Inaugural Memorial University Graduate Conference in Philosophy: Nature, Freedom, and Reason

June 5th-7th, 2013

Keynote Speaker:
Iain Hamilton Grant, University of the West of England

The graduate students and faculty of Memorial University’s Department of Philosophy are pleased to announce the Inaugural Graduate Conference in Philosophy and invite graduate submissions that relate broadly to the conference theme.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

• The revival of German Idealism in the works of Markus Gabriel, Iain Hamilton Grant, and Slavoj Žižek; German Idealism and the Pittsburgh School (Sellars, Brandom, McDowell); the “space of reasons.”

• Contemporary rationalist philosophy; Alain Badiou and Quentin Meillassoux.

• Rationalism, Ancient/Medieval Metaphysics, and their relevance today.

• Metaphysics, Ecology, Philosophy of Life and the Philosophy of Nature.

• Philosophies of Subjectivity and Freedom.

• Original contributions related to the conference theme are also encouraged.

Submissions: Please prepare abstracts for blind review and send to by February 28th, 2014. Abstracts should not exceed 500 words. Cover sheet must include the author’s name, essay title, email address, and institutional affiliation. Limited funding available for travel assistance.

Selected papers will be considered for publication in Analecta Hermeneutica (

This event is organized by the Doctoral Students of MUN’s Department of Philosophy.


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Teaching this semester

I was fortunate to be hired by the Department of Religious Studies as a per-course instructor this semester, which has kept me busy with prep work, and now that the semester is underway, actually teaching. I was hired to teach one of the first-year courses, “Religion in the Modern World,” and have altered the material covered quite substantially. While the previous person teaching the course dealt exclusively with the Gospels, Luther, and Dostoyevsky, I’ve veered towards the ethical-political, while also including some interesting philosophical works. I’ve posted the course description and reading list to my course website if you’d like to have a closer look.


In other news, I’ve added a new page to the blog where you can easily find work of mine that’s available online. 

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CFP: Translating Realism: The Nature and Emergence of Contemporary French Thought (Notre Dame)

Another conference on contemporary philosophy:

Translating Realism: The Nature and Emergence of Contemporary French Thought

An Interdisciplinary Conference

Keynote Speakers:
Adrian Johnston (University of New Mexico)
Dorothea Olkowski (UCCS/Rotman Institute)
Michael Naas (Depaul)

May 10-11 2013, University of Notre Dame.


In the last decade, the cutting edge of French thought appears to have changed radically. Questions of metaphysics, of realism, science, and objectivity, of the end of critique, which might have been proscribed a generation ago, seem to take pride of place. Our aim is to provide a genealogy of the present moment in French thought. We intend to improve our understanding of the non-discursive, material agents that have jointly made the present moment in French thought possible. We would also like to gain a firm grasp on the strictly conceptual issues at stake, and start charting both dead ends and new ways forward.

In the interests of fostering as intensive and wide-ranging discussion as possible, as well as future collaboration, we hope to organize panels of consisting of both graduate students and faculty.


With all of this in mind, we have decided to orient our conference along two axes:


1) Realist philosophy in French context: We are confronted with the “irreductive” reflections of Latour and Serres, the rationalist materialism of Badiou and Meillassoux, and the speculative philosophies of Malabou, Stengers, Laruelle and Deleuze. We find similar themes in, e.g., the speculative philosophies of life in the phenomenology of Renaud Barbaras and Michel Henry. We hope to specify the varieties of French realism, their convergences and divergences, the theoretical problems to which they respond and, perhaps most importantly, their conceptual, argumentative supports and limitations.


2) Translation: contemporary French thought is thoroughly engaged in translation in a broad sense, transmitting into new contexts and transforming the concepts of thinkers from Hume to William James and A. N. Whitehead to Bloor and Pickering. Thought never emerges in a vacuum, and the work of translation does not take place in a void. We are interested in discussions of the specific sorts of media through which these translations and transformations have taken place, from cyberspace to international conferences to collaborative research programmes, and their effects on the development of French realism.


