Friday, 8 February 2013

Videos on Speculative Realism, Object Oriented Ontology, Empirical Metaphysics

An introduction to speculative realism with Robin Mackay, publisher of Collapse, a magazine that was part of initiating the movement in 2007 and has published a number of essays by Resa Negarestani, Ray Brassier, Quentin Meillassoux, Iain Hamilton Grant and related authors active in the US such a Eugene Thacker and Nicola Masciandaro. Lately Mackay has published Nick Land, a central thinker to the work of Negarestani, and Francois Laruelle, Elie Ayache at his publishing house Urbanomic.

Robin Mackay will introduce us to the central strata of speculative realism, develop on key concept from Meillassoux, Brassier, Hamilton Grant.

The seminar was part of the DOCH course Speculative Realism and was open to the public.
Video and sound by Malin Korkeasalo.

Alenka Zupančič

"The Fantasy of Speculative Realism, 2011" 

"Psychoanalysis and the Study of Science, 2011" Alenka Zupancic, Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst, talking discusses
Quentin Meillassoux and After Finitude, speculative realism, Jacques Lacan, Immanuel Kant, psychoanalysis, fantasy, the discourse of science, materialism, contingency, nature, correlation, and Slavoj Žižek Zizek. This is the third lecture of Zupančič's 2011 summer course at the European Graduate School EGS Media and Communication Studies department program Saas-Fee Switzerland Europe 2011 Alenka Zupancic.

Alenka Zupancic, Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst, talking discusses Quentin Meillassoux and After Finitude, speculative realism, Jacques Lacan, psychoanalysis, science thinking and the unconscious, materialism, nature, necessity and contingency, Stephen Jay Gould and the God of creation, and correlation. This is the fourth lecture of Zupančič's 2011 summer course at the European Graduate School EGS Media and Communication Studies department program Saas-Fee Switzerland Europe 2011 Alenka Zupancic. 
Alenka Zupančič, Ph.D., is a Lacanian philosopher and social theorist, based as a full-time researcher in the philosophy department of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. She was born in 1966 in Slovenia. Alenka received her Ph.D. from the University of Ljubljana in 1990 and currently is a member of the Ljubljana School for Psychoanalysis. At the European Graduate School, she holds a position as a lecturer where she teaches an intensive summer seminar on Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche.
The foundation for Alenka Zupančič's philosophical work is influenced primarily by Slovenian Lacanian scholars, such as Mladen Dollar and Slavoj Žižek, but also uses the tools and methodologies of classical philosophers, including Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Henri Bergson. Zupančič is a particularly interested in the works of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche and Jacques Lacan, and often uses their work as a conduit through which to explore conceptual spaces defined on one hand between the psychoanalytic and philosophical, and delimited on the other by the frenetic nature of contemporary culture.

Alenka is the author of the following books: The Odd One In: On Comedy (The MIT Press. 2008), Why Psychoanalysis?: Three Interventions. (NSU Press. 2008), Warum Psychoanalyse? drei Interventionen. (Diaphanes. 2009), Poetika. Druga Knjiga (Analecta. 2005), Nothing/nichts. (Filozofski Inštitut. 2005),Esthétique du Désir, Éthique de la Jouissance (Théétète Editions. 2002), Das Reale einer Illusion (Suhrkamp. 2001), Realno iluzije (Naklada Jesenski i Turk. 2001), Nietzsche: filozofija dvojega (Društvo za teoretsko psihoanalizo. 2001),The Shortest Shadow. Nietzsche's Philosophy of the Two (The MIT Press. 2002),En kisa gölge: Nietzsche'nin "Iki" Felsefesi (Encore. 2005), L'être et le rêel : Kant, Lacan. (Dissertation, 1997), Argument za strpnost (Društvo za teoretsko psihoanalizo. 1997), Claudel z Lacanom. (Analecta. 1996), with Slavoj Žižek (Advisor) Dejanje in zakon, nezavedno in pojem: doktorska disertacija(Dissertation 1995), Etika realnega - Kant, Lacan (Teoretsko Psihoanalizo. 1993), Ethics of the Real: Kant and Lacan (Verso. 2000), Ethik des Realen. Kant, Lacan Verlag Turia + Kant. 1995), L'éthique du réel: Kant avec Lacan (Nous. 2009) and Riaru no rinri : Kanto to Rakan (Kawade shobou shinsha. 2003)

