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Top Ten Reads from 2014

Spending the semester teaching my first class, and focusing a bit more on articles than book-length texts, this year’s reading list was a little light. Nonetheless, there were some real gems this year, here are the top 10.

10.) Jose Miranda: Marx and the Bible: A Critique of the Philosophy of Oppression
Given its title, it is surprising how much more Miranda’s Marx and the Bible is of “the Bible” than “Marx.” In fact, at its core, this text is essentially a large-scale commentary on the whole of the Christian scriptures. Emphasizing the key liberative portions of the bible (the exodus, the prophets, the gospels, and the epistles), Miranda suggests that the consistent stream that runs through the center of the all Christian scripture is a fundamental call to justice for the oppressed (the widow, stranger, and orphan). This call, Miranda will ultimately suggest, is not inconsistent with the liberatory call of marxist socialism. Rather, he will argue, within the Latin American context, the two must be held together.

9.) Alain Badiou: Paul: The Foundation of Universalism
In this short text, Badiou summarizes his philosophy of the event through a reading of Paul’s epistles. For Badiou, a staunch atheist, Paul’s subjective appropriation of the event (the resurrection of Christ) can be abstracted from its mythical ground (the resurrection as a literal event) and recognized as a clear exemplar of the proper form by which the subject responds to the revolutionary event. The text has a few obvious faults vis-avis Pauline scholarship, e.g. demphasis upon the communal character of Paul’s thought. Nonetheless, it is an insightful reading of Paul and likely the clearest presentation of Badiou’s philosophy.

8.) Slavoj Zizek: The Fragile Absolute
Zizek here presents — in his typically idiosyncratic and schizophrenic way — a fascinating defence of Christianity, particularly the protestant notion of “love” (caritas) as distinct from law. Christianity, in Zizek’s mind, is uniquely situated to offer a space to think beyond the strictures of the ruling capitalist ideology.

7.) Thomas Piketty: Capital in the Twenty-First Century
A bit of a sensation throughout the summer, Piketty’s Capital is intricately researched, and strongly argued. Central to his text is the argument that the average growth of capitalist economies is generally less than the standard rate of profit (his infamous r>g inequality). Thus, overtime, unrestricted capitalist economies always tend toward radical inequality. For a more intricate look into the argument, be sure to check out my (slowly moving) chapter-by-chapter analysis here.

6.) Gustavo Gutierrez: A Theology of Liberation
The foundation of liberation theology, now a classic of theology, is unexpectedly fresh even after all of these years. A truly remarkable text, Gutierrez succeeds in rethinking Catholic theology through engagements — not only with Marxist thought as generally noted — but also phenomenology, critical theory, and contemporary theology.

5.) John D. Caputo: The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps
The functional sequel to The Weakness of God, Caputo’s most recent publication situates his theological vision of a “weak theology” within the context of a number of key philosophical and theological trends including: the radical theology of Slavoj Zizek, the radical orthodoxy of John Milbank, and the speculative realists.

4.) Thomas J.J. Alitizer: The New Gospel of Christian Atheism
Rethinking his unique vision, years after the publication of the first “Gospel of Christian Atheism,” Altizer presents a startling vision of an apocalyptic Christianity. A religion of the “absolute Novum” turned against any vision of a primordial return, Altizer’s Christianity pursues a radically Hegelian vision of an inbreaking of the authentically new.

3.) H.P. Lovecraft: Waking Up ScreamingThe Watchers Out of Time
Technically two books, I have recently reentered the world of fiction through H.P. Lovecrafts exquisitely written short stories. Absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in the history of science fiction or horror; Lovecraft has also been entering the philosophical domain, having been appropriated by the new materialists. Great fun, though there are certain problematic racist undertones, particularly in his early work, that most be recognized as Lovecraft’s unfortunate inability to think beyond the bounds of the racist early 20th century New England society in which he was raised.