We encourage submissions that relate broadly to either of these axes. High-quality submissions on other dimensions of contemporary French thought are also welcome.


Presenters will be provided first-class lodging and most meals. Some funding may be available to subsidize graduate student travel.


Papers should be prepared for blind-review, and should be suitable for a 25 minute presentation.


Deadline for submission is January 15 2012.

Submissions can be sent to

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Call for Abstracts: The Return of Speculative Philosophy (University of Ottawa)

Alex Liepins, formerly of MUN, now doing his PhD at Ottawa, sent me a CFA that should be of interest to lots of folks. I’ll be submitting something so long as I can afford to go!

Call for Abstracts
The Return of Speculative Philosophy
9th Annual De Philosophia Graduate Student Conference
University of Ottawa
5 – 6 April 2013
Keynote Speaker:
Rebecca Comay, University of Toronto

In many ways twentieth century philosophy, analytical and continental, exhibited a real desire to abandon metaphysical speculation. Despite this desire, disparate movements in contemporary philosophy are contributing to the return of speculative philosophy. For example, analytical thought has shown signs of (re-)approaching metaphysical speculation (Molnar); similarly, continental thinkers have begun to move away from strictly phenomenological/linguistic investigations (Meillassoux). In light of these developments, the conference organizers and the Graduate Philosophy Student Association at the University of Ottawa invite submissions relating to any aspect of the long historical tradition of speculative philosophy and its concern with posing properly ontological questions. We are particularly interested in projects that connect the rich history of speculative thought to the contemporary resurgence of the speculative spirit. Our overarching goal is to clear a space for creative engagement with the myriad of issues surrounding the history and current status of speculative philosophy from a wide array of critical (and potentially divergent) perspectives.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):
o Ancient ontologies
o Medieval metaphysics
o Substance in early Modernism
o The Absolute in German Idealism
o Marxian critiques of Hegel
o British Idealism
o Pragmatist, naturalist, and anti-metaphysical responses
o The Frankfurt School critique of ontology
o Post-structuralism
o Philosophies of the event
o Realism vs. Anti-realism
o Speculative realism
o Developments in recent analytical metaphysics

– French and English submissions are welcome.
– Abstracts should be no longer than 350 words, prepared for blind review in .DOC or .PDF format.
– In a separate document, authors must include their name, institutional affiliation, e-mail address and the title of their submission.
-Successful applicants must provide their completed essays (12-15 double-spaced pages for a 25-30 minute presentation) no later than 6 March 2013.

Deadline for Abstracts: 30 January 2013. Please send abstracts/inquiries to:

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Speculations III now available!

I’m happy to report that the third volume of Speculations is now available. You can read the open-access journal in the form of PDFs (either of the volume in its entirety or as separate articles) here. A physical copy can also be purchased here.

Of course, we’re not resting on our laurels. Most of the Speculations team (with the unfortunate exception of Fabio) will be in Basel next week for the Aesthetics in the 21st Century conference, where we’ll all be speaking as part of the editors panel along with the folks from continent. In case you missed it, a pre-conference discussion was published in the latest issue of continent., where we talk about the current state and future of academic learning. The proceedings of the conference will be making up the contents of a future Speculations volume as well.

In addition to this, the wheels are in motion for more Speculations, with some exciting developments for the future!

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continent. 2.2 now available!

The latest issue of continent. is now available online. It includes a discussion between myself, Paul Ennis, Thomas Gokey, and Robert Jackson from Speculations, as well as Paul Boshears and Jamie Allen from continent., discussing the present and future of academia and the university. This online discussion will serve as a prologue to a panel at the Aesthetics in the 21st Century conference in Basel, where I will get to meet these fine folks for the first time in meatspace.

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Analecta Hermeneutica Vol. 3: Transcendence and Immanence

I’m happy to say that the latest volume of Analecta Hermeneutica, titled Transcendence and Immanence, is now available online. AH is (of course) the open-access, peer-reviewed journal of the International Institute for Hermeneutics and is hosted as part of Memorial University’s Open Access Initiatives.

