Category Archives: Philosophy

Robert Anton Wilson, Finitude, and Realism

The late Robert Anton Wilson has been a person of interest to me for a while now, and although his thoughts are very sporadic and aphoristic (being spread amongst his numerous novels and speeches), his contributions to Discordian thought have been vital. More specifically, however, a quotation by him in The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles has held my attention for a long time. In Nature’s Godwriting as Sigismundo Celine, Wilson says the following:

“Is,” “is.” “is” — the idiocy of the word haunts me. If it were abolished, human thought might begin to make sense. I don’t know what anything “is”; I only know how it seems to me at this moment.1)Robert Anton Wilson, Nature’s God: The History of the Early Illuminati (The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles Vol. 3), (Las Vegas: New Falcon, 2007).

Clearly channeling the general semantic theory of Alfred Korzybski and its later incarnations as E-Prime (topics that will no doubt be written about in the future),2)Indeed, in later posts on general semantics and E-Prime, which ‘is’ we’re talking about must be sorted out as the ‘is of identity’ — for example, “Max is a dog” — is, arguably, ontologically different than the ‘is of predication’ — for example, “Max is diabetic.” the quotation has a certain ring of idealism to it. Indeed, while I think Wilson’s comment is insightful, I’ve been hesitant to fully accept his disdain for the word ‘is’ insofar as such an acceptance seems, at first glance, to relegate one to a strictly phenomenal (and arguably, consequently idealist) understanding of the world. While I’m unsure whether or not I’m willing to jump aboard the ‘anti-is’ train, I do think there is a way to reconcile Wilson’s view with ontological realism by utilizing both a brief discussion of what Quentin Meillassoux calls “finitude” and Graham Harman’s ontology of objects.

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References   [ + ]

1. Robert Anton Wilson, Nature’s God: The History of the Early Illuminati (The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles Vol. 3), (Las Vegas: New Falcon, 2007).
2. Indeed, in later posts on general semantics and E-Prime, which ‘is’ we’re talking about must be sorted out as the ‘is of identity’ — for example, “Max is a dog” — is, arguably, ontologically different than the ‘is of predication’ — for example, “Max is diabetic.”

Book Review: “The Alternative of Real Ecology” by Kveldulf Gunnar Larsson

Introduction

Self-titled “real ecologist,” Kveldulf Gunnar Larsson, gives himself a lofty task in The Alternative of Real Ecology1)Kveldulf Gunnar Larsson, The Alternative of Real Ecology (Germany: Solitude Books, 2016). when he attempts to critique ecology as it is presented today, environmentalism is it is practiced around the globe, and humanistic thought…all in a book that is self-styled as “a collection of thoughts […] not written to be taken seriously.”2)Larson, The Alternative of Real Ecology, 95, 266. Indeed, The Alternative of Real Ecology is a unique book insofar as it is, either intentionally or unintentionally, written in a quasi-Delezuoguttarian way by trying to do away with subjectivity both in the traditional, humanistic sense, and in the sense of being a book about something. Indeed, Larsson notes his book has no value in the traditional sense. “It has no scientific, academic or literary value. It was not written to entertain or make money. It has no educational value; it was not written to educate. It doesn’t even have any environmental value as it’s not an environmental book.”3)Ibid., 2. Unfortunately, the subsequent questions that arise from Larsson’s bold statements and radical project (e.g. ‘What am I reading?’ ‘Why am I reading this?’ ‘How ought I understand the human-‘nature’ relationship?’) receive little treatment apart from the repetition of slogans within the 260+ pages of the book. Furthermore, numerous editorial and stylistic errors hinder the reading of The Alternative of Real Ecology to the point that, not only does one become angry with the text itself, but the project as a whole is jeopardized. The subsequent review will be divided into three parts: substance, critique, and style; however, as we shall see, the nature of the project necessarily intertwines the three together.

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References   [ + ]

1. Kveldulf Gunnar Larsson, The Alternative of Real Ecology (Germany: Solitude Books, 2016).
2. Larson, The Alternative of Real Ecology, 95, 266.
3. Ibid., 2.

End of the Year Discussion with Brett Stevens

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 Amerika and 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 OnIn 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!

-Peter

Baudrillard’s Inflatable Army

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.

baudrillard-copy of a copy

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References   [ + ]

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.

Book Review: “Nihilism” by Brett Stevens

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.

20160925_061431

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References   [ + ]

1. Brett Stevens, Nihilism: A Philosophy Based In Nothingness And Eternity (Australia: Manticore Press, 2016).