One of the remarkable features of recent interest in the work of Louis Althusser has been the prominence granted to Althusser’s cultural criticism. However, aside from one notable exception, Althusser’s cultural criticism has not figured prominently in discussions of his late work, and the absence of Althusser’s cultural criticism from those discussions has perhaps unwittingly obscured both the genealogy of Althusser’s late aesthetic ontology and the logic of his last texts, of ‘The Underground Current of the Materialism of the Encounter’ and related writings on aleatory materialism. By tracing the genealogy of the aleatory impulse in Althusser’s cultural criticism, it is possible to show how that work resonates in Althusser’s late texts including the larger unpublished manuscript from which ‘The Underground Current of the Materialism of the Encounter’ has been drawn. This reading of the philosophy of the encounter also allows us to understand the importance of Nicolas Malebranche for Althusser’s aleatory materialism.
Novalis was a central figure in early German Romantic philosophy. Whilst the importance of both Fichte and Spinoza for the development of Romanticism is well established, the vital influence of the Platonic tradition in allowing the Romantics to synthesise these divergent philosophies merits closer attention. Essential to the development of Novalis’ thought was his exposure to Plotinus. This examination first sets out the religious and philosophical problems in Germany at the close of the eighteenth century and situates Novalis in relation to this intellectual environment. Following this, a brief survey of Plotinus-scholarship at the close of the eighteenth century in Germany frames how Novalis came into contact with Plotinus through Dieterich Tiedemann. The examination proceeds to consider how Tiedemann shaped Novalis reception of Plotinus and allowed him to develop a synthesis of Spinoza and Fichte. Finally, it briefly examines the poetic realisation of this synthesis through Novalis’ late poetic work.
In “Other Minds,” Austin maintained that, unless there is a special reason to suspect the bird he saw is stuffed, he does not need to do enough to show it is not stuffed in order to be credited with knowing what he has just claimed to know: that the bird he saw is a goldfinch. But suppose Austin were presented with the following argument:
You don’t know the bird is not a stuffed goldfinch.
If you don’t know the bird is not a stuffed goldfinch, you don’t know the bird is a goldfinch.
Therefore, you don’t know the bird is a goldfinch.
Which of the premises of this argument would Austin have rejected? My brief is that the answer is, “Neither”: Austin would have dismissed the very idea that he needed to choose a premise to reject. The burden of this essay is to explain why.