, if not all possible ones. This is what I propose to do here.  Read More

via Speculative Heresy

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