2.) Karl Marx: Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume I
Given its infamy, history, and declaration as “the bible of the proletariat,” it seems absurd to offer a meager praise of Marx’s Capital. That being said, the coherence and rigor of Marx’s magnum opus, is remarkable. Avoiding hasty generalizations, it both draws upon and critiques the preceding bourgeois economic tradition (particularly Smith and Ricardo), offering helpful correctives and laying out a profoundly nuanced labor-theory of value, theory of surplus value, and explanation of exploitation. Notoriously varied in rhetorical style, Marx seamlessly transitions between rigid economic prose, literary flourish (vampires and werewolves abound), and journalistic investigation.

1.) Hadewijch: Complete Works
A brilliant combination of love poetry, mystical theology, and theosophical reflections; the work of Hadewijch has been (rightfully) seeing a resurgence among medievalists and theologians alike. Its deeply embodied and sexually intricate theological vision is enlightening and inspiring. Truly Profound.

Check out the Pittsburgh Continental Philosophy Network Videos

Unfortunately, the comps process does not lend itself to very consistent updating of a long-form blog. So I apologize for the increasing irregularity of my posts. That being said, I have been anything but un-busy for the past few months. To see one of the projects that has been taking up some of my non-blogging thought and effort, check out the videos from a few of the public lectures that my organization — The Pittsburgh Continental Philosophy Network — has released. Topics include: the phenomenology of poverty, the post-anthropocene, and passion. Be sure to stay tuned for two other videos in-process (to be released asap): one on the failure of phenomenological realism, and one on the non-phenomenological side of Merleau-Ponty.

Call for Papers: Philadelphia Summer School in Continental Philosophy – Topic: Continental Philosophy of Religion and the New Metaphysics

Reblogged from After Nature

Call for Papers: Philadelphia Summer School in Continental Philosophy

Topic: “Continental Philosophy of Religion and the New Metaphysics” (featuring seminars on the work of Quentin Meillassoux, Ray Brassier, Bruno Latour, and Catherine Malabou)

Seminar Leader: John Caputo

When and where:

Saturday, August 9th, 2014; 9am-4:30pm

Campus of Immaculata University

Malvern, Pennsylvania

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Topic: Continental Philosophy of Religion and the New Metaphysics

John Caputo will be leading two one hour seminars with catered lunch in between: one seminar on Quentin Meillassoux and Ray Brassier; one seminar on Bruno Latour and Catherine Malabou.  Select attendees will present their research during the morning and afternoon flanking the Caputo seminars.

Attendees are encouraged to purchase The Future of Continental Philosophy of Religion(Indiana University Press, 2014) and The Insistence of God (Indiana University Press, 2014).   A reading list featuring works by Meillassoux, Brassier, Latour, and Malabou will be provided.

Location: Immaculata University, Malvern, Pennsylvania

Organizers: Leon Niemoczynski (Immaculata University) & Stephanie Theodorou (Immaculata University)

Cost: $70.00 faculty; $45.00 student or other (seating is limited, pre-registration required.  Cost includes catered lunch)

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Immaculata University is pleased to announce the”Philadelphia Summer School in Continental Philosophy,” a one day seminar style “summer school” and workshop that, this year – its first – features John Caputo as its seminar leader.  The event will be organized with two new books as a backdrop: The Insistence of God and The Future of Continental Philosophy of Religion (both Indiana University Press, 2014), although a formal reading list including works by Meillassoux, Brassier, Latour, and Malabou (for the seminars) will be provided.  John Caputo will lead two one hour seminars/classes flanked by morning and afternoon mini-research presentations where researchers present 2000 word abstracts/summaries of their work and engage other participants in query designed to further research goals and enhance the nature of research projects through mutual dialogue.

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The theme of this year’s summer school will explore the relationship between the future of Continental philosophy of religion and new schools of thought emerging in contemporary Continental metaphysics, identifying possible routes of exploration as well as areas of influence, cross-over, or challenge.

Topics such as materialist approaches to theology and religion, speculative materialism and non-theology, environmental aesthetics and theology, political theology and ecology, the speculative theologies of German idealism, process-relational philosophy and theology, phenomenology and contemporary French theory and theology/religion, as well as questions of atheism’s relationship to contemporary Continental philosophy of religion will be of central importance for the school. The “new metaphysics” in its most contemporary forms will be a major point of discussion as it bleeds into its Continental philosophical antecedents, especially vis-a-vis thinking about religion, theology, and the Absolute.

