Transcendental Computationalism:

Reading Intelligence and Spirit


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12 sessions, Mondays 1:00-4:00pm EST, 19:00 (CET), UTC +1, starting March 11, 2019.

Justin Shaffner, Mattin and Miguel Prado, in collaboration with The New Centre for Research & Practice, would like to invite you to a transdisciplinary reading group on Intelligence and Spirit by Reza Negarestani.


We’ve reached an impasse of generic destruction, decomposition and cynicism; not only in coming to terms with the state of the world -- global capitalism, climate change, etc. -- but also in terms of what it means to be and live as human. The crux of who and what we are at all scales of organization is up for grabs. There are no clear ways forward offered from any sector of society, especially from academic philosophy.

Reza Negarestani’s Intelligence and Spirit, however, offers a provocative if not an absolutely original and unique perspective on ourselves as sapient life-forms capable of radical construction, composition and transformation of both ourselves and the world. It does so by connecting the Hegelian notion of Spirit with the potentials offered by artificial general intelligence (AGI), functionalism and theoretical computer science, all the while problematizing and overcoming previous discussions on Anti-, Post- and Trans-humanism.

If self-transformation will be nothing other than a toilsome historical struggle, then we ought to understand how we are conditioned, how we can overcome this conditioning in order to make a meaningful intervention in history. Talking in terms of a generic “we” might sound problematic to many readers, however, in this book ‘we’ is understood as subjects of the ought to be and what might be, bringing Kant, Hegel, Sellars and Carnap into the 21st century. In doing so, it offers a new refreshing perspective on the potential of a universalism without essence. If nature is not a block of wax ready to be molded, nor are we necessarily defined by previous preconceptions of what the subject is. ‘We’, in this sense, is a view from nowhere and nowhen. It is self-consciousness as a matter of practical achievement, rather than a theoretical or practical given. The truth of what the human is coincides with the problem of the Good and the question of what it means to live a good life.

The potentials offered in this book are of historical magnitude. Now we just ought to understand it! Come join us in this collective reading!

Broad topics to be discussed in tandem with the overall scope of Intelligence and Spirit: Philosophy of intelligence, mind, time and history, enlightenment, the meaning of a good life, re-engineering philosophy, and engineering as a philosophical ideal.

Building on recent efforts to open creative digital spaces for collaborative learning, the reading group will be hosted online by The New Centre for Research & Practice, enabling participation, both synchronously and asynchronously, from anywhere in the world. The platform will offer participants the chance to collectively summarize sections, arguments, questions and discussions.

This series of events are open to the public at no cost, but New Centre Members will be given priority to attend. No prerequisites, or prior knowledge of philosophy, assumed. Reza Negarestani will also occasionally join us for discussion, and also to field questions.


11th March, Session #1
Introduction of the reading group and everybody
1-Between Conception and Transformation (1)

18th March, Session #2
1-Between Conception and Transformation (2)

25th March, Session #3
2-An Outside View of Ourselves as Experimental AGI (Problems, Concepts, and Models) 

1st April, Session #4
3-This I, or WE or It, the Things, Which Speaks (Forms of Intuition)

8th April, Session #5
4- Some Unsettling Kantian News, as Delivered by Boltzmann (An Excursion Into Time) (1)

15th April,Session #6
4- Some Unsettling Kantian News, as Delivered by Boltzmann (An Excursion Into Time) (2)

22th April, Session #7
5-This I, or We or It, the Things, Which Speaks (Objectivity and Thought)

29th April, Session #8
6-This I, or We or It, the Things, Which Speaks (Dasein of Geist)

6th May, Session #9
7-This I, or We or It, the Things, Which Speaks (Language as Interaction as Computation)

13th May, Session #10
8-Philosophy of Intelligence

20th May, Session #11
Appendix: Quandaries of Induction in Philosophy of Knowledge, Philosophy of Mind, and Artificial Intelligence 

27th May, Session #12
Roundup and Conclusions






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