The theme for this volume, while ostensibly being “transcendence” and “immanence” is also the shift in recent continental philosophy, as evidenced by the various approaches to the aforementioned themes. This is why you’ll see articles on Heidegger, Ricoeur, and Henry, along with those on Deleuze, Latour, and Laruelle. Those who follow this blog will likely be interested in the following pieces:


  • My own “The Inner Life of Objects: Immanent Realism and Speculative Philosophy.” This is adapted from the piece I presented in 2010 in Claremont as part of the Whitehead conference. I have since expanded it, largely concerning the work of James Bradley, who recently passed away, and who I had the great privilege of working under. I have essentially taken up his concern with the category of “speculative philosophy” and work to apply it to my own concern for “non-cognitive philosophy.” Non-Cognitive Philosophy (which will also be my broad topic in Basel) is metaphysically irreductive, while also concerned with modes of access and experience which are neither concerned with rationality, or even necessarily the human being.
  • Iain Hamilton Grant’s “Movements of the World: The Sources of Transcendental Philosophy.” Grant continues his work from Philosophies of Nature After Schelling, looking here for the ground of transcendental inquiry and Kantian rationality. Instead of simply aligning with Kant’s conclusions, it is Schelling who informs us of the necessary ground of thought in Nature, or rather in the dynamic forces which ground all of reality.
  • Levi Bryant’s “A Logic of Multiplicities: Deleuze, Immanence, and Onticology.” Here, Levi works out the consequences of flat ontology as it relates to immanence. As well, the onticological work he’s been doing for some time is applied more directly to his previous work on Deleuze. Those interested in either OOO or Deleuze will want to have a look!
  • Anthony Paul Smith’s “A Stumbling Block to the Jews and Folly to the Greeks: Non-Philosophy and Philosophy’s Absolutes.” APS not only preovides a clear view of Laruelle’s work, but bring’s non-philosophy (non-standard philosophy) into dialogue with speculative realism, specifically Meillassoux and the concept of correlationism. I really can’t say enough about how great this essay is; it was enough to convince me to sign up for Anthony’s online course on Laruelle, and should serve as an excellent introduction to the stakes of non-philosophy.
  • Jay Foster’s “Ontologies without Metaphysics: Latour, Harman, and the Philosophy of Things.” Foster presents us with a Latourian intervention into Harman’s appropriation and presentation of Latour and actor-network theory. Under Foster’s reading, Latour doesn’t want or need the metaphysics provided by Harman which aims to compliment Latour’s own work since the latter presents us with an “ontology without metaphysics.” In place of a metaphysics of objects, Foster argues that Latour gives us a philosophy of techniques
  • Finally, Jeffrey Robbins provides us with a glowing review of Anthony Paul Smith and Daniel Whistler’s After the Postsecular and the Postmodern: New Essays in Continental Philosophy of Religion, while Paul Ennis presents a wonderful review of Santiago Zabala’s The Remains of Being: Hermeneutic Ontology After Metaphysics.

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Jockey Club – Jim Bradley’s Beyond Hermeneutics: Peirce’s Semiology as a Trinitarian Metaphysics of Communication

As some of you know, here at MUN we have (near) weekly meetings to discuss philosophy texts known as the Jockey Club. The last Jockey Club meeting before exams was discussing Jim Bradley’s piece “Beyond Hermeneutics: Peirce’s Semiology as a Trinitarian Metaphysics of Communication” (available to read here).

Peter Gratton had the forethought to record the session and post it to his blog. I’d encourage everyone to read the essay, which is the best introduction to Peirce I’ve read, and listen to what ended up being a very good discussion of Peirce’s semiotics and speculative philosophy.


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CFP: “Theory Mad Beyond Redemption”: The Post-Kantian Poe


This looks to be a great volume.

