With regards to my last post Jeremy at Struggles Forever has provided an important reminder:

[T]he conception of Nature as a container, in my opinion, conveys the wrong message. Containers delimit and define boundaries. They serve as a ground for the things that occupy them. My fear – perhaps unjustified – is that defining Nature as the new container for everything (as opposed to the dualistic containers of Nature/Culture) – no matter how open and undefined that container is depicted – will lead to an interest in defining the boundaries of the container. Nature becomes the new standard by which we measure everything. Again, this is not what Michael and Levi intend, but without a great deal of conceptual work to reconfigure the notion of Nature (as well as the idea of a container), there is a very real risk of misinterpretation in talking about Nature as a container. I prefer, instead, to think of existence as a continuous process of composition where beings come together in complex ways to build relations, form new beings, and construct new ways of existing. In this conception (and I believe that Michael and Levi share it), there are no containers, no boundaries, and no grounds except those which are constructed – always historical, always contingent, and never totalizing.

Jeremy is correct to assume I share his rejection of the ‘container view’ of Nature. ‘Nature’ does not contain processes, flows and entities. Particular entities, systems, relations and flows comprise, generate and emerge as Nature. My point here is only that even at the most general level of reference I do not want to suggest that we use the concept of Nature to indicate entities are contained within it. Perhaps a better way to integrate talk about about the immanent emergence of reality with a poetics of nature, then, would be to assert that everything is of Nature. In this sense ‘Nature’ is conceived as an immanent plane or matrix. Individuated entities are not understood to be contained within Nature but always already compose and partake in it. Much like an individual wave or eddy is also always part of the ocean or river. The universe is a generative system composed of emergent fields, assemblages, elements and forces, and only ever gives birth to other open systems. And we don’t know enough about cosmological limits, or if boundary thinking is even generally appropriate to thinking about the nature of space-time, and there is certainly no indication that space-time does anything other than endogenously evolve and afford (rather than contain) novel developments. Of course, a lot more can be said about properties and tendencies of Nature but that is not within the scope of the present post.

The key organizing principle here is emergence: the process of emanating space-time generation. Nature in this universalizing sense is synonymous with Being, or perhaps ‘matter/energy’. There is no one thing that is Nature or Being or matter, but rather all things exist as beings, or are natural and material-energetic. Each of these terms act as generalizing semantic operators that in turn (at least with regards to Nature and matter) evoke a series of associations to actually existing particulates. So what I am trying to suggest is that may (or may not) be a poetics of Nature that can be usefully appropriated and developed as a means to provoke and stimulate certain strains of social imagination useful to the project of cultivating more sense-able and cognitively sophisticated (note:; for me cognition includes emotion and intellection) and attuned embodied subjectivities. Again, I think all these nuances must be foregrounded, so I thank my friend Jeremy for the opportunity to do that.

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the-practice-turn-in-contemporary-theoryIt is through action and interaction within practices that mind, rationality and knowledge are constituted and social life is organized, reproduced and transformed. During the past two decades, practice theory has emerged as a potent challenger to prevalent ways of thinking about human life and sociality, which have until now focused either on individual minds and actions or social structures, systems and discourses. The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory is the first volume to bring together philosophers, sociologists and scholars of science to explore the significance of practices in human life.

The essays focus on three overall themes: the character and establishment of social order, the psychological basis of human activity and contemporary posthumanist challenges. Philosophers such as Wittgenstein and Heidegger who have been influential in the shaping of practice theory are also discussed. In examining these themes and thinkers the essays document how practice theory stands opposed to prominent modes of thought such as individualism, intellectualism, structuralism, systems theory, and many strains of humanism and poststructuralism.

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  • “I have said in some of the earlier books that anthropology to me is anthropos + logos or logoi, so if you are interested in anthropos which in Greek is the human thing, and if you agree with Foucault and others that there have been different figures of anthropos, including man, and we may or may not be out of that figure, and if you think that the sciences or the logoi are extremely important in shaping the understanding of anthropos, then the anthropology of the contemporary in the way I seek to practice it has to take into account these logoi, and the potentially emerging figure of anthropos, which is with sciences and with these questions about what it means to be a human being.”Paul Rabinow

“When we observe the environment, we necessarily do so only on a limited range of scales; therefore our perception of events provides us with only a low-dimensional slice through a high-dimensional cake.” – Simon A. Levin

Timothy Clark’s video-plenary at the 2011 Emergent Critical Environments Conference:

See also Tim’s chapter in Telemorphosis: Theory in the Era of Climate Change, Vol. 1, titled “Scale”: HERE

Dr. Timothy Clark is a Professor in the Department of English Studies at Durham University. Timothy Clark is a specialist in the fields of modern literary theory and continental philosophy (especially the work of Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida), also in Romanticism (especially P.B. Shelley). Since 2004 Tim has focused on elaborating modes of environmental criticism as a rigorous form of literary/cultural theory, with particular attention to the way in which global environmental crisis forms a revisionist challenge to given modes of thought and practice.

AUDIO:  Philosophers’ Anthropologies: Stiegler after Heidegger and Derrida
Duration: 1 hour 31 mins 16 secs
March 15, 2012 – Cambridge University

In this lecture Dr. Michael Lewis talks about Stiegler’s relationship to Heidegger and Derrida in relation to ‘philosophical anthropology’.

Michael Lewis is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of the West of England, Bristol, United Kingdom. Among his recent publications are: Phenomenology: An Introduction (2010), Derrida and Lacan: Another Writing (2008), Heidegger Beyond Deconstruction: On Nature (2007), and Heidegger and the Place of Ethics: Being-with in the Crossing of Heidegger’s Thought (2005).

Bernard Stiegler

Bernard Stiegler

Bernard Stiegler is a French philosopher at Goldsmiths, University of London and at the Université de Technologie de Compiègne. In addition, he is Director of the Institut de recherche et d’innovation (IRI), founder in 2005 of the political and cultural group, Ars Industrialis, and founder in 2010 of the philosophy school, Ecole de Philosophie d’Epineuil-le-Fleuriel. His best known work is Technics and Time.