Sensation is a concept with a conflicted philosophical history. It has found as many allies as enemies in nearly every camp from empiricism to poststructuralism. Polyvalent, with an uncertain referent, and often overshadowed by intuition, perception, or cognition, sensation invites as much metaphysical speculation as it does dismissive criticism.
The promise of sensation has certainly not been lost on the phenomenologists who have sought to 'rehabilitate' the concept. In Plastic Bodies, Tom Sparrow argues that the phenomenologists have not gone far enough, however. Alongside close readings of Merleau-Ponty and Levinas, he digs into an array of ancient, modern, and contemporary texts in search of the resources needed to rebuild the concept of sensation after phenomenology. He begins to assemble a speculative aesthetics that is at once a realist theory of sensation and a philosophy of embodiment that breaks the form of the 'lived' body. Maintaining that the body is fundamentally plastic and that corporeal identity is constituted by a conspiracy of sensations, he pursues the question of how the body fits into/fails to fit into its aesthetic environment and what must be done to increase the body’s power to act and exist.
Tom Sparrow teaches in the department of philosophy at Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Levinas Unhinged (Zero, 2013) and The End of Phenomenology: Metaphysics and the New Realism (Edinburgh, 2014).
Posted at Philosophy in a Time of Error by Peter Gratton:
My colleague Sean McGrath and I have started up a series with Edinburgh UP, ‘New Perspectives in Ontology’. Our board is now just about in place, including Maurizio Farraris (Turin), Iain Hamilton Grant (University of the West of England), Garth Green (McGill), Adrian Johnston (U. of New Mexico), Catherine Malabou (King’s), Jeff Malpas (U. of Tasmania), Marie-Eve Morin (Alberta), Jeffrey Reid (Ottawa), Hasana Sharp (McGill U.), Uwe Voigt (Augsburg, Germany), and Jason Wirth (Seattle U.), among others–so quite divergent in ontological methods and theses. I’ll post further links and such when they are available. Here is what we are thinking with the series:
After the fundamental modesty of much post-Heideggerian Continental philosophy, the time is now for a renaissance in new ontologies. This series aims to be a forum for this work, with authors boldly claiming answers to the oldest questions of our existence while often working within the Continental tradition to move beyond the stale hermeneutics and phenomenologies of the past.
Key features: • A much needed home for new work in ontology not tapped by studies in Deleuze or speculative realism, especially those coming out of traditions rising from German Idealism through Heidegger and beyond. • Written in an intrepid style, the books in this series will be targeted at intelligent adults and courses teaching metaphysics and ontology. • Pushing no doctrinal program, the series aims to be the place for debating ontological commitments with the winding down of social constructivism and vulgar forms of postmodernism.
Edinburgh as a whole has become an important place for publishing new and invigorating work in Continental philosophy and ontology, with excellent distribution and pricing. So I’m quite happy to work with them.
We have several works already under consideration–quite great stuff. If you have ideas, feel free to drop us a line.