Friday, 23 October 2009

Speculative Realism in the Curriculum

Well it has been some time since I last blogged, mainly due to the pressures of adapting to and delivering the new academic year. My initial enthusiasm for exploring speculative realism and object oriented ontology, in relation to my other academic interests, hasn't dissipated, it has simply proved difficult to fit into the rest of my life, particularly with a new baby on the scene (an object whose hidden depths have an unpleasant habit of revealing themselves with some regularity).

However, that said, SR and OOO have started to permeate my teaching in various ways; and, while I wouldn't feel comfortable proposing a module on this subject, yet, many of the concepts are starting to cascade into the modules that I do teach. My year one introductory lecture to philosophy now has a nice slide with Graham Harman's definition of philosophy (following on from Plato, Nietzsche, Russell, Wittgenstein and Toulmin):

[P]hilosophy means to find ideas that bore us and invent ways to make them obsolete. But this is difficult, and requires as much scrupulous respect for reality as the construction of bridges and powerplants whose failure would result in the deaths of thousands.

In addition, my approach to occasionalism will undoubtedly be very different when I come to Descartes and mind-body interactionism this year, avoiding the old knowing nod to the audience that, yes, this is as odd as it sounds, before quickly moving on to consider various analytic responses. Nihil Unbound in turn is percolating beneath the surface of my Life and Meaning module. After Finitude and the language of correlationism is impacting on most of my side comments about epistemology and Kant. OOO is exerting a strong influence on my ecological philosophy and metaphysics too, although sadly I am not delivering my environmental philosophy module this year; plus Larourianisms and DeLanda'isms seem to be peppering my casual discussions and seminars with students (e.g. alliances, translations, assemblages).

So, while I don't seem to have the time to direct my Summer of 2009 adventures with speculative realism towards any focused research or publications, my teaching is being effected, and often in rather surprising ways. Who knows how the current cohort of students will be effected by the gravitational pull of SR on their poor lecturer.

Friday, 2 October 2009

The Objects of 2009

While attempting to create a grid of all the lectures that I am teaching across several modules this year, I was reminded of the lists of Object-Oriented Ontology. Simply combining my lists and arranging them in alphabetical order was sufficient to generate an unusual run of lecture materials and objects.

Absurdity of Life I, II and III; Alternative histories I and II; Authenticity and Appropriation (religious) I and II; Argumentation; Cyberspace Religions; Death & Mortality I, II and III; Determinism and Free Will; Doomsday Argument, the, I and II; Feminist approaches to the Study of Religion; Feminist Theology, Thealogy & Queer theology I and II; Goddess, The, I, II and III; Goddess Spirituality; Heathenism I and II; Heidegger and the Question of Being I, II and III; Immortality I and II; Insiders / Outsiders; Language, Philosophy of; Life and Meaning; Living Well; Mind, Philosophy of; Modern Satanism; Mothers, Goddesses and Cyborgs I and II; Myth, Fantasy and Re-enchantment; New Age I and II; New Religions and Conversion; Other-than-human I and II; Pagan Revival I and II; Personal Identity I, II and III; Phenomenological Ontology I, II, III & IV; Psychology of Religion; Purpose of Life I and II; Scientology; Self-Fulfilment I and II; Shamanism I and II; Sociology of Religion; Studying Religious “Others”; Theories of Truth I and II; UFO Religions; and Wicca I, II and III.

The list certainly brings home a point from Guerrilla Metaphysics about bizarre chains of entities and whether they can possibly be candidates for substancehood. The only linking factor for this disparate chain is myself.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

On Further Thought ... Vacuum

Well, on further reflection and following my last post, I'm of the view that any linking of chora with the vacuum that envelops - and permeates - objects in Graham's OOO is probably redundant or misleading. At minimum I probably need to finish reading Guerrilla Metaphysics and find time to think this through before I start speculating about how concept X seems a little like concept Y, therefore .... Firewalls, though, remain intriguing and possibly require far more work than Graham has so for given them; although, again, I need to keep reading.

On another matter this is Fresher's Week and, while it is always a pleasure to see new students, it is also a tiring week with many introductory talks, meetings, plus admin and timetabling issues to untangle. Teaching starts next week and it will then take a little time to adapt to the rhythmn of the new teaching schedule. Settling in to the environs of different teaching rooms and the new pattern of modules and teaching hours is always an unusual process. Changes in rooms create an entirely different feel to a course, plus the ordering of modules and lectures during a day can have a very pronounced effect on the tone of subsequent lectures. Simply looking at the timetable is never quite enough, you have to live it for a few weeks.