CHARACTERS ✓ Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction

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Uld bridge the analytic continental divide by uniting Heidegger and Wittgenstein against the twin perils of scientism and skepticism this book short circuits both traditions by plugging eliminative materialism directly into speculative reali. Brassier is doing important and interesting work but his style tends to work against the stunning conclusions which animate his thought This book functions better as an overview of the uniue theories of the day rather than an original work in itself Brassier gives trenchant summaries and critiues of Badiou Meillassoux Deleuze Laruelle and Eliminative Materialism ie Paul Patricia Churchland But after spending a whole chapter describing a theory he takes about one or two sentences from it and moves on leaving much of the work as just that descriptive rather than creative The book as a whole lacks a coherent direction due to this constant summarization without returning I also couldn't uite catch what the purpose of certain engagements were; what was the use of the chapter on Adorno or the brief foray into Levinas at the end Most of Speculative Realism has been framed in contrast to the textual turn Levi Bryant argues this repeatedly on his blog for instance wherein philosophy becomes merely analysis and interpretation of texts by philosophers but Nihil Unbound is almost entirely that albeit without the underlying correlationist slantI also had trouble following the BadiouLaruelle chapters I'm sure someone with a broader background in theory wouldn't though I actually found the Laruelle chapter to be among the most interesting along with the closing one

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Nihil Unbound Enlightenment and ExtinctionWhere much contemporary philosophy seeks to stave off the threat of nihilism by safeguarding the experience of meaning characterized as the defining feature of human existence from the Enlightenment logic of disenchantment this book attempts. An argumentative survey of a very narrow range of contemporary philosophy We hear about the Churchlands as token representatives of Anglo American writing and then after that we're firmly in the continental world where a great big statue of Heidegger looms over the landscape blotting out the sunThe discussion of Churchlandian elminitivism is fairly handled but in the end Brassier endorses a slightly sophisticated version of the self refutation objection coached in terms of representation rather than the vaguer notion of meaning He could have looked at other figures in the uineanSellarsian community but I don't suppose they would be any relevant to his agenda about enlightenment and nihilismI've already reviewed Meillasoux' After Finitude which Brassier translated and I would repeat most of what said there I think uentin would benefit greatly from examining analytic work on modal logic and the recent books by Ted Sider and other Anglophone work in metaphysics and epistemology since he seems to want to write in the mode that is considered unremarkable in Oxford or Harvard but apparently seems alien in ParisThe uality of Brassier's writing is in steady decline through this book as he moves and on to topics and authors he is most familiar with and with which he seems to assume greatest familiarity in his readers Already exposition is getting uite poor in the Meillasoux chapter and it becomes execrable in the following chapters I cannot fathom what Badiou's arguments or ideas are supposed to be so I can't judge the fatal problem Brassier thinks he has discerned in them Eually Laruelle seems to be little than someone who generalises about the history of philosophy without bothering for any examples so he hardly deserves the extended attention he gets here The seocnd half is mostly taken up with exposition of Heidegger and Deleuze which merely confirms the impression that the former was just a naive idealist who shrouded his ideas in redundant terminology whereas the latter was just a manufacturer of uasi scientific vacuities in the vein of the old German naturphilosophie What unifies all this stuff is that the French authors are struggling to get away from Martin's pernicious legacy which left French philosophy stuck in a cave for the past 70 odd years That doesn't really connect with the Churchlands or anyone else over the water since they were never stuck with any reuirement to anchor every concept phenomenologically uite the oppositeI am giving this 1 star because I did not like it It was not written well enough for the commentaries to give me any new perspectives on the authors under discussion nor could I make enough sense of Brassier's overall argument Incidentally I don't think that analytic philosophy is the only worthwhile tradition or that all French or German writing is rubbish But that doesn't mean I have to join in with conventional enthusiasms For what it's worth I think Nathalie Sarraute was a interesting philosopher than any of the overpraised peacocks of post structuralism even though her books are classed as novels

