Publications & Activities

  • Weekly updates and meditations:

Ixotl (https://ixotl.wordpress.com/)

https://ixotl.wordpress.com/


What rơle would the social play in a salient theory of consciousness?

Certainly social pressures are widely regarded as the best explanation for its evolution.

I maintain that signs, thoughts, movies in the brain, mental images, qualia do not exist independently of the social; determining the brain activity that corresponds to these phenomena will not arrive at a persuasive account of consciousness. Holding that such correspondence is an identity is a stumbling block to understanding: what we call, following Eleanor Gibson, Crypto-Platonism or Crypto-Cartesianism.

Ixotl keeps a pattering dialogue with the main themes that shape this hypothesis in an unsystematic sequence. Surprisingly, this seems to involve patristic theology – ripeness of an age before the modern dissolution of noumenal essence.

Ixotl engages with cognitive science, aesthetics, philosophy, natural theology and, of late, theology of politics. These wanderings are ways for this author to flop his bulk around in a kiddie pool while more time is devoted to the rigorous work that fleshes this hypothesis out.



  • In translation:

Booth and Ray: a play in nine scenes

Walker Trimble,

Russian translation: Oxana Yakimenko, thanks to the generous support of sponsors!

The play operates on two intersecting streams. One, in 1967, follows Ray and Stein. Ray aims to convince Stein that he is part of a vast, revolutionary conspiracy. When Stein refuses to take a detour to Mexico, “to the dark places”, Ray uses his techniques of “psycho-cybernetics” to seed false memories as they cross over the deserts of Arizona. Meanwhile, the second stream, in 1864–5, follows John Wilkes Booth, Junius Booth, and Harry Ford as they travel around the northeast in trains and carriages. Booth also attempts to include Ford in his conspiracy. He has more details, more purchase on Ford, attempting to blackmail him, but the encounter with his brother shows he is on shaky psychological and tactical ground. In scene 5 there is a rupture in reality in the figure of the Recluse who, like Tiresias, says things like they are. This enables Booth and Ray to meet in the next scene. Yet there cannot be two masters of a shared delusion – the meeting ends with guns drawn. The next two scenes show relations between the protagonists and those “on the outside” disintegrating: Stein says he wants no part of Ray but only an attempt at a normal life. Ford ridicules Booth's fall from grace; yet is tempted by a leading role opposite him on the big stage. He agrees to let Booth in the back door of the theatre, turning open the lock on the assassination. In the last scene, Booth and Ray realize each has made space for the other in an infernal circle. Together they drive to New Orleans to wait “until the signal comes”.

Private reading, Cannon Theater, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY. September, 2018


  • Upcoming:

From Function to Surface: Phenomenology of the thinking organ

Iranian Yearbook of Phenomenology, Tehran, Gam-e-Nou (in Farsi).

Neuroscience and its attendant subdisciplines, including, so it supposes, philosophy, hold that there is nothing more to self and society than what is in the brain. Yet two centuries have not resolved the philosophical objections to such claims, much less resolved the binding problem that would link mind and brain, or arrive at a general, materialist explanation of consciousness. Just as ideological and economic blinders beset this discipline, so they limit philosophy to account for the nature of this ‘thinking organ’ – what that means and if it can even exist. Taking the work of Hegel, Heidegger, Deleuze, neuroscientific results, I consider the phenomenology of the organ. I argue that an understanding of this object requires distinguishing concepts such as function and activity, capacity and regulation, surface and recognition. Results show that the ability to arrive at a thinking organ as organ is uncertain but worth the pursuit for the services done to science and ethics.


