Review of SPECULATIVE REALISM: AN EPITOME

Leon Niemoczynski’s new book SPECULATIVE REALISM: AN EPITOME is an important contribution to the task of gaining a real understanding of the recent developments in Continental Philosophy on the subject of Speculative Realism. The book examines the nature of the movement, its history, and its principal theses and arguments, outside the partisan publicity and bellicose lobbying that have so often dominated in its reception.

Given its emphasis on the inspirational power of the thinkers, perspectives and concepts that are habitually grouped together under this rubric Niemoczynski’s book could easily have been subtitled The Rebirth of Continental Philosophy out of the Spirit of Speculation.

The book is a model of objectivity and of pedagogical exposition. Niemoczynski’s tone is sympathetic, dispassionate and non-partisan. Ideas count, and noisy posturing is left far behind.

By putting the overblown claims and narcissistic publicity in brackets Niemoczynski is able to concentrate on the essential philosophers and their principal ideas, claims and arguments, and to give us a clear and lucid account both of “Speculative Realism” and of its demise. For Niemoczynski’s book is not just an epitome of Speculative Realism but also its epitaph, heralding a return to speculation over and above its attempted captation and enclosure within a movement.

I personally do not give much shrift to the three philosophers (Brassier, Hamilton Grant, Meillassoux) that Niemoczynski discusses. To his credit, Niemoczynski himself does not subscribe to the details of one or the other’s philosophy. He does not write as a disciple nor does he try to convert.

Niemoczynski treats these philosophers as inspirational in their speculative spirit and in the questions that they allow to emerge. He incites us to make use of their concepts and arguments to edify our own speculative philosophy, beyond the boundaries that pseudo-speculative dogmatists set up.

In the writing of his book Niemoczynski  exemplifies the very virtues of impartiality and speculation guided by curiosity, dialogue and argument that he regards as the necessary horizon of fruitful philosophical discussion.

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