A call for papers for a special issue of The Edgar Allan Poe Review, forthcoming in Fall 2012, and guest-edited by Sean Moreland, Devin Zane Shaw, and Jonathan Murphy.

The editors invite original essays that address the influence of German Idealist and Romantic thought upon Edgar Allan Poe. While it has become a critical commonplace that Poe both makes use of and mocks many elements of German Idealism, there has been scant discussion of the specificities of Poe’s complex, and often vexed, treatments of Kantian and post-Kantian philosophy. Poe studies enjoyed a brief revival of the “French Poe” following the psychoanalytic and deconstructive interventions of Lacan and Derrida, but the anti-theoretical backlash of the past two decades has tended to extradite Poe back to his country of origin, restoring his “American Face” at the cost of recognizing the transatlantic influences that indelibly shaped his writing. This collection will focus on Poe’s indebtedness to, as well as his critical distance from, the German Idealist and Romantic writers, but its intent is not to delineate, as Hansen and Pollin (1995) have done, the “German Face” of Poe, so much as it is to reintroduce the theoretical aspect of Poe’s artistry back into the critical conversation.

We especially welcome papers that consider the relationship between Poe’s reception of Kantian and post-Kantian philosophy (including Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Schiller, and the Schlegels) and that of his American literary contemporaries (including Emerson, Fuller, Hawthorne, and Melville); articles that examine the role of Coleridge and Carlyle, Cousin and de Stael in disseminating German idealism upon American shores; and essays that interrogate more recent peregrinations of German philosophy in Continental theory, especially as they pertain to a reconsideration of Poe’s literary legacy.

We require a 250 word abstract and a brief bio by no later than April 30, 2012, and the finished paper (Chicago-style, no more than 9000 words including endnotes) by July 15, 2012. Abstracts, papers, and questions should be directed to:

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Aesthetics in the 21st Century abstract

The Aesthetics in the 21st Century page has been updated to include the program as well as abstracts, so I thought I would post my own, to be presented as the final paper of the conference:

“The Feeling of Things: Transcendental Empiricism in Herder, Whitehead, and Serres”

Abstract: While contemporary philosophers have turned once again to aesthetics as an important field, some going as far as to maintain it as “first philosophy,” this focus has important precursors (and, as we will see, an unfortunately ignored contemporary). This paper aims to outline an important historical tradition steeped in romanticism and a variety of transcendental empiricism, while also showing its relevance and applicability to the speculative turn. Beginning with Johann Gottfried Herder, the author will show an alternative to Kantianism, a philosophy which takes feeling and sensation seriously. This will ground a position the author terms “non-cognitive philosophy,” a methodology in opposition to many of the neo-rationalists associated with or related to speculative realism (Badiou, Meillassoux). Non-cognitive philosophy refuses to reduce the world to concepts, language, human minds, or rationality. Instead, it is a methodology aimed at showing the multiplicity of things, affirming that a thing is not reducible to any single variety of access (cognitive, emotional, aesthetic, causal, logical, relational, etc, etc.). This tradition continues prominently in the work of Alfred North Whitehead and his attempt to construct a “critique of pure feeling” in contrast to the Kantian and Idealist traditions. In addition, Whitehead provides a non-anthropocentric metaphysics, with feeling no longer being tied to flesh and nerves, but is instead an attribute of being. The essay will conclude by turning to Michel Serres, whose work has gone seemingly unnoticed by the speculative realist movement. Serres should be a central figure for the “aesthetic turn” both for his metaphysics of communication as well as his study of bodily sensation as an alternative to epistemology. This tradition founded on the principle of “feeling as first philosophy” will prove to be an important, though untapped, aspect of the speculative turn.

In addition to this paper, I will also be speaking as part of the Editor’s Workshop along with my fellow Speculations editors, Paul Ennis, Thomas Gokey, and Robert Jackson, as well as Paul Boshears from continent. It should be a great conference and I’ve very much looking forward to finally meeting those I’ve known for so long online!

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