“Species specierum”: Late Scholastic Eucharistic Theology and the Roots of Posthumanism. Part 1: Body-Soul Dualism and the Doctrine of the Four Humours

Proceeds of the Theology Faculty, St. Petersburg Seminary (in Russian) 2021.1(9)

Canon 23.3 of the Council of Trent (1551) anathematises those who “deny, that, in the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist, the whole Christ is contained under each species, and under every part of each species, when separated”. As is often the case in liturgical history, this rule merely gave theological confirmation to a longstanding ritual practise, namely the communion of laymen with the Body of Christ alone. However, from the “species”, “parts”, “whole” and “living” Body of Christ, very strange theological arguments emerged. In the generations following Trent, theologians and philosophers took up rancorous debates over Christ’s “parts”. Was His hair alive, His nails, and, in turn, were His humours – blood and bile – participants in divine or human will? In the first of two articles, we shall examine the background to this problem in the context of body/soul dualism. Instead of stretching far and wide in this vast subject, we shall dig deep and narrow with a very widespread medical doctrine that would seem to cross the barrier of body and soul. The history of theological and philosophical debates over the four humours shows us the extent to which what took place before Trent reflects philosophical views that differ radically from common Christian tradition. For the Church Fathers, the soul was the source of reason and, no less importantly, life. The soul was the principal agent in the person’s relations with the world and not a passive object trapped in a body. We also illustrate how modern, Cartesian dualism is theologically unacceptable and leads to a range of (bio-)ethical and apologetic problems. The second part of our work will examine how the Tridentine Council helped shape the formation of modern consciousness up to what is now fashionably called “posthumanism”.


Expressionism and Verisimilitude: New Art in a Village Chapel

In Dimitry Margolin: Rospis’ tserkvi sv. Ioanna

Krestitel’ia. St. Petersburg: Svoio Izdatel’stvo.

ISBN: 978-5-6046054-4-8

...The weakness of these icons of D. Margolin is not that they are undogmatic, but rather that the dogmatical and catechetical overwhelms the “mystical representation”. There is not enough of the “bloodless sacrifice”, not enough of the spirit of the Mother of God without which that sacrifice is not. But this shows us much of what we are, and this is a step toward becoming what we should be. Dmitry Margolin will grow into a greater understanding of the liturgical spirit of monumental church adornment, it is up to those with the grip on the canon to give him a chance to search and grow. Dmitry Margolin’s work is a step toward the aesthetic renewal of Christianity in the face of this post-twentieth century person, this riven image of God ravaged by the scalpel of our soulless progress. It is also a sermon, a lesson, a summons to the power of the divine...

http://dmitrymargolin.ru/en/exhibitions/expressionism_trimble/

Claiming Infinity: Tokens and Spells in the foundations of the Moscow Mathematical School

Technology and Language 2.1.

The Moscow Mathematical School, led by Dmitri Egorov, made tremendous strides in the development of set theory in the period around the Russian Revolutions. The concepts of transfinite sets and absolute infinity have long had a controversial association with religion, namely in the explicit theological statements of the founder of set theory, Georg Cantor. However, several recent studies have argued that the Moscow School was instrumentally shaped by a sect called the “Name Worshippers”. Here we examine more precisely what the Name Worshippers meant by naming, and how their semantics might have, and might have not, shaped the views of the Moscow School. This paper is a review and severe corrective of the book Naming Infinity by Loren Graham and Jean-Michel Kantor, yet we also have our own analysis. Examining the Name Worshippers’ semantics as defined by themselves and their opponents argues for the greater theological influence being Cantor’s. However some aspects of their beliefs indicate that they tended to treat names as tokens, objects of incantation and instantiation. Finally, we show how this fascinating chapter in the history of theology and mathematics contributes to realistic versions of what contemporary neurologically-based semantics calls “meaning externalism” and a science of essences.

https://soctech.spbstu.ru/en/issue/2/

  • Editing and translation:

Between Separation and Symbiosis: South Eastern European Languages and Cultures in Contact

A. N. Sobolev, ed. Berlin: De Gruyter.

https://doi.org/10.1515/9781501509254

The book deals in detail with previously understudied language contact settings in the Balkans (South East Europe) that present a continuum between ethnic and linguistic separation and symbiosis among groups of people. The studies in this volume achieve several aims: they critically assess the Balkan Sprachbund theory; they analyse general contact theories against the background of new, original, representative field and historical Greek, Albanian, Romance, Slavic and Judesmo data; they employ and contribute to recent methods of research on linguistic convergence in bilingual societies; they propose new general assessments of extra- and intralinguistic factors of Balkanization over the centuries; and they outline prospects for future research. The factors relevant to contact scenarios and linguistic change in the Balkans are identified and typologized through models such as those related to a balanced or unbalanced (socio)linguistic situation.

https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9781501509254/html

Brains Situated, Active, and Strange: Neurosurgical magnification and physicalism’s aesthetic consequences

Jahrbuch Technikphilosophie 2020, Darmstadt: Nomos.

