Tom Sparrow: From Anti-Realism to Speculative Realism


Really generous write-up of my my book at Dark Ecologies:

Originally posted on dark ecologies:



Finally able to begin a back log of reading material that I’ve put off for several months. Several works in the past year or so have come out dealing with Speculative Realism (SR). Four in particular I’m in process of reading are

  1. Speculative Realism: Problems and Prospects by Peter Gratton
  2. The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism by Steven Shaviro
  3. The End of Phenomenology: Metaphysics and the New Realism by Tom Sparrow
  4. Object-Oriented Philosophy: The Noumenon’s New Clothes by Peter Wolfendale

For personal reasons I started with Tom Sparrow’s work which outlines a case against the anti-realist tradition of phenomenology which he argues lacks both a method and a hard core kernel of realist philosophy. He takes Merleau Ponty to task in his appraisal of phenomenology as a style of philosophy, when Ponty states that in his opinion: “the responsible philosopher must be that phenomenology can be practised and…

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SR/OOO: An Epitome

I’m very excited to announce that I’ve signed on with the upstart, open-access Kismet Press to write Speculative Realism and Object-Oriented Philosophy: An Epitome for their Epitomes series.

Unlike other introductions to the field, mine will be problem and question driven. It will be nontechnical, informal, and presume virtually no knowledge of SR/OOO. It will be free in digital form and affordable in paperback. It should appear in early 2016.

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A Telling Bit of Criticism from the Phenomenology Camp

When Tim Hyde reviewed my book The End of Phenomenology back February, it was clear to me that he found it only lukewarm. That’s fine with me, and I’m not going to answer his criticism point by point. One point continues to eat away at me even today, however, and I believe it worth commenting on because I think it reveals something about the kind of strategy used by defenders of phenomenology whenever their camp comes under attack.

In a discussion of the phenomenological reduction, and after quoting my commentary on Merleau-Ponty’s claim that the reduction is impossible because it can never be completed, Hyde corrects my inference and points out that the task of phenomenology is to always return to the beginning of phenomenology so as to take up the task anew. This is a common trope in phenomenology: citing its incessant attempts to reboot its project as precisely one of its chief virtues. As Hyde concludes, “Phenomenology can always have a future; what it cannot have is a past.” I see the point here, even though I disagree. But philosophical disagreement is not what I want to engage in here. More interesting to me is the way that Hyde justifies his point–by quoting Heidegger. Or rather, to be more precise, by quoting Heidegger quoting Heidegger. Here’s Hyde’s reference, used to justify his conclusion above:

Or as Heidegger puts it in “My Way to Phenomenology,” quoting himself from Being and Time, phenomenology’s “essential character does not consist in being actual as a philosophical school. Higher than actuality stands possibility. The comprehension of phenomenology consists in grasping it as possibility.”

This is the kind of appeal to authority that we find too often in phenomenology’s secondary literature. But it is not just any appeal to authority. This particular quote demonstrates so well, quite ironically, the defensive game that is in many ways the norm of phenomenological criticism. Not only is this an appeal to authority that is somehow supposed to satisfy the demands of argument, it is an appeal to an authority whose very authority is authorized by none other than himself! If this isn’t the argumentative equivalent of solipsism, I don’t know what is. This kind of retort to phenomenology’s critics has now replaced the usual “You’re clearly not reading phenomenologist X in the right way” as my favorite.

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In the latest issue of Philosophy in Review. As I mentioned to Andrew, this is likely the only time that my name will appear alongside Virgil’s in the same text.

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Paul Ennis reviews Maurizio Ferraris’s Introduction to New Realism in Review 31.

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Review of PLASTIC BODIES in Galician

Find it HERE. Thanks to Carlos Lema for informing me about this.

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PLASTIC BODIES (the book) Now Available from OHP

It’s been in the works for quite a while now, but I can now say that my book Plastic Bodies: Rebuilding Sensation After Phenomenology is now published! You can buy it at Amazon ($18) or download it for free at the Opens Humanities Press website. It includes a foreword by Catherine Malabou.

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Some Upcoming Talks

In February and March I’m giving a handful of talks, one in the US and three abroad. From February 6-13 I’ll be participating in the Winter Philosophy School held in Perm, Russia. This event, whose theme is the ontological turn in contemporary philosophy, is hosted by the Centre for Comparative History and Political Studies, Perm State University, and the Piotrovsky bookshop. The two lectures I’ll give are “Realism and the Limits of Phenomenology” and “On the Ways Toward Speculative Aesthetics.” This will be my first visit to the Russian Federation. Needless to say, I’m pretty excited.

On February 19 I’ll speak in the “Illuminations” lecture series of the philosophy and literature program at Purdue University. My talk is titled “How to Grow a Democracy: John Dewey on the Plasticity of the Pupil.”

Finally, from March 27-8 I’ll be at Oxford University presenting a paper in the “Phenomenology and Health” symposium hosted by the Oxford Phenomenology Network. This is the Network’s inaugural conference. My paper title is “Embodiment, Disability, and the Norms of Flourishing.”

So, lots of travel this spring semester, but nothing at all to complain about. I better get writing…

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‘Meillassoux Dictionary’ Now Available

You can now order the Meillassoux Dictionary from Amazon. Find it HERE. The book is edited by Peter Gratton and Paul Ennis, and includes all sorts of entries that are sure to prove invaluable for research on Meillassoux.

I got the word via this post at After Nature.

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AOSs in Philosophy Jobs Thus Far


The numbers on this year’s job market. Not good. Not good at all.

Originally posted on PHILOSOPHY IN A TIME OF ERROR:

The Philosophers’ Cocoon goes through the numbers and it’s bleak. (Cocoon notes that last year there were 190 jobs listed by this time; only 110 TT jobs as of now) In any case, .9% of jobs are in African American philosophy, 8% of jobs are in Continental, 4.5% are in Feminist Philosophy (which means my department is doing 20% of all hiring in feminism this year), while a full 29% of jobs are in applied ethics.

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