Aristotelian Essence, Cancelled

Heidegger criticizes Aristotle’s study of beings (“What is?”, the question treated in Aristotle’s Physics and Metaphysics) because it assumes things/objects as the primary focus for the study of Being.

For Aristotle there are things that occur naturally (like trees and animals) and things that are made or produced, like chairs and houses. The essence of a naturally occurring thing is given with its nature — so for example, an acorn’s essence is fulfilled when it becomes an oak tree. …


Relativism. Skepticism. Incommunicability. Nihilism. Death.

Philosophy is an extreme intellectual sport. We would like to believe that it is good always, but doing philosophy can be extremely dangerous. Most obvious is the risk of death. Philosophy is littered with those who have been, quite literally, killed for the practice. Socrates, of course, was put to death by the state, but also Boethius, Descartes, and (most recently) Walter Benjamin all got “wacked” for their philosophical views and practices.

But there are fates worse than death.

Heraclitus wrote that the way up and the way down are one and the same. The way down to town and…


Two representations of the death scene depicted in Plato’s dialogue, the Phaedo.

Philosophy is preparation for death. So said Socrates, Greek philosopher par excellence, martyr to the cause, executed by the state in 399BC for corrupting the youth. According to his pupil Plato, who recorded the scene of his death in the Phaedo, when friends snuck into his prison cell to help him escape into exile, Socrates refused to go. It is not death that we should avoid, he argued, but living an immoral life. Escaping would be wrong because it would go against the judgement and will of the state, which has authority over its citizens as parents have over their…


Epicurus’ Chill Pill, the “tetrapharmakon,” is comprised of these four maxims.

1. Don’t Fear God

Epicurus believed that whatever entity created the cosmos, it could not possibly be impressed by anything humans are capable of doing. When you can move mountains, why would you be interested in watching ants build a mound? So we need not worry about God’s judgment because God isn’t lording over humans. He’s just not that into us.

Arguably, destroying the natural world may be our pathetic attempt at getting God’s attention, but nature will just as likely shake us off the planet before we are able to vanquish her.

Humans, you need not fear God, but be vigilant of your…


Antal Strohmayer, The Philosopher’s Garden
Antal Strohmayer, The Philosopher’s Garden
Antal Strohmayer, The Philosopher’s Garden, Athens, 1834. Epicurus’ school was called “The Garden,” where women and slaves were among those welcomed to the minimalist, tranquil life of philosophy.

Once we get to Modern Philosophy, concepts of space become more familiar and consequently feel more “real.” It is difficult for us to relate to space as a whirling receptacle steered by Goddesses; or to Aristotle’s containing surfaces comprising place. We speak of space and place as if these conceptions are complimentary and not countering theories. Space is absolute, place is relative. How was their opposition resolved?

The task at hand is to tell the story of how we get from Plato and Aristotle to Cartesian space, characterized not by containment but by extension. And how then to the debate…


Believe me you, I am aware! I’m currently taking a non-fiction writing class to see if I can still be schooled to write differently. This is part of the great unlearning those of us trained academically must do. But this also raises an interesting question for me…

Philosophy is, in large part, the form that it takes. As philosophy moves house, is dispossessed of its current form in the academic, exegetical essay, its meaning and how it signifies, its significance, will also be reworked.

That is a part of the work of #publicphilosophy, I think. Packing up and moving the…


Angela Davis
Angela Davis
Ii took this from the UnMute podcast front page.

There was a recent flutter on Twitter about public philosophy, what it is and what counts as public philosophy. I opined that I didn’t think that you could be both a public philosopher and an academic, but quickly realized that maybe what I meant was that you couldn’t easily be a “good” academic and public philosopher at the same time — in part because academia actively discourages scholars from venturing too far outside of academic settings. Doing public philosophy goes against the grain of what it takes to succeed in an academic career, and is often thought to be at…


“The second challenge arises from the use of adjectives like ‘hidden’. I think that such a description of large parts of everyday life has become an increasingly mistaken one. The sheer amount of locationally referenced information about everyday life that is available or is coming on stream, and which by using wireless, GIS, GPS and other technologies will be constantly updated, suggests that most of the spaces of everyday life will no longer be hidden at all. Indeed, they are likely to be continually catalogued on a real-time basis using categorizations and geometries that are themselves constitutive of subjectivity. But…


“If there is to be a fight, let it be a fight over capitalism. Let it be an insistence that raw surveillance capitalism is as much a threat to society as it is to capitalism itself. This is not a technical undertaking, not a program for advanced encryption, improved data anonymity, or data ownership. Such strategies only acknowledge the inevitability of commercial surveillance. They leave us hiding in our own lives as we cede control to those who feast on our behavior for their own purposes. Surveillance capitalism depends on the social, and it is only in and through collective…


Duane Michals’ “Things Are Queer” (1973)

Duane Michals’ black and white photographic series “Things are Queer” (1973) begins with the photograph of a bathroom that is framed by the negative space between bathtub, sink, and toilet. At first, it is these bright white objects that we see, but we are soon drawn into the dark spaces in-between as an effect of the framing. A curious tension immediately emerges in our visual experience, as the white objects hauntingly float in the dark space. This is a “push and pull” effect created by the play between light and dark in the image.

The next image in the series…

thinkPhilosophy

Phenomenology, Existentialism, Feminism, Poststructuralism & Critical Theory. #publicphilosophy or bust

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