Philosophical naturalism (Ray Brassier), the divine inexistence (Quentin Meillassoux), non-philosophy and theology (Francois Laruelle), the Absolute (Iain Hamilton Grant), plasticity (Malabou), or the factish gods (Bruno Latour) are some possible starting points, but one could also see discussion of historical figures as well: whether Bergson, Deleuze, Schelling, Hegel, Kant, Whitehead, Heidegger, or Derrida for example, as participants explore those figures’ importance for the future of Continental philosophy of religion and corresponding areas of realism, materialism, and metaphysics.  Those who have an interest in contemporary French philosophy (Badiou, Meillassoux, Kacem, Laruelle, Malabou) should certainly apply.

 

How to Apply: Those interested should send a summary of a current research project (no more than 2000 words, fit for a 15 minute presentation) to: lniemocz@mail.immaculata.edu by May 30th, 2014.

Those accepted into the summer school will be notified by June 10th, 2014.

Please attach research statements/summaries as .rtf or MS Word .doc files.

Short Study on Deleuze, Hadewijch, and Immanence

Head on over to The De-Scribe, and check out David Dreidger’s recent set of posts examining the development of philosophies of immanence, and the use of immanence as a hermeneutic for a compelling reading of the Medieval mystic, Hadewijch, and her conception of love.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

CFP – Pittsburgh Continental Philosophy Conference – Approaching the Liminal

Pittsburgh Continental Philosophy Network

The Pittsburgh Continental Philosophy Network is pleased to announce that we are now accepting submissions for our first annual Pittsbugh Continental Philosophy Conference entitled, Approaching the Liminal: Pushing the Boundaries of Continental Philosophy (Sept. 26th and 27th). The conference will feature Dr. Tom Sparrow (Slippery Rock University) and Dr. Erik Garrett (Duquesne University) as keynotes. The full CFP can be found here: CFP – Approaching the Liminal (abstracts due by June 15th). Interested parties throughout the greater Pittsburgh area, and in a wide variety of fields (including philosophy, psychology, communications, theology, and sociology, to name only a few) are strongly encouraged to apply.

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Big Discount at IUP

For a couple more days, Indianna University Press is doing a 50% off one book sale (promo code: MAD50). You might not want to miss this. IUP carries an extremely large selection of the lesser known Heidegger books, plus a range of philosophy and phenomenology texts from Caputo and Marion, to Henry, Derrida, Sallis, Young, and many more. LINK

The Radical Theology Lectionary: Fourth Sunday in Lent

TEXT: Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.

COMMENTARY:

“One can even develop into a Hegelian triad the lines from Psalm 23:4: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” It’s first negation would have been a radical reversal of the subjective position, as in the ghetto-rapper-version: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for I am the meanest motherfucker in the whole valley!” Then comes the negation of negation that changes the entire field by way of “deconstructing” the opposition of Good and Evil: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for I know that Good and Evil are just metaphysical binary opposites!”

-Slavoj Žižek, Žižek’s Jokes: (Did You Hear the One about Hegel and Negation?), 18

Tom Sparrow at the East End Book Exchange

Pittsburgh Continental Philosophy Network

Don’t miss our third official Pittsburgh Continental Philosophy Network lecture next thursday (March 20th) at 6:00pm at the East End Book Exchange. We are thrilled to announce that  Dr. Tom Sparrow of Slippery Rock University will be offering a lecture and discussion based upon his paper “From Lived Bodies to Plastic Bodies.” Want to go deeper? ThePittsburgh Continental Philosophy Reading Group will be be discussing his paper in preparation for the lecture, on Tuesday at 6:00pm (also at East End Exchange). Why not come to both events and get a double dose of Sparrow? The official Facebook can be found here.

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Charting Deleuze and Guattari

Very cool chart by Justin Joque tracks key terminology in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateus. See the FULL IMAGE HERE:

Thanks to Critical Theory, for bringing this chart to my attention.

Deconstructing God: Interview with Caputo

Deconstructing God

New interestign interview with Caputo on the Times’ The Stone.

But it does beg the question, why does Gutting seem so intensely focused on neatly packing Derrida into the “atheist” box? What is to be gained by such a neat definition?