The uncanny most often involves the sense that an object oscillates between two states: living and dead and, by extension, human/non-human, conscious/unconscious, volitional/non-volitional. Yet recent litera‐ ture often ignores that the uncanny is also conditioned by its setting. We shall examine an instance of the uncanny from the memoirs of a neurosurgeon that may provide a new approach to the materiality of intelligent systems and their location in medical imaging. Oscillations between being/function, form/activity take us back to Aristotle’s Metaphysics which, along with environmental, enactive, and embodied strains of cognitive science, serves to show that a materialistic philosophy of mind may require greater commitments from its adherents than they are willing to consciously admit.

https://www.nomos-elibrary.de/10.5771/9783748904861/autonomie-und-unheimlichkeit

  • With I. Lekomtseva

Popular Science in Translation: a sourcebook.

St. Petersburg: Tvoe Izdatel’stvo.

Radical Orthodoxy: First philosophy in a ‘Post-Christian’ World

Proceeds of the Theology Faculty, St. Petersburg Seminary, (1 (3)), 160-185 https://www.academia.edu/41704138/First_Philosophy_in_a_Post_Christian_World

The theological turn is a significant recent development in European philosophy that uses religious concepts to resolve the crisis of postmodern culture. Its most active participants are part of a movement founded by John Milbank called 184 Труды кафедры богословия No 1 (3), 2019

“Radical Orthodoxy”. Both postmodernism and these figures oppose the principles of Enlightenment and regard its claim to “objective knowledge” as concealing false gods under supposedly neutral transcendental claims. Like postmodernism, and many 19th and 20th century Orthodox theologians, Radical Orthodoxy is occupied with determining the moment when western philosophy took the wrong turn. This article will juxtapose Radical Orthodoxy’s history with that thinkers such as Vladimir Soloviev, Vladimir Lossky, Henri de Lubac, John Romanides, and others. We determine that these thinkers have different theological conceptions of 1) the nature of human reason, and 2) how God can be approached by it. How then are Christian thinkers to receive scientific knowledge? We conclude that the Cappadocian fathers with their confidence in human reason and neptic asceticism can provide a new approach to a world where we again find ourselves surrounded by pagan understanding, a world we have made ourselves. The paper is followed by a translation of Milbank’s seven theses of Radical Orthodoxy into Russian.

 https://www.academia.edu/41704138/First_Philosophy_in_a_Post_Christian_World

Holism or Abstraction: Representational Conflicts in Cognitive Science

Each revolution in brain science prompts mechanistic explanations of the mind. These are inevitably followed by a “holistic” reaction that argues against a one-to-one correspondence between a brain organ, region, or process and a cognition. From the beginning of the 20th century, imaging technologies, behaviorism and, later, computational models have all been met with holistic responses from gestalt theory to cognitive science to embodied,enactive and environmental theories of cognition. Neglected in such debates so far has been the way these research cultures employ different forms of scientific representation. Making use of recent debate on the nature of scientific representation, this article uses research from psycholinguistics, classic works of gestalt and related theories, and embodied cognitive science to argue that gestalt type models represent more rigorous forms of scientific representation that yet have limitations in their relevance. Computational models, on the other hand, are flawed forms of representation that use hybrid forms to impose logical structure or necessity on concrete neural structures. Data in-dicate there is support for both models, so it is hoped that further research will be done to clarify the role of representation as a construct that shapes both theory and research practice.

https://www.academia.edu/41704917/Holism_or_Abstraction_Representational_Conflicts_in_Cognitive_Science


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