Critical Antiquities Workshop: Special Double Book Launch
Special double book launch!
Michael della Rocca (Yale University)
The Parmenidean Ascent
For the Parmenidean monist, there are no distinctions whatsoever-indeed, distinctions are unintelligible. In The Parmenidean Ascent, Michael Della Rocca aims to revive this controversial approach on rationalist grounds. He not only defends the attribution of such an extreme monism to the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides, but also embraces this extreme monism in its own right and expands these monistic results to many of the most crucial areas of philosophy, including being, action, knowledge, meaning, truth, and metaphysical explanation. On Della Rocca’s account, there is no differentiated being, no differentiated action, knowledge, or meaning; rather all is being, just as all is action, all is knowledge, all is meaning.
Motivating this argument is a detailed survey of the failure of leading positions (both historical and contemporary) to meet a demand for the explanation of a given phenomenon, together with a powerful, original version of a Bradleyan argument against the reality of relations. The result is a rationalist rejection of all distinctions and a skeptical denial of the intelligibility of ordinary, relational notions of being, action, knowledge, and meaning.
Della Rocca then turns this analysis on the practice of philosophy itself. Followed to its conclusion, Parmenidean monism rejects any distinction between philosophy and the study of its history. Such a conclusion challenges methods popular in the practice of philosophy today, including especially the method of relying on intuitions and common sense as the basis of philosophical inquiry. The historically-minded and rationalist approach used throughout the book aims to demonstrate the ultimate bankruptcy of the prevailing methodology. It promises-on rationalist grounds-to inspire much soul-searching on the part of philosophers and to challenge the content and the methods of so much philosophy both now and in the past.
Through a radical new reading of the Theological Political Treatise, Dimitris Vardoulakis argues that the major source of Spinoza’s materialism is the Epicurean tradition that re-emerges in modernity when manuscripts by Epicurus and Lucretius are rediscovered. This reconsideration of Spinoza’s political project, set within a historical context, lays the ground for an alternative genealogy of materialism. Central to this new reading of Spinoza are the theory of practical judgment (understood as the calculation of utility) and its implications for a theory of democracy that is resolutely positioned against authority.
With comments presented by the authors and distinguished guests André Laks (Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City)
and Russ Leo (Princeton).
Ben Brown and Tristan Bradshaw | Click here to email
The Critical Antiquities Workshop is an initiative of the Critical Antiquities Network (CAN) at the University of Sydney. CAN, co-directed by Ben Brown and Tristan Bradshaw, connects scholars working at the intersection of ancient traditions and contemporary critical theory.
Image: Salvador Dalí, Oedipus and the Sphinx, 1963-1965