0:00:00 Welcome Address and Introduction
0:05:35 Graham Harman lecture - The Prince of Networks
0:36:10 Bruno Latour Lecture - Response
1:01:09 Graham Harman's Response and Audience questions, comments and discussion
2:07:47 Panel Discussion featuring Bruno Latour, Graham Harman, Lucas Introna,
Noortje Marres, Edgar Whitley

ANTHEM Group Symposium Tuesday 5 February 2008, The Harman Review: Bruno Latour's Empirical Metaphysics at the The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Cloud Atlas - Clouds are alive with life

Clouds are alive with life - New scientific research shows

Joseph Dodds


Clouds - A Poem of Life, Kosho Uchiyama

suddenly appear out of the whole universe
and disappear into the whole universe.
Floating absentminded with a smile,
some flow peacefully and quietly.
Others evolve violently and laugh darkly,
inviting thunder and roar.
Spring clouds moisten the earth.
Monsoon clouds sweep with long rain.
Snow clouds remorse in winters deep silence.
Typhoons filled with hatred run wild.

Clouds swirl and storms blow
as if trying to kill all beings
and sometimes,
the clouds all disappear,
leaving only the deep blue sky
that presents no obstacles.

suddenly appear out of the whole universe
and disappear into the whole universe.
These clouds,
the original form of all living beings.
The whole universe is nothing
but life

- Kosho Uchiyama, The Zen Teaching of “Homeless” Kodo

New research shows that bacteria reach miles into the atmosphere, supporting the notion that microbes affect precipitation and cloud formation (Bacteria Are Blowing in the Wind, Richards 2013).  Every cubic metre of air holds up to 100 million micro-organisms. "Microbes also help create the intricately beautiful designs in snowflakes and facilitate the formation of clouds, for example. Studying them, researchers say, could give insight into how to better monitor global climate change, as well as predict and track weather cycles and disease and allergen outbreaks" (Atlas of the Atmosphere,
contributes significantly to the hypothesis that the atmosphere is alive... The possibility of microbes being metabolically active in the atmosphere transforms our understanding of global processes.”

Atmospheric micro-organisms have now been shown to have roles in cloud formation, precipitation, ice crystallization, as vectors for disease and carbon and nitrogen cycles, all or which have potentially important complex interactions with global climate change. Hurricanes have significant effects on these communities, with storms whipping up new bacteria from the earths surface. It is intriguing to also consider the possibility that through their influence on cloud formation and precipitation, they might also play some role in the formation of hurricanes themselves (not only a butterfly flapping its wings, a microbe nucleating a cloud). Micro-organisms are also released into the air by popping bubbles of crashing ocean waves. 

Such research reveals the need for scientists to look beyond their narrow specialisations, as Anne-Marie Delort, professor of microbiology and organic chemistry at Université Blaise Pascal in Franceas, says: "Physicists don't think about the possibility of life in the air. They study the particles, but ignore the biology", while aerobiologists often ignore important physical and chemical characteristics microbes, according to Jordan Peccia, an environmental engineer at Yale.

Increasingly, the atmosphere is seen not only as a means of transporting micro-organisms by wind, but as a habit and ecosystem in its own right. Microbes can find here suitable temperatures, pH levels, and rich sources of organic carbon, and can sustain populations in the air for 50 generations, or up to 200 days, living and dying on the wind, and riding in, and also making, clouds.


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Climate Psychology Alliance

Introducing a vitally important new movement, organisation, resources, and website helping to provide a common platform for those working on the psychological dimension of climate change or those wishing to draw upon the knowledge gained by such research. Its members have already published three recent books, including Rust and Totton (eds, 2012, Karnac) Vital Signs: Psychological Responses to Ecological Crisis; Weintrobe (ed. 2012, Routledge) Engaging With Climate Change: Psychoanalytic and Interdisciplinary Perspectives; and Dodds (2011, Routledge) Psychoanalysis and Ecology at the Edge of Chaos: Complexity theory, Deleuze|Guattari and psychoanalysis for a climate in crisis (listed in the books section of this blog). It is possible to join the Climate Psychology Alliance and also freely access the online material which seeks to bring together in one place a range of psychological approaches to the most urgent crisis of our times. Active involvement and contributions are more than welcome for readers of this blog.

The Climate Psychology Alliance has been set up to facilitate a deeper understanding of our human responses to climate change. To this end, we are bringing together a wide range of resources here and promoting interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration.
The Climate Psychology Alliance is a new initiative bringing together those seeking to deepen our understanding of human responses to climate change. We believe that nothing less than a cultural transformation is needed in the direction of ecologically sustainable living to address the challenge we face. This is not alarmism, but a fact that should alarm. Why nothing less? It’s like the Sufi saying that the fish will be the last animal to discover water. Our lives, at least in the West, are so mediated by our culture and its collective complexes, that we seldom engage with direct experience of nature.

