‘That’s right, clap the things you agree with.’: Stewart Lee’s Content Provider and the Socratic Method

February 2021 – A conference contribution for Philosophy of Humour: New Perspectives

I think the relationship between the ‘Stewart Lee the Comedian’ and ‘Stewart Lee the Author’ is similar to that of Socrates and Plato. Unlike the common presupposition that Socrates always acts as an exemplar, and always gets things right, and wins all the arguments, Plato has Socrates stumble at several points, make bad arguments, and avoid his responsibilities. Socrates is a character that is part of the spectacle that Plato is providing so that we learn philosophy. The Comedian, similarly, is part of the spectacle the Author is providing us, including when the Comedian pretends to be the author. The Comedian makes mistakes, and his narrative of what is happening in the show is not to be trusted.

The Phenomenon of Ancestrality and the Foundation of Phenomenology

September 2019 – A conference contribution for The Theory and Practice of Phenomenology

Now, no phenomenologist has ever claimed that thinking and thought always “correlate”, i.e. are always found side-by-side and never without. The principle of intentionality does not say that subject and object occur together, it says that consciousness is always of something, that each experience or perception is always tied to being.

Keywords: Phenomenology, Speculative Realism, Quentin Meillassoux, special relativity, Philosophy of Science

Heidegger’s Conception of Freedom and the Empowerment of Being

May 2019 – An invited conference contribution for On the History of Being: After the Black Notebooks

I wish to (provisionally) argue that the critique of Being and Time in Ponderings 2 uses a conception of power very different to the one found in the late 1930s, although it can found as late as the 1935 lecture course, Introduction to Metaphysics. Furthermore, I think this concept can be best clarified by turning back to Heidegger’s conception of freedom between 1927 and 1930.  

Keywords: Heidegger, Black Notebooks, freedom, power

Dread and Dialectic: Heidegger and Sartre on the Interface of Freedom and History

January 2019 – An invited paper for the Human Sciences Seminar

The fact of “dialectic”, in the broadest possible sense of non-necessary, non-contingent patterns and principles of human affairs, gives us a strong sense of history. The fact of dread, of the possibilities manifest to the human condition, gives us freedom. These two basic phenomena are difficult to reconcile. A strong sense of history, i.e. destiny, tends towards a weak sense of freedom. A strong sense of freedom tends towards a weak sense of history. The existential philosophical tradition, however, defends strong senses of both. This is a problem: how can we think the interface of a strong sense of history and a strong sense of freedom? How can dread and dialectic be reconciled?

Keywords: Heidegger, Sartre, Freedom, History, Dialectic

Two Concepts of Anxiety: Heidegger and Sartre on Freedom

September 2017 – A conference contribution for Phenomenology: Theory and Practice

We have Sartre on the other side, saying there’s no essence, but what we make ourselves. We are always able to negate what we are. But, what Heidegger is trying to do, in a sort of mediated idea of freedom, is say that we do have something like an essence, it’s there as a possibility. And, anxiety is our reaction to realising that there is no concrete transcendental answer to who we’re supposed to be.

Keywords: Heidegger, Sartre, freedom, anxiety

The Silent Call: Heidegger and McCarthy on Talking to Yourself

July 2017– An invited paper for the workshop, Cormac McCarthy and Philosophy

Heidegger says the reason why the self can only speak to itself in silence is that language is about talking to other people. It is an outward projecting function of us. And so, in order to cut through the hubub of the public world, it speaks to us in silence. It conveys a discursive meaning without words.

Keywords: Heidegger, Cormac McCarthy, Philosophy of Language

Heidegger and Science

April 2016 – An invited public talk for PubHD Manchester

Heidegger argues that science is a human way of being. At first, this seems wrong, and then it seems obvious. Against the idea that science is some sort of disembodied source of knowledge, science is one way that humans have to interpret the world. Science is just one way of looking at things that we choose to adopt, but the richest account of who we are will start from that fact of experience, rather than from an MRI scanner.

Keywords: Heidegger, freedom, science and philosophy

Freedom Beyond the Will: Heidegger on Finite Liberty

January 2015 – An invited paper for Nottingham Trent University philosophy seminar

Taking up one possibility precludes us taking up others. Opening one door closes another. The reason only certain possibilities are available to human is not because of some sort of lack, but is an intrinsic characteristic of the sort of being humans are: they are necessarily finite and necessarily only have access to certain possibilities at certain times. For this reason, freedom is out of our control, from the Heideggerian perspective

Keywords: Heidegger, Freedom, Voluntarism