Transcendental Philosophy Today

Posted by Edward Willatt on Monday, May 24, 2010 Under: Transcendental Philosophy

The challenge posed to transcendental philosophy by forms of naturalism has been a theme of philosophy since Kant.  However, the challenge today is particular strong and its arguments persuasive.  The emerging movements of speculative realism and object-oriented philosophy continue to gather momentum.  Transcendental philosophy is charged with being limited by the correlation between thought and being or consciousness and reality.  It suffers from a lack of ambition, a modesty that makes it appear insular and parochial.  It concerns itself with forms of thought, knowledge and consciousness rather than reality in its fullest sense.  This leads me to wonder if the version of Kant able to meet this challenge is Kant as a builder of systems, the Kant of architectonics and German Idealism.  This is the Kant who was ambitious in his system building as a way of defeating the threat of scepticism.  His challenge to dogmatism was equally important but this did not diminish his ambitions.  Instead it directed them away from the thing-in-itself as an object given in advance and towards an account of objectivity as such.  The correlationist circle is a device of critique put forward by Quentin Meillassoux whose challenge can only be faced by ambitious systems of transcendental philosophy and not by considering the relations of subject and object or self and world as if these things are given in advance. Transcendental philosophy must rise to the challenge of accounting for the giving of subject and object without making them dependent upon one another.  It must account for the object that precedes consciousness to meet Meillassoux’s critique.  Otherwise it is open to the charge of correlationism, of impotently gesturing to a larger reality which it has insulated itself from. Instead of seeking to reach all of reality from the perspective of a subject’s quest for knowledge it must seek to account for the objective and the subjective without correlation, for the ‘great outdoors’ allegedly missing in its accounts.

Of course such ambitious systems could be charged with internalising the correlation. Such systems must internalise the ‘outside’, the real which is not correlated with consciousness, if they are to overcome this critique.  They must not presuppose the meaning and organisation that things have for conscious beings if they are to avoid this.  This was a preoccupation of post-structuralism as it tried to make the limit, Other, aporia or empty square into the immanent limit of a system.  Rather than a closed system of differences it sought the decentred centre that put the inside in touch with its outside with revolutionary consequences.  However, we need to also draw upon German Idealism and its system building activities in order to rise to the challenge set by speculative realism.  This is because it is less vulnerable to the charge of undermining the activity of subjects and the determination of experience.  It does not begin with language, the text or alterity and thus helps undermine the charge of correlation between language and being or self and world.  Alain Badiou is someone who also helps us meet these challenges while affirming the transcendental rather than abandoning it. He is part of a return to systems in transcendental philosophy which one can also identify in the work of Gilles Deleuze.  This goes against the modesty of many readings of Kant and towards a concern with architectonics resonant with German Idealism while also drawing upon the ‘anti-systems’ of post-structuralism.  I am merely putting forward ideas for future work but these reflects the fact that whatever I work on at present the challenge from speculative realism and object-orientated philosophy is a constant presence and spur to thought. 

In : Transcendental Philosophy 



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Transcendental Philosophy Today

Posted by Edward Willatt on Monday, May 24, 2010 Under: Transcendental Philosophy

The challenge posed to transcendental philosophy by forms of naturalism has been a theme of philosophy since Kant.  However, the challenge today is particular strong and its arguments persuasive.  The emerging movements of speculative realism and object-oriented philosophy continue to gather momentum.  Transcendental philosophy is charged with being limited by the correlation between thought and being or consciousness and reality.  It suffers from a lack of ambition, a modesty that makes it appear insular and parochial.  It concerns itself with forms of thought, knowledge and consciousness rather than reality in its fullest sense.  This leads me to wonder if the version of Kant able to meet this challenge is Kant as a builder of systems, the Kant of architectonics and German Idealism.  This is the Kant who was ambitious in his system building as a way of defeating the threat of scepticism.  His challenge to dogmatism was equally important but this did not diminish his ambitions.  Instead it directed them away from the thing-in-itself as an object given in advance and towards an account of objectivity as such.  The correlationist circle is a device of critique put forward by Quentin Meillassoux whose challenge can only be faced by ambitious systems of transcendental philosophy and not by considering the relations of subject and object or self and world as if these things are given in advance. Transcendental philosophy must rise to the challenge of accounting for the giving of subject and object without making them dependent upon one another.  It must account for the object that precedes consciousness to meet Meillassoux’s critique.  Otherwise it is open to the charge of correlationism, of impotently gesturing to a larger reality which it has insulated itself from. Instead of seeking to reach all of reality from the perspective of a subject’s quest for knowledge it must seek to account for the objective and the subjective without correlation, for the ‘great outdoors’ allegedly missing in its accounts.

Of course such ambitious systems could be charged with internalising the correlation. Such systems must internalise the ‘outside’, the real which is not correlated with consciousness, if they are to overcome this critique.  They must not presuppose the meaning and organisation that things have for conscious beings if they are to avoid this.  This was a preoccupation of post-structuralism as it tried to make the limit, Other, aporia or empty square into the immanent limit of a system.  Rather than a closed system of differences it sought the decentred centre that put the inside in touch with its outside with revolutionary consequences.  However, we need to also draw upon German Idealism and its system building activities in order to rise to the challenge set by speculative realism.  This is because it is less vulnerable to the charge of undermining the activity of subjects and the determination of experience.  It does not begin with language, the text or alterity and thus helps undermine the charge of correlation between language and being or self and world.  Alain Badiou is someone who also helps us meet these challenges while affirming the transcendental rather than abandoning it. He is part of a return to systems in transcendental philosophy which one can also identify in the work of Gilles Deleuze.  This goes against the modesty of many readings of Kant and towards a concern with architectonics resonant with German Idealism while also drawing upon the ‘anti-systems’ of post-structuralism.  I am merely putting forward ideas for future work but these reflects the fact that whatever I work on at present the challenge from speculative realism and object-orientated philosophy is a constant presence and spur to thought. 

In : Transcendental Philosophy 



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