Human-generated climate change and biodiversity loss are manifestations of the increasing threat our species poses to the global ecosystem, and therefore to ourselves. A concerted effort should be made to influence priorities and behaviour in all parts of our society in response to this vast and complex problem. There is growing recognition of the importance of co-operation; particularly in the face of fear, ignorance and hostility, many disciplines need to contribute their perspectives to this endeavour.

Important psychological research has been done to elucidate cognitive and behavioural responses.  We also believe there is an urgent need for approaches which emphasise the role of identities, emotions, values, conscious and unconscious meanings and defence mechanisms. These perspectives are fundamental to many of the psychotherapies, to ecopsychology and, within the universities, to some psychological and sociological research. Our view is that much is to be gained from elaborating these perspectives and integrating them into existing knowledge through processes of dialogue and collaboration.
The origins of the Climate Psychology Alliance lie in the conference “Facing Climate Change” on 7th March 2009, hosted by Bristol’s University of the West of England’s Centre for Psycho-Social Studies (CPSS). Conceived and chaired by Adrian Tait, a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, its approach was pluralistic.  Its speakers were George Marshall, founder of Climate Outreach and Information Network, Professor Paul Hoggett, Director of CPSS, and the Ecopsychologist Mary-Jayne Rust.  The diversity of speakers was further enriched by the range of workshop leaders, and by Judith Anderson, then Chair of Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility.
CPSS mounted or contributed to four further events aimed at bringing psychoanalytic, psycho-social and other psychological perspectives to bear on the issue of human engagement with the twin challenges of climate change and ecological crisis.  Some interesting questions began to emerge: Is there common ground, in this context, to be developed between the diverse range of psychological disciplines?  If so, can this be used effectively as a resource for improved communication in the voluntary sector, government and the public sphere?  How might collaboration to this end be most fruitfully pursued?  Given that the climate/ecology problem is very probably the greatest challenge to our own survival yet created and faced by humanity, are we motivated to transcend our cultural differences in the interest of pooling our energies, insights and potential influence?
The Climate Psychology Alliance was launched as an experiment to put these questions to the test. We hope to demonstrate that our shared field, with its knowledge of mechanisms such as denial, has the capacity to make a useful contribution to the task of mobilising a relevant collective response.  A “relevant collective response” might fall under the heading of mitigation, adaptation, or both.  Central to the vision behind CPA is that we are seeking to place human science alongside natural science in the cause of ecologically informed living.
In practical terms, the Alliance is just going ‘live’ with its own website ( and through this and other means seeks to contribute to the following tasks:

  1. Through dialogue to:
    a. extend and deepen understanding of complex human responses to the natural environment and to climate change. These responses include not just defensive responses such as denial, apathy, anxiety or greed but creative ones such as love for Earth, empathy for other beings, and courage in relation to change;
b. develop methodologies for both research and practice that take account of these human responses in relation to the need for systemic change at individual, social, cultural and political levels
  1. To develop collaborative relationships with interested people to incorporate a deeper psychological understanding into their work on climate change, for example campaigners, activists, educationalists, climate scientists, communicators, government and business.

  1. To organise events (workshops, conferences, etc) which deepen the connections to be made between the psychological and socio/political dimensions of climate change.

Our intention is for the Climate Psychology Alliance to be an organization controlled by and for its members with elected and accountable officers. What does membership mean? It can be passive, all of us probably belong to some charities or political organizations that we are sympathetic to but nevertheless have no intention of being involved in. We would like membership of CPA to denote a more active commitment than this and truly hope that our members would feel that this is their organization and thus, if they wished, feel encouraged to contribute to the website, initiate activities and events and help shape the organization.

There is much to be done and many potential opportunities, together we could make things happen. For more information, resources, to join the alliance, or the contribute to our discussions, please visit our website at and come to our conference in March 16.

There are already several interesting articles from a psychoanalytic perspective

Paul Hoggett: Psychoanalysis and Climate Change 
Renee Lertzman: The Myth of Apathy
Rosemary Randall: Will 2013 shift people’s indifference to climate change?
Judith Anderson: Absorbing the Implications of Climate Change for Health by Anderson.

In addition see further articles from Jungian, Psycho-Social, Ecopsychology, Humanistic-Integrative, Cognitive-Behavioural, and Interdisciplinary approaches. 

See also sections on education, research, policy, media, arts, discussion forums, events, climate change, and useful links.