Tag Archive: Peirce

Quaking the subject

This post continues my thinking on the topic of a process-relational “bodymind practice” – an existential art or “technique of the self” building on Buddhist meditation practice reinterpreted and augmented through process-relational philosophy.

In this post, I incorporate insights obtained through the practice of Quaker silent worship. See the posts “ What a bodymind can do” parts 1,  2,  3, and update for background on all of this.


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Or, process-relational ecocriticism 2.0


Two of the courses I’m currently teaching — the intermediate-level “Environmental Literature, Art, and Media” and the senior-level “The Culture of Nature” — require introducing an eco-critical framework appropriate to a wide range of artistic forms, from literature to visual art, music, film and new media.

The process-relational framework developed in Ecologies of the Moving Image is synthetic and holistic in its scope, but it is too advanced for introducing in itself — accompanied by the philosophical underpinnings it requires — in these undergraduate classes. So I’ve been forced to rethink its categories to make them both more accessible and more broadly applicable.

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Realism & Peirce


Levi is out swinging (in the most entertaining way possible; I love it when he gets on a roll, and I do agree with him on much of it).

Of course, there’s not much new in what he says (that hasn’t been said by Left-realists for the last few decades, and by Latour more recently). But of course it still needs to be said (in some circles, like to Left anti-realists) and it’s better said by constructivist realists (like Bryant, Latour, et al.) than by anti-constructivists (on the Right or Left). Constructivist realism — a realism that avows the constructedness (enactedness, emergentness, historicity) of everything, from quarks to civilizations to universes — is where things are at. (Which is why I appreciate Levi’s philosophizing so much.)

The comments that follow his post include some rejoinders from Peircians (like Mark Crosby and Matt Segall), who don’t like Bryant’s seeming characterization of Charles Sanders Peirce as an anti- or non-realist. In response, Levi writes that “we never really see Pierce employed outside the humanities.” Here he needs to be corrected.

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The conceptual machine

I’ve always been more of an improviser than a long-range planner, but my job requires that I occasionally dabble in long-range projections of my work. Here’s one.

While a number of concerns have framed my scholarship over the years — ethical, political, cultural, ecological, and theoretical concerns — the philosophical core of it has been solidifying around a certain conceptual machine, which I am setting to work in different contexts.

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It will be quite an event for Peirce scholars.

My proposed paper will be on applications of Peirce to film theory, and in particular the two neo- (quasi-?) Peircian approaches that I present in Ecologies of the Moving Image. The first of these builds on Sean Cubitt’s three-part typology of the image (pixel–cut–vector, which I rework as spectacle–sequentiality–semiosis); I’ve written about it before on this blog and elsewhere. The second develops Peirce’s three normative sciences (aesthetics, ethics, logic) into a logo-ethico-aesthetics of viewership.

Here’s a quick encapsulation of the latter:

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Supermind & Son

The following provides an updated diagram and some further notes pertaining to my three-part article “What A Bodymind Can Do.” The earlier parts can be read here: part 1, part 2, part 3.  (Please note that this version has corrected a minor error in the originally posted article, and added a bit more information at the end.)


“What A Bodymind Can Do” was an attempt to map the possibilities of human perception, action, and realization by synthesizing Shinzen Young’s systematization of mindfulness meditation practices (primarily Buddhist, but with reference to others) with a process-relational framework rooted in Whiteheadian process metaphysics and the triadic phenomenology of C. S. Peirce.

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Deacon’s Incomplete Nature

Jason (Immanent Transcendence), Matthew (Footnotes to Plato), Adam, Michael, and Leon have begun their cross-blog reading of Terrence Deacon’s mammoth and ambitious Incomplete Nature. (See also Asher Kay’s post from February and Matt’s post on his conversation with Deacon about Whitehead.)

Deacon’s book has been getting unwelcome attention for his seeming unwillingness to appropriately credit his predecessors (and also for his writing style); see Matt’s summary and this page here for the details.

But process-relational bloggers are quite correct that there’s more to Deacon than the arguments of others, be they emergentists and dynamic systems theorists, autopoieticists like Varela and Evan Thompson, et al. Deacon’s Peircian pedigree is significant, and my own reading of his argument will include careful attention to the degree to which the Peircian underpinnings, which were quite evident in his 1998 tome The Symbolic Species and in work since then, remain in this latest volume.

See here for more on the Deacon-Peirce connection.

In a process-relational view, there are no crazies. There are those who subjectivate with the aid of habits developed in response to conditions that have changed sufficiently that those habits are no longer very effective, or are not considered appropriate by others.

Calling someone — and treating someone as — “crazy” is a way of reifying a particular relationship between one’s own subjectivity and that other’s objectivity. In a process-relational understanding, their objectivity is an artifact of our subjectivation. In reality, they subjectivate as much as we do. Within their own history of subjectivation the habits they have developed make perfect sense. They indicate options selected from an array of possibilities to shape a certain array of subjective propensities.

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One of the things that Ecologies of the Moving Image has left unresolved, and left me needing to think more about, is the extent to which my Peircian “triadism” holds up.

Philosophically, the case for some sort of triadism as a way of getting around dualisms is, at first blush, appealing. But there are triads, and there are triads.

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My paper for this year’s Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, coming up next month in Boston, will focus on the two films that got a lot of side-by-side attention at last year’s Cannes festival, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. Since a few of my favorite bloggers have also discussed them side by side, I thought I’d share my preliminary thoughts about them here.

The two films play a key role in the final chapter of my (forthcoming) Ecologies of the Moving Image, but as I’m still thinking these themes through, I will be interested in responses I get at the SCMS (or here).

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