Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 9, No 2 (2013)

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21st Century Speculative Philosophy: Reflections on the “New Metaphysics” and its Realism and Materialism

Leon Niemoczynski


Regarding the state of contemporary metaphysics, as it has been said, “There’s something in the air.”   My goal in this essay is to offer some brief reflections on the state of contemporary metaphysics, otherwise called contemporary “speculative” philosophy – the “something in the air” – that has resurfaced within the early part of the 21st century.  In order to clarify the nature of the new metaphysics in question I proceed by isolating geographically and topically two main tendencies of thought which appear to constitute it: namely continental realism and continental materialism.   I argue that clarifying the nature of these tendencies better characterizes what metaphysics means today.  With respect to the possible ambiguity of “continental realism” or “continental materialism” in the 21st century, a consideration of “speculative realism” seems necessary if only to position my analysis upon a specific conceptual map.  From there I offer thoughts as to how contemporary continental realism and materialism (the “new metaphysics”) may be said to be defined first and foremost by its engagement with a concept identified as “correlationism,” a central feature of the new metaphysics’ rejection of the sort of philosophy that has come before it.

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