Speculations: A Journal of Speculative Realism is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal published by punctum books (online and in print-on-demand and e-reader editions) that provides a forum for the exploration of speculative realism and post-continental philosophy. Our aim is to facilitate discussion abut ongoing developments within speculative realism. We accept short position papers, full-length articles, short book reviews, and book review essays. Please send all inquiries and submissions to email@example.com.
Editors: Michael Austin, Paul J. Ennis, Fabio Gironi, Thomas Gokey, Robert Jackson
Realism is an old ‘ism’ that predates Kantian critiques, Cartesian doubts and perhaps even Phyrronian skepticisms. Waxing and waning throughout the ages, it has been the philosophical attempt to conceptualize a return to that ‘natural’ attitude which is common before any exposure to massive doses of philosophical thinking. What makes this latest instantiation of this process more than a mindless repetition is its ‘speculative’ side. Here to speculate means to reject the doxa of the times, both philosophical and commonsensical. In a way then to be a ‘speculative realist’ means—if anything—to place oneself in an interstitial position where theorizing about reality is unconstrained by the limits imposed by both common-sense and dogmatic forms of philosophical realism. To paraphrase a traditional Zen saying, before philosophy there are mountains and rivers, whilst doing philosophy mountains and rivers disappear, but when philosophical dogmatism is replaced by speculation the mountains are once again mountains and the rivers once again rivers.
But to speculate is an intrinsically dynamic activity. It’s a creative moment of thought wherein new ideas are put to the test and new concepts are tentatively forged: to this extent ‘speculative realism’ cannot and should not be understood as a fixed body of knowledge. In such a phase labels should be programmatically rejected and copious amounts of intellectual material (hailing from as disparate places as laboratories to ateliers) should be examined, the litmus test being their intrinsic philosophical fertility. The danger of this operation, however, is to confuse the process of the replenishment of philosophy’s conceptual tool box with ‘wild speculation,’ the cognitive protocol of self-deluded astrologers and crystal healers. Basic standards of rational argumentation and intellectual integrity are not exclusive possessions of ‘scientistic’ thought but are desiderata for any kind of intellectual production, especially so in an historical conjuncture that offers new generations of philosophers the possibility of constructing skepticism-proof bridges between the continental and the analytic tradition. Witnessing the discipline of philosophy under attack from governments across the ‘developed’ world—more interested in fast revenues and immediate ‘impact’ than in slow and careful thinking—it is more than ever imperative to make common cause against the bureaucratization of knowledge and to assert clearly the importance of critical thought.
What Speculations aims at doing, then, is not to represent the dreadnought of a new theoretical position but to open up a window onto the work of thinkers attempting to push farther the limits of accredited knowledge, to take—with each and every volume—a temporary snapshot of the current state of this journey of thought. As editors, the best we can hope is that, like outdated Polaroids, the value of this effort will only be more and more discernible as time goes by.