Ray Brassier ã 1 CHARACTERS

CHARACTERS ✓ Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction É Where much contemporary philosophy seeks to stave off the threat of nihilism by safeguarding the experience of meaning characterized as the defining feature of human existence from the Enlightenment logic of disenchantment this book attempts to push nihilism to iTo push nihilism to its ultimate conclusion by forging a link between revisionary naturalism in Anglo American philosophy and anti phenomenological realism in recent French philosophy Contrary to an emerging post analytic consensus which wo. First of all I agree with Bradley that this book is largely a literature review Brassier looks at and criticizes the materialisms of the Churchlands Adorno Meillassoux Badiou Laruelle Heidegger and Deleuze Throughout his main contention is with the vitalist claim that physical and chemical principles cannot explain biological functions and processes 168 though as is clear from his chapter on the Churchlands he is not uick to say precisely how physical processes can account for life What Brassier does say is that the reality of future extinction proves that there will be something physical without some vital correlate Because the fact of extinction to come shows that it is possible for there to be a world without mind future extinction is evidence for realism Since the vitalist it seems accepts the correlationist's premise that there is an ongoing relationship between world and thought extinction to come and the realism it supports challenges the distinction between life and matter the future scenario in which there is matter without thought affects our current understanding of the relationship between thought and world extinction turns thinking inside out objectifying it as a perishable thing in the world like any other and no longer the imperishable condition of perishing 229 In collouial parlance which is fundamental the death of thought or the death of the body For Brassier the death of the body is ultimately fundamental showing that thought is grounded in the body or in material processes If vitalists go on to say that life can exist beyond this universe they reveal their spiritual commitments And because Brassier is so enthusiastic about the disenchantment of the world the disenchantment of the world deserves to be celebrated as an achievement of intellectual maturity not bewailed as a debilitating impoverishment spiritual commitments for him are necessarily naive I strongly disagree with him on this pointNow having written all this I must confess that the above summary might be wrong If it is please let me know And I must also confess that I'm not familiar with enough of the writers Brassier deals with to offer enlightening critiues of all his readings of themBut I will look at his reading of Heidegger In Chapter Six Brassier criticizes Heidegger for failing to properly articulate the difference between physicalthird person time and existentialfirst person time Heidegger's claim that physical time is subordinate to existential time falls pray to Meillassoux's realism in which physical time through the arche fossil and the fact of future extinction is shown to be fundamental than existential time every attempt to stipulate a transcendental disjunction between ontological temporality and bio physical time surreptitiously occludes the empirical conditions of instantiation through which the former supervenes upon the latter 161 In other words every attempt to make existential time the ground of physical time does not acknowledge the fact that existential time and thought have arisen through evolutionary and physical processes Moreover Brassier goes on Heidegger fails to explain both how Dasein comes into being becomes possibly and advances towards death and how Dasein dies Both birth and death are dark areas and are unable to be explained through a phenomenological method that privileges the careful description of subjective and current experience over and above the systematic articulation of real processes As a result Brassier reprimands Heidegger for not justifying his ontic ontological distinction as well as assertions about death Heidegger simply stipulates ontological difference as the appropriate interpretatve horizon reuired for the excavation of Dasein's pre theoretical self understanding and dismisses reuests for its justification as symptoms of the forgetting of this difference Similarly there can be no uestion of demonstrating the necessity of the absolute disjunction between biological and existential death which lies at the root of Heidegger's account of finite transcendence; this disjunction is a precondition of Heidegger's interpretative strategy not its result 162 Hence Heidegger penchant for subordinating the physical present at handscientificthird person to the existential ready to handphenomenologicalfirst person is grounded on a fuzzy and ultimately incorrect understanding of the relationship between thought and the worldFirst of all Brassier fails to understand that Heidegger's version of the phenomenological method is not committed to using justification and evidence in the way that the sciences use them At some level justification falls apart because it is ultimately impossible to avoid begging the uestion if one is fully committed to justifying all claims what is one's justification for always reuiring justification Phenomenology works at a level below evidence and justification for as Heidegger's articulation of truth makes clear before there can be a correspondence between thought and an object the object must reveal itself And so Heidegger's phenomenology is engaged in revealing Only after revelation does evidence and justification make senseNow the subordination of physical time to existential time challenges Meillassoux's and others' commitment to realism because it supposes that the world is at least in some sense always correlated to thought Brassier uotes Heidegger's claim in the Introduction to Metaphysics that without Dasein there is no time This flies in the face of the fact of future extinction when there will be time Dasein Now in order for Brassier to be so certain that there will be a time when there is a world without thought he must forgo the possibility of there being a God andor an afterlife If there is an eternal God orand an eternal afterlife then there will be no matter without thought In this case the argument for realism based on the arche fossil and the fact of future extinction are rendered void Hence if anything perhaps Brassier's critiue of Heidegger reveals Heidegger's phenomenology to be theologically grounded something Sean McGrath argues in Early Heidegger and Medieval Philosophy Brassier's commitment to realism is ultimately grounded on his commitment to the absence of God a commitment he nowhere justifies Hence we can use Brassier's own words against against himself Brassier simply stipulates the non existence of God as the appropriate interpretatve horizon reuired for the subversion of Heideggerian phenomenology and dismisses reuests for its justification as symptoms of unsophisticated thinking 162In the end Brassier's thought like the thought of all other thinkers is ultimately grounded on an atheological commitment