Interviews with Steven Shaviro and Anthony Paul Smith

So two people I think do great work have had interviews come out in the past little while and I wanted to provide some links.

First, Steven Shaviro was interviewed at Figure/Ground (which is the place for rad interviews these days, it seems.) F/G does interviews that seem to solely be focused around the role of the academic in the university, and I’m glad to see smart people who are in the actual trenches (rather than administrators or the educational equivalent of lobbyists) talking about education. A sample:

In the context of new materialism, do you see any similarities between thinkers like Whitehead/Simondon with other thinkers in speculative realism/object-oriented philosophy, or is there a fundamental difference between them?

I think that there are both similarities and differences. For instance, Graham Harman, the founder of object-oriented ontology, both praises Whitehead for his non-anthropocentrism, and criticizes him for his privileging of relations over fixed substances. Whitehead’s insistence upon the primacy of “experience” and “feeling” puts him at odds with speculative realist thinkers like Quentin Meillassoux and Ray Brassier, both of whom tend towards the sort of scientism and eliminativism of which Whitehead was severely critical. But at the same time, Whitehead is also severely critical of what Meillassoux and the other speculative realists call “correlationism” (although, of course, Whitehead never uses and did not know this term). I think that it would make sense to develop a Whiteheadian strain of speculative realism — and this is part of what I am attempting to do.

Whitehead’s ontological and cosmological concerns put him in connection with the speculative realists; but pragmatically, he is closer to those contemporary thinkers who have been called new materialists. Jane Bennett’s “vital materialism” and Karen Barad’s “agential realism” both seem to me to have resonances with Whitehead’s thought, even though neither of them mentions Whitehead directly (as far as I know). Donna Haraway, on the other hand, has spoken specifically about the importance of Whitehead for her ideas about companion species. None of the new materialisms are based on Whitehead’s system or his technical terms, but they share his project of reconciling phenomenal experience with natural science, without rejecting either.

Second, Anthony Paul Smith has an interview at The Charnel-House on the uptake of Laruelle’s work in the English language. A sample:

C.D.V.: What do you see as primary limitations to the development of Non-philosophy in the English speaking world?

A.P.S.: I think the primary limitation to the development of non-philosophy has been the lack of primary source material for English-language readers. I think that’s going to change now that so many of his works are being translated. But I’ve never thought that Laruelle was “the next big thing.”  In part because his work is very abstract and difficult, but also because the sorts of institutions that support that kind of work are shrinking. It is difficult for me to see working non-philosophically landing someone an academic post, of Laruelle’s works fitting within the ways philosophy survives in the academia as the guardians of ethics subject to the whims of the business school or medical school.

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