Adrian Johnston talk: “On Deep History and the Brain”

Adrian Johnston gave a talk at the University of Guelph last Friday and I thought the audio might be of interest to some here. The talk is entitled “On Deep History and the Brain” and in it Adrian draws upon Daniel Smail’s book “On Deep History and the Brain”  to critique a certain side of Lacan that denies any inquiry into that which lies beyond the epistemic limitations of our symbolic structures (e.g. Lacan’s ontology of ‘parle-être’, “In the beginning was the Word,” “The Word is the murder of the Thing,” etc.). Adrian links this impetus to bracket the pre-linguistic to a Judeo-Christian “short chronology/sacred history.” In its place, Adrian endorses a “deep history” as the necessary condition for a secularized materialism. I’ll let the audio explain what exactly this entails.

The Q&A might also be of interest to some, as Adrian talks a bit about his interest in revitalizing Hegel’s philosophy of nature, his preference for the Zizekian approach of adopting the form of Christianity in order to displace its basis rather than smuggling Judeo-Christian content into an atheistic outlook, and shares some objections he has to certain tenets of Speculative Realism.

The abstract is here (pdf), the talk here, and the Q&A here.

9 thoughts on “Adrian Johnston talk: “On Deep History and the Brain”

  1. Thanks for this. I have really big issues with Johnston’s implicit understanding of the relationship between science and philosophy and the way that determines his very conception of nature. Still, there is a lot here that is really, really interesting. Maybe it requires an article of recovering its “scientific kernel” from its “anti-religious shell”.

  2. Agreed. I can’t help but feel that, much as I love his work, sometimes Johnston’s attempt to stave off religion extremely hard prevents resources being added to his project. He even has to canbalise Zizek himself to do this, though I am glad he hits back at the right-wing contarian appropriation of Z. No need to fight the battle on that front quite so hard!

  3. Joel, I’m having some difficulty publically sharing Dropbox files, so send me your email and I”ll send you a link to the files.

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