As an outsider I've been fascinated by watching continental philosophers shake off many of the neo-Kantian aspects of phenomenology in the same way that analytic philosophers earlier shook off many of the (sometimes identical!) neo-Kantian aspects of logical positivism.
What's fascinated me most these past few years is the way in which lessons, themes, and issues from the glory period of German Idealism have been so much better recovered in the continental metaphysics renaissance. That is, one can easily trace the canonical set of issues that move Maimon all the way through Schopenhauer and Hegel* (that were thought to have been dissolved by logical positivists and phenomenologists) as all rising up again in various ways by once renegade Deleuzians such as Protevi and Delanda** and the Speculative Realist writers of the same recent era: Meillassoux, Harman, Hamilton-Grant, and Brassier.***
The reason I think that 2014 is the Clash City Rockers gets released (or perhaps David Lewis visits Australia) moment for the revival of metaphysics in continental philosophy is that so much of this material a deepening of this very narrative of a dialectical recovery of what was covered over by twentieth century neo-Kantian philosophy. After the jump I'll list a few that are the most exciting to me.
- Markus Gabriel is well known for this year's Transcendental Ontology: Essays in German Idealism (very nice NDPR review by Sebastian Gardner here). When his Fields of Sense comes out in Graham Harman's Edinburgh University Press Speculative Realism series, the fullscale revival of our pre-neo-Kantian concerns broached by the names mentioned above will I think be complete.
- I predict that Gabriel's work will lead to deeper appreciation of Robert Stern, who is in an analogous position, having published a fantastic guidebook to the Phenomenology and also using this to do positive metaphysics in Hegelian Metaphysics**** but in a vein both more appreciative of Deleuze as a post-postivistic post-phenomenological metaphysician and more attuned to the gross injustice visited on British Idealism by Russell, Moore, and my ilk generally.
- The next volume of Adrian Johnston's exciting Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism will come out, in addition to a collection of Johnston's papers in Harman's EUP Speculative Realism series. Note that Newapps' own Jeff Bell wrote the NDPR review of Volume I: The Outcome of Contemporary French Philosophy (which sympathetically/dialectically moves through Lacan, Badiou, and Meillassoux towards the transcendental materialism that Johnston is developing in papers such as "Points of Forced Freedom: Eleven (more) Theses on Materialism," which starts at page 91 of Speculations: Issue 4, which can be downloaded free here, and has a wonderful coterie of contemporary continental philosophers discussing where the metaphysical turn in continental philosophy goes now. Note that Bell pushes Johnston to engage the view he is working in with contemporary Deleuziana, which I think any fair minded reader of Bell's review would find to be awesome.
- Tristan Garcia's Form and Object: A Treatise on Things (translated by Mark Ohm with the assistance of yours truly) will come out in March. A description of how Garcia's thought fits into Speculative Realism and Object Oriented Ontology can be found in this forthcoming piece in Speculations by Ohm and me (half of which is a Whig history of Speculative Realism and Object Oriented Ontology I hope sufficient to rebut the sneer from nowhere it typically gets from the usual internet suspects). The Translators' Tntroduction by Ohm and me to the Garcia book fills in the spaces with more detail.
- Harman mentions more translations of the Italian philosopher Maurizio Ferraris, whose interesting post-Derridean***** ontology of the social has already been translated as Documentality: Why it is Necessary to Leave Traces. Post-phenomenological metaphysics tends to either in some manner externalize Kantian finitism (as Harman does) while rejecting Kantian verificationism or blow up Kantian finitism from a verificationist standpoint through Graham Priestlike paradoxes. From Harman's description, Ferraris is firmly on the non-finitude side, while in my work I show how Meillassoux and Garcia are both situated in between the two extremes in interesting ways (I'm critical of Meillassoux on this score because I think his position is unstable, but show that Garcia has a new and really interesting metaphysical argument for restrictionist takes on Russell's paradox which he then strangely combines with Priestian dialetheism motivated not by Russell's paradox as Priest motivates his own).
- Tom Sparrow will be publishing two new books: Plastic Bodies, the introduction of which Catherine Malabou wrote (the translation of which I helped Mark Ohm and Joel Andrepont edit); and another in Harman's Speculative Realism series called The End of Phenomenology: Metaphysics and the New Realism. Given the broadness and diversity of their interests combined with partial overlaps, it will be really exciting to tie Sparrow's work to Johnston's over the next few years.
On Sparrow's title and also my usage throughout, I should note (again) that to be "post" something is never to be done with it, but to have moved properly through it. Likewise the "end" of a philosophy is not its vanishing into history, but rather its telos. Notice again how Hegel always wins. The suppression of Hegel by twentieth century neo-Kantianism was something that had to be gone through so the insights of German Idealism could themselves come properly to fruition.
