Everywhere one goes on the Internet, one seems to be barraged with articles talking about “fake news.” Indeed, as Sapna Maheshwari of The New York Times has noted, fake news has “gone viral.” Since the campaign, and subsequent election, of Donald Trump, Google search results for “fake news” have spiked and everyday a new article is being written on how to spot “fake news” or how the Russians used “fake news” to influence the presidential election or how “fake news” is killing democracy. But I want to ask, what makes news real or “fake?”
As The Current YearTM — the year of the Alt-Right, as Richard Spencer calls it — comes to a close, fellow thinker, friend, and author, Brett Stevens (editor of Amerikaand author of Nihilism: A Philosophy Based in Nothingness and Eternity — a book I reviewed here), and I decided to fire a couple dozen emails back and forth discussing everything from what the Alt-Right is to multiculturalism and Anti-Semitism (along with other scapegoating tactics) to metaphysics and morality in the coming decades. Our discussions, as Brett has noted, have been “all over the place,” but thanks to his tireless work, some of our back and forth has been edited down into an easily digestible conversation format.
The first entry in what we hope will be a series of discussions, “A Conversation Between Peter Heft and Brett Stevens,” has been published on Right On. In this dialogue, Peter and Brett sit down with warm drinks and good food to discuss the rising Alt-Right, multiculturalism, the implications of anti-Semitism and similar scapegoating, and the historical legacy of a liberal society.
So please, do check out the dialogue, share your thoughts, and don’t hesitate to contact either of us.
Thank you all for your readership and I hope you have a happy New Year!
The New York Times recently reported Russian buildup of unconventional weapons: inflatables. Specifically, the Times notes that following increased tensions between the United States and Russia over Syria, the Russian army has been buying and moving inflatable weapons systems — tanks, anti-aircraft guns, MiGs, etc. — to make their military seem stronger than it really is (a tactic called maskirovka).1)Andrew Kramer, “A New Weapon in Russia’s Arsenal, and It’s Inflatable,” New York Times, published 10/12/16, accessed 10/13/16, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/13/world/europe/russia-decoy-weapon.html?%5C%5C&_r=1.
This move is obviously interesting on a number of different levels; is the Russian military weakening? Are nuclear weapons less of a deterrent than they used to be? And so on. The question I want to examine, however, is a starkly different one. The tanks, MiGs, and anti-air guns are obviously ‘fake,’ but does that really matter? Further, as we live in a world filled with simulacra, is there any legitimate difference between a MiG made of aluminium and jet fuel and one made of canvas and hot air? I’m not convinced that there is.
Brett Stevens’Nihilism: A Philosophy Based In Nothingness And Eternity1)Brett Stevens, Nihilism: A Philosophy Based In Nothingness And Eternity (Australia: Manticore Press, 2016).serves as both an attempt to clarify a long misunderstood term — nihilism — while also critiquing the caricature of nihilists as fatalists. Further, Stevens attempts to reinvigorate the realism-idealism debate with novel insights into the meaning of both terms. What follows is not simply a generic Amazon.com review, but rather a critical analysis of Stevens’ arguments…so if you’re ready to take the plunge, read on.
I haven’t written much this summer because, as you know if you follow me on Twitter, I have been involved in a summer-long research project. As I mentioned at the start of my last post, Latour and the “Arche-Fossil,”“[o]ver the past many weeks I’ve been doing research into Speculative Realism and Object-Oriented Ontology (SR/OOO) by reading the works of Quentin Meillassoux, Graham Harman, Ian Bogost, Bruno Latour, and Levi Bryant.” This project has culminated in 6 chapter paper entitled The Philosopher’s New Clothes: An Introductory Survey into Object-Oriented Ontologythat will be bound and published at my local university and will, of course, be available for you all to read here.
The abstract, for those interested, is:
My project for the past 10 weeks has been the study of the philosophical movements of Speculative Realism and Object-Oriented Ontology as developed by a few prominent philosophers: Graham Harman, Bruno Latour, Levi Bryant, Ian Bogost, and Quentin Meillassoux. My paper starts by analyzing the critical stance post-Kantian philosophy takes and its view (dubbed “correlationism” by Meillassoux) where subjectivity reigns supreme and knowledge of any real world external to the mind is impossible. I then examine Harman, Bryant, Bogost, and Latour’s philosophies and explicate their views as well as compare and contrast them to each other. The project concludes with a chapter where I reflect upon these individuals’ ontologies and offer my own ontology of objects. My hope is that this project will serve as the first building block in a larger project aimed to aggregate the wide ranging and disparate views of Speculative Realists and Object-Oriented Ontologists. In the end, this longer term project is intended to serve as a primer, if you will, for those interested in Speculative Realism and Object-Oriented Ontology.