Charles William Johns
Charles William Johns is a visiting lecturer at Goldsmiths University, London, U.K. His early research engaged with the intersection between psychology and philosophy, providing an account of compulsive cognition against the more humanist ‘intentionalist’ account found in phenomenology. This countermand of the history of western philosophy - as the rebuttal of thoughts' inherent connection to truth and its causa sui function (from Plato through to Descartes and Kant) is influenced by his unique readings of Hegel, Freud and Deleuze. Johns’ research on compulsive cognition is subsequently extended into a realm of determinate subject-object relations instantiated through Humean custom, habit and repetition, with the caveat that “it is the objects that think through us”. This culminates into a theory of tautology (i.e the status quo of the concept designating the object and the object reflecting the concept). This novel form of tautological determination is pitted as an alternative theory of identity beyond that of positive self-identical substance (naive realism) and any theory of essences (Plato, Husserl).
Johns then moves onto matters pertaining to the possible relationality and non-relationality of entities. Along with Graham Harman’s critical theory of object ‘undermining’ and ‘overmining’, Johns asserts the irreducibility of the object to phenomenal overmining (concepts, form and appearance) and scientific undermining (instrumentalism). Johns achieves this position by devising an account of interiority and exteriority which cannot be reduced to one another. In-fact, it is precisely the impossibility of conflating interiority and exteriority that constitutes the object for Johns. Johns’ account attempts to synthesise Harmanian ontology with Hegelian metaphysics and Lacanian theory; the object is barred from being reduced or exhausted to either an external determination nor an internal “translation”.
Over the last year or so, Johns has been concerned with what he terms the ‘relative-absolute’ characteristic of the earth. This is an eccentric reading of Hegel which purports that the logical categories found within the determination of content in Hegelian philosophy can be successfully absolutised (they can account for all difference and all otherness, as well as all particularity, universality and singularity, which is not relative to any posteriori determination) yet the conditions of such absolute possibility are relatively contingent; they depend on the specifically tellurian conditions of possibility; a specific spatio-temporal, biological, chemical, physical and gravitational (time dilational) model that compliments Hegel specifically tellurian spatio-temporal descriptions of dialectics, unfolding, sublation, actualisation etc.
Johns is a regular writer and reviewer for the Sartre Studies International Journal and the International Comparative Literature Journal. He has presented talks on G.W.F Hegel, Graham Harman and Quentin Meillassoux (as well as Ray Brassier and Iain Hamilton Grant) all over Europe. Johns’ essays have been included in volumes with the likes of Slavoj Zizek, Graham Harman and Maurizio Ferraris. He is the author of 10 books at present including Incompatible Ballerina & Other Essays (John Hunt Publishing, 2015), Neurosis & Assimilation (Springer Press 2016), Malchus (Wipf & Stock, 2017), The Neurotic Turn (Repeater Books, 2017), Outlook (Resource Publications 2019), The Irreducible Reality of The Object, (Springer Press, 2020). The Nettleham Gentlemens Club, (Wipf & Stock, 2021), Object Oriented Dialectics: Hegel, Heidegger, Harman, (Mimesis 2022) Hegel & Speculative Realism (forthcoming Palgrave Macmillan, 2023) and 15 Years of Speculative Realism : 2022 (Zer0 Books, 2023).
At present, Johns is researching the original Speculative Realist members’ contributions to contemporary theories of astronomy and cosmology; Ray Brassier’s thesis on the disintegration of all matter in the universe in “roughly one trillion, trillion, trillion (101728) years from now”, Quentin Meillassoux’s thesis on facticity and hyper-chaos, Iain Hamilton Grant’s ‘deep field’ research regarding constructor and constructed cosmology, and Graham Harman’s application of object-oriented ontology to every area of the cosmos.
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