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Metaphysics or Metaphors for the Anthropocene? Scientific Naturalism and the Agency of Things

Patrick Gamez
Published Online: 2018-09-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opphil-2018-0014


In this paper, I provide the outlines of an alternative metaphilosophical orientation for Continental philosophy, namely, a form of scientific naturalism that has proximate roots in the work of Bachelard and Althusser. I describe this orientation as an “alternative” insofar as it provides a framework for doing justice to some of the motivations behind the recent revival of metaphysics in Continental philosophy, in particular its ecological-ethical motivations. In the second section of the paper, I demonstrate how ecological-ethical issues motivate new metaphysicians like Bruno Latour, Jane Bennett, Timothy Morton, Ian Bogost, and Graham Harman to impute to objects real features of agency. I also try to show how their commitments lead to deep ambiguities in their metaphysical projects. In the final section, I outline a type of scientific naturalism in Continental philosophy that parallels the sort of naturalism championed by Quine, both conceptually and historically, and suggest that it might serve our ecological-ethical purposes better.

Keywords: speculative realism; vital materialism; environmental ethics; non-anthropocentrism; Bachelard; Althusser; Continental philosophy


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About the article

Received: 2018-06-17

Accepted: 2018-07-31

Published Online: 2018-09-25

Published in Print: 2018-09-01

Citation Information: Open Philosophy, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 191–212, ISSN (Online) 2543-8875, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opphil-2018-0014.

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© by Patrick Gamez, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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