Philosophy of God

I am very excited to be teaching Philosophy of God for the first time this upcoming quarter. The syllabus can be found here.

Here are a few thoughts I’ve had while designing the course. Continue reading “Philosophy of God”

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Reading Haraway’s Situated Knowledges

The following are notes for a lecture. “Situated Knowledges” is one of my favorite pieces by Haraway, probably only second to “The Biopolitics of Postmodern Bodies.”

“Situated Knowledges” is primarily concerned with the concept of objectivity, at it is used in discourses of scientific knowledge production. For a long time—since at least Bacon and Descartes—scientific knowledge has been thought of as superior to first-person experiential knowledge due to its objectivity. The question is, how does the scientist gain access to such objectivity? Historically, the answer has been: by subtracting subjectivity from the equation. So the effort is made to distinguish between those aspects of one’s experience that are irreducibly subjective from those that are (hopefully) objective; then, you strip away those subjective aspects, and what you’re left with is supposed to be objective knowledge. Continue reading “Reading Haraway’s Situated Knowledges”

You Cannot Underestimate Yourself (on Ethics III P26s)

Most of the affects defined in Part III of the Ethics come in pairs: for each affect there tends to be a joyful and a sad variant. Love and hate offer the simplest example of this: love is just joy accompanied by the idea of an external cause; hate is just sadness accompanied by the idea of an external cause. There are more complicated couplets, too. For instance, ‘The striving to do evil to him we hate is called Anger [ira]; and the striving to return an evil done us is called Vengeance [vindicta]’ (IIIP40c2s) — this finds its counterpart in that ‘reciprocal Love, and consequent striving to benefit one who loves us, and strives to benefit us, is called Thankfulness, or Gratitude [gratia seu gratitudo]’ (IIIP41s). In general, affects are ideal relations we form toward ourselves and toward others that involve our imagination; and since these relations can be either joyful or sad, it’s obvious why they would come in pairs. Continue reading “You Cannot Underestimate Yourself (on Ethics III P26s)”

Leibniz on Death

A friend recently asked me about Leibniz’s position on death. ​​Leibniz is very consistent on this question in his mature metaphysics (from the 1686 Discourse onward). Essentially, he denies death, affirming the immortality of the soul. In part, this is due to his commitment to the substantiality of minds or monads: monads must be individual substances, because there is unity in formed matter, but matter has no principle of unity in itself; and substances are by definition imperishable. (He even says at some point: it’s not so weird to insist that monads are indestructible, with no beginning or end; it’s no different, after all, from what the Gassendists say about their atoms.) Continue reading “Leibniz on Death”

Travails of Translation (Macherey, Hegel, Spinoza)

In Avec Spinoza, Pierre Macherey has a lovely little essay called “Le Spinoza idéaliste de Hegel”. In it he makes some fascinating arguments about the sort of interpretive work the German idealist needed to do in order to make the savage anomaly assimilable into his system, focusing mostly on Hegel’s comments on Spinoza in the third volume of the Lectures on the History of Philosophy. Continue reading “Travails of Translation (Macherey, Hegel, Spinoza)”