My blog has been inactive for a long time. It may or may not remain here; it may disappear forever. -Tom

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Thomas Nail, The Figure of the Migrant – now published from Stanford University Press (and sample to download)

Source: Thomas Nail, The Figure of the Migrant – now published from Stanford University Press (and sample to download)

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Call for Abstracts

True Detective and Philosophy

Edited by Jacob Graham & Tom Sparrow

The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series

Please circulate and post widely. Apologies for cross-posting.

To propose ideas for future volumes in the Blackwell series please contact the Series Editor, William Irwin, at

If you have comments or criticisms for the series, please contact the series editor after reading “Fancy Taking a Pop?” and “Writing for the Reader: A Defense of Philosophy and Popular Culture Books”

Abstracts and subsequent essays should be philosophically substantial but accessible, written to engage the intelligent lay reader. Contributors of accepted essays will receive an honorarium.

Possible themes and topics may include, but certainly are not limited to:

The Virtues of Rust and the Vices of Marty; Ray’s and Marty’s Habits and the Failure of Character; Does Rust Really Know Who He Is?; Where is the Real Woodrugh?; Green Paint and the Contingency of Redemption; The Masks of Criminals and Detectives and the Face of the True Self; Self-Consciousness as an Evolutionary Mistake; Rust’s Pessimism and the Limits of the Bleak; Nietzschean Evaluation of the City of Vinci and its Denizens; Are Ray, Ani, and Frank Beyond Redemption?; True Nihilists in the Bayou?; If “the light’s winning,” Should Rust Despair?; It’s All About the Kids, Maggie: Antinatalism, Happiness, and Parenthood; Erroll Childress: More Than Just a Psychopath; Logic and the Truth of Detective Work; Philosophy as Detection; Frank’s Debts and Debt as a Moral Category; Marty’s Noble Lie and the Murder of Ledoux; Vinci Cops, Crooks, and the Complexity of Social Contracts; Antigone Bezzerides and the Law; Ani Bezzerides and the Women of True Detective; Fragile Masculinity and the Men of True Detective; Feminism and Sexual Violence as Aesthetic Device; True Direction: Pizzolatto, Season 2, and the Risks of Collaborative Creation; Maggie and the Subtleties of Sexism/Misogyny; Thrasymachus’s Challenge to Socrates and the Empty Promise of Justice; Is Ani a Pawn of Patriarchy? Ani and Double Standards; “Time is a Flat Circle”; The Problem of Evil and Theodicy in a World Beyond Good and Evil; Tent Revivals and the Manipulation of the Masses; Rust on Our Capacity for Illusion as Virtue; The “Ontological Fallacy” of Optimism; Rust’s Anti-Teleology: “Surely this is all for me… I’m so f*cking important… F*ck You!”; Truth and Falsity of the Cynic; Marty, Rust, and Aristotelian Friendship; Monsters, Maniacs, and the Mundane; Thin Conceptions of Flourishing in a Bleak World; Carcosa, Mythology, and Mysticism; Drugs, Alcohol, and the Doors of Perception; Dependency and the Myth of Autonomy; Rust and the Rationalization of Belief; Tuttle’s and Ledoux’s Master Morality; “The world needs bad men” (Rust).

Submission Guidelines:

  1. Deadline for abstracts (100-500 words) and brief CVs: November 1, 2015
  2. Deadline for first drafts of accepted chapters: February 1, 2016

 Kindly submit abstracts (attached as Word document) to:

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Tom Sparrow: From Anti-Realism to Speculative Realism

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

southern nights



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…

View original post 1,637 more words

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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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