Of course many people of good will and sound intellect will disagree with nearly every philosophically substantive thing I've hinted at in this post. However, even opponents of David Lewis' whole approach to philosophy recognize that analytic philosophy radically changed when his brand of metaphysics became a thriving area of dispute. The citations above show that it is not crazy to think that Continental Realism might be reaching an analogous David Lewis moment in the next decade. Moreover, given the hundreds of conferences being held in non-philosophy departments in all corners of the Earth on this material, it is a moment that might end up being of vastly broader impact on the humanities than our David Lewis moment in analytical philosophy did.
Analytic metaphysicians should take note. Over the next decade you might find yourselves being the only analytic philosophers routinely asked to speak at conferences hosted by specialists in things such as narratology, theatre, architecture, and radical theology. As several of the authors of the essays in the recent Gilbert Simondon: Being and Technology (reviewed by me at NDPR here) argued, much of what was great about the heyday of "theory" is completely detachable from the social constructivism that passed for common sense then. Metaphysically rich interdisciplinary work in the intersecting Simondonian, Deleuzean, and the neo-German Idealist tradition is all bearing this out. For a representative example of this justifiable ferver, see Martin Goffeney's recent article here.******
* First and foremost: (1) The schematism narrowly and scheme/content broadly, (2) the affection argument narrowly and paradoxes of totality broadly, (3) the connection and tensions between Naturphilosophie and transcendental philosophy. But then also how post-Kantian treatments of these issues then profoundly inform traditional philosophical issues involving necessity, teleology, autonomy, and related problems arising from the universal/particular distinction)
**I don't discuss Protevi, Jeff Bell, Delanda, Levi Bryant, or Todd May here because I'm still just too shoddy on Deleuze to write intelligently about philosophers I find really interesting whose work comes through the Deleuzian tradition. From going to enough talks I know that Deleuzians are having really interesting and productive internal debates about the extent to which Deleuze should be read as metaphysically realist and the extent to which he should be read as a naturalist. Just as finitude is an essential fault line amongst the new Continental metaphysicians, so is naturalism. Since I cherish work by both naturalists and committed anti-naturalists, but lean towards anti-naturalism due to commitments about the nature of normativity and modality. But I haven't studied the naturalists closely enough to see what Deleuziana might have to offer in the way of a naturalist palliative to these concerns. So I'm likely to write something stupid. If I didn't feel nervous on this score, the above list would possibly double. In any case, please read Todd May's excellent NDPR review of Protevi's Life, War, Earth: Deleuze and the Sciences, and see how many interesting connections there are between his work and Bell's review of Johnston which I go on to mention above.
***In this context I should note that the American neutering of Hegel as a metaphysician has been really dreadful. McDowell is wonderful, but has a tendency to retreat back into quietism just when things get interesting. Pippin is great, but his Hegel is of course a Hegel made safe by the neo-Kantianism of twentieth century philosophy. Beiser is in every other respect a god, but when he berates the McDowells and Pippins on just this point he then immediately concludes that Hegel's metaphysics isn't worth taking seriously in a post-theistic world anyhow.
****This book broke the logjam with respect to Hegel from the previous footnote. Schelling scholars had of course long ago dragged their canoes over the structure, and it is no accident that one of the first four speculative realists Ian Hamilton-Grant is a Schelling scholar.
*****Shouldn't have to say this, but will repeatedly. To be "post" a necessary philosophical movement such as phenomenology or positivism is not to have cast it aside and no longer bother with it, but to have to work through it. Hegel was right.
******For anyone who pays attention to anything I post here, it should already be clear that this is part two of my reaction to an execrable article by Nathan Brown that grossly misrepresented the object of its critique and concluded with a surrealistic (in a supposedly academic article) airy dismissal of the philosophy which has just been mischaracterized as a fading trend. Part three is really the first half of the forthcoming Speculations piece to which I earlier linked (written before Brown's piece). The important part of that article******* for these purposes is the opening sections provides a fast Whig history of Speculative Realism and Object Oriented Philosophy. Part four would be the fascinating editorial introduction to Issue V of Speculations, which I'll link to in a separate post when its available.
*******The actual proposal for an account of the actual truth of fictional texts (building off an earlier discussion by myself and Mark Silcox (paywalled here) is not without merit, and I think clearly illustrative of how object-oriented ontology is helpful. But on rereading the piece today I think some of the suggestions at the very end of the article, for example about how the different ways content relevant form is severed from content irrelevant form in literary intepretation might lead to new insights about metaphor are simply not clear enough. It's never a good idea to put bare intuitions that might or might not pay off even in your footnotes. Oh well, we were pretty enthused during the whole thing, so I don't regret it that much.]