My research interests are in German idealism’s metaphysics, especially the questions of normative authority and ontological pluralism. I am also interested in the philosophy of nature, in particular questions of ontology about the natural world.
1. Dissertation Research
My dissertation, “Metaphysics Without Ontology: Hegel, Schelling, and Marx on Reason’s Accountability Gap,” describes post-Kantian philosophy as “metaphysics without ontology.” Such account is motivated by the question: how is authoritative metaphysical thinking possible within a plural world? I argue that for Hegel, Schelling, and Marx the world is ontologically plural as it has no single fixed doctrine of what exists. They all take issue with traditional metaphysics’ commitment to spell out definitions as the path to the world’s ontology. Their critique of metaphysics through definitions brings together Platonic forms, “clear and distinct” ideas, and indivisible atoms. Instead, for Hegel metaphysics makes authoritative statements about nature, the self, and sociality, without assuming reality has one single outlook. Hegel interprets objectivity as normative authority and then argues normative authority is essentially historical. For Schelling, metaphysics also makes statements about nature, the self, and sociality through ruled-governed philosophical systems because reason is fundamentally creative, not because reality has one single outlook. For Marx, metaphysics has no fixed doctrine of existence because to exist means not only questions objects’ determinacy but questions over human extinction. We consider real those ontological concepts that also have currency in protecting us against potential extinction. Metaphysics without ontology rethinks reason’s authority in light of ontological pluralism and says something about the natural conditions, historical time, and creative source from which thinking about the world arises.
2. Current Research
My current research project is the development of part my dissertation into a monograph, titled Metaphysics Without Ontology: German Idealism’s Non-Dogmatic Metaphysics. It contributes to recent interest, for example from Markus Gabriel, Robert Pippin, and Rocio Zambrana, on reconsidering German idealism’s metaphysics in light of questions on normative authority and ontological pluralism. In broad terms, this monograph focuses on Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel and advances three main claims. First, it argues that German idealism redirects metaphysics away from the assumption that definitions can in principle spell out the world’s single ontology. Second, it offers a non-dogmatic approach to metaphysics by arguing that objective knowledge is achievable without the belief that the world has a logic. Third, presented differently by these figures, objective knowledge is achievable through normative authority. Metaphysics without ontology means we can both: objectivity as normative authority and ontological pluralism.
3. Future Research
Besides this book project, my other research interest is in the philosophy of nature. In particular, I am interested in the idea of “natural decay.” I believe it underwrites much of Karl Marx’s “materialism” and criticism of German philosophy’s one-sided focus on nature’s “organization.” I am interested in taking a look at how entropy and crisis occurs within the natural world and what that might mean philosophically-speaking for our ontological understanding of nature. Furthermore, I am interesting on shedding some light on what “naturalism” means for us. How do we experience and manage the possibility of our extinction? How do other species manage it? What does natural decay say more broadly about the concept of nature in ontology?